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Most travelers are dreamers, and as a result, many of our New Year’s resolutions or “goals” are actually more like far-fetched ideas that may or may not come to fruition. Whether we’re dreaming of training to hike a mountain or saving 25 percent of our income for travel, we often fall short of our ambitions due to various constraints and reality checks.

Fortunately, the month of a December is a time for actual goal-setting, not just daydreaming. This is your chance to plan a new year full of adventure and achievable New Year’s resolutions – the key is to think ahead. To make your travel dreams a reality in 2019, here are five steps you need to start taking before New Year’s Day.

1. Think Realistically About Your Time and Budget

 Planner

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Telling yourself that you’re going to take a month off to travel across Europe is a surefire way to let yourself down if you know that you only have 2 weeks of PTO. Similarly, booking at $2,000 flight to Australia might not be in the cards for your wallet, so don’t list snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef as one of your 2019 goals unless you can actually afford it.

Instead, think about places you can realistically visit without breaking the bank or quitting your job. Pick a handful of reasonable trip ideas, then sort through your favorites and decide when would be good times to book them. This is a much better way to set yourself up for success and make some incredible memories during the next 12 months.

 

2. Pick Travel Buddies to Hold You Accountable

 Friends Traveling
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Like any goal, traveling is difficult if you don’t have someone to hold your hand during the journey. That’s why you should pick a travel buddy who can accompany you on your trips and help with the planning process. Not only will you have more fun traveling with a friend, but you’ll also have someone to keep you accountable while saving up for a vacation or putting off your pre-trip to-do list.

3. Automate Your Savings Withdrawals

Piggy Bank

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One of the main reasons people refrain from booking their dream trip is a lack of funds. Although some trips may be too expensive to reasonably fit in your 2019 budget, there’s no reason you can’t save up for at least one special vacation. Open a high-yield savings account strictly for future trips and begin transferring at least a small amount into it every month. Although you can do this manually, automating the process will get you a bigger travel fund faster.

4. Get Your Passport Now If You Don’t Have It Already

 Passport

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Did you know that less than half of Americans have their passports? Don’t wait until you’re booking your trip abroad to begin the process of applying for a passport. It can take six to eight weeks for your passport to be processed if you don’t want to pay high fees, so go ahead and apply for the document before 2019 even begins. That way, as soon as the new year rolls around, you’ll be ready to start planning whatever travel goals you’ve decided to embrace.

5. Figure Out What’s Holding You Back From Traveling

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There’s always something holding you back from booking those trips and seeing those sights. Is it your family? Your job? Your finances? Before you even start researching flights on Google, sit down and figure out exactly what parts of your life are making travel difficult. Then, come up with solutions to combat those problems. By tackling the blockades head on, you’ll be much likelier to achieve your travel-related resolutions next year.

The Key to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Writing in Journal

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Most people don’t fail to keep their annual resolutions because of passion or energy. In reality, they fail because their goals were never measurable or achievable in the first place. That’s why thinking ahead and being strategic about your travel goals is vital.

Be very specific and make plans that work with your lifestyle and budget, not just your far-fetched dreams. Don’t be vague and say you “want to see the world” or that you “hope to explore somewhere new.” Instead, set measurable goals that you can actually check off your list. You’ll find that process to be more satisfying in the long run.

Need some inspiration for your 2019 travels? Check out Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2019.” They’ll give you all the ideas you need to make next year your most memorable adventure yet.