Thoughtful Planning and Goal Setting: The Key to Traveling to New Places

When it comes to planning and goal setting for your trip, the preparation stage can be a critical time and factor in the overall success of your experience. 
Woman climbing prepared with planning and goal setting

When it comes to traveling anywhere outside your regular comfort and convenience zones, the preparation stage that happens beforehand is probably one the least enticing or sexy aspects of planning your goal-oriented travel experience. For some, planning ahead can be a downright headache and something else they have to squeeze in when they have the time. However, when it comes to planning and goal setting for your trip the preparation stage can be a critical time and factor in the overall success of your experience

Our mission at Create Joy is to transform your travel experiences from “a bit scary” and overwhelming into “You got this!” moments.  In the preparation stage we will be able to provide practical advice and guidance that will carry over throughout your whole travel experience, from the planning and goal setting phase to the post-trip follow-up and reflection. 

With a stable and supported foundation, you will feel confident and empowered to set out and work toward your personal development goals, explore new territories, and take on anything that comes your way! Whether you’re embarking on a milestone celebration, a quest for personal growth, or an educational endeavor, we will be here every step of the way. 

Ways Thoughtful Planning and Goal Setting Enhance the Travel Experience

Thoughtful planning and goal setting can enhance the quality of your travel experience, allowing you to focus on your objectives, manage your time effectively, and create meaningful memories along the way.

Here are some ways thoughtful planning enhances your experiences:

Maximizing Experience: Thoughtful planning allows you to research and prioritize attractions, activities, and cultural experiences at your destination. This ensures you make the most of your time and resources, maximizing the enjoyment and enrichment of your travel experience.

Safety and Security: Planning ahead enables you to anticipate potential risks and take necessary precautions. This includes researching safe neighborhoods to stay in, understanding local customs and laws, and knowing how to access emergency services. Thoughtful planning helps mitigate risks and enhances your overall safety while traveling.

Budget Management: Planning your travel expenses in advance helps you create a realistic budget and avoid overspending. By researching accommodation options, transportation costs, and activities, you can make informed decisions to optimize your budget and ensure you have sufficient funds for the duration of your trip.

Cultural Sensitivity: Thoughtful planning involves learning about the cultural norms, customs, and etiquette of the destination you’re visiting. This helps you show respect for the local culture and avoid unintentional misunderstandings or offenses. Being culturally sensitive enhances your interactions with locals and fosters meaningful connections during your travels.

Flexibility and Adaptability: While planning is important, it’s also essential to remain flexible and adaptable to unexpected circumstances. Thoughtful planning includes contingency plans for potential disruptions such as flight delays, inclement weather, or changes in itinerary. This flexibility allows you to navigate challenges smoothly and make the most of your travel experience, even when things don’t go as planned.

Here are some ways thoughtful goal setting enhances your experiences:

Clarity of Purpose: Setting goals helps you clarify what you want to achieve during your travels, whether it’s exploring historical sites, trying local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the culture. Thoughtful planning enables you to align your itinerary and activities with these goals, ensuring a more fulfilling and purposeful travel experience.

Time Management: Setting specific goals allows you to prioritize your time effectively and allocate sufficient time to each activity or attraction. Thoughtful planning helps you create an itinerary that optimizes your time, allowing you to make the most of your limited days in a new destination

Motivation and Focus: Having clear goals provides motivation and focus throughout your travels. Whether it’s visiting a historic landmark, learning a new skill, or experiencing a local tradition, setting goals gives you something to strive for and keeps you engaged and excited about your journey.

Personal Growth: Thoughtful planning and goal-setting can contribute to personal growth and self-discovery. By stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to achieve new experiences, you can develop skills, broaden your perspective, and gain confidence in your abilities.

Transformative Experiences: Setting goals and planning your travels thoughtfully increases the likelihood of having transformative and impactful experiences. Achieving your travel goals adds depth and meaning to your journey, leaving you with an empowered sense of purpose and a clearer path forward.

Settings with Limited Resources: Why Thoughtful Planning and Goal Setting Matter

When it comes to travel planning and goal-setting, making thoughtful preparations is an important part of navigating new places. Especially, if part of your personal development plan is to experience a place that is quite different and unique from where you are from– culturally, socioeconomically, politically, or even geographically. 

Places with limited resources, in particular, can pose many unexpected challenges. Not only do places with limited resources test your ability to adapt and be flexible, but experiencing such places can provide an additional layer of perspective that you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to acquire by sticking with the more familiar and known. 

Let’s start with the basics and help you prepare for travel to locations with limited resources:

1. Research Your Destination: 

Dedicate time to comprehensive research about your destination. Check out reputable travel websites, guidebooks, blogs, and local resources to gain insights into the culture, customs, and current affairs of the region. If you can, speak with someone who has traveled to the destination recently about their experiences. You can also pose your travel questions in our travel community. 

