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New Year's resolution trips

Katrina Brown Hunt

We all know the life cycle of a New Year’s resolution: a dream in December, a fresh start in January…and a broken promise by February.


But travel isn’t exercise. Or dieting. It’s transformative and fun. Whether it’s the trip of a lifetime or just a long weekend away, travel gets you out of the daily routine and offers a new perspective. Even better, you can combine your trip with another resolution.

Want to get in better shape? A health spa can help jumpstart a new exercise regimen. Learn a new skill? There’s no shortage of learning vacations. Volunteer more of your time? You can find do-good opportunities all over the globe. Or, if you just want to unplug, off-the-grid places do still exist (for now, anyway). So make 2013 the year that you resolve to go globetrotting…and stick to it.

The Resolution: Become a Better Person
Where to Go: Lobitos, Peru

What to Do/Where to Stay: Combine surfing and philanthropy with Waves for Development, a surf travel company with a focus on volunteerism and community service. Participants help instruct and educate local kids in areas such as language, life skills, swimming, and surfing, along with environmental initiatives such as beach cleanups and recycling programs.

The Resolution: Broaden Your Horizons
Where to Go: The High Seas

What to Do/Where to Stay: Book a cruise to a far-flung destination like Papua New Guinea, Borneo, the far east of Russia, or Antarctica with boutique expedition cruise line Orion. This award-winning, purpose-built luxury cruise ship is renowned for both its five-star perks and unique access to remote, rarely visited locations.

The Resolution: Unplug
Where to Go: Thule, Alaska

What to Do/Where to Stay: Go off the grid in style at Ultima Thule Lodge, a remote haven accessible only by small plane and located 100 miles from the nearest road. (In other words, leave your BlackBerry at home.) The family-run lodge heaps on the creature comforts—cozy log cabins decked out with Craftsman furniture and meals featuring home-baked bread, vegetables from the garden, and wild game—alongside wilderness experiences like flying over the glacier fields or salmon fishing in the Chitina River.

The Resolution: Be More Cultured

Where to Go/What to Do: Feel smarter when you book that trip-of-a-lifetime with Smithsonian Journeys, whose highbrow trips combine sightseeing with education and culture. Choose from options like exploring Mayan ruins in Guatemala or unearthing antiquities in Jordan. The company's uber-knowledegable guides include art historians, archaeologists, and naturalists.

The Resolution: Spruce Up Your Wardrobe
Where to Go: Vienna, Austria

What to Do/Where to Stay: Lost your sartorial mojo? Head to the Austrian capital, whose burgeoning avant-garde fashion scene produces the kind of one-off investment pieces friends will be asking you about for years to come. Fashion collective 7tm, a loose-knit group of independent retailers, can arrange shopping tours of the hip 7th district, with its plethora of cool concept stores and cutting-edge designer temples.

The Resolution: Slow Down

Where to Go/Where to Stay: Visit one of the places designated a Slow City by Italy-based group Cittaslow, an offshoot of the Slow Food movement that aims to encourage people to lead slower, more contemplative lives. To qualify, cities must demonstrate commitments to environmental sustainability, quality of urban life, local products, hospitality, and "slow city awareness" among residents. Head to places like Uberlingen, Germany; Positano, Italy; or California's own Sonoma Valley.

The Resolution: Shake Up the Gym Routine

What to Do/Where to Stay: If you're in an exercise rut—and who isn't?—pledge to take up a class or fitness routine that's out of the ordinary. Get in touch with the gladiator within at the Rome Cavalieri, whose Gladiator Training program schools guests in the intricacies of hand-to-hand combat, Coliseum-style. If getting down is more your thing, try your hand at Zumba, the high-octane exercise craze that fuses Latin beats, hip-hop, and MTV-style dance moves: Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas offers a popular class.

The Resolution: Learn a New Language
Where to Go: Paris, France

What to Do/Where to Stay: Most of us don't need an excuse to visit Paris, but the chance to hone your French might just provide that extra justification. The famous Sorbonne offers short-term immersion courses, as does Alliance Française, the organization dedicated to spreading Francophone culture around the world. While in the City of Light, stay at the sexy, contemporary art-filled Hotel Particulier in Montmartre, where you'll feel like you're one of the locals.

Resolution: Rest Up
Where to Go: Calvià, Mallorca

What to Do/Where to Stay: During the sleep improvement program at Design Hotels’ Hospes Maricel, in Mallorca, doctors use electrodes to examine your REM cycles and spa technicians perform soporific oceanside massages.

The Resolution: Rekindle the Spark
Where to Go: Santa Catarina, Brazil

What to Do/Where to Stay: Whisk your beloved away to the Emerald Coast of Brazil south of Sao Paulo, where the sun always shines and the living is easy. Ponta dos Ganchos Resort is an idyllic spot for a romantic getaway par excellence: the huge villas with sweeping ocean views, in-room saunas, wine cellars, and private infinity pools ensure you'll never want to check out.

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