12 ways to travel better in 2016
This is the perfect time of year to start planning your next travel adventure. Here is my travel wish list for 2016. What is next for you?
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1. Explore more of Australia
The decline in the Australian dollar has made travel at home even more attractive. And, surprise, surprise, we are quickly discovering why the rest of the world rates Australia so highly as a tourist destination.
One of the best things about our beautiful country is that it is big and very varied so you can pick destinations according to your interests and the season. For many of us this is the time of the year to think of the beach and our extensive coastline offers lots of scope.
Summer is the perfect time to visit Tasmania where history, scenery and wide-ranging outdoor activities come together. Highlights include the Franklin and Gordon rivers, Port Arthur Historic Site and the historic towns along the Midland Highway.
Gordon River in Tasmania provides breathtaking natural panoramas
There is also the controversial MONA that aims to shock from the tranquil banks of the Derwent just outside Hobart. Day walks at Mt Field or multi-day walks from Cradle Mountain are wondrous when the weather is good.
Spring is a great time to be on the Murray River, up in the Blue Mountains – just about anywhere, really. If you are up for a big adventure then now is also a great time to start planning – and booking – for next Christmas.
2. Venture beyond the comfort zone
While knowing your limits and sticking within them makes for a comfortable life it doesn’t offer the thrill of the new.
Never been camping? Give it a try – maybe the glamping option at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island will be a fun and easy option.
In 2015 I discovered the joy of remote camping in a hired Britz 4WD camper – and I’ll be looking to do more in 2016. Camping at Chambers Pillar in the desert outside Alice Springs was the travel highlight of my year.
I have a strong fear of falling so ziplining (or what we once called a flying fox) at Whistler was memorable for the massive adrenalin kick of the first step into nothing. But others find their fear of sea sickness keeps them on land and away from all the pleasures that cruising and sailing bestow. 2016 could be the year to venture out.
3. Try a new activity
Ever considered a photography tour – or a cricket travel adventure? If you have an interest a quick search of the Web will reveal a tour full of like-minded travellers. You are likely to return with new skills and new friends.
4. Go somewhere unlikely
The next time you are offered a trip to somewhere you don’t want to go, consider saying yes. I have friends who have never been to Bali because they have seen and heard of the crass beach culture of Kuta. So they have missed out or the spirituality of Bali’s mystic mountains.
“Ugh, India, it’s so crowded,” another friend has said. India is simply the richest human tapestry in the world and the friendliest place. It can be daunting but a good tour will minimise the culture shock and emphasise the wonders.
View India's wonders like the Statue of Lord Shiva in Murudeshwar Temple in Karnataka
One of the hot destinations for 2016 looks set to be Iran. If you want to shake up your preconceptions plan a visit and wait to be amazed by the hospitality of one pillar of the “Axis of Evil”. There are great carpets for sale, too.
5. Talk to more locals
I confess that sometimes after a long day on the road I like to stay in my hotel room with familiar TV and room service. Each time I do I know I’m missing out on the chance to meet the people who make each destination special. This year I promise I’ll forego room service and head to a nearby café – and leave my book behind.
6. Travel to a book or film location
The last scene in Star Wars – The Force Awakens is not in a galaxy far, far away but rather Skellig Michael, 12 km off the coast of Ireland from Portmagee, County Kerry.
It’s a World Heritage site because of the monastery once occupied by monks seeking some significant respite from civilisation 1400 years ago. There are tours but not all of them permit landings to scramble up the 600 steep stairs. See Tourism Ireland.
That may be the most dramatic introduction to a virtually unknown destination since “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” brought Petra to the eyes of the world in 1989. For books, personally, thrillers by Hammond Innes and Berkley Mather provided my first itchings of wanderlust. But Desmond Bagley’s “Running Blind” gave me an urge to explore Iceland that was only satisfied several decades after the first reading. Scandi-noir television shows have put the countries of Scandinavia high on my 2016 wish list.
Star Wars location Skellig Michael is located on Valentia Island
7. Get out of town
London is a great city but in Oxford Street it’s impossible to imagine the bucolic landscape less than an hour away.
Paris is amazing but the delights of French country living may be even more wonderful. New York City gives no inkling of the beauty of upstate New York.
In 2016 I’m not going to just stay in the city – I’ll see what lies beyond, too.
8. Pack lighter (better gear)
In 2016 I’ll stop packing too much. I can always find a way to justify the extra camera lenses and tripod, the back-up computer hard drives and enough clothes to get me through a week between laundries.
Packing minimal and only essential items makes travelling easier
But when I pack light I travel happier. Modern technology, including in clothing, enables us to do more with less and we should embrace it. I intend to.
9. Take better photos
When photography was recorded on film, not disk, the quality may have been better but the cost held back creativity. When even a mobile phone can take a good image we always have a camera with us and more moments are captured better.
HDR, photo-stitching and panoramas provide new opportunities that every traveller should embrace. I’m going to take the time to learn my camera (and phone) better before my next trip.
Sometimes you only have a few nights in a special destination and feel compelled to make the most of every minute. In 2016 I’ll take the time to stop and appreciate where I am.
11. Eat locally
Food travel adds a whole new element to each destination. In 2016 I’m going to spend more time researching the cuisine and restaurants of where I’m going.
Grilled guinea pig or cuy is a peruvian specialty (Photo: Byelikova Oksana/Shutterstock.com)
Whether it’s guinea pig in Peru or chilli in Bhutan, this year I’ll find the local speciality and give it a try.
12. Make travel a priority
“Life’s too short” is the basis for my last resolution. After 50 there’s certainly more reason to collect experiences rather than things. So many of my fondest memories are of travel and in 2016 I aim to collect several more. See you on the road.
What is on your travel bucket list?