Everyone is different, but most of us at some point in our lives will have a ‘bucket list’ of things we want to achieve before we die. As morbid as that sounds in itself, it is actually a nice little checklist of inspiration if you’re ever feeling that your life is lacking something. Also at the end of the day, its something you can look back on and be grateful for: ‘Achievement Unlocked!’ or ‘YOLO’ as they say.
I’ve compiled a primer for your bucket list if you’re unsure where to start. We don’t all have to have become leaders in our chosen profession in life, or have had our two point four children by the time we’re forty years old. If you’re a late bloomer like me, your list will be modest in itself, but there will be aspirational goals as well as goals we may have already achieved and taken for granted.
Here are some ideas for your list, should you need them, but feel free to comment with ideas of your own, as I’m always interested to hear what you think makes a good life goal. I’ve gone for leisure activities here for bucket list inspiration.
Climb a Mountain, Any Mountain
I’ve said it before, one of the best feelings you can get on holiday is that feeling of accomplishment that comes with finding an epic view under your own steam. It really makes you feel like you’ve earned it, and it’s something always better in the flesh than in a photo. You don’t have to climb Everest or Kilimanjaro, but set yourself an achievable target, and you won’t regret it.
Swim, Snorkel or Scuba in a Warm Sea or Ocean
There is something about the waves and the taste of the salt in the air, but actually the feel of the water once you’re in it is an unforgettable experience. I’m quite lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to swim at some amazing places. The Belizean Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Pacific Ocean and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam to name a few. Sometimes you see colourful fish, and sometimes the water is so clear you can see clearly the bottom of the sea bed. Not just that, but you feel at one with the primordial earth in some way, and it leaves a mark on you.
Visit at Least Three Wonders of the World
As a common goal for many is to see the wonders of the world, but with many different lists for the wonders of the world, you’re spoilt for choice. That’s the good news, and some of closer than you’d think. You could start off by visiting your nation’s capital city and view it as a tourist would.
Here is the Lonely Planet’s Top Twenty:
- Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
- Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- Great Wall of China, China
- Taj Mahal, India
- Grand Canyon National Park, USA
- Colosseum, Italy
- Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
- Alhambra, Spain
- Aya Sofya, Turkey
- Fez Medina, Morocco
- Twelve Apostles, Australia
- Petra, Jordan
- Tikal, Guatemala
- British Museum, England
- Sagrada Familia, Spain
- Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
- Santorini, Greece
- Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
- Museum of Old & New Art, Australia
Take a Road Trip, by Car, Motorbike or Bus
The road trip is the ultimate expression of freedom in the world of travel. A set of wheels, an open road and a map, (or at the very least, or direction), and you’re set for a good time. You must have heard once or twice; it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and to a large extent, that is true. The magic of the road trip lies in ensuring the pit stops are full of character, and the scenery diverse.
One of the best road trips I’ve undertaken was a week-long tour of the western states of the USA, during which the backdrops ranged from coasts to forests to desert and canyon, and the weather was temperate, but warm throughout. I also really enjoyed a five moped convoy from Hoi An to the My Son ruins in Vietnam. However, I can honestly say, I’ve also had some great road trips in the UK, down to Glastonbury Tor and Cheddar Gorge, and the frequent trips I’ve taken down to Weston-Super-Mare.
Take a ride on an overnight train
I know it doesn’t sound like an epic experience, but trust me when I say, it is an experience. If you’re with a group of people it can be a fun way to bond with your group, and it’s a nice way to get to different places, if you don’t want to spend a lot of your day time in transit.
I’ve done this in both Vietnam and China, and it’s been an experience, but the ultimate is the Trans-Siberian Express that runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, although most travelers opt for the route that terminates in Beijing. This is the extreme in terms of overnight train travel and it isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly an option for you if you’re feeling adventurous.
Camp out under the stars
Camping outdoors is a great way to feel one with nature. If possible, try and do this without a tent. An insulated sleeping bag or bedroll will be fine if it’s a clear, warm and dry night. It’s usually too cold to do this in the UK, but I have done this on a boat in the Mediterranean, and many have done this on some overland tour of USA or Australia.
It’s wonderful to catch the stars on a clear night sky, especially if you’re miles away from a heavy population centre, because the light pollution from street lighting will be less, giving you a clearer view. Staring at the infinite starts and constellations is quite humbling, and it puts into perspective quite how extraordinarily improbable your existence is. Mind blown!
Walk in the Footsteps of Your Ancestors
This can be anything from visiting an ancient preserved site, a museum or it could be simply studying your genealogy. If you can visit the actual places, you can really get a feeling for what it must have been like, and further study will give you a greater understanding for the period, the people and their culture. The sites where war and genocide have occurred are important lessons that we heed well or we are doomed to repeat them, such was the case with Gallipoli and the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge at Choeung Ek.
