Posted Date: February 2, 2021
| If your dream is to travel the world, this is how you start achieving your most ambitious goal.
“I want to travel,” is one of the most common desires of the heart, and it makes sense. Travel is exciting, adventurous, and novel. It opens up our minds to new possibilities, experiences, and cultures. As you travel, you’ll escape the dreaded 9-5 of adulthood, meet new friends, and come to learn more about yourself along the way.
Traveling is a way to find a new version of freedom in our lives – especially when we are planning to travel long-term.
Yet, for so many people, the obstacle of quitting your job to travel the world seems so immense that the majority of us give up on it before we ever begin.
The pathway to traveling seems riddled with questions that feel impossible to overcome such as “How do I save enough money to travel?”, ‘How do I quit my job to travel”, and “I’ve never traveled before, where do I begin?”
All of these are excellent questions. They are the right questions to ask if you want to make your dream come true. They are the same questions I had to ask myself at different stages of my travel journey.
If you truly want to travel the world, you’ll have to start goal setting.
Well, that sounds boring. Maybe, but traveling the world for a year is not. And setting a strong goal is where it all begins, even if that sounds a little boring.
In this blog, I’ll show you where most people fail at accomplishing their goals and how to set a goal to travel the world that you will actually achieve.
How To Not Fail at Your Travel Goals
The number one reason people fail to quit their jobs to travel the world is because they make excuses for not following through on their goals.
Hopefully that didn’t sound too harsh, but I have been so guilty of this myself when setting goals. For example, I set a goal to study and improve my Russian language ability. Sometimes, at the end of a work day, I don’t want to put my brain back to work and study grammar and vocabulary. It sounds like more than my exhausted brain can handle. It’s so much easier to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”, and then put on a tv show or scroll mindlessly through my phone. And that’s when I know I’ve lost.
When it comes to traveling the world, the “I’ll do it tomorrow” excuses may not seem quite as obvious at first, but they definitely exist.
So before we begin going on about excuses, I think it is important to state a couple of truths about travel goals so we are all starting on the same page.
1. Traveling costs money.
Many of the excuses we make are justifications for how we spend our money when we know that we have a goal we are trying to achieve.
2. Saving money takes time.
We all wish we could win the lottery, quit our jobs, and travel the world tomorrow. But it will take time to get there.
3. Achieving your goals will require some sacrifice.
It’s easy to want everything in life all at once. But if you want to travel the world without the pressure or stress of having a job, you are going to have to make some sacrifices before your trip to save up enough money to get there. This doesn’t mean you will have to sacrifice all of your joy and happiness as you are saving for your trip, but it does mean you’ll have to learn to say no to some things that you want or want to do.
4. Peer pressure exists.
We often think of peer pressure as someone trying to get us to do something that is unhealthy for us. But the truth is, when it comes to saving to travel the world, your friends will invite you to do things that cost money. They aren’t trying to tempt you away from your overall goal of traveling, but they genuinely want to spend time with you because they like you. They are your friends. This type of “peer pressure” can be difficult to navigate, especially if they don’t know about your goal to travel.
To get around this, you can tell your friends about your goal. If you tell them your plan, they will be supportive and understanding. You can then find an alternative thing to do that costs a little bit less.
Now that we have those basic rules set here are the top excuses we hear when people talk themselves out of leaving their jobs to travel long-term.
I spend too much money
This is the “I’ll do it tomorrow” excuse for long-term travel aspirers. Spending too much of your paycheck and not saving enough is the number one reason people don’t reach their travel goal.
It’s so easy to pick up dinner tonight instead of cooking at home because you are too tired. Trust me, don’t I know it. You know that you’re digging into your savings, but then tell yourself “I’ll be better at saving tomorrow.”
One of the simple truths of achieving your travel goal, the first commandment so to speak, is that you will need to learn to spend less, extend the lives of the things you already own, and learn to live more minimally. That’s how you save more and how you create opportunities for yourself. Traveling the world will make you so much more fulfilled than surrounding yourself with a bunch of stuff.
