A motivated person can achieve anything they set their mind to. But how does one stay motivated, especially to travel, when you are busy working and living life while your family and friends disparage your ideas, you’re overwhelmed planning your trip, or maybe you’re just burnt out from being on the road?
Motivation is not an unlimited wellspring but a battery that has to be kept fully charged. While the idea of travel is always inspiring, sometimes life gets in the way and then suddenly, your eyes are no longer on the prize. I’ve had my share of ups and downs. My trip to Iceland has been years in the making. I always talk about it but it kept getting delayed because “stuff came up.” It wasn’t until I finally said “enough” and booked my ticket right there that the trip became a reality. Years ago, burnt out, I went to Cambodia to recharge my batteries. I stayed in one place, watching movies and reading books. Alone. It was relaxing and one day I woke up and said “I’m ready to go again.”
It’s important to find ways to stay motivated, and today, I wanted to share a few tips on staying motivated:
Hold yourself accountable – The best thing you can do to stay focused is to be held accountable. Being accountable to others will help make sure that you don’t fall off the wagon. They will help keep you focused on your goal and the social pressure to stay on track will provide some extra motivation to follow through. Whether that is betting money, having someone check in on you, keeping track of goals, or having someone help you plan, just being held accountable will force you to stay focused, even on those days you don’t feel like it!
We have a great group of people on the community forums that can help cheer you on towards your goals. Or use an anti-charity like Stickk, which will donate money to your most hated cause if you don’t follow through.
Accountability ensures action and can force you to follow through when a lack of energy would otherwise hold you back.
Research places to go – Keep reading about places you want to visit and eventually you’ll get there. It may sound trite, but by always keeping travel on my mind, I always am excited about my future trips. I’m constantly researching destinations online, reading news from overseas, and generally getting to know the world better. The more I learn about different places, the more I think, “There are so many places to see, and no time to waste! Let’s go book a flight!”
Thinking about doing something all the time will make it happen.
Devote time – Stuff always seems to come up, doesn’t it? Sure, I was planning to visit Iceland in May and then, suddenly, May was here and I was busy. Or maybe you decide today’s the day you’re going to plan your trip but then you forget you have laundry to do. My solution? Pick a day and time you are normally not busy (i.e. on Facebook) and devote that time to planning your trip. Make it a consistent part of your schedule and develop a habit so that it doesn’t feel like a task you “have” to do, it becomes just something you do automatically.
Read travel blogs – Reading about other travelers’ adventures can show you that it is easier to travel than you thought, provide advice and tips on the art of travel, and teach you about places you’ve never heard of. One day you’ll get sick of living vicariously through others, and you’ll go out and create your own travel stories. Here is a list of blogs I follow.
This, as well as hanging out on travel forums, will also help you tune out the naysayers who don’t believe long-term travel is possible because you’ll see from all these people encouraging you that it really is!
Because an encouraging environment is a better environment!
Read books – I just finished Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. After reading about his epic adventure through Peru, I am so motivated to see Peru that I’ve already ordered a guidebook to the country. Peru! Peru! Peru! While reading travel blogs is great, travel books are even better because they cut deep into a destination and open it up in a way a short travel story can’t. Every third book I read is about travel, and when I finish each one, I’m ready to go and explore the world.
And in that same vein, be sure to read books about where you are going on future trips so you can get a deeper understanding of the place. You can’t understand a location’s present if you don’t understand its past.
Learn a language – Join a class and pick up a language you might use on the road. Once you’ve started learning the language, you’ll hate to waste your new skill. And the only way to use it is to travel to where they speak it! Here are some blog posts from language experts I know to get you started:
- How to Learn the Basics of Any Language for Your Next Trip in Four Steps
- Learning to Speak a Language from Day One
Take a break – If you’ve been on the road for a while, you’ve probably burnt out a bit. Travel isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, and spending a lot of time on the road can lead to burnout. That’s going to sap your motivation and might even have you thinking about home. It did for me once (I got burnt out on my first trip and went home early), and the second I got home I facesmacked myself and said, “What was I thinking!” I learned my lesson and found that a much better way to get your mojo back is to take a break. Instead of moving on to your next destination, stay where you are for as long as you need. Watch TV, volunteer, work at your hostel, start a blog, or sit by the beach everyday — whatever relaxes you.
If you’re like me, you go through bouts of motivation. You get super excited about a trip and then your mind moves on to something else, or the challenge of planning saps some of your motivation and you put it off until later.
But there’s only today, so use these tips to help stay motivated about your next trip.