Four resolutions for better travel in 2013

With holiday travel wrapping up, the thoughts of Minnesota travelers turn to making plans for midwinter trips and summer vacations.

It’s the perfect season to make resolutions that could help you enjoy your travels more. Here are four that could be right for any traveler to consider:

1. Surprise yourself: Once you fall in love with a destination, region or type of travel, it’s natural to keep going back to what works for you. But at least part of the thrill of travel is the act of discovery, and that can get lost if you don’t cultivate it. If your trips have somehow lost a bit of their excitement, maybe it’s time to switch things up. So if you usually do road trips, check out Amtrak. Alaska is your tradition? Consider the possibilities of Nova Scotia. Do you do an annual trip to Europe? How about the Grand Canyon this year?

2. Pare down: Every travel resolutions list, every year, has the same advice: Pack light. And that’s because it makes for a better trip, no matter how you travel. If you’re flying, it can save you money. If you’re driving, it means less stuff to fall out every time you open the overstuffed tailgate. And even if you’re going to the cabin, it means less stuff to haul in from the car, then haul back out. What you really need: a book, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, a jacket, cash and comfortable shoes, plus anything to meet your health needs. That’s it.

3. Upgrade your gear: When you’re on the move and traveling light, everything you take has to perform its job (and preferably two or more jobs) perfectly. That takes some work on your part. The next time you’re in an airport, campground or other spot where travelers gather in groups, check out their stuff. That good-looking carry-on bag — does it seem to have the functions you need? Is its owner struggling to reach things buried deep at the bottom, or does everything seem accessible? Would you be happier with a backpack-style day bag or a leather messenger bag? Does that fancy passport and ticket organizer look useful to you? Would you really wear it around your neck? Watching real travelers in real-world situations can help you narrow your choices before you make a bad gear buy. But once you have assembled a small collection of items that suit your unique needs, you’ll wonder how you got along with hand-me-down suitcases and gimmicky travel goods.

4. Go more: Don’t save all that wanderlust for one big trip a year. Use your weekends to explore closer to home. You might be astounded by the cool things you’ve been driving past all these years.

Get travel news at www.sctimes.com/travel, on the blog at www.sctimes.com/lisa, on Twitter @LisaSSchwarz, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa. Send her questions at lschwarz@stcloudtimes.com.
Lisa Schwarz

About Lisa Schwarz

By day, I'm a St. Cloud Times editor guiding coverage of politics, government, public safety and business beats. By night, I'm leading the cubicle jailbreak as the Times Traveler. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LisaSSchwarz and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa
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