A Practical Guide for Turning Travel Dreams into Travel Goals

Zebra contemplates turning her travel dreams into travel goals

You have travel dreams. And even if year after year they’ve stayed dreams, despair not: you can make them real. Reading this guide will help you turn your travel dreams into travel goals so you can accomplish them.

Do other people reach their dreams because they lead charmed lives? Nope. No one achieves dreams by sitting back and waiting for them to happen. People achieve dreams when they go out and do what others dream of doing. Reaching a dream is hard work, but it’s a great feeling.

Ready to go get that feeling? Let’s start.

Step 1 - red flowers

Change Your Attitude

To turn your travel dreams into reality, realize they aren’t just dreams; they aren’t out of reach, and they aren’t impossible. They are real.

Is something holding you back? Are there reasons you haven’t reached your dreams?

  • Work is too busy to take time off for travel
  • Traveling is expensive
  • Getting enough vacation time is tough
  • Traveling with a family is complicated
  • Foreign languages are intimidating

Changing your attitude starts by confronting the things that hold you back. Flip negative statements into positive ones.

  • There is no ‘perfect’ time to go on vacation
  • Save up and budget money for travel
  • Negotiate or bank vacation time
  • Traveling with kids is rewarding
  • It’s not necessary to be bilingual

See what happened? Everything holding you back was destroyed. The things you think are stopping you from achieving your dreams are called “limiting beliefs” and they become legitimate reasons only when you believe in them. Stop believing and they disappear.

Start living your dreams, destroy limiting beliefs.

Step 2 - yellow flowers

Set Your Travel Goals

Now that you’ve decided your travel dreams are real, they won’t be dreams anymore. They’re going to turn into travel goals.

Setting travel goals is a lot like setting goals at work or at home. But setting a travel goal starts with making it mean something to you. Consider why you want to travel: a feeling? A skill? Knowledge? Meeting people?

Think hard about what you really want and why you want it. Be honest with yourself.

Step 3 - evergreen

Make Your Goals SMART

SMART goals will be familiar to anyone involved in project management. Used for goals like construction projects or company-wide human resource rollouts, you can also use the SMART framework for reaching travel goals. Each letter of SMART stands for an aspect of a goal.

S – specific

Something you can’t describe isn’t a good goal. Be as specific as you can when setting goals and you’ll be able to make a plan that gets them done.

Not great: take better photos when I travel

Go for it: learn to shoot in manual mode on my camera

M – measurable

Some say if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. That’s not true for everything (like happiness for instance) but it does come in handy to have measurable travel goals. That way you’ll know when you achieve them.

Not great: go camping more

Go for it: go camping at least three times this summer

A – achievable

To be motivated toward a goal, it needs to be achievable. If it’s something that you’re not passionate about, or don’t see value in, don’t have it as a goal.

Not great: eat a panda steak

Go for it: eat a crocodile steak

R – realistic

A realistic goal doesn’t defy the laws of physics or involve a complete do-over of the last 20 years of your life. Just don’t make your goals too easy.

Not great: ski alone across Antarctica

Go for it: visit Antarctica

T – time-based

Set a deadline for your travel goal, or it will slip away. You’re more likely to meet a goal that has a real deadline rather than ‘someday’.

Not great: visit Australia

Go for it: visit Australia before September

Making goals SMART, makes them more attainable. When goals fit into the SMART framework, they’re set up for you to achieve them.

Step 4 - blue water

Work Toward Your Goal

Reaching your travel goals takes time and hard work: goals don’t happen by themselves.


Now you have meaningful travel goals that fit into the SMART framework – it’s time for research. Use the internet, the library, ask friends, and find out how to accomplish your goals. Gathering facts about completing a goal destroys misconceptions and makes goals achievable.

Make a Plan

Nothing happens without a plan. Well, that’s not exactly true: things happen, but goals won’t. Use your research to make a plan for your goals.

  • Need to save money? Plan a budget.
  • Need training? Plan when you can do it.
  • Need to take a chunk of time off? Plan how to approach the boss.

By making a plan to complete a goal, and you’ll be committing mentally as you make it. Then you’ll be more likely to accomplish it.

Enjoy the Journey

In case you hadn’t noticed, travel goals need a lot of time up-front. The hard work, the anticipation, the preparation… These are part of your goal too. It’s not just about the destination. Achieving a goal can mean doing things you don’t like, but these things are also part of your goal. Learn from your challenges, and enjoy the journey to meeting your goal.

What do you think?

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.