As the new year approaches, it’s common to set goals you want to achieve. According to Health Magazine, one of the top goals on new year’s resolution lists is to travel more.
Perhaps you’ve fantasized about being that impulsive adventurer, or considered giving your time to a cause by volunteering abroad. Whatever trip you envision — travel can appear to be a daunting goal, but it’s achievable if you break it down into digestible steps.
Here are five steps you can take to accomplish your new year’s travel goals.
1. Commit the time
The biggest obstacle for people when it comes to travel is setting aside the time. Open a calendar, mark off dates and formally inform your boss you’re taking a vacation.
Once you coordinate with your family members, completing this task takes a week or two at best. If you’re a solo traveler, even better — committing to a two-week vacation is easy when you only have yourself to consult!
Besides the affliction of being noncommittal, another typical excuse is not knowing what time of year to book a trip. A prime time for a family is during winter break or summer vacations, when your children are not in school. Another popular time of year is spring, when many destinations are in low season — so prices are considerably lower.
2. Use manifestation
What is your dream destination? The Galapagos? Thailand? These may sound out of reach, but getting there is attainable. As you build towards your vacation, why not put visual reminders in your office space or home?
Visualization is proven to increase motivation and concentration by creating new neural pathways in your brain — a cluster of cells connected to learned behaviors and memories. Those excitable brain cells take imagery and turn them into real-life plans. Positive feelings are produced by having a photo nearby, which allow you to see the possibilities, thus mentally preparing you to pursue that goal.
Go beyond visualization by also researching a destination. Learning about the history, art, food and culture generates a curiosity that you’ll want to satisfy by finally booking a plane ticket.
3. Budget month-by-month
A pervailing argument for not fulfilling travel goals is a lack of funds. Travel does cost money, but the mental and emotional benefits are truly an investment in yourself.
Daily life sometimes turns into a rut — we get buried under our problems and have difficulty seeing the solutions. This can lead to bouts of depression.
But travel allows you to rediscover the beauty of life again. Even a short vacation can foster a fresh perspective and allow you to make changes that aren’t too drastic.
Now that you’ve committed to investing in your well-being, the least painful way to budget for a vacation is to deposit a set amount of money from every paycheck into a separate account. Name that account “travel fund” to lend importance to it.
It’s simple to open a bank account — and seeing the results of your budgeting makes your travel goals possible.
4. Start small
There’s a misconception that a first trip must be to a faraway country, vastly different than your own. Yet, what if you don’t have much experience traveling and want to start small?
Taking short, weekend trips is a perfect primer to more ambitious vacations. The act of packing, navigating, and managing logistics is sound training to go further.
Even the sensation of getting away is exhilarating, a feeling that will strike again once you do tackle that overseas trip.
Think of destinations you’re keen to see in your own country first, and then continue from there.
5. Ask questions
Business Insider reported that Americans spend most of their time engaging in social media activities, more than any other activity on the Internet. This is good news if you want to travel!
Facebook groups, Quora, travel guidebook forums (like Lonely Planet Thorn Tree or Fodor’s), and Couchsurfing forums are great places to ask questions about traveling.
Since you’re on social media anyway, use it for the right purpose. The best way to put your mind at ease about planning a trip is to ask others who’ve done it before you.
Having information empowers you to book flights and hotels with confidence — and to make your dreams concrete.
Is traveling more one of YOUR goals for 2015?