7 Ways to Stay On Top of Your Travel Goals

The unfortunate truth for travelers who lack trust funds is that we must spend a significant amount of time back home and at work to gather enough funding for our journeys. In this downtime arises a unique danger: a danger that we will fall into a rut of comfortable routines, a danger that we will unwittingly decide to blow our money on things and fancy restaurants, a danger that we will become complacent and forget what we really wanted to do with ourselves and with our lives.

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The following tips are designed to help you avoid these dangers, and stay on top of your travel goals.

#1 – Keep a Visual Reminder

Incheon International Airport, South Korea© d’n’c

Don’t keep an ambiguous image of white sandy beaches or an exotic mountain range in your office. Instead choose a specific spot, find a photo, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it often. I keep a picture of South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (above) as my desktop background to constantly remind me of why I’m working so hard.

#2 – Buy a Map

World Map© o2ma

One of the things downtime allows you is space to dream up your journey. Take a page out of Reason to Wander’s book and buy a good map, some pins and string and start planning where you want to go. Keep the map someplace in your house or apartment where you’ll see it and have time to ponder, like above a desk or in the kitchen.

#3 – Read Good Travel Writing

Keeping on top of travel goals is largely about keeping inspired, and spending some time with books by writers like Pico Iyer, Carsten Jensen, or Simon Winchester is a great way to do so. Lonely Planet also puts out compilations of travel writing regularly, and there’s always The Best American Travel Writing series.

Literature and poetry can similarly nurse your inner wanderer, so don’t overlook Thoreau, Kerouac (try Satori in Paris for something a little different), Whitman or even more offbeat authors like Haruki Murakami.

#4 – Carry a Phrasebook

Knowing the language spoken at your destination is an invaluable skill, and will allow you to have a much richer travel experience. If you already know a foreign language, carry flashcards in your bag or purse. Otherwise keep a phrasebook handy so you can start memorizing when you have a few moments on the bus or at a cafe.

#5 – Keep a Foreign Language Journal

Ben Hancock’s Journal

Language classes or learn-it-yourself programs like Rosetta Stone are great, but keeping a journal in a foreign language is a really good way to make the language feel more like your own. Record your thoughts, keep clippings from travel magazines or foreign newspapers, do rough translations, and take it with you when you finally make the leap to where you’re going.

#6 – Keep Tabs on Your Money

Keep a week-by-week spreadsheet on your computer and take a look at where your money goes. Coffee? Clothes? Figure out what you might be able to cut out and funnel into savings or a plane ticket.

#7 – Talk With People Who Love Travel

Endlessly discussing travel adventures or goals with friends who aren’t interested can quickly rub them the wrong way, and won’t give you the support you need when you might be doubting. The travel blog community is great, but finding a group of peers you can talk with face-to-face will be an invaluable resource for travel advice and inspiration. Vagabonding talked about travel meetups back in January, and points to Meetup.com as a great way to find them. Otherwise, make friends with people at your local STA Travel or campus travel center, or make your own travel meetings by putting up a bulletin at a local cafe.

This article was originally published at The Daily Transit and has been reprinted with permission of the author.

  1. Nicely said! You’re on my RSS feed so I get your updates fresh – always appreciate your insight. I was reminded, while reading your blog, of another travel quote that I try to adhere to… “live where others vacation.” Granted, I get the travel bug pretty frequently – but it is nice to live in paradise! Aloha~ Going2Oahu

  2. Great tips! I also like to blank out a place on my calender. Otherwise, I end up making other plans or dealing with things that come up. If I’ve reserved the time to take a trip I’m more likely to save, plan and be ready when the date arrives.

  3. All great tips, Ben. I particularly like #5 as I think this can really provide a mental escape to your travel destination(s) before you even leave. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wonderful tips!

    Before Jim and I hit the road, we had some great travel quotes and photos taped to the inside of our bathroom medicine cabinet. At least twice a day we saw them, and they were great reminders of what we were scrimping, saving and freaking out about!

  5. Glad you all appreciated the tips, thanks for the kind words! I love that idea, Rene, any particular quote stand out?

  6. Great tips. I love it. I also use Time Machiner (timemachiner.com) to remind myself of these things. It’s really neat: you send emails to yourself in the future. I write emails to myself about my goals for the upcoming month so that I’ll randomly get a reminder of what I’d hoped to do or accomplish. I also do longer-term ones with my travel ideas so that I periodically get an email that says something like, “hey, you wanted to go to New Zealand this fall: have you done this and this and this?” Or “Hey, you should go hiking in the Smokey’s this weekend!”

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