Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution While Traveling

Happy New Year! Have you planned your New Year’s Resolution yet?

It is now 2020. A new year, a new decade, and a perfect time for a new start. It’s a great time to choose your New Year’s Resolution and plan for how you’re going to keep them as the year goes on.

There are many popular New Year’s Resolutions, but they are often seen as incredibly difficult to keep. Here we have five of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions, along with tips for how to keep them while you travel.

Exercise More

This is a very popular New Year’s Resolution, and the good news is it’s a very easy one to maintain while you are traveling.

Workout with a View

The Fitness Center overlooking the beach at Secrets The Vine Cancun in Cancun, Mexico

Many hotels, resorts, and cruise ships have on-site fitness centers, and are often located in beautiful, picturesque locations. It’s very common for the fitness centers to have floor to ceiling windows, and they are typically designed with the view in mind.

Going to the gym can be a chore, but it’s a lot easier when you can watch the sun rise over the ocean while working out. You can also add on a massage or a soak in the hot tub after your workout.

Plan Walking Tours

Fitbit Stats after one day of walking around Kyoto, Japan

There are a lot of great activities and excursions you can plan while on vacation, but sometimes walking is the best thing you can do. Many international cities are very walkable, and often walking can give you the best views. You are free to stop whenever and wherever the whim strikes.

To keep track of your progress, invest in a Fitbit or other fitness tracker. You may be surprised by just how much you walk in a single day. Museums, castles, gardens, nature trails; walking doesn’t have to be boring.

Use Public Transportation

This may seem like an odd thing to specify, but public transportation can greatly improve your fitness. If you take a private car or a taxi, the vehicle comes to you. You can take a car from the front door of your hotel the the entrance of your destination, without having to walk at all.

Public transportation, on the other hand, has specific stations where you have to go. Even if your hotel and destination are close to a station, that little walking can add up. As an example, the hotel we stayed at in Tokyo, Japan was 500 meters away from the nearest train station. That’s about a third of a mile. Just the round trip walk between the hotel and station added 3 miles of walking to our time in the city.

As an added benefit, public transportation is cheaper than private transportation, which may just knock off another one of your resolutions.

Eat Healthier

This is another popular New Year’s Resolution that at first may seem much harder to keep while traveling. Cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts have restaurants and buffets galore, and it can be hard to stick to the healthy choices. The fact that you will have to eat at restaurants more frequently when traveling can also hinder your efforts. But there is good news, especially when traveling internationally.

International Portion Sizes and Nutrition

Compared to the US, many international destinations have much smaller portion sizes. For example, at many steakhouses in Asia the typical cuts of steak are 200 grams or around 7 ounces. Sugary sodas are much less prevalent in many countries, and when available are in much smaller bottles. In Thailand the Coke bottles were 330ml, or 11 ounces. The bottles in Japan were 250ml, or 8.5 ounces.

Preservatives, artificial flavors, and sugars are also much less common in international destinations. Aside from being smaller, sodas are often made with sugarcane rather than processed sugar. Fried foods are much less common, and vegetable based sides are a common sight. In Puerto Rico, most meals come with a large serving of plantains or yuca. In many Asian countries meals are served with lotus root, potatoes, white raddish, or cabbage.

Snack Often

Sign for a Yakitori vendor in Tokyo, Japan

One of the best things about traveling is the ability to try several new foods. Rather than waiting for a designated meal time and eating until you’re stuffed, snack throughout the day. If you’re visiting Spain, stop and taste the tapas. In Japan, grab some yakitori (grilled skewers) from a street vendor. Pick up some fresh picked fruit while in the Caribbean.

Enjoying several small snacks throughout the day will allow you to enjoy a wider variety of foods and keep your portion sizes down. When you add in all the walking you’ll be doing, your body can more easily expend the energy you are eating.

Go Grocery Shopping

This isn’t always feasible, but if you are able to stay somewhere with a kitchenette you can shop for and prepare your own meals. This can be a great way to manage your portion sizes and expenses when traveling.

