5 travel resolutions to make you a better traveler in 2020
I don't know about you, but just a few days into January and I'm still struggling to believe that it's already 2020. Not only is it a new year, but it's a whole new decade. And if the next 10 years are anything like the past 10 — we're talking crazy-high welcome bonuses, ultra-low airfare and the overall increase in accessibility of travel — then we're excited, and you should be, too.
On this weeks episode of Talking Points, we dove deeper into 2020 travel resolutions and tips for becoming a better traveler with a few of our favorite influencers.
Here are just a few that we're adding to our list and think you should consider too.
1. Travel more sustainably
While it's great that travel has increasingly become more accessible thanks to low fares, points and miles — it also means that many destinations have and will suffer environmentally and culturally due to over-tourism. One way to help out with this issue is by making it a priority to be a more sustainable traveler.
Alyssa Ramos aka @mylifesatravelmovie shared, "My New Year's travel resolutions are to try to do all 100% of my trips to be as eco-friendly and locally sourced as possible, which means saying no to single-use plastics, always using a local tour guide, making sure that you're only buying handicrafts and things like that. Don't only go to destinations that are super popular on Instagram. There's a whole wide world to see and we want to try to reduce over-tourism because of social media."
Like Ramos touched on, traveling sustainably could mean doing something as little as traveling with a reusable water bottle, to making it a point to contribute to the local economy, to visiting places you don't see all over Instagram. Whatever you decide to do, just think about how your actions will impact wherever you're visiting both environmentally and culturally.
2. Learn more about points and miles
The good news about this one is that if you're reading this, it's probably already on your list. Even if you already consider knowing the basics as enough, make an effort to learn more, because when we say there's always something new to learn, we mean it. After all, we do have a whole site dedicated to points and miles.
Related: The beginners guide to points, miles and credit cards
By expanding your knowledge of the points and miles world, the more places you'll be able to visit without breaking the bank. And who isn't all for taking the trip of your dreams for virtually free?
3. Travel deeper
This is a resolution I've had for about three years now and think everyone should add to their list. You see, the first solo trip I took abroad was to Italy for an exchange. I lived with a family for three months and they really opened up their home, country and culture to me. By the end of the summer, I felt like I had a true feeling for the Italian culture, but I also got bit by the travel bug and wanted to tick more places off my list. In an effort to reach my travel goal of visiting 21 countries by 21, I rushed to visit as many as I could, as fast I could. In my haste, I missed out on truly experiencing the culture of each new place I visited. Ever since then, I've made it a point to not just visit a place just to cross it off, but to actually experience it.
And Melissa Panetta aka @melissa or @bestvacations agrees, "[I want to] experience the culture, do things more like a local rather than a tourist." She even offered up an awesome tip everyone should tap into in 2020: "...to become a better traveler is that you really want to be a traveler, not a vacationer. So typically what we do is we actually have friends around the world, and we use one degree of separation or two degree of separations to find someone local and go to their house and actually have a family-cooked meal, a home-cooked meal."
4. Just book it
If there's a trip you've been holding back on booking, this is the year to just go ahead and book it -- or at least come up with a solid strategy for how you're going to do it. Be sure to set a goal date for when you want to take the trip by, and hold yourself accountable.
As Lee Abbamonte aka @leeabbamonte says, "When it comes to travel, there's nothing you should do more than travel, because it makes you a better person. It teaches you things that you'll never learn just reading the internet or just sitting around doing nothing."
5. Travel somewhere new
In 2020, try to visit somewhere that hasn't necessarily been on your radar or your Instagram. It always seems to be the places or things that you didn't plan on doing that end up being the most pleasantly surprising.
Related: Where to travel in 2020
For instance, this past fall I had a birthday trip planned to Charleston, South Carolina that got cancelled last-minute due to Hurricane Dorian. I didn't want to throw away my planned weekend getaway, so instead I looked for the cheapest flight available for the same dates and stumbled across a low fare to Montréal that I was able to use an AA voucher towards. My friend met me there and we had one of the most fun trips I've ever taken. Not to mention that we were completely blown away by Montréal, as we had no expectations.
