People make a lot of fuss about New Years resolutions, but as a traveler, I enter each temporary home with a new resolution.
The world is eager to remind me that I can’t escape myself by traveling, but they seem to have little understanding of just how much a different location can change daily behaviors.
I’m the same person, certainly, but my days are different if I’m collecting eggs and watering horses than if I’m on the 35th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper and walking to my office in the mornings.
Every few weeks I not only have the opportunity to change my routines, it’s automatic. Any routines I maintain are through much effort, not rote.
Some of my resolutions are dictated by the home itself. The dietary restrictions of my hosts become my dietary restrictions while I’m in their home. I keep a Kosher kitchen, I become vegan, I go gluten free. When other people do this, they’re on crash diets. I am simply respectful of my status as a guest and enjoy these minor challenges.
Dogs are excellent for fitness challenges. There is a certain collie who was quite pleased with my arbitrary decision to walk 200 miles in a month. I surpassed my goal. My daily step goal is adjusted up or down based on the critters I’m watching.
Plenty of times my goals are silly. In New York I walked through every neighborhood, visited every wastewater treatment plant, tried to eat my literal weight in tacos. I spent a month in Toronto visiting every one of the city historic museumsMaybe I need to go to every art museum in a city, go to every park with a pond, visit every brewery, work from every library, or talk to a different stranger every day. In Montreal I challenged myself to entertain myself for a month without going to any museums!
Other times my resolutions are more meaningful. Making a list of people to reconnect with, by phone or writing real letters and sending them through the mail. I carve out time to watch the sunrise every morning. I walk the same beautiful path every day at lunchtime. My daily journaling goes from random musings to something more pointed. I reach out to a former client every week or submit proposals for new projects.
Sometimes I’ve chosen a house sit for the opportunity it poses for a resolution. I visit Boston to reconnect with old friends. I go to DC for a research project. I use my time in Raleigh to completely rewrite my immigration guide. I enjoy the quiet of Birmingham to write my tax guide and the solitude of the Berkshires to edit it. Setting my own schedule with work means I can arrange sits to match my workload — and not schedule anything big when I’m CouchSurfing between sits.
Plenty of us can fail at a resolution in 52 weeks. Almost all of us can achieve a resolution in three weeks or twelve.
I did have a resolution for 2018, although I set it in mid-February. I went from not having any budget at all since I’d started sharing expenses with my (now ex-)wife to setting a reasonable, but frugal budget. I didn’t quite stay within budget, but I was within $100, so I’m counting that as a win.
My second resolution, which wasn’t a resolution until I was six months into it, was to go a year without spending any money directly for housing. I got gifts for the people I house sat for and my CouchSurfing hosts and I paid for memberships to house sitting sites, but I didn’t pay anything in rent for a full year. And right after that I went ahead and ‘splurged’ on an AirBnB for a night.
The beautiful thing about being location independent is that you’re free of the monotony. Use that freedom well.