Written by Molly Greenheart

Traveling with Purpose, Traveling for Change

Traveling with Purpose, Traveling for Change by Molly Greenheart

There are two ways to experience new countries and cultures: as a passive tourist or as a purposeful traveler. To travel for change requires intentionality, but outlining the why and how of travel-related goals can sometimes feel daunting.

Greenheat helps you break this process into manageable steps and articulate how travel has positively impacted you through the S.M.A.R.T. methodology. This is especially helpful when sharing your experiences during future academic ventures, job interviews, or with family and friends.

Reflecting on Your Motivations for Travel

Before writing down your goals, it is important to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Why am I traveling abroad?
  • Is this experience to further my schooling or career?
  • Am I hoping to build my resume and gain hands-on experience?
  • Is this a chance for me to explore and discover my place in the world?

After you have given yourself time to reflect on your motivations for travel, you can start drafting your goal.

An important part of Greenheart Travel’s program prep for travelers is to help you establish personal goals, benchmarks, and a space of reflection on these intentions before, during, and after your time abroad.

It is easy to say, “Going abroad was amazing and I have changed a lot;” however, will you be able to demonstrate the skills you have learned during a job interview or on a graduate school application? How will you be able to meaningfully talk about your experience with family and friends to inspire their own global adventures?

Setting a S.M.A.R.T. Goal

Here is Greenheart’s S.M.A.R.T. approach for creating meaningful, measurable, and tangible targets for yourself.

  • S = Specific: Making your goals specific will set out the what, why, and how of your objectives.
  • M = Meaningful: What would be the most personally important and meaningful outcomes for you when you return home?
  • A = Action-Oriented: Focus your goals on an action. What action can you personally take to accomplish your goal? What’s your verb?
  • R = Realistic: Is your goal something you can achieve in your defined period of time.
  • T = Trackable: How will you track your progress? Benchmarks will let you celebrate successes during your travels and keep you motivated to work toward your goal during times of homesickness or culture shock.

Here’s an example of a completed goal for a Greenheart Travel teacher in Thailand:

I want to learn how I can apply my experience managing a classroom in Thailand to managing projects in my future career. This will help me differentiate myself among other candidates for my dream job at the United Nations. I will learn effective leadership methods through classroom experience, self-reflection, and by talking with my peers. I will facilitate a minimum of three leadership activities outside of the classroom to practice my project management skills. I am going to journal my thoughts every night so that I will be able to reflect on how my life has changed from my experience in Thailand. I will write a minimum of 50 journal entries during my year abroad in Thailand.

Now it’s your turn! Bringing your completed S.M.A.R.T. goals with you give you the chance to truly travel for a change. Too often travelers can underestimate the ripple effect of positive change set into motion through cultural interactions. By taking the time to find purpose in your travels (at home and abroad), you are connecting communities and learning new perspectives.

Ready to take the next step in being a global leader and traveler? Fill out your own S.M.A.R.T. goal using this handy worksheet!

Embark on the experience of a lifetime with Greenheart Travel.