This past decade was quite the time for travel and we're sure this new decade will have even more in store. Between becoming a more sustainable traveler, visiting somewhere new and continuing to increase your points and miles knowledge, the opportunities for becoming a better traveler are endless. These are just five resolutions to get you started, but we'd love to hear what's on your list for 2020 in comments below.
For even more travel resolutions and tips, listen to the full episode of Talking Points below.
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Brian Kelly: Happy New Year, everyone. I'm your host, Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, and I rang in the new year in style in Tel Aviv. Hope you all had a safe and happy one. You know what? This new decade is going to be a super special one for TPG. As we head into the roaring '20s, we're going to leave single digit territory and turn 10 years old. That's right. I started The Points Guy in 2010, so I'm just feeling really good about 2020. There's so many things to look forward to and resolutions to stick to -- or not.
So since I was partying in Tel Aviv -- and, you might've seen on Instagram, in the Maldives -- I kind of wanted other people to carry the burden of this episode, so I asked some of my closest friends, travel influencers and our collaborators to see what their New Year's resolutions are. Happy 2020 y'all, right after this.
Brian Kelly: Welcome back to Talking Points. It's an extra special New Year's Day drop. Hopefully you're not too hungover, but if you are, settle in for these travel pros to kickstart your 2020 travel inspiration. Here we go.
Oneika Raymond: Hello and Happy New Year TPG fans. My name is Oneika Raymond, aka Onika the Traveler, and you can find me on every social media platform known to man @oninkatraveller, and that's with two L's because your girl is Canadian. I travel all kinds of travel and lifestyle content, everything spanning from travel tips to covering pertinent travel discussions in the travel community. My travel New Year's resolutions are to travel more sustainably, and also to be a little bit more in tune with my travels. I think very often, especially with the prevalence of social media, we're constantly glued to our phones, and one of the things I want to do in 2020 is be more present as I traverse the world.
My tips for becoming a better traveler? My top tip is really to listen more. I think so often we go into different destinations, we have preconceived notions, we bring our own ideas and we don't listen to the rhythms of life in the places that we find ourselves. We don't listen to the locals that we encounter. And I think that we would be way better travelers if we did that. Another tip that I think we can employ in order to become a better traveler is to travel more sustainably. So let's try to invest more in local economies, let's try to use less single-use plastics and let's just try to be better for our world.
My number one tip for traveling more in 2020 is to be flexible. A lot of people say, "Oh, you know what, I want to travel more but I can't do it. I can't afford to. I don't have the time." And honestly, if you are flexible, both with your destination and also with the timing in which you're going to travel, you will have the opportunity to travel more. So in order to travel more, make sure that you are flexible and have fun. Thank you to The Points Guy, to all the listeners and keep reading TPG. Make sure of course to follow me on social @oneikatraveller, that's with two L's, and Happy New Year.
Lee Abbamonte: Hey, I'm Lee Abbamonte. I've been to every country in the world. I've been to every American national park, every major stadium and every state. How about that? And you can find me on social media @leeabbamonte, L-E-E A-B-B-A-M-O-N-T-E. You can find me covering really cool travel and adventure stuff and a lot of sports and just cool things around the world. And my New Year's travel resolutions are that I actually don't make New Year's resolutions, because I believe that if you want to do something, you should just go ahead and do it.
And when it comes to travel, there's nothing you should do more than travel because it makes you a better person. It teaches you things that you'll never learn just reading the internet or just sitting around doing nothing. And my tips for becoming a better traveler are take half the clothes, twice the money, don't check bags and you always need more money than you think you do. So just come prepared and have access for it. And that's it for me, guys. Thanks to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me @leeabbamonte or on leeabbamonte.com. Happy New Year guys. Thank you.
Kiersten Rich: All right. Hi. Happy New Year. I'm Kiersten Rich from The Blonde Abroad and you can find me on social @theblondeabroad, and we cover all-female travel with travel tips, all-female tours and guides for destinations around the world. So my New Year's travel resolutions are to slip in a few more trips around Africa. I've been based in Cape Town, South Africa for three years now. Flying less, but deeper experiences. My number one tip for 2020 -- plugging The Points Guy, I guess -- really, traveler rewards is a big, big thing. I kind of grew up in a generation where credit was bad and scary and I think just getting educated on the subject is really important. And I think that for travel, if you're trying to save for travel or you just want to do more with your money, I think just people getting into travel rewards and learning a bit more about how you can use them to fund your travels and book flights is really incredible. Thanks to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure you follow me on social @theblondeabroad. Happy New Year.
