Making Travel Happen
Next week I will be visiting Austin, Texas, exploring the downtown, sipping coffee, and eating delicious Mexican food. This will be my second time visiting Austin. Last time, three friends joined me from Washington, DC.
Three years ago, I did not visit by accident. The trip had been 5 years in the making.
When people ask me how I am able to travel so much, I've often told them it was because travel is my number one priority. My career, my personal life, and definitely my financial security have all been put on hold, to a large extent. However, what I've realized recently is that it takes more than "prioritizing" travel to make it happen.
You must have goals.
I didn't think of my travel plans as goals at first. In 2008, a group of friends and I spent the 4th of July at The White House. The following year, the same group of us spent the holiday in New York City. Then Ocean City, Maryland and the following year Annapolis, Maryland. By 2014, it was a foregone conclusion that we would spend the holiday together for the seventh year in a row. So we went to Austin.
When in Austin, we visited my seventh Presidential Library, and later in the trip, my eighth in nearby College Station, Texas. What started as a casual conversation between me and a friend five years ago turned into goal. We will visit all 13 Presidential Libraries.
Later that year, a friend who I have been wanting to travel with for years was finally able to accompany me on a trip to Guyana, and two months after that another friend joined me on a long journey after years of attempting to travel together. You are more accountable when you set a goal to travel with someone.
These examples highlight that most of my travel is not spontaneous, and I don't believe yours will be either. If you want to travel, then you must create goals, and follow through with them. Your goals do not have to be extravagant. They can be as simple as creating a list of activities you want to complete in your own city (I have two items remaining on my DC bucket-list) or determining which friends you would like to travel with. Second, after you determine your goals, throw some money at it. Unless you put the dates on the calendar, and make a financial commitment, it will not happen.
Concerned about money and time? You can travel anywhere in the world for less than your yearly cable bill. Would you rather have HBO to watch Game of Thrones, or visit the filming locations, Iceland and Croatia, in person? Iceland is one of the most affordable destination to visit from the United States.
After spending Christmas day with my family for 25 years in a row, in 2009 I asked my family if they would mind if I took a year off, and instead spent more time with them during other holidays. Traveling during Christmas and New Years is the easiest time to take your vacation days at work because no one will expect you to be working. If the idea of being without family during the holidays is too distressing for you, then bring a sibling along with you. Traveling with your siblings will form much stronger bonds than will you gain by traveling home for Christmas.
For my next travel goal, I decided to visit 100 countries before my 30th birthday. While this sounds ridiculous, I did not originally begin traveling with this goal in mind. It built upon many smaller goals:
- Visit every Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC
- See every Rembrandt painting in every city I visit
- Create a list of people that I want to travel with
- Prioritize traveling with family, particularly my siblings
- Visit every Presidential Library
- Road-trip across the United States
- Visit every continent
- Visit every U.S. State
- Visit 100 countries
What will your first goal be?