Travel Goals

Almost 70 percent of Americans have a bucket list, with travel goals at the top of the majority of those lists. It’s easy to make grand statements about your travel goals, but will you ever reach them?

Approximately 56 percent of American adults say that money is an obstacle to achieving their bucket list goals. But people are willing to spend up to $12,888 on their bucket list on average.

How can you create and organize your travel goals so that you can fund them and accomplish them?

Why Should You Set Travel Goals?

Traveling helps you expand your worldview. Even if you’re content sitting on your couch, taking in the sights on Netflix, you can gain a lot by getting out of your comfort zone. It’s not always easy to take time away from your daily obligations. But doing so has several benefits for your physical and mental health.

Traveling Improves Your Interpersonal Skills

When you travel, especially to a country where they don’t speak your native language, you need to use more than speaking skills. You must communicate using facial expressions and body language. You learn to “listen” using all of your senses instead of just your ears.

You have to keep an open mind when you travel. The fact that you are exposed to cultural norms that may be different than your own can alter your perspective.

Traveling enhances your social skills. If you travel alone, you’ll have a chance to meet more people than you typically do on a day-to-day basis at home. When you’re sharing the same experience with others, you probably have similar mindsets. By engaging in conversation, you’ll learn what you have in common and what you don’t.

Even if you don’t usually spark up conversations with people, you’ll get some practice while you’re traveling. You may not have to be the initiator. People will often initiate conversations with you.

Traveling Builds Character

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Traveling gives you the chance to try something new. Even if you stay within your comfort zone at home, you’re likely to embrace novel experiences while traveling.

For example, you might try a type of food although you order the same thing off of the menu at your favorite restaurant. You may attempt an adventure sport even though going to a Zumba class is the most adventurous that you are at home. You’re likely to expand your horizons while traveling because you know that the opportunity might not present itself again.

Traveling Builds Trust

Studies show that people who travel increase their level of trust in others. The key is having varied experience. Most researchers have found that more time spent in different countries doesn’t necessarily help you build trust. However, the breadth of travel, or the number of countries visited, correlates with increased generalized trust.

Traveling Enhances Your Creativity

Traveling may help you think outside the box. Travel experiences may not always go according to plan. Planes get delayed, people get lost and challenges come up. Sometimes, you have to think creatively to manage stressful situations.

Research shows that people who have worked abroad are more imaginative than those who have always worked close to home. Immersing yourself in a new culture allows you to integrate new beliefs, values and customs into your own identity. As you do that, you become more well-rounded.

You have to think in different ways. You have to decide how you feel about different philosophies and ideas. As you become a more flexible thinker, you also become more creative.

Traveling Helps You Solve Problems

The same study that looked at creativity revealed that students who lived in different countries were 20 percent more apt to decipher a computer task than those who remained near their hometowns. When you think creatively, you come up with new ways to perform the same old task.

When you’re exposed to different cultures, you learn that there is more than one way of doing things. You become more likely to integrate ideas in new ways.

Traveling Improves Your Focus and Productivity

Even though your boss might not want to let you take time off for that much-needed vacation, getting away can boost your productivity when you return. That’s especially true if you get some outdoor time while you’re there.

Just looking at nature improves your attention. Moreover, exposing yourself to new experiences keeps your mind sharp.

Even if you don’t go somewhere green, just taking all of your vacation days can make you more refreshed when you return to work. If you can’t detach from your job, you’ll likely experience burnout, which gets in the way of your productivity.

Make some travel goals so that you don’t neglect your vacation time this year.

Traveling Makes You Happy

In 2012, Expedia reported that 89 percent of people who took vacations experienced significant stress relief within two days of departing. Even just planning a trip can make you happier.

The anticipation of your vacation can reduce stress up to eight weeks before you leave. Plus, waiting for an experience, like a trip, makes you happier than anticipating making a material purchase.

