Happy New Year, everyone! How did you celebrate? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re anything like me, you’re spending the morning nursing a hangover and thinking about all the opportunity that a new year brings. I refuse to use the word resolution, because we all know that those are meant to be broken, like, this afternoon.

Can anyone pass me one of the leftover holiday cookies? Oh, right, I’m supposed to be cutting back on sugar. F it. It’ll help the hangover.

Thankfully, I gave some thought to what I hope to learn and achieve in 2017 before the post-New Years fog set in. The majority of these aspirations are pretty universal, so I hope you’ll find some inspiration in them, too!

Did I mention that I’m enlisting all of you to be my accountability partners? Ready, set, pinky promise!

Without further ado, here is what I will set out to do in 2017.

Continue to feed my curiosity to see and understand the world.

This is carried over from 2016, because it’s basically a life objective. If I’ve learned anything from my travels, it’s that we can learn something from everyone, no culture is superior to any other, and there are more things that make us alike than make us different.

With that in mind, I aim to approach my travels like a child, asking why, soaking up knowledge, learning, and letting those experiences shape my perspective of the world. I think we all know that there’s only so much you can learn from the media, and it has a way of turning us all against each other. I refuse to do that.

My first big opportunity this year to feed my infinite curiosity will be when I travel to Sri Lanka in February. I’ll be backpacking a large swath of the country, taking notes of the people I meet and the things I learn. I’m already looking forward to reporting about it here on the blog when I return!

I have a few other fun destinations up my sleeve for this year, and I’m hopeful that some others will spring up as the year progresses!

Be more bold in my decisions.

Sri Lanka is a great example of this. I am going for two weeks, solo, to a completely unfamiliar place. I’m no stranger to solo travel – I do it on just about every business trip I take – but the only other time I’ve been alone in a foreign country was when I took a bus over the Andes Mountains to meet up with a friend in Mendoza, Argentina. It goes without saying that this trip will take me far outside of my comfort zone.

I think many people feel unfulfilled in their lives because they are afraid to take risks. I definitely fall into that category, and this year, I will aim to break free. We only get one life.

Actively pursue a lower-impact lifestyle and more sustainable travels.

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. We each have a responsibility to understand the impact we have on the planet and on others, and to take steps to be more conscious about our lifestyle choices.

I’m getting a start in 2017 by following the guidance of Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book walks you through ways that you can drastically reduce the amount of clutter in your life, which can have a major impact on your attitude, stress levels, and consumption habits.

I have a natural opportunity to de-clutter when I move to a new apartment this month. I’ll be making some hard decisions about selling or donating things that I’ve been hanging onto for years, but don’t bring me any real value.

On the travel front, there are a handful of steps I plan to take to become a more conscious traveler. I’ll keep a running list of sustainable choices I make throughout the year so I can share them with all of you. My hope is that through my efforts, others might take greater notice of their own habits.

Here are a few things I’m already planning to do… and not do:

  • I won’t be riding an elephant in Sri Lanka due to major animal cruelty concerns with these types of tourist attractions. Instead, I will attempt to see them in their natural habitat at one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks.
  • I’ll be selective about which tour operator I use to catch a blue whale sighting in the Indian Ocean. Many whale watching operators will use dangerous maneuvers to get closer to the giant mammals, which can endanger them and the other marine life in the area.
  • I’ll be staying for a week at a locally-run surf lodge in Weligama, Sri Lanka. The Green Rooms was built following the 2004 tsunami and strives to be as sustainable as possible. They use renewable electricity, donate 10% of profits to the local community, and offer volunteer opportunities to guests.
  • I’ll use plastic water bottles only when required. Admittedly, it’ll be tough to cut back in Sri Lanka where that’s the only water I can drink, but it shouldn’t be a challenge on any of my other trips. Camelbaks and reusable water bottles for the win!

Nomadic Nymph has compiled conscious travel resolutions from myself and other bloggers  – be sure to check it out! 

Do more good.

I do a lot of stuff for myself, and it’s time that I spend more of my energy helping others. My goal is to find at least three volunteer opportunities to connect to in 2017. I hope that one will be in Sri Lanka, and two will be in the D.C. area. I’ll post updates on the blog as I get involved!

Manage my budget more effectively.

I’m making some changes this year that will squeeze my budget. Thankfully, there are a bevy of budgeting resources out there to help keep track of your money. I personally use Mint, which taps into all of my open accounts and allows me to set monthly budgets so I don’t overspend. I also plan to set stricter budgets for the trips I already have planned. I’ll share any tips and tricks that I learn along the way on the blog.

It’ll be an ambitious year for me, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. What are your 2017 objectives? Let me know in the comments!