10 New Year’s travel resolutions for 2010

Me in KeswickChris Guillebeau over at The Art of Non-Conformity blog says to think big – and that’s why he’s set himself the monumental and not inexpensive task to visit every country in the world by April 7, 2013 (122 out of 192 countries so far.) He reminds me of a crazy Swiss backpacker I met on my own travels whose concept was to hitchhike across every country in the world.

Then there was the lovely Twitchhiker who I interviewed earlier this year at SXSW in Austin. He’d decided to travel as far from his hometown in Newcastle upon Tyne as possible in 30 days (which turned out to be an island off New Zealand), relying only on the kindness and direction of Twitter users.

The trouble is, knowing my sticking power with New Year Resolutions, I don’t want to be massively ambitious here and fail before I’ve even started. But I would like to do >something<.

Looking through the #decadeinstats (tomorrow is New Year’s Day 2010), it seems not many people are marking their big moments in travel terms but in terms of hatches, matches, dispatches, number of degrees and hearts broken. (Click the pic to see a snapshot.)

Screengrab of #decadeinstats

But some ideas are bubbling up, such as Lloyd Davis’s Tuttle train trip
to SXSW Interactive in 2010. And my colleague Katy Molloy’s New Year career break to go help fight child prostitution in Cambodia.

So here are my unthought-out ideas so far – see what you think:


1. Hometown tourism
I love travelling to other countries but by its nature this is often superficial – suppressed by time, lack of local knowledge and trying to do too much (or little). Sometimes the best stuff happens on your doorstep so I think it’s time to write up the stuff that makes my city special and fun for others to visit. Birmingham: It’s Not Shit, for example, is a rather ace Birmingham blog. The author Jon Bounds has just finished one project (11-11-11)  in which citizens board the 11 outer circle bus route for 11 hours on 11/11 each year. Next year he’s launching Dexy’s Midnight Run – a 5km run into town dressed as Dexy’s at midnight on June 21st.

2. Queen of the Bizarre
One of my travel editors once named me ‘Queen of the bizarre’ because of the less mainstream ideas I used to pitch to him. Maybe it’s time to return to that niche. Having recently come across the quirky calendar of eccentric English events for 2010, I’m tempted to either cover or perhaps even enter some of these. Think I’d be quite good at shin-kicking at Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpicks… It’s gonzo journalism and why not? If it’s good enough for Hunter S Thompson, it’s good enough for me.

3. More snow-shoeing
I really want to go show-shoeing! Someone please send me snow-shoeing! I did it in Slovenia for my 40th and it’s my favourite thing to have done outside of joining the opera this year. It’s great for the heart and aerobic fitness and it beats jogging round the block. How can I turn this into something a little more sexy though? Extreme show-shoeing? The New Year snow-shoe diet? Sponsored snow-shoe walk?

4. Transparent journalism
Journalists on press trips aggregate masses of information yet tend to generate only a few hundred words. I’m thinking ditch the polished prose (like there ever was polished prose) and blog what I’m going to pretentiously call the ‘vignettes of research’, from incidental little quotes and tips to insider trip photos that I collect along the way.

5. Blog my travel diaries
I have around 50 notebooks packed away in a trunk. I’m sure there’s some interesting highlights that can be edited out of there – with the power of hindsight etc. I also have some features that were commissioned and not published. I’m thinking I’ll publish them here under a creative commons licence. Hey, let’s play with copyright and see what happens.

6. Find the most boring holiday in the world
The problem with being a travel writer is that you can never switch off – there’s always something interesting to collect, note down, share, or someone to interview, or a new angle on a mass market place. My mission is to have a proper holiday in 2010 – and that means finding something/somewhere with zero write-up value. I suspect it’s impossible. Any ideas?

7. Career and holiday combined
My trip to SXSW Interactive in 2009 was a double work whammy of writing up tech stories and also producing a feature on Austin itself. I learned so much there and it has given me a whole lot of context for working on all the digital projects that came through my agency in 2009. This year I’m looking for a Content Strategy Conference holiday destination – presumably somewhere in the States but I’m open to suggestions. That’s right, I want to go on holiday to a conference.

8. Take more video (and find a media trainer)
I’ve started to take and edit video – here are my fledging attempts at World Travel Market 2009 – but ideally I’m looking for someone to do a skills swap with me, ie, help me learn best practice for producing multi-media content (especially mini interviews) and I’ll help you with anything from web writing/editing and spelling/punctuation to beginner’s guitar lessons. Maybe I’ll write your headlines for you or something. I like writing headlines.

9. Guest bloggers Q&A
I do like a good Q&A – or is it just me that gets sucked in by those pages in magazines that asks (the rich and famous usually) what have they learnt, what mottos do they live by, have they ever said ‘I love you and not meant it’, how would they like to be remembered, type thing. Maybe something like this would be good for travel, local knowledge, etc.

10. The big idea
I’m buying myself time with this one, but in the next 12 months I’m looking for a big ongoing travel project that I can document into something substantial. It might be photographic, it might be ultra-budget or first-class luxury, it might be historical, or it might be eccentric. This is probably the resolution I’m most likely to break but the idea of a sabbatical of some kind is on the agenda. I have the time if not the energy.

That’s it for now and for 2009. I’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions. Until then happy new year for 2010.

7 responses to “10 New Year’s travel resolutions for 2010

  1. Backyard tourism is definitely the way to go. I don’t buy all that ‘staycation’ bollocks, but I’ve sold more stories about the Northwest of England in the last year than I have about any other destination. Specialised regional content is one of the options left open to freelancers in the current climate. That’s why I’m re-launching my blog, Hit the North, early Jan. It’ll be here: http://nowhitthenorth.wordpress.com/

  2. Interesting point. I’m definitely having local fun with Brum at the moment – lots going on here that visitors can be completely oblivious of. The recent Subtlemob and a project to spend NYE in the new bus station being the latest one… that one to be blogged shortly. [UPDATE: post now up.]

    Looking forward to hitting the north content.

  3. Lots of interesting points and ideas here, thanks Fiona.

    I’m in the middle of a ‘big idea’ trip – travel overland from Brazil to Canada – but when I finish I’m going to holiday nearer home a lot more. Possibly banning myself from flying for a bit. Also, traveller Q&As do get good responses! My Traveller Fishbowl section seems to suck people in – feel free to send me your own answers! (www.overlandtraveller.com/traveller_fishbowl/fishbowl_main_page)

    Finally, amen to finding a boring holiday – good luck with that!!

  4. We would love to have you come and snowshoe in Canada but I’m guessing these days you don’t need to leave home to for it. I like your skills swap idea. I think you may have hit on a trend with it. I also thought this hopeful article was worth sharing. Your 2010 resolutions kind of reminded me of it. I found it somewhere on Twitter. It’s called Six Tips for Recovering Journalists. http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=175241

  5. @Overlandtraveller – v jealous of your travels (but I hate flying so I’m also trying to decrease my flights).

    @Boomergirl – Hmm, I’m seeing a walk-around-the-world-on-snow project… thanks for the article link. Yes, lots of unhappy people in newsrooms whereas digital depts are full of the optimistic – one reason to learn multimedia if nothing else. 🙂

    Also, a mad idea has recently started to form for Resolution No10 and an experimental travel journalism ‘big project’. Currently researching some flesh to put on the bones, but it involves less of a skillshare and more of a ‘travel and use your skills’ experience.

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