A new year is always ripe with new opportunities for adventure and self-discovery. If you’re trying to decide what parts of the world to explore or what type of adventure to pursue, we have some exercises that can guide you in discerning your travel aspirations so you can make them a reality this year.

Follow our suggestions one-by-one, or take what fits your needs and helps you most:

Exercise 1: Start With Your Dreams

Free write about dream destinations. Set a timer for five to ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head about where you see yourself in the world – maybe “Exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat” or “Gazing up at the Northern Lights in Iceland.” Write in a journal where you can save your output as your initial inspiration. Keep your pen moving until your timer goes off, and don’t worry about whether you have clear priorities. Just write what you see in your mind’s eye when you think about travel. If you’re having trouble imagining any travel at all, write about that stuckness until something comes to you. Or, try the exercises in Steps 2-4.

Exercise 2: Experience Mapping

Think about past travels to discern the specific elements you appreciate in a trip. Sit in a peaceful space with a journal and reminisce about the experiences that have made you feel most alive, whether meditating with monks in Laos, swimming under waterfalls in Costa Rica, or something else. For each place, write down the vivid details that made the experience phenomenal. Was it the rich cultural diversity? The natural beauty? The chance to try your own hand at an artistic technique? The deep learning? Something else? This introspection helps you identify patterns and preferences in your travel choices. Sometimes by revisiting our past we can better understand our direction for the future.

Exercise 3: Value Alignment

Your travel should reflect what you hold dear. Match your travel style – be it leisurely or adventurous – with your values. Orient a piece of paper horizontally and divide it into three columns. In the first column, make a list of your core values, such as sustainability, cultural respect, or forward-thinking. If this is challenging, check out this list of values, and highlight all items that resonate for you. Then, see if you can narrow down your selections to a maximum of eight, and copy these onto your horizontal paper. In the second column, write words that describe your ideal travel style. For example, you might write active, train travel, boutique hotels, or try new things. Lastly, pick one item from each of the first two columns to inspire your entries for the third column. For example, if you value sustainability and your travel style is active, you might write “hiking in Costa Rica,” a destination known for its eco-friendly tourism practices. If you value forward-thinking and your travel style includes foodie experiences, your third column might include a chef’s table dinner at an art restaurant in Tokyo. (If you don’t know what to write in the third column, consult with the adventure specialists at Journeys to help you design a trip to match your values and travel style.)

Exercise 4: Goals & Steps

On first blush, this exercise may not seem directly related to planning travel. However, we believe that when you know your own life goals, travel can become instrumental in achieving them. Take some time with your journal or notepad to list the important goals in the key areas of your life: personal growth, family, relationships, work, self-care, and anything else important to you. Then review each goal, and ask two questions: (1) What is my next step in reaching this goal? (2) Is there a logical way in which travel could help me reach this goal? For example, your work goal to build a broader network may lead you to travel on a group trip, or your skill-building goal to become better at photography could lead you and your camera to a slow-paced trip among the scenic landscapes of New Zealand.

Exercise 5: Group Web

If you’re traveling with others, plan a session for everyone to get their interests, goals, hopes, and dreams on the table. Use a white board or large piece of butcher paper to create a concept map that clusters similar ideas together and visualizes connections. Use dot stickers or hash marks to note agreement with group members’ suggestions. Areas of commonality suggest great elements to include in your itinerary. If an idea only resonates with a single traveler, that might suggest having a day of the trip where the group divides for separate activities.

Exercise 6: (Digital) Vision Board

If you’re a visual person, a vision board can be a powerful tool. Use platforms like Pinterest, Canva, Trello, or even PowerPoint, to collect inspiration and create a board filled with images, quotes, and videos that inspire your travel dreams. Include pictures of destinations that attract you, like the serene landscapes of Bhutan or the vibrant markets of Morocco. This visual collage will serve as your daily inspiration and a guide in planning your journeys. You can also share your creations and collaborate with your travel companions. 

Finally: Consult with a Journeys International Adventure Specialist

With a clear idea of your travel goals in mind, reach out to a specialist at Journeys International. If you’re traveling with a group, designating a main point of contact can be helpful for streamlining travel consulting and planning. An Adventure Specialist can offer invaluable insights and help tailor your travel plans to fit your unique aspirations, turning your dreams into a reality.

Embark on this guided journey to define your travel goals for the year, ensuring they resonate with your personal growth, interests, and values. Once you have some ideas, don’t hesitate to contact Journeys International to start turning your dreams into reality.

Alternatively, if you’re the kind of person who would rather step back and let someone else do all the thinking and planning from start to finish, Journeys International can help you do that too by drawing upon our 45+ years of experience in itinerary building. Or perhaps you’d enjoy our mystery itinerary trips – like Surprising Journeys. Either way, we’d love to help you achieve your travel goals in the new year! Schedule a call or send us an email.