Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
One of the things that I love about the New Year holiday is taking the opportunity to reflect on New Year's Eve where I've been, and look forward on New Year's day of where I want to go, what I want to do and how I want the year to ultimately play out.
Just like you set personal goals about food, exercise, finances and the like, you should also set at least one "where do I want to go" goal for each year. Whether it's going solo, on a girlfriends only vacation or with someone special, it's a good habit to get into since we Americans can be so horrible about using all of our vacation time.
In looking back at the last year, I got to spend some quality time on the East coast in Boston, Salem and Cape Cod with dear friends, and I also got to venture more into Texas, San Francisco and San Jose as well as spend some quality time solo traveling in my own home state. My goals for this year are still humble, but in keeping with doing the things I love.
I love using the internet to book trips, and two of my favorite sites are Travelocity.com and Expedia.com. Check out vacation package deals on both sites, and don't forget to check any last minute deals if you have some flexibility in your travel plans.
On Travelocity.com, I just discovered this wonderful tool called "ExperienceFinder". You can select the type of vacation that you want, and the website fetches the deals that are currently available. The only immediate inconvenience is you have to select from a static list of "flying from" locations, but you can easily customize a vacation once you find a destination. It's very inspirational!
My other travel inspiration this year is to expand my writing career, so I'm searching for writer's retreats and conferences that will pull me somewhere new! Think about your own hobbies and passions, and see what conferences, conventions and gatherings are happening around your country or the world. Again, this is where Google is an invaluable companion, but be smart and do your homework before plunking down a large sum of money for an untested experience. Call. Ask questions. Do research. It may save you money in the long run.
Another passion of mine is genealogy - but more than just hunting down relatives. This year, my goal is to actually GO where my near and dear ones came from - Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa - sometimes you just need to get clear by going back. And even if it means just going back home. If you live away from your hometown, consider taking a long weekend and going there. It could be a wonderful opportunity to see where you grew up with new eyes.
Don't let another year go by without taking time for yourself. Solo travel is always an option - by plane, train, ship or car - seize the opportunity.