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The Last Places on Earth  

Journeys in Our Disappearing World 
by Gary Mancuso
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TRAVEL OBJECTIVES: The Most Important Part of Your Travel Plan

Defining your travel objectives should be the first and most fundamental part of your travel plan. (Part 2 of 4)

You’ve made the decision to travel for an extended period. What now? There are lots of things to consider, like how long you will travel and how much money you’ll need, where you will go and what to do when visiting these different destinations. But, before deciding any of this, the most important thing to determine is what you want to achieve from your travels. What are your reasons and goals for doing your travel project? In short, what are your Objectives?

Setting clear, identifiable objectives for your travel project is the most fundamental thing you can do to build a worthwhile experience. Too many travelers only have a vague idea of what they are trying to accomplish. Often the “plan” for many travelers, especially those on thin budgets, is to go to the cheapest countries or regions, trying to stretch their time on the road as long as possible. The idea of what to accomplish in each place visited is mostly obtained from popular guide books. The result can be a generic and bland experience, very similar to most other backpackers and budget travelers following the same guide books.

Clear, self-designed objectives for your travel project can help avoid this disappointing outcome.

Objectives can cover a whole range of things, depending on your interests. To create yours, you should clearly answer the question of why you want to do the travel project.Valid answers to this depend on your interests and can include seeking to experience different cultures first hand, seeing the most important historical ruins in the world, tracking elusive and rare animals, trekking the great wilderness routes, seeing up close societies very different from yours, or just partying for a year with people from other countries you meet along the way.

Whatever your objectives, once you have determined why you want to do the travel project, you are then ready to design your objectives and plan your trip. For example, my main objective for my long travel project was to see, experience and know those aspects of our world that will change irrevocably or be gone within the next generation due to globalization. This clear goal kept my focus on travel activities and destinations that in some way fit this overarching idea. By always keeping a clear focus on my objectives, I traveled for years, almost always learning, seeing and doing enriching activities. In my nearly six years on the road, I certainly got very fatigued and worn out at times, but I almost never felt that my time was becoming less exciting or interesting, or that my travels were the “same old thing.” Rather, each activity or journey was different from the previous ones by design, and (usually) fit into my originally identified objectives.

The alternative to this type of objective and goal oriented travel project is what I often saw in my journeys: travelers that just moved more or less perfunctorily from one locale to another, doing whatever the popular activities happened to be in each one. Or, almost as bad, I saw many examples of the long-term traveler who unimaginatively followed someone else’s idea of travel via a guidebook.

Another strategy, the opposite of traveling by objective, is to go somewhere and react spontaneously to the situation. There are indeed times during long term travel when going with the flow and seeing what happens is a good idea. But to make this your main game plan can set you up for a waste of time. Many travelers following this spontaneous strategy have the expectation that just going somewhere new will give an exciting or interesting experience. But often, as I’ve seen, the traveler arrives somewhere with no idea of what is actually interesting about the place, the culture, or what to experience. The result is a traveler muddling through the situation, or doing whatever happens to be in the popular guidebook for the destination—not much reward for spontaneity.

A long term travel project is the opportunity of a lifetime. To get the most out of this special project, after you clearly identify and define your objectives, write them out. Then, as you do other parts of your travel planning, and carry on your travel plans, you can periodically refer to this written set of objectives to keep you on track. It is okay at times to deviate from your objectives, of course, since it is your travel project. But at least when you deviate from your main objectives, it is through a conscious decision.

In summary, the more clearly you identify your objectives, the more effective the rest of the travel planning—the research, destination planning, budgeting and time allocation will be. Most important, you’ll have a higher chance of achieving your objectives and have a great life-enhancing travel experience. The next step in your travel planning is to create a Master Plan, which is the subject of the next article in this series.

Read Part 1 - Read Part 3 -

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