These Are the Most Popular Travel Goals

Of the top bucket list goals, 12 out of 20 have to do with travel. The most popular lifetime travel goals include:

  • See the Northern Lights
  • Go on an African Safari
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Swim at the Great Barrier Reef
  • See Egypt’s pyramids
  • Ride on a Gondola in Venice
  • Go on a cross-country road trip
  • Climb the Eiffel Tower
  • Walk the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Take a cruise in Alaska
  • Visit Stonehenge
  • Climb a major mountain

You may have similar goals. However, your travel dreams don’t have to be this grand. When you’re setting travel goals, start small. Think about all of the nearby places that you want to visit. It helps if you can drive to them within three hours.

Then, you can schedule them on the weekends and begin to cross them off your list. As you accomplish your smaller travel goals, you’ll gain confidence and become a more flexible traveler.

You’ll likely want to take your newfound skills to more exotic destinations once you’re an avid trip-taker. If making a list of travel goals seems daunting, think of it as a wish list. You can refresh it at any time, and it’s not a binding plan for your future.

Other Examples of Travel Goals

Here are some other popular destination goals.

  • Explore Thailand
  • Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Visit the Cave of Swallows in Mexico
  • Stay at an eco-resort in Costa Rica
  • Go to the tallest building in the world
  • Visit China
  • Visit Japan
  • Go to the top tourist destinations in London
  • Dine at local pubs in Ireland
  • Visit Rome
  • Go to Disney World
  • Hike in Patagonia

You don’t have to base your travel goals on a specific destination. You can set goals that encourage you to go exploring without a particular location in mind. Some examples of these include:

  • Visit one new location every month
  • Jump on a great flight or hotel deal once a year
  • Go to one tourist attraction in your town every month
  • Drive somewhere within a two-hour radius by yourself
  • Volunteer in another country within the next five years
  • Make a pilgrimage within the next ten years
  • Take a road trip with the family this year
  • Go snorkeling next year
  • Take a foodie tour of your town this weekend

Create Action Steps

Writing down a list of goals and transforming your excuses helps you get to where you want to go. However, that’s not always enough to give you a clear plan to reach your travel goals.

You’ll start seeing a difference once you develop action steps that move you toward your objectives. To do this, work backward from your larger aim.

For example, perhaps one of your goals is to visit the southern coast of Spain. Once you’ve written that down, you’ll need to break it down into smaller steps. These might include the following:

  • Decide which cities you want to visit.
  • When is the best/least expensive time to go?
  • Look up flights.
  • Do some research on online forums and ask other travelers about their experiences.
  • Get yourself a travel book to learn more about the region.
  • Decide what types of accommodations you want to stay in.

Establish a Timeline

Once you have clarified those steps, you can move on to the next crucial part of goal-setting—establishing a timeline. If you’re traveling to one place, find out the ideal time to visit. The answer may depend on the weather or the busy season.

You’ll have some decisions to make. For example, you’ll have to choose whether you want to go when the area is packed with other tourists or during the off-season.

Visiting when everyone else does can help you feel like part of the crowd, which may be important to you if you’re traveling solo. If you’re doing a work exchange program, however, you may prefer to immerse yourself in the local culture when everyone else isn’t gawking at the famous landmarks.

Budget for Your Trip

By this time, you’ll likely have a good idea of how much you’ll need to spend on your trip. You haven’t worked out the ins and outs of your daily life on your journey, but you should have a sense of how much the flights and accommodations will be. Allot a certain amount of spending money per day.

Many guidebooks and blogs can help you with this step. Some tell you how much the average traveler spends per day in a particular city.

Decide how you’re going to save money for your trip. You could do one or more of the following:

  • Open a travel bank account and put aside a small portion of each paycheck
  • Cut down on extra expenses and deposit the extra money into the vacation fund
  • Put extra income, such as bonuses, into the fund
  • Take on a part-time job or a side hustle to earn vacation money
  • Hold a yard sale to raise funds for your trip

Then, you’ll have to come up with a budget to stick to while you’re traveling. Estimating the costs ahead of time can help you with this. Once you’ve done that, you can calculate your total spending for the larger expenses, like flights and accommodations, and give yourself a daily budget for activities and miscellaneous expenses.

