The great thing about travel is that it’s both fun and good for you. Like reading, it’s a pleasure you don’t have to feel guilty about. It benefits you, and it benefits the people around you. It broadens your mind and enriches your soul. It makes you more informed, more insightful, and more interesting. You might say it’s your duty to travel.
As with anything else, you’ll get more out of your travels if you have a clear picture of what you’re seeking. So it’s worth spending some time thinking about your travel goals–the ways you want to be enriched by your travels. These can be as broad or specific as you like, but they shouldn’t be vague (e.g. “I want to grow as a person.”). They should start out as lifelong goals, but they should be changeable or even replaceable when your values and priorities develop (as they will, ’cause that’s part of why you’re travelling). They should be plentiful enough to give you a range of experiences, but they should be few enough that you can truly concentrate on each one. Here are some examples:
I want to see 20 of the world’s great art masterpieces.
I want to learn to prepare complete meals in three different cuisines.
I want to spend intimate time with my family in relaxing places.
I want to learn something unique about the history of one country on each of the six inhabited continents.
I want to ski on 10 different mountains.
I want to explore the favorite haunts that shaped my favorite author.
Once you have a clear list of the top goals that are important to you, then you can put together your travel bucket list–the places you most want to go and the experiences you most want to have in them so you can reach your goals. These can be ideas for whole trips or they can be specific must-dos in certain places or probably a mix of both. For example:
I want to travel by train throughout Europe for three weeks with no set itinerary.
I want to take a cooking class in Provence.
I want to tour the Holy Land with my family.
I want to walk the Via Dolorosa.
I want to go on big cat safari in Africa.
I want to eat my fill of Ethiopian food at a family restaurant in Addis Ababa.
I want to drive across America.
I want to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
I’ve created a printable sheet for you to use to record your travel goals and keep as a reminder when you’re planning your journeys. You can find it here. Feel free to come back and print more when your goals change.