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Hello and Happy New Year! Do you want to travel more this year? This is a great time to set resolutions and make plans so that you can fulfill your dreams in the coming year. Need simple steps to fulfill your travel resolutions this year? This post is target to help you realize your goals and aspirations. Although we’ll focus specifically on travel, many of the steps can be applied to goals in any area of life. Ready?
1. Decide what you want
This first step seems obvious, but how many times do you waver in your mind, wondering whether you really want to travel or whether it will be too inconvenient, too expensive, or cold, or any other number of excuses? This is the time to look deeply at those doubts and also at what you really want.
If you’re still not sure, an effective way to see your real feelings is to flip a coin. For example, “heads and I go to Canada this year, tails and I don’t”. This has two advantages. First, it will immediately make clear your real desires based on either happiness or disappointment at the outcome. Second, once it is decided, go with that decision, don’t allow yourself to continue to vacillate.
2. Set SMART goals
Once you’ve decided overall what you’d like, narrow it down into a set of SMART goals. Have you heard of SMART? These are goals that are Specific Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. That means that while you might like to make 10 million dollars and travel the world on a private yacht this year, unless you can make a specific plan to do it, it’s better to start with SMART goals.
Go through several options and see that they are specific enough and measureable. For example, say I’d like to spend at least a week in France, rather than I’d like to travel more this year. Then make goals that you know you can achieve with a little planning. This is the attainable part of a smart goal. The relevant and timely goals mean they should be goals that are important to you right now. While you may have friends who want to climb Mount Everest, a week at the beach and a weekend in NYC might be more relevant and timely for you. That is the key here: the goals should be relevant and timely for you to give you the greatest value.
Now that you’ve got a clear plan of what you’d like to do and how you can achieve it, I’m going to ask you to take the opposite approach. Spend at least 1-2 minutes a day visualizing your goals being fulfilled. These can be your SMART goals created above, and even your wildly unrealistic deeply held goals. This is your time to go for it. But it is important to still use the principle of being specific and seeing the details as you want them.
Successful athletes, business leaders, and others who are able to rise to the top of their field use this technique. If you want to see more on this, I recommend the book Leveraging the Universe and Engaging the Magic by Mike Dooley. He does a great job of describing our own inner potential.
The next step is to start researching your desired plan. There is more information on this in the post on how to get the best flight deal every time. You can also set a price alert in Kayak flights for your desired travel date. If your dates are flexible, research the best shoulder season to visit your desired location, and also when the best prices are.
Thinking about going somewhere, create a post on Facebook or email family and friends asking for the best tips. Sometimes they will even have options of accommodations, and also tips you wouldn’t know without visiting a place first. My Aunt is going to visit Rishikesh, India, instead of just hanging out in Delhi for a week, because she reached out and we gave her ideas!
You can also look into house swap websites if finances are tight and your time is flexible, as well as options for house sitting long term if you want to try being a digital nomad.
6. Map out the time and lay the framework
Once you’ve gone through the first 5 steps, you should have an idea of your goals and priorities, the costs, the available options, and the flexibility of your schedule. Now it’s time to pick the dates. Map out your trip and put it in you calendar. If flight prices were great or you got a good mileage deal, book now. Otherwise just lay the framework. You should know what dates you will be traveling and let others know. It’s good to get an idea of where you plan to stay and work towards that goal. For example you can setup a house swap, apply for a new credit card to get free hotel nights, or select the best airbnb in the area.
7. Set saving goals and targets
Now that you know when you’ll be going, you need to work backwards with your finances to make sure you’ve saved enough for the trip. Suppose you want to travel for 2 weeks in July and you expect flight, hotel, and transportation to cost $1600. There are 6 months between now and then, so you would need to save about $270 a month for the trip.
Open a travel savings account and start an automatic deposit into the account each month. It’s good to have extra in case of emergencies, but at least having the base is a good start. Repeat this process for any other trips you plan to take during the year and make your monthly or weekly deposits. Then you are ready to go.
8. Strategies to save more
It’s always nice to discover a surplus in your travel budget, right? One way to do this is to apply for credit cards that give you a signup bonus. United Mileage Plus explorer usually gives you 30,000 miles and up to 50,000 miles during specials. Most other airlines have a significant signup bonus. Select which airline flies to your desired destinations, sign up for the cards and earn miles to pay for your ticket.
Likewise, Hilton and other hotel chains have signup bonuses on credit cards. This can be a fun way to get two to five free nights at a nice hotel.
I also like to book hotels and apartments through hotels.com, where I earn one free night for every 10 nights booked. It may not happen right away, but over time it adds up. You can even offer to book hotels for friends and co-workers, and earn free nights more quickly.
Word of warning:
You should only signup for a maximum of five credit cards in a year, and you should be able to pay off whatever charges you put on your new cards, otherwise the signup bonus is self-defeating. You can start with one card, and if you are desperate to make the minimum spend, send the money to a friend via paypal and have them reimburse you. Depending on the amount, there is typically a charge of about $50 to do this, which may be worth it for many credit card programs.
Step by step you will get there
As you can see, each of these steps is relatively simple and straightforward. But they rely on three key principles: planning ahead, making the time, and going for it. If you take the time now to plan your travel for the year, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how many travel opportunities you have.
And if you’re able to save money you budgeted through credit card and hotel bonuses, this will leave you with more options to take weekend excursions or plan an extra trip. Whatever your travel goals, with these 8 simple steps, you will be able to fulfill your goals and travel more in the new year.