New Year Travel Resolutions
New Year Travel Resolutions

This is the Year to Make Family Travel Resolutions

I know what some of you are thinking: I have one travel resolution for 2021, and it’s to go somewhere.

But before you unleash all the wanderlust you’ve been building up, we suggest taking some time to consider how you want to travel over the next 12 months—and beyond. 

This strange, sad year has forced many families to re-prioritize. We’ve seen overcrowded destinations suddenly empty, and skies and waterways clear as the polluting effects of travel and transportation almost ceased. Small businesses have been crushed, and countless people whose jobs relied on tourism were left unemployed. 

As the new year approaches, our family is thinking about how to travel thoughtfully this year. Here are our resolutions—maybe they’ll inspire some of yours. 

Include Loved Ones

Every year I resolve to plan trips with friends and family. The challenge is, we’re spur-of-the-moment travelers. Most people aren’t comfortable being told on Wednesday that instead of flying to Mexico City on Thursday, they’ll be heading to Arizona on Friday. (True story.) But I’ve spent so many months away from friends and family members that I plan to change how we travel just so we can share our adventures. 

Be Thoughtful About Destinations (and Timing)

We tend to be off-season travelers (hello, Denmark in December!). But this year and beyond, we will be especially conscious about not contributing to overcrowding in popular spots. Visiting off-season isn’t just more pleasant for us—it makes destinations more livable for locals and helps businesses thrive year-round, not just during peak seasons. 

I’m planning to support indigenous communities with our travel this year, following the lead of organizations such as the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. Though we’ll return to some tourist hotspots (we’re from New York City and miss it), we’ll also visit secondary destinations that can use some economic support. 

Go Slow

It can be tempting to really hustle and try to see/eat/do/buy as much as possible on your 2021 trips, to make up for lost time. But we’re going to try especially hard to savor and appreciate the places we visit. We’ll linger longer, get to know them more intimately, and hopefully have richer experiences as a result. 

Enjoy the Outdoors

I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy person. But the only trip we took during the pandemic—a socially-distanced RV trip to fetch my mom—involved a lot of outdoor time, and our whole family loved it. I worried about keeping the kids occupied along the trip, but the second we pulled up to a campground they would be wading into creeks and climbing trees. We’re hoping to keep the momentum this year. If you’d like to do the same, check out our useful guides to RVing, camping, cabin camping, and skiing

Use Up Those Travel Points

Our family is pretty good at accumulating credit card rewards. We’re less good at spending them. I always think that sometime soon, we’ll save thousands of dollars on a blockbuster trip with all our airline, hotel and credit card points. That day hasn’t come yet—and this year, our points have just been collecting digital dust. While they haven’t decreased in value this year, it is what happens to points over time. This year I’m going to use our points wisely—but generously.

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.