It’s that season again when people put renewed focus on their dreams and plans for the year ahead. And if you’ve landed on this website I’m guessing that travel is a big part of your goals for the next 365 days. Maybe you want to tick off that bucket list destination you’ve been dreaming about, get better at budgeting for travel or just go on more vacations with your family.
Whatever your travel goals may be, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Learning how to travel has less to do with the how-to logistics of planning or saving $100,000 — and it has everything to do with your frame of mind. Simply put, making travel a priority in your life is a mindset…or rather, a series of mindsets that most super travelers already possess.
You don’t need to have a million bucks or elite status on an airline to start your dreams of traveling more this year. All you need is the willingness to change your thinking up a bit. Here are the 15 mindsets you need to adopt now if you are serious about filling the next 12 months with experiences to last a lifetime. Let’s do this.
MINDSET #1: MAKING GOALS ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
You’ve probably already set the goal that you want to travel more this next year. So now what?
Super travelers know that you can’t use the “set it and forget it” method when it comes to following your dreams. Setting goals is really only useful if you create a plan of action for follow through.
But I get it…sometimes our goals can seem so daunting and paralyzing that we don’t know where to even begin. This is why I use a method called “chunking down,” which breaks up your big scary dreams into little bite sized and super manageable tasks.
For example, let’s say you have the goal of taking your family to Hawaii in the spring. You have two little kids and the thought of planning this trip is already overwhelming you to the point of inaction.
First, write down a detailed list of every little to-do item you need to accomplish for this trip to make it a reality. Items on the list could look something like this:
1) Save $3,000 for trip
2) Research which Hawaiian island we want to visit
3) Research accommodation that’s suitable for kids
4) Set price alerts for flights
5) Book flights.
The list goes on.
Once you have a list of everything that needs to be done, work backwards from your desired departure date and schedule out every task so that little by little you can chip at the bigger picture.
I like to use an incredible free tool called Asana that allows you to create projects and schedule tasks on your calendar and then easily check them off as you complete each one.
You can use this same exact method for setting goals like: Planning a round-the-world solo adventure, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, planning a mother daughter trip to Paris, or taking three vacations in the next year. Have fun with it!
Most people who achieve big travel dreams know that setting a goal or intention isn’t enough. You have to create a fail-proof plan of action.
MINDSET #2: MANIFESTATION 24/7
As I mentioned before, if travel is something you truly want more of in your life, then you can’t just hope for it and then forget about it!
Getting into the manifestation mindset keeps your goals top of mind and puts the energy out into the universe that you are going to achieve this goal even if you don’t know exactly how you’ll get there yet.
One awesome way to start manifesting your travel dreams is to create a vision board — especially because travel is such a visual experience. Print out images from Pinterest or cut out magazine clippings that relate to your goals, and create a vision board that can live somewhere as a daily reminder of the places you want to visit this year.
I’ll never forget the vision board I created at my first apartment in Los Angeles that distinctly had a picture on it of a yacht in Thailand. Fast forward a year later and my new roommate who worked for The Yacht Week invited me to go on the boat she was booking through the Thai islands! I swear this stuff really works.
Other ways to get into the manifestation mindset:
- Sticky notes and affirmations on your fridge or bathroom mirror
- Writing down your goals in a journal
- Keeping a map up in your home with pins on the places you want to visit as a constant reminder
- Read books like The Secret that discuss the law of attraction and how your thoughts affect your reality
MINDSET #3: OUTER ACCOUNTABILITY > PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
When I decided in 2014 that I wanted to quit my corporate job and travel solo for a year, I told as many people as would listen because I knew that I needed to give myself outer accountability if I was going to make this goal a reality.
I needed to tell people over and over again until I started to actually believe it myself.
I even met one of my best friends in the world because of this tactic! She overheard me explaining my travel plans to an elderly man at a bar, and she chimed in with a story about how she had done the same thing and moved to Africa.
I find that declaring your plans — not just to yourself, but to others — increases your chances of sticking to them. In this case, it also connected me to the right people who motivated me to follow through!
There are other ways that this strategy can be helpful. For example, if you need to cut back on dining out so that you can save money to travel, let people know from the get go!
Send out a note to your friends telling them that for the next three months you’re not doing any meet ups over meals or drinks out. If they want to see you, they’ll have to plan a hike or beach walk, or cooking dinner at home.
This makes you less likely to go back on your word later and creates one easy decision rather than having to say no a million times.
MINDSET #4: FLEXIBILITY WILL TAKE YOU PLACES
Anyone that travels a ton on their own dime (OK, maybe excluding billionaires), knows that being flexible about your plans is super important. Yes, setting specific goals is also key, but you still need a little room to adjust to help your goals come together.
For example, if your travel goals are mainly hindered by your budget, then you’ll need to be open to traveling to destinations that are cheap and maybe weren’t your first choice.
