Why You Should Set Travel Goals

Why You Should Set Travel Goals This Year (And How We Planned Ours)

Welcome to the New Year and a new decade! Writing this from the shores of Lake Superior near Duluth, MN—one of our favorite places to travel when we’re not #parkchasing around the US. Hiking a section of the Superior Hiking Trail and the North Country Scenic Trail this weekend (one of our travel goals every year) offered up some stunning views.  Northern Minnesota has much to offer this time of year: 

Gooseberry Falls State Park – Minnesota

While we’ll get back to our ‘regularly scheduled programming’ later this week.  We wanted to share with you some of the travel goals we set out for the new year. 

(Gasp!) Yes.  We are the kind of people that set goals.  

And yes, we even set goals about travel. 

If you’re not one to set goals around your travel, here’s a quick note about why we think it’s so important to spend a few minutes charting your course for the year.  If you’re already planning travel goals, feel free to skip this PSA and jump down to read where we’re heading in 2020. 

Travel Goals - Prioritize Time Away

Travel goals will help you take the time. 

For the rest of you, we know life is busy.  Life can also be messy.  And for lots of us, the day-to-day business of life can take over everything else if we don’t put some boundaries around it.  Planning our travel goals at the beginning of the year (and blocking off the time in our calendars before filling in other commitments) helps us be more focused on making trips happen.  Last year, according to the United States Travel Association, Americans lost out on more than 765 million days of vacation time.  One of the top reasons American’s provide for not taking the time: they are too busy.  

None of us can make more time.  You’re going to have to take more time.  The only way that’s going to happen is to have some travel goals and commit to making it a priority. 

Travel Goals - Have the Money to Go on Vacation

Travel goals will help you find the money. 

Another one of the top reasons Americans didn’t take their vacation time last year?  They couldn’t afford it. 

While we don’t think vacations need to cost thousands of dollars (and most of our 10-day trips set us back less than $100 per day), vacations do cost money.  By setting your goals and plans up ahead of time, you’ll be able to start planning ahead for the expenses as well. 

We’ve mentioned this before, but one of the ways we’re able to spend so much time traveling is because we set aside money for travel out of every single paycheck.  It’s not much, but it slowly adds up.  And it’s a special fund that’s dedicated just for trips, meaning we can book trips in small portions rather than having to foot a giant bill at the end. The money is always there, so we don’t have to skimp on groceries or trim the car payment to make ends meet on months we travel either. 

Trust us on this one.  Vacation is a whole lot more enjoyable when you’ve already got the money set aside before you go. 

That’s enough soapbox for now.  If you’d like some more inspiration though on how to set travel goals and where to start, we recommend checking out our National Park Bucket List and the National Park Traveler’s Club. They are some of the first resources we used when we started #parkchasing in 2010.

And then check out our own 2020 travel goals:

All About Setting Vacation and Travel Goals for 2020

Our 2020 Travel Goals

Hike more with family and friends. 

With Greg heading back to school this year, it’s going to mean some big changes in how often we’re able to see time with family and friends. Hitting the books means fewer happy hours and camping weekends.  But when we do get the opportunity to have some time together, we want to spend as much of it on the trail.  Some of our best memories with friends and family in 2018/2019 happened while hiking. 

Collage of groups of hikers - Parkchasers.com

Cross the 100 park unit mark. 

We ended 2019 with 82 of the 419 parks completed on our #parkchasing list.  While we’re not willing to commit to specifics yet, we’ve made some tentative plans that will help us visit at least 18 more parks units this year and cross the 100 park unit mark.  We’ve been inspired by so many of you who have met #parkchasing goals in the past year, we’re making a BIG one for ourselves this year. Stay tuned to see which park we choose for #100!

Collage of a Couple Posing with various National Park Signs

Run a half and (fingers crossed!) a full marathon. 

While it’s not necessarily a ‘travel’ goal per say, we are training hard right now for our first half marathon later this year.  We’re counting it on this list because it’s a destination race, taking us all the way to Seattle, WA in June.  If all goes well (and our bodies tolerate it) we may also take a shot at a full marathon in October.  We know many of you in our community are also trail runners, so we’ll be looking to you for running advice! 

Park Chasers at Denali
Park Chasers during our 2017 Alaska Trip

Plan a 2021 trip to Alaska. 

It’s a little strange to put a trip that’s nearly 18 months away on your goal list.  But when it comes to visiting national parks in Alaska, planning ahead is the name of the game.  Having learned from our 2017 planning experience, if we want to find flights, campsites and train rides for August 2021, we’ll need to have most of the plans in place a year ahead. 

The hardest part will be deciding which parks we want to visit this time around!

Write about all 82 national park units we’ve visited so far. 

Toward the end of this year, we did an audit over everything we’ve shared since starting Park Chasers in 2015.  It was surprising to us that even though we’ve been to more than 80 units in the National Park Service and have passport stamps and unigrids from many of the affiliated sites, we’ve only written about 1/3 of those places.  You’ll find tons of information about Glacier National Park, but nothing about places like Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa or Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Washington, two places we really enjoyed.

One of our goals in 2020 is to change that, making sure we’ve done a good job documenting all of the places we’ve been, not just the ‘Top 10.’  We’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned from those very first trips, all the way up to this year when we try to tackle the most parks we’ve ever visited in one year. 

We hope you enjoy some more variety and it helps encourage people to visit a broader range of places around the National Park Service, not just the most popular parks.

What are your travel goals this year?

So those are the 5 big things on our list this year.  We’d love to hear about your travel plans for the New Year and if there are ways we can help you along on your adventures. 

As always, we wish you happy and safe travels.  Keep chasing those bucket list dreams! 



Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 130/423
Next Stop: @hawaiivolcanoes


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