Big picture travel planning. It is really easy to look at the next couple of years and come up with a half dozen reasons why it might not be the right time to take that dream trip that you have been thinking about for the last decade. But when was the last time you sat down and started to think about what the next ten or even twenty years will look like?
I put myself through this exercise recently and I looked at the next two decades. I have two children (and I may or may not be done there). For my exercise, I laid out the next 15 years and wrote what their respective ages would be next to each year. I then thought about what it would be like to travel with children at those ages (would they still need a nap, how would their ages affect the activities that we would be able to do, would they be capable of handling their own luggage, what ages would my children actually remember and appreciate these destinations, and as teenagers at what point would their own lives/activities/jobs start to get in the way of scheduling holiday time). And then for the hell of it I threw in a hypothetical third child’s ages to see how that affected things. I highlighted the ideal years and I was shocked! I called my husband in to take a look… I said, “Hun, we only have 4 years!" Four years to travel with our kids and take them on trips to destinations that we have always dreamed of sharing with them.
It was shocking to see the numbers laid out like that. Two decades with our kids boiled down to this tiny window where we all could travel together and really appreciate different destinations and cultures around the world. We also built in our “soft” travel years where the kids might not be the “ideal” age for our ultimate trips, but they would be old enough to travel on slightly easier trips.
What ultimately became clear through this process, was that we needed to do some long term planning, otherwise, we could find ourselves halfway through that tiny “ideal” window and the opportunity would be lost forever. We have already started narrowing down what destinations we consider our top priorities, what destinations make our “soft” travel list, and what trips we will have to save for ahead of time to make it financially possible to take such a dream trip.
Now, this is what my long term travel planning looks like at the moment and there may be parents out there who are starting to do the math in their heads (hint: write it down or type it out-- visuals are a big help). But what if that isn’t the season you are currently in? Maybe all of your kids are grown up and have families of their own. Maybe you are nearing retirement or maybe you are already there. What should long term planning look like for you?
No matter where you are in life, time is a limited resource. There are always factors that will affect your ability to travel.
Maybe you are 60, and thinking back to your parents travel habits you know that they travelled a lot during that decade, but shortly after they turned 70 they started to lose their confidence in their ability to travel. That might mean you should look at taking some of the trips to destinations that you want to explore independently in the next five years (driving holiday in Ireland) and save the river cruising and group tours for the latter 5 years.
Photo Credit: Tourism Ireland
Or maybe you are nearing retirement and have a long list of active holidays that you have always wanted to go on (walking tour in Tuscany). Your planning might involve considering at what age it might start to get more difficult for you to actively explore some of your dream destinations.
Whatever season of life you are currently in I strongly encourage you to look at the big picture and start to think about how your dream trips will fit into your life. You might just realize that NOW is the best time to take that trip!
Don't let your window pass you by!
Yours in travel,