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Why you should start planning a trip right NOW

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I have been missing out. I just didn’t realize it before.

When I started this pledge to visit 50 places I’ve never been the year I turn 50 I thought that the reward would be in the actual travel. I had no idea the rewards would start long before that first trip.

In recent years, my vacations have mostly involved visits to family or friends. Occasionally I’d take a weekend road trip. Either way, there wasn’t really much to plan except what I needed to pack.

But this time… there’s soooo much to plan… where to go, when to go, how to pack, where to stay, who is going with me, what to see, how to save, when to spend…. it’s endless.

Until now, when I’d see photos of a friends’ vacation on Facebook I didn’t think anything beyond the destination. Turns out, planning a trip is part of the fun… but maybe not for the reasons you might think.

Here are 4 reasons I recommend you start planning a trip right now.

Starts a Conversation: Travel is an instant common bond among people. People love to talk about where they’ve been. Even more they’ll gladly share their stories of the best and the worst of their trip. I’ve used my trip to make small talk with people I didn’t really know at neighborhood cookouts and parties and even strangers are happy to tell you where to go and what to avoid.

Forces you to take stock of your budget: Part of my planning has involved planning how I am going to be able to afford it. You can’t save any money without taking a good look at how you are spending your money. Really considering your priorities has a direct impact on the choices you make.

Gives you something to look forward to: Let’s face it. Most of the time life is pretty routine. On a day to day basis we get lost in schedules and responsibilities. Having a trip to look forward to has given me something good to think about on the days when life feels heavy.

Exercises your dream muscle: Yes, just like a muscle in your body if you don’t use your dream muscle you lose it. Too often people set aside their dreams in the name of money, family and obligations. At one point in my life I would have said those seem like perfectly good reasons to set aside dreams. Now I’m not so convinced that’s true. See, I put aside my dreams for years.  In retrospect, I think I should have maintained a better balance between responsibility and dreams. Dreams keep us hopeful and give us a goal. Often they force us to get creative and work hard. All good things!

So what if researching hotels and restaurants for your trip isn’t the most world changing way you can spend your extra time? It’s better than zoning out with the TV. Besides, everyone needs something that lifts their spirits and energizes their soul… even if it’s just a little trip.