Why haven’t you met your travel goals? Fear of the unknown, the anxiety that may come along with planning a big trip, procrastination, time, and money can all get in the way of travel plans — if you let them. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing on its own. According to the Los Angeles Times, more people are afraid of the unknown than spiders and ghosts. Throw some of the other complications into the mix and you may never get around to backpacking through Europe.
Thankfully, with intentional goal setting, you can beat all of these things, banish excuses, and make your dreams of traveling and venturing around the world a reality.
Here are some of the first steps to make it happen.
1. Dream Big
The biggest consideration may be where to go. First, if you have always dreamed of visiting a particular destination, now is the time to do it. Don’t beat around the bush. If you already know, you already know.
Maybe your plans are much more nebulous. You simply know that you need a break and would like to travel. That’s understandable and a great place to start. With the typical U.S. worker spending as many as 42 hours in traffic every year, we could all use a break from the daily grind. Now, consider your reasons for traveling. Determine whether you are trying to dig into your heritage, reconnect with family, learn more about history or a particular culture, have an adventurous or daring experience, visit a certain type of setting or locale, or volunteer your time. Then pick a destination accordingly. If your travel is dedicated to tasting delicious foods, for example, Italy or France may be the perfect choice.
2. Consider Necessary Preparations
Making your travel goals come true takes planning. At least six to 12 months prior to traveling abroad — or three months for a big national trip — begin compiling a list of everything you have to do. This includes obvious things like booking airfare and making accommodations as well as some less obvious tasks.
Think about all of your long-term plans coming up and how they will mesh with your dream to travel. For example, leaving your house worry-free for a week or longer may require some additional security. You’ll want to ensure all locks have a deadbolt. You can consider video surveillance for the exterior of your home and do your homework. A camera with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels will get the job done. An HD camera with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 will allow you to see exactly what is happening and in greater detail. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to get your mail for you or temporarily suspend your mail service by visiting the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) official website.
If you have any furry friends, make sure that you account for them in your travel plans. Arrange pet sitting and meet any new pet sitters. Provide them with a list of emergency numbers and a carrier for your pet or pets.
Be sure to get your personal documents in order as well. Apply for a passport or renew an expired passport at least six months in advance. Remember to request time off from work and make sure any travel companions take this critical step, too.
In other words, do your research, paperwork, and tie up any loose ends before leaving.
3. Start Putting Away Money To Travel
Travel can be an investment. Consider where you can comfortably cut corners or optimize earnings to make it happen.
For example, if you have been planning on downsizing, do it now. Downsizing and getting rid of things you no longer need can save you a considerable amount of money. Just realize the process can take some time. In DC’s metropolitan area, for example, half of all homes do not even sell the first time sellers list them. If downsizing is your plan to save money, do it sooner rather than later and plan for potential setbacks.
Another option may be reconsidering what you do for work. If you are currently stuck plugging away at an office job, consider alternatives that may require just a short certification or learning a program and pay significantly better. Stenography, for example, takes rigorous training but pays well. Once complete, stenographers earn $60,000 or $70,000 per year, which is a much higher rate than the average office worker who earns just $13.34 hourly.
Rewards programs from hotels, credit cards, and airlines may be another way to earn money for your trip, particularly if you travel often.
4. Keep Goals Current
Keep your travel goals at the forefront of your mind. If you start planning 12 months ahead, check in monthly (at least) to reevaluate the status of your plans. If you start with just three to six months to spare, check in biweekly. Create a vision board and share specific plans with friends. Keeping your goals up-to-date and at the front of your mind will help you take the necessary actions to achieve them.
5. Take The Leap
Sometimes, the best way to make something happen is just to do it. If you have a generous time-off policy and days to burn, take them off now. Search websites and apps for last-minute travel deals. Sometimes, booking travel just a few days or weeks before can save you money.
Similarly, if you have been planning that trip and something unexpected comes up, do not cancel it. If a big car repair threatens your travel budget, rework your budget. Travel lightly. Consider a hostel instead of a hotel. Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunches instead of always eating out. Do whatever you can to make sure your trip happens when you originally planned it and you achieve your travel goals. Unfortunately, if you do not follow through on your current plans, chances are things will always come up and it may never happen.
Don’t let life get in the way of your big plans. Dream, plan out all the little details, start a savings account specifically for traveling, stay current when it comes to your travel goals, and go on that trip you always dreamed about — no excuses!