Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

by Stacey Ebert /
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Aug 06, 2019 / 0 comments

It’s August–the month of balmy summer days, outdoor exploration, firefly chasing and lemonade stands. It’s the time of college planning, hints of back to school shopping, and high school sports practice. It’s the time of road trips and international excursions, hiking trips and beach outings, camping weekends and peaceful getaways by the lake. It’s the time when those travel goals set earlier in the year come to fruition, and the next wave of travel goals pop into view. According to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary definition of a goal is ‘the end toward which effort is directed’. Do you have them–those travel goals? When did you start making them? How do you share those goal-setting dreams with the next generation of learners and travelers? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Each day most of us have choices: a choice to choose a positive attitude, a choice to make a difference in someone else’s world, and a choice to wake up every morning and do our best to seize the day. If we have the ability to dream, we have the ability to set travel goals. Sure, it’s potentially possible that some of those travel dreams will remain dreams, but it’s equally plausible that at some point in life, they’ll become a reality– and in the time in between, we have something on which to set our sights, strive toward, and realize that goals and dreams can grow as we grow. 

What a fruitful educational skill to teach our next generation.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Educators today often use SMART goals. When students and teachers talk about their educational or classroom goals, the SMART acronym helps to measure those goals. If it’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, then it can be a goal. If you ask me, travel goals most certainly fit into all of those categories. Or, like a good traveler, if we embrace the fluid and ever-changing nature of travel, we figure out a way to make them fit or even shift our rubric, focus, and goals along the way. What’s your travel goal? How did you find it…or better yet, how did it find you?

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Travel goals ebb and flow with life. Perhaps one day you dream of traveling to Disneyworld, the next you might want to rent an RV and hike trails unknown, and, another day, you tend to dream about going overseas and experiencing many of the world’s cultures. Whether travel means local expeditions, culinary journeys, or world wide adventures, setting travel goals begets the process of putting dreams onto paper, bringing visions to maturity, and finding ways to bring the goals to reality. 

How would you teach the next generation to set those goals? If only they learned early enough that setting them is half the battle, imagine where those dreams and goals might take them.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

When I was younger, I didn’t even know that some types of travel were possible. Yes, each of those travel dreams is our own and perhaps different than your friends, but choosing to set those goals begins to turn the proverbial wheels and then set them into action. Teaching students that whatever their goals might be, that they’re worth having is the first step. Perhaps some educational ones are about acing a project, trying out for the school play, or giving the tuba a crack. Perhaps it’s setting your sights on the debate team, trying to get to class on time each day, or to aim to raise your hand in each class. Perhaps it’s bigger than those reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic rubrics, and it’s about aiming to do one random act of kindness a day, to try to get more involved in the school community, or to volunteer more often. Setting goals and trying to attain them is significant to developmental growth. The same can be said for our travel growth.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Not every student or every family has the ability to spend zillions of dollars on travel adventures. One can dream, one can grow, and one can set goals. Today, we make vision boards about what to manifest. Today, we talk about putting those dreams out there and knowing that the Universe truly has our back. Today, we reach out to thousands with the click of a post, and shout from the virtual rooftops when we get one step closer to our desired goal. 

Travel is the same. 

Travel goals are the same. 

First we dream, then we learn, next we act, and, if we’re persistent enough, maybe ask for help, and sometimes with a little bit of luck, we achieve. And like everything, sometimes, it’s really not about getting to the top of the highest peak– it’s about the transformation and the process that takes place along the journey.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

10 years ago, we talked about heading off on a road trip across the country. For some reason, Utah and her national parks were on our minds. Four years later, we made that cross-country journey and managed to hike two of those five parks. This goal didn’t disappear, but it did change.  In between conception and achievement, there were other ventures, other necessary journeys, and shifts, both planned and unplanned. Five years later, now living on a different coast, we managed to hike the other three national parks. Not all goals become reality, not all goals even seem attainable when they start out, and not all goals are achievable without a heap of help and sometimes a bit of cash. But the process matters, the setting of goals matters, and the intricate journey to reach the goals, with all of the twists, turns, pitfalls, and peaks, matters. Our students deserve the right to take that adventure dream and see if they can make it a reality. 

How can we help them on their goal-setting journey?

What if we made our own SMART travel goals? 

What if we sat our young learners down and discussed that if it’s strengthening, motivating, ambitious, real, and transformative, it can be a travel goal? 

What if those were our markers, our framework to facilitate ways that ten year olds can set a goal of hiking a seemingly insurmountable peak, sixteen year olds could set a goal of sailing around the globe, and twenty year olds can set a goal of cobbling together enough money to backpack around Europe…or whatever those travel goals may be? 

What would happen if we wove the idea of setting travel goals into our designed social science curriculum? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Can we find a way to embrace the idea of teaching students about setting goals and opening up the idea that amidst academic, athletic, and extracurricular, those goals can include travel? Is it possible that knitting that idea into the fabric of our ever-changing curriculum could open up a greater global world to a younger audience?

Not all classrooms have walls, not all students get a formalized education, and all learners are definitely not the same. Infusing that travel goal conversation around dinner tables can help. 

Interlacing that desire to be a part of a bigger world with historical culture and content can help. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Reading about and meeting people from other places can help. 

Let’s share that desire to explore with the next generation. If money was no object and vacation days were endless, what travel goal would you set? Would you try to make some semblance of those dreams happen around the ideas of economics and days off? 

Can you dare to dream of travel, of leaving your local surroundings and venturing out into the great unknown? 

Whether it’s scenic wilderness or an urban landscape, varied cuisine, or diverse geography, geocaching around the globe or exploring your own tiny corner, dream big, set the goals, and work your tush off to make it happen. 

Explore Google Earth and maps of all sorts, watch YouTube travel videos and visit the library for children’s books from around the globe, check out a new cultural cuisine, or learn another language. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals

Teach the next generation that, if they open their eyes and wish to see, the whole world is out there. We can’t wait to hear about your next travel goal.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Setting Travel Goals


Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at for more of her travel musings.