My job doesn’t pay very well
I’ve been there. I know how it feels to work so hard for so little money, but just because you don’t make a lot of money doesn’t mean you can’t travel. I’ve written another blog about how to maximize your paycheck and decrease your expenses so you can start saving more for your trip. Travel also doesn’t have to be expensive. I share some tips on how to find free/cheap accommodation, so you can travel for cheaper and on a smaller budget.
I’m worried about leaving my job for an extended period of time
This is a valid concern. Corporate experts will chirp away saying how pausing your career to travel is a bad idea, but my personal experience has been positive in that I found a job quickly after returning from my trip. In fact, people seemed more eager to interview me when I mentioned that I traveled for a year.
There will always be jobs available when you return, and if you’re anything like me, you might even find you want a change in your career after your time away.
You will grow more as a person during your travels than you ever would during that year at work. The freedom you experience will open your mind to new opportunities, and you will be grateful for taking the risk to leave and take time to enjoy life.
I have too much debt
I was $11,000 in debt when I graduated college, but made it a priority to pay it off quickly before interest kicked in and that $11,000 turned into $15,000. If you have debt, assess it and create a plan to pay it off as soon as you can. Use the saving resources section on this site to learn better ways to save more so you can pay off your debt. The sooner you pay off your debts, the sooner you will be able to travel.
Debt is an important concern, so you should pay it off as quickly as possible. But having debt doesn’t mean that you will never be able to travel the world. It means that you will have to wait a little longer before you can head off on your adventure.
All of these excuses are valid concerns. They are apprehensions both Jenoa and I felt as we saved up for our trip. But we were able to lay them aside and stick to our plan by making our goal our top priority. I paid off my debt by living in a spare room in my kind-hearted neighbors basement for free. Jenoa learned that there is more to life than obsessing over her career. We both learned how to maximize our earnings on average salaries, and we became “frugal as frick”, as Jenoa’s sister calls us. We also learned to ignore the calls of consumerism to buy more and to buy only what we needed instead.
You can do this too, and it all starts with setting a goal. Now that we have covered some of the major excuses we use to justify falling short of our big plans, let’s figure out how to set a goal to travel the world.
The Right Way To Set A Big Travel Goal
First things first, you’re going to have to think about your goal. It doesn’t have to be planned down to every detail, but a goal should be a concrete idea that you can hold onto in your mind. You should be able to envision it and imagine what it will feel like to accomplish it.
To get started, I want you to close your eyes (after you finish reading this paragraph), and just imagine what traveling the world looks like to you. Where do you go? What do you do? Who are you with? Okay, close your eyes and imagine this for 3-5 minutes.
Welcome back! Hopefully you are feeling hopeful and excited after envisioning your trip. While these images and ideas are fresh in your mind, I want you to grab a pen and a piece of paper or open up a note taking app on your computer or phone.
Write down answers to the following:
- What cities or countries did you see yourself in?
- What were you doing? Were you at a landmark like the Eiffel Tower? Were you hiking through Nepal? Were you sailing through the Caribbean?
- Who were you with? Were you traveling solo? Were you with your partner? Did you imagine yourself hanging out with new friends?
This vision that you just will serve as your north star for your travel goals. Whenever you are doubting yourself or feeling like you’re not sure if you’ll be able to accomplish your goal, you can come back to what you wrote down just now and it will spark that same excitement going forward.
Now, let’s actually set your goal. To do this, you’ll need to know how much you make, a general idea of how much you spend, and how much you need to save to travel the world.
Making Your Goal To Travel
Setting your goal is the first real step you’ll take to turn your dream into a reality. Goal setting is actually much easier than all of the experts out there make it seem. To set achievable goals, you’ll need to follow a few basic guidelines. Achievable goals are:
Writing vague goals is one of the biggest mistakes people make when setting a goal to travel long-term. You want to travel the world, but that in and of itself is a pretty vague goal. This is where you’ll need to get specific. Your goal isn’t actually to travel the world, as you might think, but the goal you need to set is to save up enough money so you can quit your job to travel the world.
What people really want to do is save up enough money to travel the world for a year so they can take a break from their jobs and experience new places, cuisines, and cultures.
Do you see the difference there? That is much more specific than “travel the world” and it helps you get to the point where you can travel the world.