Elona Karafin: Happy New Year TPG fans. My name is Elona Karafin, and you could find me on Instagram @elona, E-L-O-N-A. I am a travel writer and I cover everything from luxury hospitality to budget travel to long weekend escapes. My New Year's travel resolutions are to continue going a little bit off the beaten path with my trips, so some destinations that I have in mind are Yemen, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which I'm hoping to do in Q1 and Q2. My number one tip for 2020 is to convince you to take more long weekend trips. So essentially, take one or two days off every couple of months, combine it with a weekend and you could literally go anywhere in the world. My suggestion is to use a resource like Skyscanner, where you could put "everywhere" as a destination for any given date range and find the flight that's most affordable to you. Thank you to The Points Guy and to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me on social @elona. Happy New Year and Happy 2020.
Lindsay Silberman: Happy New Years, Talking Points listeners. I'm Lindsay Silberman. You can find me on social @lindsaysilb, where I cover beauty tips, travel hacks and all the behind-the-scene s**t in the influencer world that no one else will tell you about. So my New Years travel resolution is to get elite status on as many airlines as humanly possible. Right now, that's only in the realm of possibility for me on Delta, but I would say that if I can hit Platinum in 2020, I will feel that my life's mission has been accomplished. My advice to someone who's trying to become a better traveler is to have duplicates of every single thing in your toiletry case. So I have duplicates of all my makeup. I keep a full makeup and toiletry bag stocked and packed so that I don't need to be scrambling at the last minute before I travel.
My number one tip is a very practical, yet very specific, recommendation, and that is to use contact lens cases to store liquid beauty products. My recommendation for getting the most out of an experience or trip is to always check into a hotel early. Even if they tell you that the check-in time is 3 or 4, request an early check-in and then always a late checkout. I will stay essentially until they kick me out. If the late checkout that they can offer is 12 or 1, you better believe that I'm staying until 5 or 6, and I'm booking the last flight out, because I like to extend my trips for as long as humanly possible. To be honest, I have no idea where my points and miles are taking me in 2020, but hopefully it involves, wherever it is, a life at sea, a lot of champagne and a lot of caviar. Thank you so much to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me on social @lindsaysilb. That's L-I-N-D-S-A-Y S-I-L-B, and my blog, lindsaysilberman.com. I hope you guys have a happy New Year and best of luck with your travels in 2020.
Melissa Panetta: Hey everyone, Happy New Years. My name is Melissa Panetta and you find me on Instagram @melissa or even @bestvacations. Basically the kind of content we cover is the best travel places to go around the world, the best hotels, the best experiences -- whether you're on a budget or looking for luxury. My travel resolutions for 2020 are to continue to pack extremely light when we travel. Right now we are only traveling carry-on, so I have a backpack and a carry-on, and basically, I'm able to fit 10 outfits into there and I just keep reusing, rewashing and keep going for two months, no matter what.
Another goal for 2020, I would say, is I have been to 45 countries and I would like to get that list to 50, and I don't just wanna spend two days in each country just to be able to tick it off my list. I want to be there at least three weeks, experience the culture, do things more like a local rather than a tourist. My tip to become a better traveler is that you really want to be a traveler, not a vacationer. So, typically what we do is we actually have friends around the world and we use like one degree of separation or two degree of separations to find someone local and go to their house and actually have a family-cooked meal, a home-cooked meal. And the last place we did this in, actually, was in Tel Aviv and it was literally our favorite part of the eight-day trip there. Thanks to The Points Guy and to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me on Instagram @melissa or @bestvacations. Happy New Year, and wishing you all the best for 2020.
Matt Kepnis: Happy New Year, Talking Points listeners. My name is Matt Kepnis and I am the founder of nomadicmatt.com and author of the books "10 Years A Nomad" and "How to Travel the World on $50 a Day." You can find me on all social media channels @nomadicmatt. And so since I deal a lot with budget travel, let me give you some good travel tips that will help you save money on the road. Tip number one: follow the Five Block Rule. There's an invisible wall that blocks travelers whenever they visit a place, it's like they go five blocks and they can't go any more, but if you go further, you'll find that the crowds disappear. You'll get lots of local choices for food that caters to people in the destination, not for tourists, so you'll eat cheaper and better.
