A Powerful Tapestry of Wanderlust: how to create a Travel Vision Board — Travel Bug Tonic - travel wellbeing home and away (2024)

Written By Tracy Smyth

A Powerful Tapestry of Wanderlust: how to create a Travel Vision Board — Travel Bug Tonic - travel wellbeing home and away (1)

What is a vision board?

Simply put - a vision board is a visual representation of your goals. When created with intention they are a powerful tool to help keep your goals top of mind.

While the ifs and hows a travel vision board works might be debated, neuroscience does show that visualizing goals activates the same part of the brain as when we physically experience those goals. In the ‘80s the concept of visualization was popularized when research suggested that:

Visualization + positive emotions + clear intention = improved likelihood of achieving goals

For example, successful athletes and performing artists can often be seen before their event or performance with their eyes closed as they mentally visualize and/or physically rehearse the ideal performance.The use of visuals to enhance goal setting and achievement has been very effective for me in my career, so naturally love the idea of using it to fuel my passion for travel!

I’m pretty science-driven, so the research behind visualization resonates with me and I can see its potential when used in travel planning. How? Travel vision boards can be a way to reflect on travel motives, plan intentionally, and stay focused, thus increasing the likelihood of achieving travel goals. Adding creativity and visuals to our wanderlust, then, ignites more curiosity and excitement, elevates anticipation, helps to find clarity in our travel aspirations, and opens us up to possibility.

Yet I also have an appreciation and openness to the ‘woo-woo’ of the world. What I mean is that I like research and planning but know that some things are simply unexplainable and I’m okay with that. Things like spirituality, energy healing, the paranormal and manifestation first come to mind, but there are other moments when something magically unexplainable happens.

Get my Travel Vision Board Mini Guide Book!

Download it here! (along with many more of my travel resources!)

My Travel Vision Board (woo-woo) Moment

When we were all suffering through the lockdowns of the pandemic, I took an online travel vision board workshop with Journey Woman. It was great fun to connect with other women who were pining to go adventuring like myself. The workshop led the group through some travel-focused reflective exercises that prepared us to craft our board with intention.

I’ve done vision boards sporadically over the years, usually with a bottle of wine and a stack of magazines shared among good friends! It has evolved from an exercise in inspiration to a reflective activity to a life-design tool.

For the Journey Woman workshop, instead of cutting up magazines I used Canva, a free online graphic design tool. While it wasn’t quite the same tactile experience of cutting and pasting magazine clippings, it gave me more creative options to play with. In Canva there are over 2 million graphics and photos. I remember typing “European city” in the search bar and scrolling through the countless photos until one jumped off the screen. I chose a photo of cute, colourful apartments that spoke to my desire to settle in (rent or buy) a place in Europe. Collaged along with a few other intentions, my Travel Vision Board became the Lock Screen on my phone.

I have looked at it (consciously and unconsciously) multiple times every day.

Eighteen months later I was on a 10-week trip through Spain and Portugal. My husband and I had landed in Porto and instantly fell in love with the city. We wandered to Vila Nova de Gaia across the harbour and watched the sun set over the old town of Porto.

A Powerful Tapestry of Wanderlust: how to create a Travel Vision Board — Travel Bug Tonic - travel wellbeing home and away (3)

Amidst my wonder, I think I said something to my husband like, “Don’t you just love how the building facades are so different and colourful... I love that blue and yellow row of apartments” …. then my heart stopped. I grabbed my phone and looked at the screen image of my vision board. The EXACT image of the apartments was right in front of me! Exact image!!


I had NO idea that the photo was from Porto - I had thought it was Italy, to be honest! We had not even planned to make it to Porto on this trip - it was a late addition due to extenuating circ*mstances. But here I was DISCOVERING the very place I had unknowingly been visualizing! Serendipity? Manifestation? I’m not sure but it was a remarkable if not unexplainable moment.

In addition to this unexpected moment, I have now also had opportunities (and made decisions) that have led me to see the Northern Lights, start Travel Bug Tonic, do a home exchange, work while travelling, travel long term, and complete my first solo trip. There are a few things still brewing and I can’t wait to find me an orange Vespa!!

Your brain and a travel vision board

Endless scrolling on social media leads many of us to drool over other people’s travel photos and we can easily lose sight of our own goals and dreams. We are also vulnerable to tourism marketing that is designed to influence our thinking, telling us where we should want to go.

When we get distracted by other people’s actions and marketing messages, our “Bucket List” of travel wishes simply grows without consideration of personal alignment. I have written about my thoughts on Bucket Lists and, should a bucket list be your preference, I advocate transforming it from a long ‘check off’ list to one that is firmly rooted in self-knowledge and designed with intention. This will help to avoid the pitfalls of a shallow, narrow and disconnected list.

The next level, though, is a travel vision board. Consider the research of neuroscientist Dr.Tara Swart:

“The brain has a process called ‘value-tagging’ which imprints important things onto your subconscious and filters out unnecessary information...The brain assigns a higher ‘value’ to images than written words on a ‘to-do’ list, and the more you look at those images, the more those images move up in importance.”

