Time to start taking the kind of holidays that make you truely happy? Last year I realised we needed something to help us stop spending our money (and time) on trips that weren't fulfilling us. A tool to keep us focused on working towards the things we really wanted to do - the things that would bring us the most happiness. Here's how you can design a focused travel bucket list for couples - worksheets included.

How often do you sit down and write down your goals? Me, personally… not nearly enough. But, reality check, it’s kinda important. Without clarity, none of us will ever get to where we want to be. This is true for anything in life, but especially for travel.

Travel doesn’t ‘just happen’. You don’t get lucky and miraculously find your dream holiday placed in your lap. It takes planning. Saving. And a bit more planning.

And if you’re one half of a couple – a whole lotta conversation (and a little negotiation) to make it happen.

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So why, if travel is more important to us than ever before, do we not put the time in to set travel goals too? Does it sound too fanciful? Are we afraid of admitting it’s that important to us? Or are we just overwhelmed with every day life (#adulting), that we can’t even think about getting organised to do the things that will make us truly happy?

Last year I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Japan. We spent a week in Kyoto and Takayama before meeting Brad’s family in Hakuba for a week of the white stuff. It was amazing. Until I broke my wrist, that is. Of course, at the time I didn’t admit that it could have been broken (I actually waited until I got back to Sydney, then went to Singapore, then got back to Sydney again before I actually had an X-ray… but that’s a story for another time).

This whole saga gave me plenty of time alone to think… and plan. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on holidays, my mind goes into overdrive planning the next holiday… I think it’s my brains way of protecting me from the post holiday blues, and for that, I thank it! The danger of this, while home or away, is that it’s easy to get carried away.

My bucket list was vague, but GINORMOUS. And it seems like every time I watch a film, talk to someone or scroll through Instagram something else is added on there. I’m a monster, I know.

There’s no harm in wanting to do a million things. Having your eyes open to the world is amazing!

But you know what’s also amazing? That feeling when you finally tick off that one thing you’ve always, always wanted to do.

This year I finally made it to Italy. After years of pining about how it was too far away, or too expensive.

You know why?

In a moment of clarity (it might have been the pain killers), I realised that unless we were truly focused on what was important to us, we’d never make it happen.

We’d keep sliding in trips that were easier, closer, cheaper. Trips that we would like to do, but not the things that we really really want to do.

So I came up with a pretty simple idea. It wasn’t exactly a mind-blowing.

It was just a travel bucket list with purpose… a tool to help us organise our travel dreams and focus on making them happen.

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The “Holiday Hit List”

When Brad got home from the slopes that afternoon, we sat down and each wrote down three trips that we wanted to do in the near future. Three big, dreamy ideas. The things on our bucket lists that we really really wanted to do (not just the things that were just there because we thought they’d be cool.. ahem, hot air ballooning).

Then, we combined them into a single list and spent 20 minutes ranking them. It sounds like it was all very business like, but it was actually a bit of fun (good negotiation skills still come in handy, though!). Coincidentally, both of us had listed Southern Africa as a place we wanted to explore further, so deciding on number one was pretty easy.

Charlotte & Brad’s Holiday Hit List
  1. Southern Africa
  2. Christmas in Europe
  3. Japan Rugby World Cup (2019)
  4. South America
  5. Spain

A step further – The “Little Hit List”

The lofty goals on our new travel bucket list can’t exactly be achieved overnight. And the whole point is that we’d stop frittering away money. Unfortunately, I’m not so great at cutting down on travel…

This secondary list is little things, bite sized travel adventures like weekends away that we could take while we’re saving up for the big stuff. Still things that we really want to do, but things that aren’t going to blow out the budget and make us push back our big goals.

Charlotte & Brad’s Little Hit List
  1. Snow trip
  2. Weekend away hiking
  3. Hong Kong 7s
  4. Queensland

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This whole exercise has made traveling as a couple much easier.

It’s difficult enough to sort out your own travel bucket list, but when you’re travelling with your partner there’s always that moment when you’re deciding where to go next, and one of you wants to go there just a little bit more than the other one. It may not cause arguments, but in my experience, it’s always there.. if only a little bit.

Well, we’re now totally clear and focused on what we want to do and how we want to spend our money. Individually, and as a couple.

If you’re clear on what you want, it’ll be much easier to make it happen.

Sure, most of us have a vague idea in our heads (“I’ll surely go on an African safari before I kick the bucket”) but it’s not often much more than that.

If being clear is key to making it happen, then I encourage you to think about what you really want. Where you want to go. Without first acknowledging that, whether you put pen to paper or not, it simply won’t happen (not quickly anyway).

I believe that if you put your money towards things that are important to you, you will be happy.

And with that in mind, I’ve created a simple two page fridge-stickable worksheet to help you (and your partner, if you you have one) define your travel goals so you can start making them happen.

The time is now, friend. Sit down with a coffee (or a wine, I won’t judge) and put your biggest dreams to paper. You got this!

Tell me, what’s going to make it from your bucket list to your Holiday Hit List?