Have your heart set on the Maldives? If it’s out of your price range, consider exploring other tropical locales like Bora Bora that still feature turquoise water and over-water bungalows but have more deals to be found.
It also pays off to be flexible with your travel dates, as shoulder and low seasons are always cheaper for travelers since airlines and hotels have less demand.
The fact of the matter is, if you’re too stubborn or rigid to be open to new options, you’ll end up turning down a slew of incredible experiences.
MINDSET #5: SPONTANEITY IS OFTEN REWARDED
I believe that there’s always room to be spontaneous within your current situation, whether you’re a corporate 9-5’er with two kids or a millennial working from home in your pjs. And spontaneity is definitely a valuable asset to have in your travel toolkit.
There are loads of last minute deal sites that offer discounts on hotels, error fares on flights, etc. The catch? You have to be willing to plan your adventure on a whim without the amount of careful planning that most people put into their annual vacation.
Apps like HotelTonight for example allow you to book hotels at cheaper prices within a week’s notice. Sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Secretflying.com give you access to crazy airfare deals, but you have to have that spontaneous attitude and book trips with little lead time or else you might miss them.
My trick is to set these sites as my home screen on my browser and pin their posts to the top of my Facebook newsfeed so that I never miss an update.
If you’re thinking to yourself, I have a job and a family and pets that depend on me, how could I possibly be spontaneous? I’ll give you a little trick. You can actually plan spontaneity. That’s right.
Set up a babysitter or dog walker for a night or weekend and schedule in a time for you and your partner to “plan” to do something spontaneous. This way, you can still feel the excitement of the unknown and reap the rewards of last minute deals without throwing away all your responsibilities.
MINDSET #6: THERE’S ALWAYS A BETTER (AND CHEAPER) WAY
Constant travelers never accept paying full price and they never settle on the first option they find. Part of the fun of planning travel for me is that I know I can usually score something cheaper and better by taking the time to do a little research or thinking outside of the box.
Here are a few things to consider when planning travel to help you save money:
- Educate yourself on travel hacking so that you can start earning points and miles and get your flights paid for.
- Embrace the off season to find better deals.
- Utilize Google Flights to research dates when your flights would be cheaper to your destination.
- Get creative with flight combos. Are there different flight paths and airlines you can try out that might be cheaper for a multiple leg trip rather than booking a simple round-trip ticket?
- Travel to places where you have friends on the ground that might host you instead of paying for accommodation.
- Utilize sites like Trustedhousesitters.com to try pet sitting in exchange for accommodation.
- If you have a home, consider putting it up on Airbnb while you’re away to pay for your travel expenses abroad.
- Watch flight pricing patterns and set alerts so you can book when it becomes cheapest.
MINDSET #7: TRAVEL IS WORTH WORKING FOR
Being able to disconnect completely while traveling is of course ideal, but if your “travel more” goal extends beyond that allotted vacation time you’re given annually, then you’ll have to get used to the idea of combining work and travel (unless of course you have an inheritance or are sitting on a ton of savings).
This is how the whole community of digital nomads was born. People wanted to travel more and longer, but they couldn’t get the time off work, so they said “eff it” and decided to work along the way.
It might sound easy and awesome in your head, but doing this requires a mental mind shift and a lot more discipline than most people think. When you’re in a new amazing location, sometimes the last thing you want to do is whip out your laptop and answer emails.
But for someone who loves travel, working while you explore the globe is a no brainer, because it makes it so you don’t have to give up one or the other.
Personally, I offer freelance social media consulting services and work with brands through this blog to help pay my way while I travel.
I also worked for a month and a half with an educational retreat company that offered courses in both Bali and Mexico. While I didn’t get paid for my marketing work on this retreat, I did receive free accommodation and meals, and I was able to go on all of the excursions that I would have done on my own anyway.
Do you have a skill you can offer these types of businesses? Pitch them to work in exchange for free room and board or pick up an online freelance gig to help you support your travels as you go.
My friends at the Bucketlist Bombshells offer a great course on how to build an online freelance business so you can work from anywhere.
MINDSET #8: BUDGETING IS YOUR FRIEND, NOT YOUR FOE
It’s time to stop being scared of your bank account. Knowing you need to save more money to fund your travels is one thing, but having systems in place to hold yourself responsible and know where your finances stand is another.
Create a separate bank account that will only be for your travel money, and then set up a monthly automatic transfer with a pre-determined amount that you know you can afford to save every month.
I recommend Charles Schwab as they reimburse all foreign ATM fees, so you can then use this account easily and save at ATMs while you’re actually on your trip.
Make sure you’re tracking your daily/monthly spending so you know where your money is going and where you can spend less. I also use and love an app called TrailWallet to track all of my spending and keep myself on budget. I wrote an entire article on how to use this app which you can find here.
