The 10-Step Guide to Setting & Achieving Your Travel Goals
Do you have a growing bucket list of dream destinations and experiences but never find the motivation or time to make them happen?
Well, I'm sure you don’t need our reassurance that a trip to Paris is always a great idea. But a dream without a plan is just a wish - and we're here to fix that!
We believe that everyone deserves to experience all that this beautiful world has to offer, and that the act of traveling makes each of us better, more well-rounded and open minded people.
It’s important to immerse yourself in your travel goals to actually make them a reality. By tracking your trips and keeping them visualized in your home, you are significantly more likely to stay motivated to save for, plan, and feed your desire to travel once and for all! (65% more likely, in fact - more on that below!)
With our 10 powerful ideas below, you'll soon be on the path to achieving your travel goals! Whether you implement all of these tips or just one, you're guaranteed to be that much closer to achieving your travel goals. But the more you actually implement, the faster you're going to crush that bucket list and see as much of the world as you desire!
1. Set goals that motivate you
Take a second and ask yourself: What is my motivation for prioritizing travel as an important part of my life? Is it to experience new places and cultures? To discover my passion? To escape from the daily grind? To jump outside of my comfort zone? Something else? WHY do I want to travel?
The answer is different for every traveler. But whatever fuels your desire for seeing the world, be sure it is kept top of mind each day. Whether you use one of our push pin maps, or simply a photo on the fridge, constant reminders are very important to achieving your travel goals.
2. Dream big!
Take an afternoon to sit down and create a “Bucket List of 100 Dreams” - a completely unedited list of 100 things you would like to do in this life. The sky’s the limit here so aim for goals a little out of reach.
This’ll be tough - and that’s the point! The beginning of the list may be loftier, long-term dreams. But by the last third it might be simpler things like visiting a state park an hour away - drivable getaways that you could accomplish on a lazy weekend!
You can utilize these to create some great momentum by checking off those smaller, easily attainable bucket list items, and then keep at it! Before you know it, you’ll be doing things that you never thought possible.
3. Narrow it down
You don’t have to start with the easy ones. It’s all up to how you like to operate.
Take a look at all of the goals on your bucket list. Now choose one of the places or experiences on your list and commit to it. When deciding which goal to tackle first, you can use the questions below to narrow it down and prioritize your goals, either by ease or by importance:
- Which of the destinations are closest to me?
- Which trip is the least expensive?
- Which trip would be the easiest for me to take right now?
- If I could only visit one of these places before I die, which one would I choose? With this question you’re pinpointing which trip you’re most passionate about.
Pro tip: You can take some of the mental juggling out of the decision by creating a spreadsheet and rating all of your list items based on the questions above. Add up their scores and the one with the highest score is your next destination!
4. Turn excuses into actionable steps
We’ve all heard (or even used) the excuses:
I don’t have enough money to travel.
I can’t get enough time off work to travel.
I don’t have anyone to travel with.
Every excuse can also be looked at as an opportunity. Squash those excuses and replace them with simple tasks:
- I will create a budget plan to save the money I need to take this trip.
- I will plan my time off work in advance to make it a priority to recharge.
- I will find a tour company that caters to solo travelers if I can’t find a travel companion and don’t want to go solo.
There’s always a way to overcome your hurdles. You have to decide to stop letting them hold you back, and embrace the fact that you can overcome them.
5. Set SMART travel goals
It’s important to identify not just the difference between where you are and where you want to be, but to create a step by step plan to bridge that gap. Set SMART goals, which give you direction and help you organize and reach your goals. To make sure your goals have a high likelihood of success, each one should be:
Specific: Your goal should be clear and well-defined so that you can focus your energy on achieving it.
Ask yourself: Who, what, where, when and why?
Instead of saying “I want to travel more” or “I want to go back to Europe,” which are vague goals, clarify where, when and with who you want to go. An example is: “I want to visit Paris with my boyfriend for a week in May to celebrate our anniversary.”
Measurable: It’s important to have measurable amounts and dates attached to your goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated, while feeling the excitement as you inch closer to your goal.
Ask yourself: How will I know when I have reached this goal?
Instead of “I want to stay for about a week and not spend too much money,” make your goal more quantifiable like “I want to stay for 8 days, 7 nights and spend xxx on flights, xxx on accommodations and xxx on experiences.”
Achievable: The goal should challenge you but not be entirely out of reach. It should be realistic and attainable to be successful.
Ask yourself: Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?
Choose a realistic trip to focus on first based on your current income and circumstances (vacation time, visas, distance, cost of flights, etc.)
Relevant: This step is about ensuring that your goal is important to you and that it also aligns with your other life goals.
Ask yourself: How much does this matter to me and is it worth the time and effort? Is it significant to my life?
Consider your travel style and how long you would want to spend in each destination. Does it make more sense for you to take a one-week 5-star vacation in Bali or a 6-month budget backpacking trip around South America?
Time-bound: Your goal should have a clearly defined timeline, including not only your travel dates, but also the stages of saving, planning and booking your trip and milestones for each. This step helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
Ask yourself: Is my timeline realistic while also creating urgency?
A good example is: “We can save $3,000 in 6 months but need $1,000 for the flight by January, $1,000 for accommodations by February and to book our activities by April.”
6. Write it down
Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down?
This makes the goal real and tangible, taking the trip from abstract to concrete.
As you write, use the power-word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” This way you can visualize yourself achieving the goal. Hang your goals up on your fridge or mirror so that they are top of mind every day.
7. Immerse yourself in your goals
To keep yourself motivated for saving and planning for your travel goals, immerse yourself in them!
Make the inspiration visual! Pin your next destination on your map with a heart pin and add inspirational photos to your matching pin board. Create a vision board or Pinterest board with photos and blog posts about your dream destination. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals in your friend circle or in a Facebook community such as For The Love of Travel.
8. Tell everyone
Accountability is key! Sharing your travel goals with others increases your chances of sticking to them (65% more likely to achieve them!). And better yet, find someone to join you in your travel goals and stick together!
9. Take the first step
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! Then on to the next step... and the next... If you try to conquer everything all at once, you may get overwhelmed and give up. Taking things one step at a time keeps things manageable - and achievable!
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing process, not just a means to an end. On a journey of a thousand miles, it’s easy to lose sight of just how far you’ve come. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and set aside time to review your progress.
10. Celebrate and repeat!
So you saved the money, booked the flight, planned the experiences and are off on your adventure! Congrats! Take some time to celebrate and reflect. Whether that’s writing in a journal, printing off photos, updating your push pin map, or collecting the post cards you sent yourself, take the time to let it all sink in. Then get to work on that next travel goal on your list!
At the end of the day, it is difficult for all of us to set and achieve our travel goals. Life is busy! But these tips should help.
The best tool to help you set your goals, dream about them, share them with others (for that accountability!), commit to yourself, and stay inspired, is a push pin travel map.
At Conquest Maps, we have helped tens of thousands of people achieve their travel dreams with our pinnable travel maps.
We offer a highly customizable selection of top quality maps so that you can get out there and see the world with more enthusiasm and determination than ever before!
It’s your journey. Time to conquer those obstacles and explore the world!