Do you have a destination that has always been on your bucket list? Or maybe a couple of them? You should make that trip happen! No seriously – no excuses, no hesitation – start planning it now. If you aren’t working towards making it happen then it’s never going to happen. I say this not to be discouraging but because my life has been changed by simply prioritizing my travel bucket list!
There was a 7 month span from October 2015 to April 2016 where I managed to check off the top 4 items on my travel bucket list. Those 7 months completely changed the way I approach my travel plans now and I hope it changes the way you look at your bucket list. My experiences during those months are some of my favorite trips of my entire life and I’m thrilled to have been able to do each one of them.
Starting at the beginning…
For most of my life visiting Italy was at the top of my bucket list right up there with visiting Australia. My ideas for Australia were a bit more open ended but in Italy I knew I definitely wanted to ride a Vespa through Tuscan hills and visit the coastal towns of Cinque Terre. The Italy trip kept getting pushed back a year and then another year with Australia waiting on deck to be the next big trip after Italy.
I also had two other items that rounded out my top 4 – one was visiting Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon and the other was driving the Pacific Coast Highway (ideally in a convertible but I was realistic about that). My travel bucket list consisted of many more items than just these four but they were easily the top items. They were the items on the list that really thrilled me and that I’d dreamed about for years.
Top 4 items on my travel bucket list (October 2015):
3) Havasu Falls
4) Pacific Coast Highway
The problem was that I found myself constantly checking off the low hanging fruit from the rest of my bucket list. Not that those bucket list items weren’t great too – they were just the easier to accomplish ones. The ones that didn’t require as much planning, time or money. Because of that the items I was most exited about, the ones at the top of the list, continued to remain untouched.
Italy & Australia
In 2015 I finally put Italy on my calendar. I budgeted, researched, planned and finally visited Italy in October of 2015. The trip was amazing and I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to finally accomplish that bucket list item. The entire trip I kept saying to myself “I can’t believe it took me this long to make it here”.
Fast forward two months and I’m on an unexpected trip to Sydney, Australia (long story). Boom! My top two bucket list items checked off in a three month span. Granted I’m planning on going back to Australia at the end of 2016 to do it more justice – it was still amazing to set foot and explore on that continent. I loved it so much that Australia is likely to uproot Ireland as my favorite country to visit. In other words, my bucket list was living up to my expectations.
Pacific Coast Highway & Havasu Falls
Fueled by my excitement over the first two bucket list items I’d recently accomplished I started looking for an opportunity to make a long weekend trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Basically I got really motivated to start making my bucket list items a reality and started prioritizing them. The PCH trip was a bit easier to accomplish than an international one but required a fair amount of pre-planning. Easter weekend presented itself as the perfect time and I took advantage of a great car rental deal and secured a convertible for the drive at a great price. I also “budgeted” a couple of my free hotel nights for this trip. Saving money on those items ended up being a big deal because shortly before Easter weekend I booked my two night trip to Havasu Falls for the end of April. Like I said, I was feeling really motivated to make these things happen!
So there I was at the end of April experiencing one of the most amazing places in Arizona (if not in the entire country) in all of its majesty. And with that my top 4 bucket list items were checked off within a 7 month span. The items that had been on my bucket list for over a decade – some of them for most of my life! And all of them were stunning experiences and I cherish the fact that I had the opportunities to to make each of them a reality.
But then I started to freak out a little bit that my top 4 items were all crossed off. The rest of my list is great too of course but those were the items that I had elevated above the rest. I was a bit paralyzed about what to move into the top spot. But as I looked back over those 7 months I realized something that forever changed the way I look at travel bucket lists. I realized that when you’re putting all of your effort into prioritizing those bucket list items that it’s entirely possible to make them happen – oftentimes faster or easier than you ever dreamed. Having them as goals helps you to make those dream destinations a reality.
So that my friends is why I think you should have a travel bucket list. Write out every place or thing you want to do and then prioritize your top 3-5 items. Re-write your list with those items at the top. Literally write it out somewhere. Figure out what you need to do to make them happen and focus on getting those things done. If you have a goal in mind and are focused on working towards it it’s amazing how quickly you can accomplish those goals!
Need more money to make it happen? Figure out the budget and start saving NOW. Look into travel hacks and setup alerts for sales to that destination. Shortage of vacation time? Map out your vacation days for the rest of the year and figure out when you can make it happen. I oftentimes plan out my “big” trips almost a year in advance. It’s rare on January 1st for me to not know where my “big” trip is going to be and in what month. If you aren’t going to have enough vacation days in the current calendar year then plan ahead before next year.
One thing that I can tell you for certain is that you’re never going to regret making those bucket list items a reality. If you had told me last year that I would be able to cross my top 4 items off that quickly I never would have believed you back then. But the money, the time planning, and all of the effort is entirely worth it when you get to have the experiences and visit the destinations you’ve always dreamed about. I can’t recommend making and prioritizing your travel bucket list highly enough!
What items are at the top of your bucket list? What are the biggest hindrances to making those items a reality?