Building Your Travel Bucket List
A travel bucket list is a list of all the goals and life experiences you want to achieve before you pass away.
Most travellers I have met keep a bucket list of activities either written down or memorised for a later date.
Like them, I decided it would be a good idea to create a travel bucket list. What started at as few rough scribbles on a piece of paper, later on, turned out into quite a substantial list.
Due to our responsibilities and obligations, it’s almost inevitable that most of our waking hours revolve around day to day activities. Sometimes it’s easy to feel your days are passing you by without anything to show for them.
Having a travel bucket list is an important reminder of what’s important to you without including the usual material pressures.
Quite simply a travel bucket list is just like planning all the future highlights you want from travel and life.
Consider this question:
If tomorrow was the last day on the planet, what would you wished you could have done?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
There’s no right or wrong answer here- only you know deep down what is important for you.
However, I have found there are five key elements to any great travel bucket list:
Ever since a trip to Indonesia in 2005 ignited my passion for travelling more, I’ve been a big believer of integrating travel into my life.
Travelling, in my opinion, is one of the best activities available to broaden your mind. Travelling doesn’t require any particular skill set, university degree, family or professional connections. As long as you own a passport, have no past criminal convictions and are not bankrupt, there’s no reason not to expand your horizons.
Finding yourself walking a new land forces you to embrace new cultures, new people and even new way of thinking – just about everything you can think of that takes you out of your comfort zone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, are down the shops, or at the beach, it’s easy to get talking. From other travellers interested in having a chat, to curious locals who want to know where you’re from and what your travel plans are.
While I’m certainly a long way off visiting every county, I’ve managed to visit many that were on my travel bucket list and even lived in a couple.
In the last year alone I’ve visited Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.
Some were for the first time; others were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th visits.
What countries would you visit if taking time off wasn't an issue?
Travelling is not limited to simply arriving and crossing a country off the list. There’s also plenty of experiences to be had.
Consider how many attractions, historical sites, festivals and natural wonders are in your city or town. Well, now we’ve removed borders that list just got a lot bigger.
Being a motor racing fan for most of my life one experience on my list was watching the Formula One race cars speed down the streets of Monaco. Sure I’ve seen it many times live on TV. However I wanted to see what it was like in person, breath in the sea air, hear the engine sounds and most of all walk along the same track that I watched Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell battle it out as a kid.
Sounds expensive right?
Sure it was – but how much are your dreams worth?
It’s one thing to read about a place or event, but its total different experience to see it in person.
Some other experiences I’ve had chance cross off my bucket list are:
- Riding the fastest roller coaster in the world
- Spending Christmas and New years camping and off-roading on the largest sand island in the world
- Traveling around Taiwan by scooter
- Seeing the sunrise at the historic Cambodian temples of Angkor Wat
- Visiting the Joint Security Area within the North / South Korea DMZ
What experiences would you have if money wasn't an obstacle?
Learning is the art of acquiring new or improving on existing knowledge, skills and habits. Sadly many of us believe learning stops once we finish school or university.
Travelling opens the door to an array of customs and traditions that you may not even know existed.
Have you ever wanted to know if Pad Thai tasted better at your local takeaway or in Bangkok, Thailand? Well, it’s time to find out.
Learning to cook local food or a language are two great ways to connect with local people while you travel in their country. It’s never easy to learn a new language, but it can be very satisfying to ask the local lady how much the fruit is and understand her response – even if it’s only a few words.
Learning can take the form of something simple like spending the afternoon at the local museum familiarising yourself with a country’s past, to something more extreme like putting your life on hold by spending 12 months at a Martial Arts school learning Wing Chun daily.
I have enjoyed both.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a 21-year-old graduate or a 61-year-old professor, you will always be a student of life. There’s always something new to learn.
If you had no social pressures restricting you what would you learn?
Some of the greatest accomplishments throughout the history of humanity have been achieved by those who harnessed the ability to push through incredible amounts of physical and mental pain.
In some ways, I see myself as one of the laziest people that I know.
I can sleep for 12 hours straight and comfortably sit behind a laptop for the other 12. Still, somehow, I’ve managed to push myself physically and mentally well beyond what I thought my limitations were, and continue to do so whenever possible.
Finishing a race or sporting event is a common goal that often gets included on a travel bucket list. Taking part in a race isn’t an easy task, and many of us know that it requires countless hours training and hard work that goes above and beyond the actual event.
Training and completing not only develop you in your physical strength and endurance, but also your mental mindset, will, and attitude.
Pushing yourself to and beyond your limit will give you a hit of one of the greatest natural drugs available.
There’s plenty of ways to push yourself while travelling and I have:
- Finishing the gruelling Spartan obstacle race during the 34-degree heat
- Trained for 24 hours straight with an Ex Military instructor
- Roughed it without a tent in Australia learning valuable bush-craft skills
- Tried to overcome my fears of heights by bungee jumping Thailand
- Gone from never having a motorbike licence to battling it out on a scooter in Asia’s most chaotic cities
Pushing yourself can mean something entirely different for each of us.
Going out of your comfort zone could mean eating chickens feet in Hong Kong, or travelling to a scary place such as Chernobyl.
If there was no possibility of failing what would you do?
No real travel bucket list would be complete without giving something back in return.
Helping others in whatever way we can is one of the most rewarding things a person can do.
Communities are always on the lookout for volunteers and choosing to volunteer as a way to see the world offers a lifestyle that not everyone can handle, but is incredibly fulfilling to those that crave travel and want to make a difference every day.
Volunteer programs offer terms as short as a few weeks and as long as a few years.
The places that need volunteers are in areas of the world that don’t have as many amenities and conveniences so volunteers must be prepared to be submerged in a lifestyle where the most important aspects are helping their community and making a difference.
Even if volunteering is not something that appeals to you, how about giving back to the travel community and open your home to travellers?
Couchsurfing is a global community of 10 million people in more than 200,000 cities who share their life, their world, their journey. Couchsurfing connects travellers with a worldwide network of individuals willing to share in meaningful ways, making travel a genuinely social experience.
It’s by no coincidence that my travel experiences have become richer since I first stayed with and hosted travellers through Couchsurfing.
Some became my best friends.
Will you be remembered as a person that took or someone who gave back?