Packed Suitcase | Travel Bucket Lists… Why I’m a Fan
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Travel Bucket Lists… Why I’m a Fan

Travel Bucket Lists… Why I’m a Fan

To create (or not create) a travel bucket list… For many travelers, that is the question.

I find that people tend to be solidly in one camp or the other. The common argument for people against the concept of writing down travel aspirations into a bucket list is that they feel that having a “checklist” is too clinical, inauthentic or that encourages a lack of spontaneity when making travel decisions.

Two years after finally putting my travel goals down, I’ve found myself firmly on the “pro bucket list” side of the fence. The way I see it, a bucket list is a fun way to let yourself dream with no restrictions, and let your mind go wild with the possibility of all of the amazing places you could potentially visit.

For me, it also has a practical use as well. I will always have a packed internal list of places that I want to go, of experiences I want to have. That’s just what happens when you happen to have as much pent-up wanderlust as I do. I also fully expect these places and experiences to continually evolve as life progresses and past travels make their impact.

That said, along with that perma-wanderlust sometimes can come an overwhelming feeling as well… when you want to go everywhere it’s kind of daunting when you finally have the time to take a vacation somewhere. How do you choose one place over the other?

That’s where the bucket list comes into play.

One day I decided I was done with the vast indecision and I decided to choose my top travel daydreams to make up my 55 Places Bucket List. As a writer always in search of a worthy story, I wanted to keep my list as active as possible and I ended up choosing a few different kinds of trips to make up my list: 

  • Some near where I live, so I could have some close to home options when my vacation days ran out (Ponder the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, Go all out with the chef’s tasting menu at CityZen in Washington, DC)
  • Some far, for those times when I had the opportunity to travel a bit longer (See the city of temples at Angkor Wat, Dance in the mist of Victoria Falls)
  • Some cliché touristy places, which still represent something I’d like to try (Sing pub songs with the locals in Ireland, Look for Nessie in Loch Ness)
  • Some non-location specific spots (Walk on a glacier, Stay in a hut over the ocean) 

The key is that you can’t let your bucket list rule your decisions. For example, one of my ideas was “Bet $100 at a game in Vegas.” I was just in Las Vegas last weekend and I decided I just wasn’t ready to be that much of a high roller right now. No biggie, no pressure… maybe next time.

Also, I have “Learn to scuba dive and go the Great Barrier reef for my first dive” on my list… but I don’t think I really have the desire to do that anymore… I’m terrified of sharks and feel claustrophobic when I snorkel. The whole thing just seems like a bad idea for me.

Since creating my bucket list, I’ve been encouraged and inspired by the physical reminder of places that I’d like to see. So far, I’ve been able to officially “check off” 6 places (and I’ll be heading to Falling Water in a few weeks…), but even more than that I love that I can actually look back in one place and see just how many things I’ve been able to actually go out and do in such a short amount of time!

Down the line, maybe I’ll revise my bucket list to reflect my latest aspirations, maybe I’ll make it a 100 Places list, or maybe I’ll ignore it completely. All I know is that, for me, dreaming is half the fun of any journey and a bucket list really is the ultimate compilation of dreams. 

What are your thoughts? Do you have a travel bucket list (if so, please share it!) or do you prefer to be more spontaneous with your travels?

6 Comments
  • John Williams
    Posted at 18:41h, 06 April Reply

    I really don't like bucket lists. Did all the great travelers of yesteryear discover places with the aid of a bucket list?
    Sounds too much like a ticking off destinations to me. “I've visited 4 continents, 26 countries etc”. Not for me, I'm sorry.

  • Debbie
    Posted at 21:01h, 09 August Reply

    I love having a bucket list. I love that when I discover something new I would like to try (and that is often!) I can keep track of my thoughts and desires. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I plan all my travel etc around it… bucket lists are great for getting inspiration going and discovering more about yourself. Plus, if I didn’t write it down… how would I ever remember all my cool findings?!?!

    • Chris
      Posted at 21:59h, 09 August Reply

      Debbie, I definitely agree! Bucket Lists are little bits of inspiration, that you can keep track of or turn to when you’re stuck where to go next. So much to do, so little time!

  • Merrilynn
    Posted at 14:32h, 12 December Reply

    I love bucket lists! As long as you remain flexible and don’t make it a lame check list, but instead, stay open to seeing other things while you are in the area of your bucket list items. Knowing things you want to see/do helps you no miss doing those things when you are over in that part of the world and helps give dreams to shoot for.
    Chris – you have a lovely bucket list, though I’d add a few more great items. I have actually done a few of your unchecked items. The first dive on the Great Barrier – oh yeah! Singing in an Irish pub may seem cheesey, but very worthwhile.
    Enjoy filling your bucket! 🙂

  • AJ
    Posted at 19:16h, 20 August Reply

    I love bucket lists! In fact, my now husband of almost 5 years and I made one when we first started dating. We put down activities, rather than places to go. We included things like: go camping, hot air balloon ride, scuba diving, sky diving, bungee jumping, etc. We crossed off so many of those things just on our honeymoon in New Zealand. After reading your post, I feel re-invigorated to update our list because I know there I things we want to do and having them written down will be a nice reminder. 🙂

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