Learn a New Skill

Typically, a New Year’s Resolution is all about self-improvement, and learning a new skill is one of the best ways you can improve yourself. While you likely won’t become a master while on vacation, you can still learn quite a bit and set yourself up for success in the future.

Take a Local Class

Take a local cooking class to really immerse yourself in the culinary culture

How would you like to learn how to make pottery and ceramics in Italy? What about training in ninja or samurai techniques in Tokyo? Maybe you’d like to learn how to bake Parisian pastries and deserts? There are all sorts of classes you can take while traveling to help you learn a new skill. Every destination is famous for something, why not learn it right at the source?

Get SCUBA Certified

This is one new skill that is easy to achieve while traveling and that will open up a whole new world of travel opportunities. Nearly any destination near the water will offer SCUBA certification opportunities, but some of the most popular choices include the Florida Keys, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Full SCUBA certification will usually take at least 3 days; it involves coursework, closed water (pool) training dives, and 4 open water certification dives. Due to safety considerations, you need to spread the certification dives over at least two days. To save some time, you can complete the coursework online before you travel and then just do the actual dives at your destination.

Yours truly after finishing my SCUBA certification in beautiful Key West, Florida

If you aren’t sure that SCUBA is for you, or you don’t want to spend the time for a full certification, you can also do a 1 day Discover SCUBA course. This course won’t give you a certificate, but it will get you familiar with the equipment and in the water diving all in one day. Children 10 and older can safely dive, so this is an activity the entire family can enjoy.

Spend More Time with Family and Friends

Traveling can be a great way to reconnect with family and friends. No matter what age ranges your group includes, there’s a vacation for everybody.

Disney and Universal

By far one of the most popular trips for the entire family is Disney or Universal. These theme parks have rides and experiences great for people of all ages. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney are great experiences, even for people who aren’t into theme park rides.

Cruises

Cruises can be a great choice for a family vacation

Many people think cruises can be expensive, but there are options for every budget. Cruises are also a great experience for the entire family. Many cruise lines have kids and teens clubs, as well as adult only spaces so every member of the family can have something geared towards them. Add in the wide variety of entertainment such as rock climbing, minigolf, Broadway shows, and parades and it’s easy to see how everybody can find something to do on a cruise.

Even better, traveling as a group can net you some excellent deals. We are able to work directly with all of the cruise lines to get you unique group rewards and discounts. Depending on the size of the group, these rewards can even reach a free cabin on the cruise for the group leader. Reach out to us today if you think you might be interested in planning a group trip on a cruise.

All Inclusive Resorts

All Inclusive Resorts can be a great budget option since you don’t have to worry about paying for drinks, meals, and many activities. You may be imagining a romantic, adults only resort, but that’s just one option. If you are traveling with kids, there are many family friendly resorts. Disney, for example, has Aulani in Hawaii. In Punta Cana, there’s a Nickelodeon resort and several resorts with on site water parks. Atlantis in the Bahamas has an aquarium and a water park on site.

Lazy River at the Royalton Bavaro All-Inclusive in Punta Cana

If you want to have a great time with your friends, maybe choose an adults only resort that’s more party and less romance. Or you can plan a great girl’s trip to a resort with an amazing spa. Into golfing? We have resorts with official PGA tour golf courses.

Travel More

I’ll admit, this one is definitely biased towards traveling, but it’s still a popular New Year’s Resolution. Traveling can be difficult at times, but we have experience in helping to plan a trip for any budget.

So what’s on your travel bucket list for 2020? An Alaska cruise? A trip to Hawaii? Seeing a new country? No matter your travel goal, we’re here to help.

Icy Strait Point – Hoonah Whale Watching

May 31, 2016

The cruise lines call this port Icy Strait Point, but as soon as you leave the port you are technically in the native village called Hoonah. This is one of our favorite stops on an Alaska cruise and offers arguably the best whale watching opportunity of any Alaskan cruise port.

