Planning for the year ahead, Jane Jurgens makes some New Year's travel resolutions she swears to stand by, and encourages you to adopt them too.
I will carry a reusable water bottle
This is a no-brainer really, especially when you read some of the awful statistics about plastic bottles, a million of which are bought around the world every minute, according to reports from the Guardian this year. With this number set to jump 20 per cent by 2021, it's never been a better time to get real about toting a reusable water bottle.
Of course, this is easier than it sounds, especially when you're travelling in a country where you can't drink the tap water. The key is to be organised and hit up the filtered water stations at the breakfast buffet, or if you're able, maybe buy a bigger container's worth of water at a store and fill up your reusable bottles from that. At the very least, make sure you use recycling bins when they're available, for all of your waste.
I will put down my phone occasionally
Trust us, here at Sunday Travel we know all about the pressure to always be postin', but you know what? Sometimes it's nice to forget about your Instagram account for a while and just appreciate what's in front of you with your naked eye. Or take your pictures or Boomerangs, then put the phone down. Plus, do you have to be in all your travel photos?
What about just some nice scenery, sans selfie?
Another good rule to travel by is, don't forget to look up. Some of the greatest sights you'll see are above eye level. Think the historic facades of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, the strings of lights adorning an Asian hawker street, or the Borneo jungle teeming with wildlife. Always be curious.
I will offset my carbon emissions
There's no arguing about the wonders of travelling by car or plane, but we all know it's not the greatest when it comes to your carbon footprint.
Some airlines will give you the choice to offset your carbon emissions when you buy your ticket; or you could donate to an organisation such as non-profit Swiss organisation myclimate.org which will put your money towards replacing climate-impacting energy sources with clean ones, such as solar panels or wind farms. Failing that, you could always make a pledge to plant a tree or two when you get home.
I will meet the locals
If you're after a more enriched travel experience, there's one easy way to do it — strike up a conversation with a local who will, hopefully, appreciate the interaction and drop a few gems of knowledge in your direction.
Usually this pays big dividends when it comes to food — after all, think about your own reaction when travellers ask you where to eat in your town or city. You wouldn't send them to a tourist trap over-priced restaurant, you'd want them to have a unique and memorable experience. The same goes with bars and tourist activities.
Sure, you'd tell someone about the Sky Tower, but you might also advise them to head up Mt Eden with some fish and chips and enjoy the view of the city from there as well.
Yes, the Viaduct Harbour is lively but it's also full of tourists and office workers blowing off steam — perhaps our city's guests would prefer a cool bar on K Rd or in Parnell?
Meeting the locals could also extend to shopping at the markets and staying in alternative accommodation to hotels such as an Airbnb or rented house.
I will shop consciously
Is there really any point carting a bag of cheap mass-produced tat back to New Zealand from a souvenir shop in Los Angeles/Nadi/Brisbane which will either break on the way or end up at the back of a drawer? The same goes with clothes — yep, those harem pants might seem like a great idea when you're slopping around the beachy communities of Southern Thailand, but would you seriously ever wear them back home in New Zealand?
If you're going to spend your hard-earned on something memorable from your trip, make it count. Perhaps splash a bit more cash on a locally made product — that way you're giving back to the community too.
I will be more patient
We know. You're tired, and maybe a little cranky. Yes, that person is taking ages in the security line (don't they KNOW you have to take your shoes off?) and okay, it's pretty inconvenient to have to empty out your entire handbag so they can find what's making the x-ray machine freak out. But hey, maybe that person is a nervous or inexperienced traveller — remember that you were too, once.
And the Customs guy is just doing his job.
Chill out and be nice. You'll feel better about yourself, we promise.