Tower Bridge In London

By Ross Barnard, Special to the Van Nuys News Press

I love making New Year’s resolutions. For me, the New Year signifies a new start; one where you can set yourself goals and achieve some of the things you dreamed of doing during the previous 12 months.

If seeing and experiencing more of the world is on your agenda in 2015, I’ve got some tips that’ll help you to really make the most of your time away. After all, there’s a big wide world out there and it’s all yours to explore.

Open your travel horizons in 2015

Pick a destination out of the ordinary — It’s easy to stick to what you know; I’m a prime culprit of wanting to go back to destinations I’ve loved. But there are so many places out there that you’re bound to love in equal measure, if not more. Choose somewhere that’s culturally different to anywhere you’ve visited before – like Asia or the Middle East – and see where your journey takes you.

Take a guided trip — Ever made your own way to a destination, only to find that most of your time was spent with your head in a guidebook? Let someone else do all the planning so you’ve more time to actually enjoy the place you’re visiting. Guided holidays, or escorted tours, have an expertly-planned day-by-day itinerary so you don’t need to worry about a thing … apart from where to go, of course.

Street food is a big part of Asia's diverse cultures

Spend time with the locals — The world has some amazing iconic sights, and they’re often what draw you to a destination. But when I’m visiting somewhere new, I think meeting and mixing with the locals really helps you to understand the culture. Chat to artisans, eat in local restaurants and seek out the people who have a story to tell – you’re sure to see the country in a different and more authentic light.

Make an effort to forge new friendships — In my opinion, travelling is better shared. It’s easy to want to keep yourself to yourself, particularly if you’re travelling to get away from it all. But I’ve made some great friends during my travels who I still keep in touch with today, and I’ll never forget some of the special moments we shared together – and I’m sure they won’t, either.

Strike up conversations with locals and hear their stories

Make the most of every moment — For me, time away is precious. It doesn’t happen often so I’m sure to make every second count. No matter how tired I am, I won’t go to bed until I’ve seen everything I wanted to that day. Money’s no object when I go away, either – it might be the one and only time I visit, so I pledge to do as much as I can while I’m there. And arguments with my travel companion/s are just a no-no.

If you want to discover a new part of the planet, meet some amazing people and maximise your time in a destination, check out’s award-winning guided holidays.

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