A Guide to Setting Travel Goals for Your Next Trip

Yes, travelling is often mostly for fun. But does that mean you shouldn’t set goals? If you’re a goal-obsessive person like me then it does no harm at all to consider some goals you want to achieve on your travels. And it will probably help you get more out of your trip and come home happier and with even more interesting stories to tell.

They say that people who set and write down their goals achieve so much more than those who don’t, so who’s to say the same strategy won’t work for having even more fun when you go on a trip?

Here are some ideas for possible travel goals which might inspire you to set some of your own and help you make the most out of your trip.

Make New Friends

One of the big thrills of traveling for me is getting to know people from other cultures, whether they’re local to the place I’m visiting or other travelers I meet along the way. Sometimes though, especially if I’m traveling with someone else, I can be a bit shy about doing this (even though I’m always so pleased after!). If you’re like me, some goals might be:

  • Talk to three new people each day
  • Ask a friendly question of everyone I meet (for example, at the supermarket checkout, or hostel reception, etc.)
  • Write emails to people I’ve met on my trip soon after we’ve parted (next day, next week)

Learn a Language

thank you note for every language
Thank You Note for Every Language © woodleywonderworks

Obviously one barrier to the “making new friends” goal could be that you don’t speak the language. Firstly, the language barrier is never as great as we think. It’s amazing how much you can communicate by using just a few words of a language, especially if it’s clear that you’re friendly and genuine.

And secondly, if language is a barrier, then try to learn it! Some goals to help could be:

  • Say “hello” and “thank you” in the local language every time you talk to someone
  • Learn three new words and three new phrases of the language each day (and try them out, too!) This could be from a phrase book or even better, by asking a friendly local to help you
  • Write down 10 new words that you see around you (signs, supermarket, restaurant menu, etc) each day and then look them up online, in a dictionary or asking someone to translate them
  • Learn enough to achieve a goal like ordering your meal entirely in the language. I had a goal in Japan of having pizza home delivered for a Christmas treat(it’s quite expensive there!) and ordering it on the phone entirely in Japanese. I was so thrilled when I did it!

Experience the Culture

You might have some pre-conceived ideas of your destinations and already feel like you know what you’re going to see there (the Eiffel Tower in Paris springs immediately to mind, for example). That’s fine, but setting goals to try to experience the culture in a deeper way, or at least to go beyond the regular well-known tourist haunts, could also really enhance your trip.

Some goals I’ve set in the past for this include:

  • Visit one obscure-sounding museum in every destination (on a long-term trip) — you’d be amazed what unusual museums are out there when you start looking!
  • Read a novel written by a local resident in each place you visit (and where possible, visit any museum or house dedicated to them).
  • Buy tickets for the local symphony orchestra, ballet, or other performance in each main city you visit (I loved doing this in Eastern Europe and it was remarkably cheap as well).

Be Active

Sunset Yoga Guru, Moab, Utah
Sunset Yoga Guru, Moab, Utah © Zach Dischner

Traveling can be a surprisingly inactive pursuit if you’re not careful, and it’s easy to get stuck sitting on buses and trains all day. I’ve also found that it can be chock-full of calories (anybody else love Belgian chocolates in Belgium?!) so it’s important to stay active.

A few goals that you could set to make sure you stay fit and active are:

  • Spend a whole day walking in a city without taking a bus or train. Not only will you be more active, you will probably be surprised by how much more of the place you really see and experience.
  • Take a jog or a walk each morning around the local area of your ho(s)tel. It’s interesting to see your destination before it really comes to life each day — it’s a different perspective.
  • Do a set of stretches or other exercises (or yoga, say) in your room each day before you go sightseeing.

Eat Locally

I have a real thing about not going to franchise food outlets when I travel. I think it’s a wasted opportunity to eat food I could eat at home (with the exception of checking out some of the unusual menu items that these places sometimes have that are very different from the version at home!).

Some of the goals you could set to really experience the local foods include:

  • Eat local fruit for snacks every day (especially in a tropical country — yum!).
  • Try a random new food each day — whether by buying something you’ve never tried or randomly choosing a dish at a restaurant when you have no idea what the words mean!
  • Eat one food that you’re a little scared of on every trip (although I’m not a big fan strange deep-friend insects, I have to admit).
  • Write a list each day of new dishes you have seen and would like to try to cook at home.

2 Responses

  1. Laura Zera

    Amanda, I love your approach. Travel costs a lot of money, and therefore I view it as an investment. I want some ROI! I think goal setting helps crystallize what that return might look like and help you get more out of a trip. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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