Thus, Vision Boards, and Travel Vision Boards, in particular, are great visual tools to keep focus, maintain motivation and turn dreams into intentional action-taking.

And you will notice on my travel vision board that it is values-driven and focuses on travel emotions, experiences, and outcomes rather than identifying specific locations or destinations. Other than the Camino, it’s about travel in general rather than trip-specific. Travel journeys can emerge from a vision board and not have to define it.

How to create a tapestry of goals and possibilities

Let’s try a unique approach to creating a travel vision board that transcends mere collages and embraces the concept of a visual tapestry beautifully unfolding our travel dreams. With this mindset, grab a beverage, put on a travel-inspired playlist, and let’s create your travel vision board!

Step one: Before you even begin with pictures, ensure your values guide your process.

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable spot where you can sit and reflect. Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind and focus your thoughts.

  2. Grab a pen and paper or open a blank document on your computer or smartphone.

  3. Use prompts such as the suggestions below and spend a few minutes reflecting. Jot down your thoughts - there are no right or wrong answers.

  4. Do you see any patterns or themes emerging that put a spotlight on your travel values?

A Powerful Tapestry of Wanderlust: how to create a Travel Vision Board — Travel Bug Tonic - travel wellbeing home and away (4)

Step two: Decide on your medium: physical or digital.

Choose a medium that affords you the freedom to be creative, allowing your travel vision tapestry to unfold.

Step three: Gather inspiration

Begin by taking a virtual trip through the wonders of the internet. Immerse yourself in the beauty of travel photography, inspirational quotes, and stories of empowering women who have ventured before you. Let your imagination run wild as you create a palette of experiences and emotions you wish to encounter on your journey.

Remember to keep your travel values front and centre and let them guide your choices and prioritize. Note the emotions and sensations associated with each image. Once you have a clear mental image, prioritize them according to their importance and feasibility.

Explore more than destinations. Think about traditional and out-of-the-box activities too!

Step four: Bring your travel vision to life

Pick a timeline for this board and unleash your creative thinker and visualization artist! Start by arranging the images, quotes, and snippets you've collected onto whatever medium you have chosen. Trust your intuition as you create a visually captivating story of your future travel dreams. Thankfully for us non-artists, there are NO RULES to this. Feel free to overlap images, use coloured markers to draw attention, and add personal touches like handwritten affirmations.

Here are a few ideas to help make the board vibrant and inspiring:

  • Aesthetics: Choose colour palettes and textures that mimic the kaleidoscope of experiences you seek. Whether using print or digital images, capture the essence of your travel goals with vintage postcards, fabric swatches, digital patterns, illustrations, stamps, ticket stubs, maps, pressed flowers, and even objects and photos from your adventures.

  • Themes: Is there a theme that has emerged? There doesn’t have to be, but if there is, accentuate it to add a visual narrative of your travel dreams.

  • Words with Power: Incorporate written elements into your travel vision tapestry. Instead of or in addition to meaningful travel quotes, craft custom mottos to make it personal.

  • Interaction: Break free from the static nature of traditional vision boards by introducing interactive elements. In print, you can add small pockets holding scented elements and hidden flaps that reveal extra details. In digital options, consider adding hyperlinks or animation.

Step five: Use it for inspired action

A travel vision board is not just a piece of art, it's a catalyst for action. Once you've completed your masterpiece, find a special place where it can be displayed. Consider a wall in your house or office, in your car, a photo as your computer wallpaper, and/or your phone lock screen. Allow the images and words to evoke the emotions you long to experience.

Some people suggest putting the board out of sight and revisiting it at the end of the timeline. I like to keep my board out and review it periodically to stay focused and motivated. Don’t be afraid to evolve and refine your vision, either. Let it become an ever-changing tapestry that serves as a testament to your evolving awareness and aligned travel dreams.

Share it with someone! Having a friend or partner to exchange ideas, give progress updates, and challenge each other will help hold you accountable for taking actions aligned with your vision. Email a photo to me and I’d love to see it! Or post it and tag me @travelbugtonic.

Best tip and final word!

While a travel vision board and the use of visualization is a powerful tool, it must be accompanied by action! Small, actionable, and consistent steps will transform goals into reality…oh and stay open to a little woo-woo!


About Me

My happy place is planning, going on, or reminiscing about a trip. I believe that travel is a catalyst for personal growth and I find ways to create a purposeful, travel-infused life. To me that means living fully any day, any where, not just on the road.

I create helpful tools and strategies that blend the science of wellbeing and a passion for travel to increase everyday happiness - at home or away!

Disclosure: Please note that some links may be affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products I use and love ❤️.


Tracy Smyth

A Powerful Tapestry of Wanderlust: how to create a Travel Vision Board — Travel Bug Tonic - travel wellbeing home and away (2024)
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