We’ve all been there. We start out in January, as determined as ever to get in good shape, to learn a new language, to read more books.
Somewhere along the line, either regular routines catch up with us or we lose motivation to continue and follow through on our New Year’s Resolutions. Travelling is probably right up there on any list of broken resolutions, and it shouldn’t be surprising. There’s seldom a moment of instant gratification, that a workout or new gym membership could give you, or a new language course you could join online. Much as we love when it happens in the movies, it’s rare to be able to drop everything overnight and travel the world, when you’ve got mortgages to pay and a cat to keep alive.
Fear not! Like any other New Year’s Resolution, it’s all in how you approach travelling, how you plan your journey and knowing what you’re hoping to accomplish by the end of it, that’s going to get you over the line. With that in mind, follow these general principles, and you’ll be well on your way to your dream destination!
Set realistic goals
As pessimistic as that title sounds, the key word here is ‘real’. We’re not saying that it’s impossible to do something outrageous. However, those sort of trips are generally reserved for either really lucky or really wealthy folks and just thinking about the logistics surrounding say, a trip to Antarctica to witness a penguin march might make you feel disillusioned about travel.
You’ll give yourself your best shot at a successful trip if you set a goal that’s achievable and meaningful to you. Even if you want something elaborate, leave yourself enough time to plan out how you’re going to achieve it. Break up your larger travel resolutions into smaller achievable targets such as, completing funding, setting up travel documents, making local contacts, assessing how much to take with you, etc.
You’ll notice a sense of ‘instant gratification’ as you tick each item off your list, and you can track the time to your new adventure!
Start a Travel Fund (that you won’t touch!)
Now that you have your realistic destination, start by thinking about what you’ll need to make it memorable. This goes beyond looking up and comparing travel expenses and accommodation. Do some research and have conversations with others who’ve been there before, on how to cut costs, and get an idea of how much you’ll need.
Now come’s the fun part, the actual savings! Yes, saving money can be fun when you have your end game in mind. Start by researching your spending habits and figuring out where you can set aside a little something every week/month. Try qualifying what your shopping excursions are to what your experiences could be like. For example, those £40 pair of jeans from Debenhams are probably the equivalent of 48 hours of attractions and free public transport in Innsbruck, Austria!
If you don’t mind saving for a complete year, you could try taking up the Penny Challenge or the 365-Day Money Challenge. You could save upwards of £660 – 1500 by exactly this time next year. That coupled with any other savings you’ve got, will be perfect to spend exclusively on your trip!
Build a Travel Plan (and stick to it!)
Easier said than done, you’re probably thinking. But there’s several fun ways to plan a long-term trip. We’re obviously biased here, but using our Scratch the World®, Scratch USA or Scratch Europe travel prints are a great place to start and the least effort. With the latter, we’ve even got a scratch key at the bottom of the map, highlighting some of the best attractions, festivals, celebrations and sights you simply can’t miss on a European jaunt.
Take someone with you
Probably the truest test of friendship is a trip taken amongst friends! Who you choose as a travel companion really comes down to whether or not they can motivate and encourage you to face challenges and step out of your comfort zone. Aside from the fact that you’d be splitting costs of travel and accommodation, having a friend is always handy.
It’s not just the ‘strength in numbers’ thing as much as it gives you a break from constantly having to think about planning a basic itinerary and hashing out your holiday goals, must-see attractions and experiences. You may also be lucky to have a mate that knows a local language and/or has experience making a mean campfire, while you contribute with your cooking skills.
Remember that it’s about having fun!
Travelling to a new location or planning a new adventure can always seem a little uncertain at first. But try and remember why it was your resolution to visit in the first place. You wanted to better yourself and have a great experience, and you only get that when you throw caution to the wind, and involve yourself in it. Part of the fun of discovering a new place is to get off the main trails, and talk to locals.
Don’t treat every new tourist attraction as a box that has to be ticked. While it’s nice to see the sights everyone is talking about, it’s impossible to check off each one. So don’t worry if things don’t go exactly to plan – in fact, sometimes it can work out even better that way.