Tip number two is go to the tourism offices. They exist solely to help you see the destination, so they always know what's going on, what deals are going on, what free concerts are there. They have maps and you can ask somebody the most important question that you probably want to know is, "Where do you eat?"
Tip number three is to use the sharing economy. In the last five years you've really seen a growth in all these websites that connect travelers with locals. And so, from eating with locals to hanging out with them, there's tons and tons of stuff to do. Find these websites: Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Eatwith, BlaBlaCar. Get off the beaten path and you're going to have a much more culturally rich time. And my number one tip for 2020 is travel like you live. Thanks to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, and keep reading TPG and follow me on social media @nomadicmatt, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, even TikTok, and visit my website at nomadicmatt.com. See you on the web.
Brian Kelly: All right, time for a water break. Sit tight. More TPG friends and influencers on this super special Talking Points. (My laziest one yet because I made everyone else do the episode.) Our New Year's 2020 travel resolutions drop right after this.
Brian Kelly: Welcome back to Talking Points, New Year's travel resolutions edition. Let's head back into it with more from our travel buddies you know and love.
Derek Peth: Hey guys, this is Derek Peth from The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise. You can find me on social @pethderek, P-E-T-H D-E-R-E-K, all over the place on the web. You can find me memeing The Bachelor on our podcast, The Bachelor, as well as just my random thoughts all over Twitter. My tips for becoming a better traveler are first of all, you can fold basically an entire large luggage of clothes into a small carry-on if you fold them right. So check out that Marie Kondo folding method. You're going to love it. It's going to make it a lot easier for you to travel. The second thing is, I have both CLEAR entry checks so I can walk through any airport in just about 10 minutes, and I think everybody should get on that. In 2020, my points and miles are going to take me across country a few times to see my best friend, Wells Adams.
It's very expensive to fly across country that often, but thankful for points to basically making that free a few times a year. My newest travel resolutions are to explore some of the cities I go to a lot more. I do travel for work so I'm constantly bouncing around the United States. So what I'd like to do is do a much better job of getting to see the culture and just getting to know some of the different hot spots in each city. Thanks to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, keep reading TPG just like I am. Make sure to follow me on social @pethderek, P-E-T-H D-E-R-E-K. Happy New Year and happy 2020.
Alyssa Ramos: Hey everyone, I'm Alyssa Ramos, but my life's a travel movie and I am a travel blogger influencer and expert, and I cover adventure travel and bucket-list destinations. My New Year's travel resolutions are to try to do all 100% of my trips to be as eco-friendly and locally sourced as possible, which means saying no to single-use plastics, always using a local tour guide, making sure that you're only buying handicrafts and things like that. Don't only go to destinations that are super popular on Instagram. There's a whole wide world to see and we want to try to reduce over-tourism because of social media. So my number one tip for all of you guys who are going to be trying to travel in 2020 is to just do it.
My tips for becoming a better traveler and to be able to go more places is to start booking trips for your friends, get good at planning, tell them you'll handle all of it as long as they send you a Venmo for the money so that you can use a credit card and get all the points. So my points are actually taking me home to Florida for the holidays. Nice little $800 ticket that I'm fully covering with my points, so that they can stop complaining that I travel so much and they never see me. Thanks so much to The Points Guy, all of you listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me on social @mylifesatravelmovie.
Eric Rubens: Hey Talking Points listeners. I'm Eric Rubens, based in California. I'm a photographer. You can find me on social @erubes1, and I cover lifestyle and travel content around the globe. My New Year's travel resolutions are to push myself to travel to new countries, especially in Africa and South America, some places that don't quite get the social media coverage but are also beautiful places. My tips for becoming a better traveler are trying to make less of an impact on the environment when I travel, so I'm trying to specifically bring a reusable water bottle with me as I travel and just try to create less waste in general as I go to all these destinations. My number one tip for 2020 is encouraging people to get out there and make the most of their vacations instead of sleeping in. Maybe try to wake up for an early morning sunrise, because when I look back on my travel a lot of the pictures, at either early morning or late at night when I didn't quite want to go out, are some of my favorite memories of my trips.