Icy Strait Point is the only privately owned cruise destination in Alaska, but unlike the “private islands” in the Bahamas which are owned by the cruise lines, Icy Strait Point is owned by the Huna Totem Corporation. This company is owned by a group of 1,350 Alaskan natives and Tlingit people. The intent of the privately owned port was to preserve the native character and culture of the village, while still allowing the economic growth that would accompany cruise ships.

Rather than booking an excursion through the cruise company, we opted to directly support a local business. As an added bonus, we were able to save a good bit of money by booking direct. On our first Alaskan cruise we booked with Misty Bay Lodge, and on this visit we opted for Icy Strait Whale Adventures.

We opted for a three hour morning tour with Captain Duane, a lifelong Hoonah resident and member of the Tlingit people. The sight seeing tour guarantees that you will see humpback whales, and we were definitely not disappointed. Aside from a wide number of whales, we were also able to see a couple otters, seals, sea lions, and even a brown bear. 

Really, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the local tour companies. The local people know their waters and they know where the whales come to feed and how to make sure you have the best experience possible.

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Selection of excursions in Icy Strait Point from our partners

Skagway – Alaskan Hikes

May 30, 2016

Today was our second port day in Alaska as we docked in Skagway. Skagway is famous for the role that the port city played in the Alaska gold rush. The city is filled with free museums and old shops and it really is like taking a step back in time. Probably the most famous activity in Skagway is the White Pass railway, although it is rather pricey.

We were traveling on a bit of a budget, and Skagway also has a lot of great activities that are completely free. One of our favorite things to do here is to hike along any number of the great nature trails. On our first Alaskan cruise we did the Lower Dewey Lake trail, so this time we wanted to do something different. First, we did the hike to Yakutania Point with a slight detour to Smuggler’s Cove. Once we finished that hike we had plenty of time left in port so we decided to do the Lower Reid Falls and Gold Rush Cemetery as well.

Yakutania Point and Smuggler’s Cove

Rock Outcroppings at Yakutania Point

Our first hike was to Yakutania Point which offers some excellent views of the water and the docked cruise ships. The hike itself was relatively easy, although it did have some narrow paths and uneven rock steps. The trail head starts just behind the Skagway airport with a footbridge across the Skagway River. We were feeling a little adventurous, so we also climbed on the rock outcroppings at the end of the trail. These gave us an excellent vantage point to see the Lynn Canal and the Chilkat Mountains.

Just past the halfway mark for the Yakutania Point trail is the turnoff for the Smugglers Cove trail. While we were on our way back we decided to take the turn off and hike out to Smugglers Cove. This added an additional 2-3 miles round trip, but the trail itself was easy with almost no elevation gain. The Smuggler’s Cove trail winds through mixed coastal forests before opening up to a sheltered tidal inlet. This appeared to be a bit less well known than Yakutania point, but the views were absolutely breathtaking.

Gold Rush Cemetery and Lower Reid Falls

At the base of Lower Reid Falls

After we hiked back to the airport we walked through the city to see some of the shops and then continued along the main road until we reached the railroad tracks. Here was the start of the trail to Lower Reid Falls which also goes through the Gold Rush Cemetery. The cemetery itself is just past the parking lot, so much of the walking to reach it is paved and smooth. This is the oldest cemetery in Skagway and is the final resting place for a number of the most famous gold prospectors to come to Skagway in search of their fortune.

From the cemetery it’s just a short forest hike to Reid Falls. The falls are about 300 feet in total and cascade down the mountain in an absolutely picturesque scene. These hikes are amazing because they provide a great contrast to each other. You can see the ocean and the forests, waterfalls and gravestones, history and nature. And best of all? We did it all for free.

