Most people plan for travel like they trace a map, moving from point A to point B, instead of engineering a blueprint for a machine made up of moving parts. It’s not just the simple question of money. It’s saving, earning, and re-purposing money, time, and resources.
I’ve seen would-be travelers get stuck in this rut over and over again (myself included!). To help you, my loyal reader, I have created a four-step process to get you from dreaming about travel to actually seeing the world. Click here for your Free Travel Goal Planner, to work alongside the instructions below. And together, we’ll turn that dream into a reality.
Are you ready to get started?
Step One- Dream
List your top three travel dreams. Dream big or dream small. Think outside-the-box. Just remember that we want to make this happen, so choose at least one dream that is achievable.
Step Two- Define Your Dreams
For each of your three trips, you’re going to bring them to life by spelling out the details. No more ambiguity, put the picture in your mind onto paper.
When you dream of travel, what does it look like? It might be backpacking for a summer, letting yourself get lost in a new place. Maybe you want to travel with a tour group or take a cruise, where you have countless options that a trusted authority has vetted and arranged for you. Perhaps you like the idea of jumping in the car and taking a road-trip.Or maybe you want to give back when you travel, through volunteer work.
Okay, Dreamer, where are you going when you picture your travels? Are you in the metropolitan centers of Europe? The wind-swept savannas of Africa? The beaches along the Great Barrier Reef? The ancient ruins in South America? The fjords of northern Europe? The temples of South-East Asia? Or a tropical island in the South Pacific (you know I couldn’t leave that one out)? If you haven’t read it yet, check out my My Top 18 in ’18, for a little extra inspiration, but I’ll warn you, your bucket-list might grow.
Are you planning on traveling next week, next month, or next year? Or is it still just a dream for someday? It’s okay, I’ve been there. By the end of today, though, I want you to set a date, even if it’s two or three years from now. As you plan when to travel, keep seasonal concerns in mind: hurricane season, peak season (more crowds, more $), off season (possible closures, less $).
This is important when it comes to researching cost! You may be like me, where you find so much fulfillment in bringing the kids along, but it can be expensive. So, maybe consider traveling with another family, where you can split some of the costs, just make sure you figure out who is paying for what, before you leave. Traveling as a couple is amazing (and cheaper) and will give you more flexibility in where you can stay and what you can do. I have never traveled solo, but I hear great things about it and I hope to someday (lower cost and even more flexibility). It comes down to what you want and what will work for your situation.
To make a goal a reality, you need to find your motivation. Do you want to cross off your dream location from your bucket-list? What about getting your first stamp in that passport you’ve had for 8 years now? Maybe you want to take your mom to the village where her parents were born. Or take your kids to live in a foreign country, where they can experience a different way of living.
This is going to take research! Consider plane/train/bus tickets, car rental, accommodations, food, attractions, souvenirs, etc. This will depend on all of the above decisions. You can find cost-of-living averages on-line. Again, think outside-the-box. Look into ways to make travel more affordable. A couple places to get you started are AirBnB, and Trusted House-Sitters.
When you’ve finished defining each trip, weigh the pros and cons, and choose one. I know its hard to make this choice. But as you leave the others behind, the chosen one becomes more than a dream, it becomes a goal, and then a reality.
So, formalize that goal and let’s start working towards it.
Step Three- Make a Plan
In the planner, I have included a sheet with nine spaces. Label the sections for monthly goals, weekly goals, or daily goals. Print as many copies as you need. You can start with monthly goals, then move to weekly, then daily, as your trip gets closer. Whatever is going to work best for you to have everything in order.
How are you going to make it work? Calculate how much money you need to save each month/paycheck. Can you accrue over-time hours to build more vacation time? What are the steps to turn your side-hustle into your full-time, remote job? Plan when to get passports and visas. Buy plane tickets and reserve hotel stays. Do the necessary research to make sure you’re not forgetting anything and then write it down!
Step Four- Stay Motivated
Growing up, my family didn’t travel much, but one year my parents decided to take us all to Disneyland. We would all work together to save the money for the trip. My mom cut out a picture of Disneyland from a magazine and hung it on the wall behind a glass jar. Having the jar in front of the picture kept it high on our minds and whenever anyone had spare change, we put it in the jar.
Your final step is to find a way to keep yourself going. I have provided a positive affirmation page to paste a picture onto and write out your defined goal. Display your goal somewhere that will keep it on your mind. That way, when your friends invite you to go out to dinner, you have a reminder to say, “No” and keep saving for your trip. Or when the neighbor down the street drives home in a shiny, new car, you know that your money is going toward something more meaningful.
Let me know what you’ve decided. I want to hear where you’re going and what your plans are to get your there. You can do this!
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