MINDSET #9: LETTING GO OF WORK GUILT
The truth is, most employees in the United States don’t take all of the vacation days that they’re given throughout the year OR they don’t keep track of the days they have left and end up squandering precious paid time off.
There is a pervasive fear throughout the American workforce that co-workers and bosses will look down upon you if you take too much time off.
While I’m not unfamiliar with this fear, my belief is that if you work hard and prove that you’re a valuable asset to the company when you are in the office, there should be no reason for you to feel guilty about taking breaks throughout the year.
So first you’ll need to drop the guilt. Then get organized and find out exactly what vacation benefits you have and track it on your calendar. Plan ahead by mapping out holidays that fall on Fridays and Mondays throughout the year so you can strategically plan trips around long weekends when you’ll require less days off.
If your company sends you on a business trip somewhere, see if you can capitalize on exploring in your own time by asking to extend your trip by a couple extra days and work remotely.
MINDSET #10: KNOW THAT SACRIFICE IS JUST DELAYED GRATIFICATION
What’s more important to you in the coming year? Going on that bucket list trip you’ve been dreaming about for ages or having a weekly booze fest out at the local bars?
When it comes to prioritizing travel, there are always sacrifices to be made. It’s up to you to decide if exploring the world is worth shaking up your routine a bit.
People who travel more know that this is a no brainer. Eating out and going to a weekly movie are no contest for trying local cuisine at the Asian food markets or buying Broadway tickets in New York City.
Know that every time you make a sacrifice, there’s always something else even more exciting waiting on the other side.
MINDSET #11: IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP
Thought the age of the travel agent was over? Think again. Whereas people used to have no access to internet to plan trips in the past, now people are dealing with information overwhelm and get easily paralyzed by the onslaught of travel options. Enter the professional travel planner.
Unbeknownst to many, working with a travel agent can actually save you money as these agents have access to flight, hotel and ground transport deals that often don’t exist online.
Recent friends of mine used a travel agent for their honeymoon in Hawaii and were so thrilled with how much money they saved (and the perks they received!) that they proclaimed they would never travel without using a professional again.
The Wall Street Journal even wrote a whole feature recently about the modern day travel planner.
If travel funds and time spent planning are holding you back from going on your next vacation, consider hiring a travel planner to do the legwork for you.
PS – Exciting announcement! I will be adding travel planning services to my business offerings in 2018, so shoot me an email if this is something you’re interested in learning more about 🙂
MINDSET #12: SAYING ‘NO’ IS THE SECRET SAUCE
Are you spending all of your weekends traveling to weddings, baby showers, bachelorettes and birthday parties? Do you want to go to all these things or do you feel obligated to say yes?
If any of you have read Sarah Knight’s genius and hilarious book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, then you know that you have a limited f*ck budget and giving all your time and money to things you don’t give a f*ck about is stopping you from giving your time and money to the things you do give a f*ck about.
Pretty simple, eh?
Make ‘No’ your new best friend and throw it around like confetti. Don’t worry, you can still be perfectly polite about it, but you have dreams and goals too — so why should you be throwing them away because of the fake obligations you’ve placed on your social life?
I’m not saying you should stop supporting your best friends and miss out on important moments in their life. But it’s time to start being honest with yourself about who you’re giving your time to and if the value they provide in your own life is worth it.
MINDSET #13: APPRECIATION FOR THE NOW
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fantasies of far off exotic destinations and trips you’ll take in the future, but where could you be going now? The truth is, the majority of people on this planet live a short distance from something freaking awesome.
You might not be able to afford that plane ticket to Africa next month, but can you get in the car and drive to the closest National Park? To a beach? To a town one state over?
Traveling more doesn’t mean you always have to go somewhere far away. It might be a matter of looking at your own local area with a fresh set of eyes.
MINDSET #14: WHEN IN DOUBT, GO SOLO
While money and time spent planning might hold back some from traveling more, many others have the resources to travel but no one to join them.
The truth is, if you love to travel often, you may never find the right travel buddy who can pick up and go as much as you can. That’s why most super travelers know that they just have to go it alone.
I tried for months to convince various friends to join me on my round-the-world trip, but in the end I knew I could only rely on myself to say yes. Get comfortable with the idea of traveling solo and you’ll have a sudden newfound sense of freedom to pick up and go.
MINDSET #15: WHAT STATUS QUO?
At the end of the day, people who prioritize travel in their lives all have one thing in common: they reject the status quo and simply don’t allow it to control their lives.
If you’re really ready to make a change you have to be OK with doing things a bit differently. You might not buy that house at 30 like all your friends or have 2 kids and a dog by age 35, but you will have a well-worn passport and a heck of a lot more memories and life experiences under your belt.
The best part of all is that if you adopt these mindsets, you’re bound to achieve some huge travel goals — and there’s no better feeling than accomplishing something grand you set out to do.
Happy 2018 and here’s to all your dreams coming true!