Make a Vision Board

Feeling the emotions that will come when you reach your goals is an important part of the planning process. Visualization helps you realize why you set these goals in the first place. Keeping your objectives at the forefront of your mind can help you stay motivated when money becomes tight or you become so busy that you might otherwise neglect your dreams.

Making a vision board is one way to do this. Gather photos of the destination that you’re planning to go to. Imagine how excited you’ll feel when you make your dreams come true.

Post your vision board where you’ll see it every day as a reminder that your travel goals are attainable.

Plan Your Time

You’ll likely have to shift your schedule to make room for your vacation plans. Do you need to request time off from work? Will you have to train someone to do your job in the meantime?

Write down all of the steps that you have to take before you hit the road (or the air). These may include:

  • Purchasing flights
  • Asking for time off
  • Getting someone to care for your pets or water your plants while you’re gone
  • Purchasing luggage or special equipment that you might need for your travel
  • Giving yourself time to pack

Give yourself a deadline for completing each of these steps. If you spread them out throughout the month or year, you’ll stay motivated because you’ll get a boost of enthusiasm every time you cross something off of your list.

Why Aren’t You Achieving Your Travel Goals?

If you’re not rolling in the dough at the present moment, you might avoid setting travel goals altogether. After all, it might not seem realistic to plan to visit distant cities when your car needs work and your rent payment is looming.

Money may not be the only obstacle that’s preventing you from traveling the way that you want to. We’re often ruled by limiting beliefs that we don’t even know we have.

You may think that you can’t travel because:

  • You have children
  • You don’t have enough money
  • You don’t have the time
  • You don’t have a travel partner
  • You don’t speak a foreign language
  • You’re afraid of flying
  • You can’t get time off of work

Shifting your mindset can help you set realistic travel goals. Perhaps you have a desire to take a transatlantic cruise. If you can’t take more than a week off at a time, you won’t be able to book that trip. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a cruise at all. Quick getaways can be just as rejuvenating and life-changing as longer journeys.

Write down all of the excuses that you give yourself for avoiding travel. If you aren’t making travel a priority, maybe it’s not that important to you. If you decide that it is, you might need to drop another activity to make room for a vacation.

Here are some suggestions for busting through your excuses so that you can achieve your travel goals.

I Can’t Travel Because I Have Children

Kids don’t automatically ruin your travel opportunities. In fact, there are many reasons why traveling with kids is good for you, including:

  • You move more slowly and notice more
  • You’re more likely to go to bed early and get enough rest
  • You’ll often wake up early and hit the sights before the crowds do
  • You might do all of those childish things that you wouldn’t do alone
  • You may get privileged access to behind-the-scenes experience or fast lanes
  • Children often travel for free

If you have children, you might need to adjust your travel goals so that you can take your kids into account. You might not be able to ride the biggest roller coaster at the theme park with a toddler, but you could get behind-the-scenes access at the zoo.

Consider these factors, and work them into your travel goals. Also, remember that your children won’t be young forever. You can make travel goals that are appropriate for them at any age. Then, you can go on solo vacations once your kids have left the nest.

I Don’t Have Enough Money to Travel

A trip around the world will cost approximately $2,000 a month. However, a backpacker can make it around the world for a total of $6,000.

There are so many variables that affect the cost of travel. If you telecommute, you may even be able to work during your trip, making enough money to fund the journey because being abroad can be cheaper than being at home as long as you don’t have to pay the mortgage while you’re gone.

In some cases, longer trips can be cheaper, relatively, than short trips because you give yourself more downtime. You don’t try to stuff so many activities into a brief timeframe.

But even if you don’t have the money for a round-the-world trip, you can make the most out of whatever situation you’re in.

Some suggestions for affording at least one trip a year even if your budget is tight include:

  • Taking weekend trips by car
  • Saving and investing your spare change
  • Tighten up your spending
  • Make money on the side
  • Be flexible with your travel dates
  • Use a credit card that earns travel points

You can also avoid paying for accommodations by taking part in a work exchange program. These offer so many opportunities for you to use your skills. Hostels, farms, restaurants and small villages may host you in exchange for a few hours of help each day.