While you may not know all of the cities and countries you want to visit during your gap year, the important part is that you have a general idea. You can look back to the exercise we did at the beginning of the section “The Right Way To Set a Big Travel Goal” to get an idea of some of the places you most want to visit.
When Jenoa and I left on our trip, we had a list of places we wanted to visit, but as the year rolled on our list changed. We added new places to the list and put some on our “For Later” list. Your trip will evolve. But for the sake of setting a goal to travel the world, you don’t need to know all of the details.
Here’s a good example of what a goal to travel the world will look like.
| By January 2022, Jenoa and I will save up $50,000 so we can quit our jobs to travel through South America and Africa for 12 months.
That’s all there is to it, but now you can see how this goal is effective.
What we have written tells us when we will achieve our goal – January 2022.
Our goal is specific in telling us how much money we need to save up to travel for twelve months – $50,000.
It answers who will be involved – Jenoa and myself.
It tells us where we hope to visit on our travels – South America and Africa.
As I mentioned before, our goal in this case isn’t just to travel the world. Our goal is to get ourselves in the right position so that we have the opportunity to travel the world long-term.
Now it’s your turn to write out your goal. Answer the following questions as you write your goal to travel.
Answer the following questions:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Who is going on this trip with you?
- Where do you want to go?
- How much do you need to save before you go?
- When will you be able to save up enough to quit your job and travel?
Take a moment to work through this and write your goal down on a piece of paper. Remember, it should look something like this:
| By January 2022, Jenoa and I will save up $50,000 so we can quit our jobs to travel through South America and Africa for 12 months.
Follow Through To Accomplish Your Goal
With your goal written down, all that is left is the follow through.
Measure your progress
Now that your goal is written out, you have to make sure you can measure it. For us, we simply made sure to pay ourselves first. Each paycheck, we put money into our travel saving accounts. That way we would stay on track to hit our goal.
Pro Tip: Split your goal into smaller micro goals. Saving up $25,000 can take a bit of time. Split your big goal into smaller ones. Celebrate when you have saved up $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000.
Splitting up your goal will keep you engaged by helping you see actual progress with small wins along the way.
Can you realistically accomplish it in time?
A word of caution here. Sometimes we can get a bit overambitious when we set goals and then end up burning ourselves out. You see it every February when people’s new year’s resolutions go out the window.
When you are saving to travel, the idea of saving as much money as you possibly can may sound exciting because you can’t wait to get out on the road. If you need to save $25,000 to hit your goal, but you can only save $1,000 a month, you need to set your goal for 25 months in the future (assuming you are starting at $0).
Keep on track
Your goal contains a due date. Remember this. This time crunch should give you butterflies in your stomach.
The purpose of adding the deadline in here is to make you feel a bit uncomfortable. It is supposed to challenge you. It is supposed to give you a sense of urgency so that your goal remains top of mind. This will help propel you towards the finish line.
Make your goal visual
The next step of setting a goal is making it visual for you. Make a vision board. Write out your goal in big, fine print and print out pictures of the places you want to visit on your trip. Keep it somewhere where you can see it every day – in your bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. This will help to constantly remind you of what you are working hard for and what you have to look forward to.
Don’t tell people
Surprise! You probably were not expecting this. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but according to studies, those who share their goals with others are less likely to achieve them.
Obviously, you should tell whoever is going on this trip with you about your goal, but maybe don’t spread it far and wide for the world to hear.
This is because when we do tell people, we actually get positive transmissions going back to our brain, which then makes us more likely to quit our goals early. When we don’t tell people our goals, we feel like we are falling behind, so we try even harder to reach them.
We didn’t tell a soul about our gap year until we had the money saved up. At that point, when we knew in our minds that our trip was going to be a reality, we decided to tell people.
Don’t make excuses
Don’t let those excuses get to your head. I know how easy it is to get your head and completely doubt everything you have worked for. This is something I battle every single day, but keep pushing forward because the feeling of accomplishing this dream is so worth it. I believe in you and can’t wait to see you on the road soon!
We would love to see where you are all headed – share your goals on the Facebook group One Year Around The World.