Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I had this wild dream of travelling to Mongolia. For most, this northern sub-Arctic nation would never even be on their bucket list. But all those afternoons spent in my father’s den reading vintage National Geographic magazines had me daydreaming of the Gobi desert, snow-capped peaks and camping out in a Yurt under a blanket of stars. Safe to say, Mongolia was a #TravelGoal of mine for a long time.
Fast-forward a decade and a half later, I found myself in our beloved NAIA, on a flight to China and, eventually, on a Trans-Siberian train to Mongolia. I spent over a week exploring the rugged Central Asian Steppe, hiking up unexplored peaks and immersing myself in the nomadic Mongolian culture. It was, and still is, a surreal experience of a lifetime. While being able to realize one of my travel goals was not a straightforward journey, I did learn a few things.
If you ever take up mountaineering, or travelling for that matter, as one of your hobbies, you will be quick to realize that one of the biggest drawbacks would be money. You could be saving up a lifetime for a bucketlist trip but never actually achieve it; that is the harsh reality of it. But I’ve learned that the problem might not always be in the immensity of our dreams, but it could also be in the way we are saving. I first truly understood the concept of ‘inflation’ in early college and while it did scare me, it motivated me to learn about investing earlier on. Mutual funds was one of my first stepping-stones in having a deeper understanding for financial literacy, and had I known earlier on, I would have started this journey sooner.
Begin With an End in Mind
Be it a travel goal or any other life goal that you may have, being able to identify specifically what you want to achieve is critical in your success. When travelling to Mongolia became one of my goals, I knew that I wanted to achieve it early on in my 20’s. That entailed extensive planning from both a logistical and a financial standpoint. From knowing which train tickets to purchase & plotting out my routes, to creating an accurate budget for the trip, it took quite a bit of planning. While everything will seem daunting at the start, creating a strategy will help organize your thoughts and actions to help make this goal come to life. As for me, I was able to identify my time horizon, my objectives and the risk levels I was willing to take for both my financial and logistical needs. The acronym HERO can help you achieve your own goals: know your horizon, your experience level, your risk appetite and lastly, your objectives.
Use All Available Resources
We live in an age where it is almost impossible to not be in-the-know. For any question we have, there is Google; for any need, there is probably an app for it. The plethora of information around us is one of the best tools we can use to inch closer to our own goals. For our travel goals, numerous websites can help us get the best deals for flights, hostels and experiences; booking has never been easier.
Moreover, in achieving your financial goals to fund your trips, the emergence of online investing has created an environment where anybody can participate. When I started to take my mountaineering more seriously back when I was a college student, I started investing online to understand my financial goals better. I familiarized myself with the concepts and I took advantage of the abundance of available research online. I will admit that it has helped fund a couple of my expeditions- both local and abroad!
While the term ‘Finance’ often sounds daunting, it does not need to be complicated. With proper goal setting and an understanding of the basic concepts, your own #TravelGoals can be a reality. Just remember- enjoy the journey as much as the destination!
Javi Cang is an adventurer, mountaineer, photographer and finance professional.
All images used are by the author.