If you’re setting travel goals, consider creating financial goals to go along with them. As your bank account grows, you can adapt your travel goals accordingly.

I Don’t Have the Time to Travel

If you’re not working 24/7, you have time to travel. However, your travel lifestyle has to suit your daily lifestyle. If you practice setting goals consistently, you can make sure that your travel objectives align with your work goals.

People who want to travel extensively can set career goals that allow them this kind of freedom. On the other hand, if you prefer to stick with the 9-to-5, adjust your travel goals so that they fit your schedule.

Let’s say that you get two weeks of paid time off per year. Add that to all of your weekends, and you have more than 100 travel days. That’s almost four months. You won’t be able to take those days consecutively, but you can do a lot with all of that freedom.

Nomadic Matt says that most people think that they don’t have the time to travel because they associate vacations with expensive, complicated trips. The travel industry has contributed to this way of thinking. Their marketing makes us think that we have to spend a lot of money and time on our vacations.

But there are so many resources to learn more about traveling on a time and financial budget. Setting goals can help you maximize your time so that you don’t have to make this excuse anymore.

I Don’t Have a Travel Partner

It’s completely understandable if you are afraid to travel alone. If your friends don’t have the same level of passionate about your vacation plans, you might want to find a travel buddy.

Your friends may not have the same dreams and goals as you do, and that’s ok.

But if you want to grow, you might want to consider traveling solo. MeanderWithMeg explains that she chooses to travel by herself because it’s in line with her goals. She finds travel buddies along the way instead of prepping for her trips with friends.

That way, she doesn’t have to wait for anyone else to come up with the funds or agree on an itinerary. She gains confidence from traveling solo.

If you set travel goals that align with your values, you’ll probably find the motivation to get away even if no one can go with you.

Some ways to travel alone and meet people along the way include:

  • Start with a solid plan
  • Tell others about your itinerary (with no expectations)
  • Join a local day tour on your trip
  • Travel to backpacker-friendly places
  • Stay in hostels
  • Travel with a small group
  • Go on a themed retreat
  • Network using social media
  • Use Airbnb and choose a shared rental

I Don’t Speak the Language

Most people aren’t equipped to learn the language of every country to which they wish to travel. The thought that you might not be able to communicate with people easily brings up a lot of fear and discomfort.

But many tourist locations are used to dealing with foreign travelers. English is the universal travel language, and you’ll often find people who understand you if you speak simply and clearly.

If you’re journeying off the beaten path, finding someone who speaks your language can be more difficult. But it’s not impossible to communicate in a foreign country.

You can learn a few key words in a different language when you’re traveling. Write them down if you think that you won’t be able to remember them. Some of the most important words that will help you get what you need on your next vacation include:

  • Hello
  • Goodbye
  • Thank you
  • Toilet
  • Food
  • Restaurant

You might also want to write down the names of cities that you will be traveling to. Put the name of your accommodations in writing so that you can ask for directions easily. Carry a translator or travel phrase book with you, and pack a pad of paper and pen in your bag just in case you need to communicate using the rules of Pictionary.

I’m Afraid of Flying

According to statistics, you’re more likely to be in a fatal car accident than an airplane crash. Still, those numbers don’t always quell your sense of dread when you step on an airplane.

Facts don’t make a difference if you have a flying phobia. Some tips that could help you combat your fear of flying are:

  • Get to the airport with plenty of time – If you move slowly as you pack, arrive at the airport and board the plane, you’ll help avoid triggering your body’s alarm response.
  • Remember the endpoint – Remind yourself of the purpose of your trip so that you can rely on excitement, which is extremely similar to fear.
  • Distract yourself – Keep yourself occupied during the flight so that you don’t have mental space to worry. Chatting with a seatmate can distract you from invasive thoughts.

You can achieve your travel goals even if they seem overwhelming. If you put your mind to it and create a strategy, you’ll be able to go wherever you want with a little dedication and discipline.

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