Before purchasing tickets, check on the government travel page for the destination travel advisory, destination visa/entry requirements, Center for Disease Control (CDC)  recommendations, and do a quick google and news search to see what pops up.  

2. Check Current Events:

Stay informed about current events by subscribing to news alerts, reputable organizations such as Global Rescue or using reliable news sources. Consider setting up Google alerts for your destination to receive real-time updates on any developments that may impact travel plans.

3. Understand Resource Availability:

Anticipate the availability of essential resources such as water, electricity, and WiFi by researching the infrastructure and climate of your destination. Pack accordingly, including items such as a water filter, portable chargers, adapters, medication, and solar-powered devices if appropriate. One item I wished I brought on a recent trip to a location with rolling blackouts (meaning the electricity was cut on a routine basis) was a portable battery charger. I was very happy I brought a flashlight for when the entire neighborhood was dark at night.  

Consider bringing donations if you are headed to a country with limited resources. Homestays are often quite happy to receive things like OTC medications or toiletries. 

4. Pack Essentials:

  • Compile a comprehensive packing list that includes essential items such as first aid supplies and weather-appropriate clothing. This will be more important in destinations where resources are limited and you may find either inflated prices or the items simply may not be available. More than once, I’ve found myself on a quest for feminine products in areas where they were not stocked. 
  • Consider the specific needs of your destination, such as insect repellent for tropical climates or altitude sickness medication for high-altitude regions or antibiotics. 
  • Make sure to include your accessibility, health, and diet needs in considering essentials to include.

5. Prepare for Limited Connectivity:

  • Mitigate the challenges of limited connectivity by downloading offline maps, translation apps, and travel guides before your departure. Invest in a portable Wi-Fi hotspot or international SIM card to stay connected during your travels if that is something you need. If I am going to be in a location with limited WiFi, but need to work, I’ll see if my lodging has WiFi or many times my international cell plan (only $10/month for additional cost) will work in surprising areas. 
  • Consider a trip offline if you are able and interested. It can be a real shift in lifestyle and may open you up to a refreshing and enjoyable experience with a little preparation.

6. Respect Local Customs:

  • Familiarize yourself with the cultural norms and traditions of your destination. 
  • Pack appropriate attire that respects local customs, and educate yourself on gestures or behaviors in the area. Think about how you want to be perceived and how you will feel comfortable not only considering cultural sensitivity, but also temperature and weather. Large scarves work well for warmth, sun shield and a shawl to cover shoulders and or hair when appropriate. 

7. Plan Sustainable Activities:

Research sustainable tourism initiatives and eco-friendly accommodations in your destination. Prioritize activities that support local communities and minimize environmental impact, such as volunteering with conservation organizations or participating in responsible wildlife tours.

Consider actions you can take to reduce resource waste. 

8. Learn Basic Phrases:

  • If English is not the official language at the destination, invest time in learning basic phrases in the local language to facilitate communication. Consider using language learning apps, online courses, tutors, or language exchange programs to enhance your language skills before your trip.
  • Language does not need to be the focus of the trip, but a few words can go a long way.

9. Check CDC Health Recommendations or Visit an International Travel Clinic:

  • Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for up-to-date health recommendations and travel advisories for your destination. 
  • Schedule any necessary vaccinations or medical appointments well in advance of your departure date.

10. Check Currency Acceptance:

  • Research the local currency and exchange rates of your destination to determine the most advantageous methods for managing your finances. Check if there is a black market or unofficial rate and official rate of exchange. You may find a better rate of exchange with cash. 
  • Consider carrying a mix of cash and credit cards, and familiarize yourself with reputable currency exchange locations.

11. Budget Wisely:

  • Develop a detailed travel budget that accounts for transportation, accommodation, meals, activities, and contingencies. We are here to help you develop a budget that makes sense for your travel goals.
  • If you are travel to remote areas, prepare a plan that accounts for not having quick access to your funds.
  • Research the cost of living in your destination. In considering your destination plans, find out the average tourist costs and allocate funds accordingly, leaving room for unexpected expenses.
  • If you will be in places where you’ll need to rely on transportation without a fixed price, check with locals to see what they pay for reference. Expect to pay more as a tourist, within reason; understanding the context will help you navigate negotiations in a way you feel comfortable. In countries where the dollar is worth a lot compared to the local currency, consider if it is really worth negotiating or fretting over small amounts, that could be quite meaningful to the vendor. 

12. Stay Flexible:

  • Cultivate a mindset of flexibility and adaptability by mentally preparing for unexpected changes or challenges during your travels. 
  • Practice stress-relief techniques such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises to help move through unpredictable situations.

Thorough preparation is the key to navigating the complexities of travel, especially to countries with limited resources. By following the steps outlined in this guide and allocating some time to your pre-trip planning and goal-setting (we can help with that), you can make way for a safe, enriching, and memorable experience overall. We want to help you bridge the gap between yourself and the most kick-butt version of yourself!  

Want more resources like this? Check out our safety guide, by downloading it here.


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