Travel Goals and the Old Lady Test

If traveling is important to you (and it should be) you should treat it like any other important thing in  your life and make it a priority. When I’m having doubts about traveling and my traveling dreams, both big and small…whether I should really spend all that money on a big trip, or if I’d rather just binge watch Netflix instead of going on a hike or day trip, I like to do what I call my old lady test.

It’s simple: I close my eyes, and picture myself, 90+ years-old hopefully, in a rocking chair on a sunny porch somewhere, thinking about my younger days. Will old lady me remember… those hours of tv watching, or the awesome purse I spent hundreds on, or the fact that when I was 30 my wardrobe/house/car/etc was super sweet? Nope. She’ll be reminiscing about road trips, summers spent exploring, backpacking around Europe, endless days relaxing in nature. So,when I do the old lady test, adventures almost always win out over what I might call the more materialistic and fleeting things in my life.

I’m sure Mark Twain, author of many wonderful books and one of my favorite (travel-inspiring) quotes would approve of the “old lady/man sitting in a rocker” test!

This year, I’m making travel (and backyard traveling) a priority by setting travel goals. I have only one travel goal this year, but at two months into 2015,  I’m proud to say that I’m actually keeping it! Its been easy to stick with it because I kept it simple, reasonable, and made it about something important to me. Also, it’s only been two months so what do you expect?

Like any other goals you might have in life, eating healthier, saving up for a house, exercising more, you can’t expect it to just happen. You have to plan it out, figure out how you will make it happen, and then you’ve got to stick to that plan.

If traveling is important to you, make it a goal. Don’t just say: I want to travel more, I want to go to Europe, I want to take the kids camping more. Because before you know it, another few months or years will have passed, and you might not have done all those things you always wanted to do. Instead, treat it like any other goal be specific about what you want, make a plan to make it happen and then make it a priority.

So what was my travel goal then? Go camping more. That’s it. Simple, straightforward, measurable, attainable goal.

On our way to the Tilly Jane Guard Station first 'camping' trip of the year.

On our way to the Tilly Jane Guard Station first ‘camping’ trip of the year.

To set my goal, I used the old tried-and-true SMART goal mnemonic.

Simple        Measurable      Attainable        Realistic         Timely

  • I kept it SIMPLE: go camping, not go to Antarctica, backpack across southeast Asia, just go camping.
  • I made it MEASURABLE: how would I know if I’d achieved “more” camping? Well, I wanted to go more often than just a few summer trips, so living in the Pacific Northwest where its relatively reasonable to camp year-round, I decided I would measure this goal by going camping at least once a month. Two months in and we’re looking good.
  • It had to be ATTAINABLE: Camping in winter can be challenging, so I had to think of ways to make it doable (which involved a little rule bending and planning).
  • I chose a goal that was without a doubt, REALISTIC. Camping every month, I can totally do that. My unrealistic travel goals, like taking a cruise to Antarctica, island hopping in the Galapagos and a Kenyan safari, for which I don’t have the financial means to realistically achieve, will stay in the category of travel dreams for the time being.
  • Finally, I made the goal TIMELY by setting a specific time frame to measure my progress and complete the goal. Again, this isn’t a lofty travel goal that I hope to achieve someday in the future, its happening right now, so I can evaluate my progress (and enjoy the challenge of reaching my goal) immediately.

So far, I’ve gone on my January camping trip to Tilly Jane and my February trip to Astoria/Warrenton. Although winter camping has been a bit different than summer camping, staying in a yurt or rustic cabin, I’ve still enjoyed getting to cozy up around the fire, cook outdoors and go on some great hikes. This weekend’s March camping trip to Hemlock Butte on Mt. Bailey has been put on hold because we were hoping for more snow to make it worth our while, but I’ve got another trip lined up already.

Last year's winter camping trip, and the view from almost the top of Mt. Bailey.

Last year’s winter camping trip, and the view from almost the top of Mt. Bailey.

For me the key to meeting my goal of camping every month has been planning. With the understanding that winter camping in the Pacific Northwest requires some sort of shelter, like a yurt or cabin, I’ve had to plan early to book a spot, which means I’ve already got the reservation and the money is spent so I can’t back out. For summer camping, I’ve already booked a couple trips to the popular destinations that fill up fast, but I know many others will involve backpacking or last minute road trips, but I’m not worried about meeting my goal because summer camping is much easier to make happen. For next year, I think I’ll have to brave the cold at least once and try some real winter camping…

What are your travel goals? Haven’t got any?

How about:

Featured image courtesy of T Sundup at Foto Community

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