Daydreaming in San Francisco, California
© Chang Liu

8 Stupid Simple Steps to Achieve Your Travel Goals

If you’re half as travel-mad as me, you already have in mind lots of travel goals you’d like to achieve. It’s easy to have lots of dreams of trips you’d like to take and things you’d like to see, but it’s not always easy to do it and keep up with all the other parts of life.

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You’ll increase your chances of achieving these dreams if you sit down and write some travel-related goals. Here’s how I do it.

#1: Big Dream Goals

Start by thinking up a handful of “big dream goals”. I’m not a bucket list kind of gal, but I do have some big dreams, some “one day” adventures — seeing penguins in Antarctica being one of them. This is the place (in a notebook or on computer) where you can imagine you’ve won the lottery and you can do anything you want — a proper “there’s no wrong answer” brainstorming session. I don’t expect I’ll be able to achieve all of these big dreams in my lifetime but I certainly never will if I haven’t even thought about them.

Pink Sunset, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Pink Sunset, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii © D. Sharon Pruitt / Pink Sherbet Photography

#2: Country List

Next step is somewhere between dreams and reality — I have a list of countries I would like to visit. You don’t have to have a reason (my reasons are often obscure!) but if something about a country draws you in, put it on the list.

For example, my list includes Colombia because I have some very dear Colombian friends, Mongolia because the idea of staying in a ger fascinates me, and Namibia because I almost went there once and became so interested in the place by researching it.

#3: Travel Timetable

Make a timetable for the possible time slots you have for traveling over the next five years (or longer if need be — perhaps if you are restricted by children in school, your own education, or other factors). A five year plan is ideal, I think. Consider when you’ll be able to take leave from work or other restrictions and map out your free time slots.

#4: Pencil in Destinations

For each possible time slot on your travel timetable, pencil in a possible destination. Here’s where you can start to get practical and consider the appropriate lengths of trips, the distances involved, the costs, the seasons, and so on. But do try to include at least one of your big dreams — if it’s in your plan you’ll have a good shot at making it happen!

#5: Savings & Preparation

For the next two years or so, set appropriate goals for the amount of money you need to save (you might need to do a little research to get a realistic estimate — but that kind of research is a whole lot of fun!) and for when you need to prepare which parts of the trip (booking flights, for example). Be specific both in the nature and the timing of these goals and make sure they are concrete actions.

Traveler Relaxing on a Beach, Maldives
Traveler Relaxing on a Beach, Maldives © Nattu

#6: Monthly Savings

For many of us, saving the money for a trip can be the trickiest part, especially if it is a little way into the future. Create some very specific savings goals to start putting the money away towards your trips. I recommend monthly savings goals and a separate account if you can’t trust yourself not to touch the extra money!

This might also be a good time to consider what kind of things you can change to start making saving that money even easier. (Don’t miss How I Saved $10,000 in 10 Months (at an Entry Level Job))

For example, not buying lunch or dining out a little less often — these can be very small sacrifices to make compared to taking off on some fantastic travels.

#7: Trip Preparation

I adore getting ready for a trip — looking for great deals on flights, hunting down some accommodation (or just getting ideas for spontaneous stays once I get there), daydreaming about some of the places I might see and things I might do. Yes, I think the preparation is almost as good as actually going on the trip! That makes it a great thing to do gradually as part of your travel goals so you are always working towards a bigger goal.

Create a timetable with some reminders in your calendar or whatever kind of system you use so that you can keep working on your trip and are also organized when the time arrives. Even if your next trip is five years away, there is plenty of interesting preparation (reading, researching, and so on) that you can do far ahead of time, and then as the countdown goes on you can add activities like booking transport and accommodation to the list.

#8: Keep Your Goals in Mind

Apart from having a bunch of goals and plans written down somewhere, I highly recommend having something related to your travel goals on display in a prominent place (on your pin-up board, for example). This way, you are regularly reminded that you have these goals and you will get to travel somewhere exciting soon.

For example, I’ve had some glossy brochures about Tasmania, my next destination, hanging in my living room for the last few months so I can delve into them and start daydreaming about some of the gorgeous landscapes I’ll experience once I get there. Seeing something concrete about your travel goals (especially if it looks beautiful!) will also make it easier to do the harder parts like saving and sacrificing.

So, don’t listen if others think you’re crazy to sit down and make a set of travel goals. All this will make it much more likely you’ll achieve them and during the periods when you can’t hit the road, you’ll have plenty of ways to keep dreaming about it.

  1. Great tips, Amanda! Another way to choose destinations we’ve found helpful is using global events that we want to attend. This makes the Travel Timetable step work itself out and provides further clarity as to the when and where of fulfilling ones travel goals.

  2. I think everyone should have a list (if not written down, in your head) of places you want to go. Then when you notice an article or blog post about it, you’re more inclined to read it. That way if you ever stumble across a last minute opportunity, you are already prepared! Right now Amble Resorts is giving away a free flight to anywhere in the world, it would definitely be a great chance to achieve some of your big dream travel goals!

  3. Good tips! at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is to make sure you have a realistic goal and always always always have that goal in front of you so you don’t get swayed. One could always have a wallpaper picture of one’s dream location to get you through the workday! =)

  4. A journey begin with one small step. Thank you Amanda for nice article. You makes my confident level higher than before to reach my dream :)

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