In 2020 my points and miles are hopefully taking me to a lot of the new United destinations. I've been finding them a lot and I saw they just opened up that Cape Town direct flight from Newark, so I'm really hoping to get on that one. I think they're also launching a flight to Sicily in the spring, and that's one place I've always wanted to go to that I haven't quite gotten to yet. So I'll definitely be trying to hop on that draft flight. Thanks to The Points Guy, to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure to follow me on social @erubes1. That's E-R-U-B-E-S number one and Happy New Year.
Gloria Atanmo: What's up guys? Happy New Year Talking Points listeners. This is Gloria Atanmo, and I am the founder of The Blog Abroad and the Sisterhood Circle Retreats. You can find me at Instagram @glographics, G-L-O graphics, and I talk about all things female empowerment, travel and business entrepreneurship. My New Year's travel resolutions are to go on a trip and not document a single thing. Insane, right? Especially as a blogger. But I think it's so important to go to places, not to document or stunt for the 'gram, but just to fully live and immerse yourself in that environment. And my tips for becoming a better traveler are to do your research, study the culture and the customs, try to do the footwork, so that when you get there, you're not the ignorant tourist that does something on accident but makes a fool out of themselves.
All right, so really quick to all my solo female travelers out there or aspiring solo travelers, my biggest tip for you is to just own your confidence. So many times we think that we're not capable of doing something, but all it takes is for you to go out there and actually do it. We get anxious or nervous about these things because we've never done it before. But imagine, when you do something for the first time, you get better at it. It gets easier the next time. And I promise you there are so many amazing experiences that are out there waiting to be had, but it's waiting for you to also book that solo ticket. So don't be afraid. Reach out. The TPG just launched the women's page, so there's going to be amazing tips on solo female travel. Don't be afraid to go after it. Think of a destination, do your research. But there's amazing experiences to be had.
And in 2020 my points of miles are taking me to the Maldives. Yes, that's right, for a solo mood. I think so many times we reserve these exotic destinations and places for a boo, a spouse, a partner. But I'm an independent woman who don't need no man -- just kidding. But I am happy and so excited to go there on my own, have an amazing time, and show women, especially solo travelers, that you can go to these exotic, beautiful destinations on your own and have an amazing experience. Don't wait on your friends. Don't wait on your partners. Don't wait on that perfect circumstance. Just go and you will love and live in every moment and be happy that you did. Thanks to The Points Guy and to all the listeners, keep reading TPG and make sure you follow me on social, Instagram, at G-L-O graphics, @glographics. Happy New Year, happy 2020. Can't wait to see all the places that you guys travel to next year. That's all I got. Happy New Year. Woo! Happy 2020.
Brian Kelly: Thanks to all our friends and influencers who stopped by our awesome new TPG headquarters to share what their goals are for the roaring '20s. You know, I'm not huge into resolutions. I love New Year's Eve like anyone else. So what are my resolutions? Well, I think first I'm going to resolve to finally launch the TPG app. I know I've been talking about it. We were going to launch it in 2019 but we decided to hold off to make it really awesome, and trust me, it's going to be good. But believe me, May 2020 you will see the release of the TPG app and it's going to be gangbuster. And of course I'm going to let Talking Points listeners get in on the action, so stay tuned. I'm also going to try to use a hotel gym once in awhile. I really need to just like, to even get on a treadmill, although there have been hotels where when I stand on the treadmill, my head hits into the ceiling of the dumpy little gym ... so, all right, I'm already making excuses for why I'm not going to do it.
Maybe I'll just resolve to not eat as many french fries in hotel rooms. I actually just gorged on french fries and dipped them in mayo right before recording this from my villa in the Maldives. OK, I also resolve not to humble brag so much.
All right. Tell us what your resolutions are, @ us on Twitter. Share your thoughts and you can always slide into our DMS @thepointsguy, or leave us a voicemail on our podcast hotline, 1-877-TPG-TRVL. Happy New Year to everyone from all of us at TPG. Let's make this the best decade yet. 2020 -- so much to look forward to. I'm Brian Kelly, safe travels.