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selected excursions in skagway from our partners

Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls

May 29, 2016

Our first actual port stop on this cruise was the capital of Alaska, Juneau. Visitors can only reach Juneau by plane or ship, even though it is a capital city. There are no roads connecting Juneau with the rest of the state. For many people, ourselves included, the only way to visit Juneau is on an Alaska cruise. There are a number of popular excursions in Juneau, but we decided to visit Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier is about a 20 minute drive outside the city and as soon as we got off the ship there were dozens of buses and taxis ready and waiting. The buses are the cheapest option, and we bought four tickets on the Big Blue Bus. We paid about $25 per person for a round trip ticket, so $100 for the four of us. Taxis were quoting $40-$50 each way. It is also worth noting that there is a $5 per person charge to enter the area; this is included with the bus fare but is an additional cost when taking a taxi.

From the Mendenhall Glacier visitor center there are 5 trails ranging from a quarter mile to three and a half miles. We opted to do all five hikes and spent a total of about 6 hours around the glacier. Our ship spent a total of 12 hours in the city, so there was plenty of additional time to explore the city itself. 

Pamphlet showing the trails available at Mendenhall Glacier
The Trails at Mendenhall Glacier

The first trails we took were the Photo Point and Nugget Falls trails. These offer the best viewing and photo opportunities of any of the trails and are both pretty relaxed and easy hikes. Photo Point gets you front and center to the glacier, while Nugget Falls goes right up to a waterfall that is another very popular photo opportunity.

The next trail we took was the Trail of Time, which has some excellent placards showing the regression of the glacier over the centuries. You can view photos showing what the area looked like in various years of the past. The Trail of Time also leads directly to the trail head for the East Glacier Trail which is the longest and most arduous trail as it goes up a bit in elevation.

After we had finished all the hikes we took the bus back to the city and decided to find a place to eat before heading back to the ship. We stopped by the Red Dog Saloon which holds the distinction as the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. The Red Dog Saloon has a number of really interesting items all around the restaurant, and it’s well worth a visit just to see their collection.

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selected excursions in juneau from our partners

Hubbard Glacier

May 28, 2016

Depending on the kind of traveler you are, sea days on a cruise can be very hit or miss. Generally speaking, we prefer port days, but there is so much to do on modern cruise ships that a few sea days are great. Even better, we were on an Alaska cruise where even the sea days have a destination.

Even though the ship never docked anywhere, today was a scheduled visit to Hubbard Glacier. Hubbard Glacier currently holds the record for the largest tidewater glacier in North America and is a very impressive sight. The night before we were told the time that the captain expected to arrive in Disenchantment Bay, and he also provided insight into the current ice conditions. Overall it was an excellent day to see the glacier and the captain expected to be able to get quite close.

While in the Bay the captain brought the ship as close as safely possible to the glacier to give everybody on board a great viewing opportunity. The ship did a small loop in front of the glacier to give passengers on both the port and starboard sides plenty of time to see the glacier.

Most impressive to me was the fact that Hubbard Glacier is nearly always calving, or breaking off chunks of ice into the bay. Sometimes it was just small pieces, but we also had a few times when there was a sound like the crack of thunder and a very impressive piece of the glacier broke off from the edge and fell into the water. 

Video showing some impressive calving at Hubbard Glacier

We opted to stand on the helicopter pad at the front of the ship while we were in the bay. This is another reason why I love doing Alaska cruises on the Radiance; on the bigger ships the helipad is closed to guests. It was fairly crowded, but not overly so and we were able to get several good photos and videos to really capture the experience. Royal Caribbean also had members of their photo staff stationed at the helipad to take pictures of us and other guests. These photos were then added to our portfolio and were available for purchase at the end of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean also stationed a mobile “bar” at the entrance to the helipad where you could buy cups of hot cocoa. The wind off the glacier was definitely cold (dress in layers!) and a steaming cup of hot chocolate was definitely welcome. They offered both alcoholic and regular versions of the hot chocolate, so we got one cup of each to enjoy.

There is quite a bit of debate between the cruising glacier options; Hubbard, Sawyer, and Glacier Bay, but I really enjoyed the experience we had at Hubbard Glacier. The size and calving are both extremely impressive and not something that you will reliably see from any other glaciers available on an Alaska cruise.

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