Eat Like a Native
If you’re a foodie or not, I would always recommend you at least try to eat like a local. What does that mean? Not only does it mean try the local dishes and delicacies, but also eat at the kind of places locals eat. I tried my first bowl of Vietnamese Pho, a noodle soup, on the streets of Hanoi, seated on a miniature plastic patio stool, while mopeds sped by on the street. By all means be safe though, so if somewhere looks like hygiene isn’t high on their list of priorities, for example if there are flies buzzing around the meat, then perhaps give it a wide berth.
In the USA there is there is the urge to ‘go big or go home’ in a ‘Man versus Food’ style. Well do it, if you can handle it. Just remember to earn it. After a day of hiking Yosemite, I treated myself to a veritable banquet at the diner I went to for dinner, and I have no regrets whatsoever!
Exercise Outdoors or Take Part in an Outdoor Sport
As many people will tell you, the natural endorphins that come with exercise are nature’s anti-depressant, and fresh air is good for your body, mind and soul. Add in a social element, by including a group activity, whether that’s a team sport or an exercise class. Exercise doesn’t always have to involve lots of fancy equipment either. A brisk hike or a run can be as good as anything else, but the key is to make it fun, set yourself a goal and get out there and do it.
There are apps out there if you want to log your progress as well, and people are surprisingly encouraging if you’re seeking to better yourself. I’m currently using an app called Strava to log my cycling progress.
Enjoy a Live Performance in the Open Air
Festivals are a great example of a place you can enjoy a performance in the open air. Indoor gigs can be stuffy and claustrophobic, especially if they’re sell out performances with very little room to move. Festivals and other outdoor performances do leave a mark on you though. I remember seeing Metallica headline the ‘Big Day Out’ festival in Milton Keynes in 2001, and as the sun was setting they opened their set and it was incredible to watch.
It doesn’t have to be a music festival. It can be an open air play, or stand-up comedy, or a dog display team. If it’s enjoyed outdoors, with other people then it’s worth noting you’ve done it.
Defy Gravity: Jump or Fall From a Great (or not so Great) Height
Your inner adrenaline junkie might want to suggest a skydive or a bungee jump over a canyon or a bridge as a thing to do before you die. There’s a lot to be said about your appreciation of life once you’ve taken the plunge, so to speak, and even if you’re afraid of doing it, it’s nice to an aim that you can work yourself up to.
I’m not afraid of heights per se, but I am not a fan of falling at terminal velocity either. There is an inherent fear in falling that I’m unashamed to say I want no part of. That being said, there is a little bit of fun in the rush you get diving off a pier or boat into the sea or a clear pool. That will do for me, at least for now. Just be sure you’ve done a risk assessment before you do anything rash. At least look before you leap. 😛
Speak to Others About Their Beliefs and Their Culture
The ability to converse with others on matters important to them is a gift that we sometimes take for granted. It improves our understanding of their points of view and helps us to see things from new perspectives. There is only so much you can glean from a book, and you can’t ask the book to explain things you don’t fully understand.
When you speak to an individual about their beliefs and their culture, you accept their perspective on the subject and they can debate with you your viewpoint. I once had the opportunity to speak to an Imam in a Mosque in Turkey, about religious beliefs and I found that there were more similarities than differences in our perceptions of spirituality.
Do Something Tacky, Despite Yourself
There’s something pure in the expression, dance like no one’s watching. What I take from that is don’t apologize for being yourself if your motives for enjoying yourself are benign. I like to encourage others to be the same, but I appreciate that some require a bit of encouragement to get there. If you can step out of your comfort zone and enjoy yourself, then the world is your oyster. Confidence is a trick, and you are a con artist whose mark is yourself.
So try something daring and tacky, you might like it. That might be Karaoke on a Chinese river cruise, entering a talent competition, or going to a place or event you’ve never been to before that might be a little different to your usual kind of thing. You might even make new friends or inspire old ones.
Aim to Read at Least 10 of the Top 100 Novels of All Time (according to Time Magazine)
This is a specific item on the bucket list. One aimed at myself for sure, but I figure that others may appreciate this as a choice they may want to add. Reading is something we often do when we have the time, but after I’ve finished a novel, there’s usually another one I’ve got to read that my peers are reading or have read. I need to brush up on my classics, and I can be doing that while I’m travelling.
Start Writing About Something You Love
Finally, if you find yourself with time and inspiration to share something you love, then write about it. You’ve just read what I like to write about. If I can do it, so can you. 😛
A ‘Bucket List’ is certainly something that isn’t set in stone, and I’m sure you’ll keep finding things to add to your list. Some other things I’m considering adding include; Volunteer for a Conservation Initiative, Learn a Foreign Language to a Conversational Standard and Visit All The Continents.