EXPLORE: To Bucket List or Not to Bucket List?

I can’t remember the first time I heard the term Bucket List but I do know that I hear the term more and more frequently and I think that it has lost a lot of its original meaning. It seems as though the majority of people make a list of things they want to do instead of thinking about what they really, truly want to do and experience before death and why. I have seen absurd bucket list posts online where people want to go to every single country in the world… but why? Check out three reasons why I think you should eliminate (or at least tone down) the list and three reasons why I think you should have a precise bucket list.

Thoughts on the Bucket List

Reasons to Ditch the Bucket List

Ditching the bucket list, or at least most of the bulk, is very liberating to your travel plans and mental self. Check out these three reasons to ditch the bucket list, complete with stories and examples.

Laser Focus is No Fun

Travel for leisure and fun should be just that, fun. When you travel all the time with an endgame in sight, you lose peripheral happenstances. Travel should be about fun, food, culture, and relationships and not tight schedules, check-off lists, and appointments. That sounds a lot like work obligations to me!

Back in 2015, my best friend and I went to New Orleans. I’d been a few times and she’d never been and always wanted to go. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity with $88 round trip airfare! We ended up going for 5 days and never really had a plan. We ended up meeting up with a friend of hers who randomly gave us a tour of the Garden District, we got caught in the rain at the cemetery (which was absolutely hilarious, by the way), and we ate and drank our way through the city without a care in the world. We took a carriage ride, shopped, and went on a ghost tour, too. It really was one of my best trips ever!

Spontaneity Will Suffer

If you only go after what’s on the list you might miss out on a killer girls trip to Vegas or a steal of deal on a random cruise. While traveling you could miss out on local events and culture that really make that place special. Being spontaneous is essential to travel. You’re taking a break from the real world so let life happen!

A few months ago my family and I went to Maui. We wanted to spend a day to do the Road to Hana. About 30 minutes after we left the condo we realized we left our list behind! What did we do? Find out what we did on the Road to Hana.

High Expectations Cause Stress

Your entire trip could be ruined because of high expectations. You can’t control nature and you can’t control circumstances. You can, however, control your attitude and perspective! Instead of saying “I’m going to…” on some list, try saying “I want to…” or “I’m going to try to…” and just roll with it!

In Maui, we went on a whale watching excursion at the very end of the whale watching season. One woman was bound and determined to see whales but I was just happy to be on a catamaran. I mean, I was on a boat! How cool is that? We never saw a whale but we did go out for two hours on the boat. I’ll give you one guess who had a great time and who didn’t.

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Reasons to Have a Bucket List

However, there are also good reasons to have a bucket list. I definitely have a Bucket List, which I’ll sharing at the end, but you’ll notice that it’s very small. Very, very small. Check out the other side of the spectrum of bucket lists and why I think you should have one.

A Bucket List Makes You Focus

I already said “laser focus is no fun” but in this case, it is. But I’m not talking about the planning-out-every-second-of-every-day kind of focus. I’m talking about overall focus. If you decide on what you want to do, you can plan for it and save for it. Focus on the end goal can drive you to save a little more or to think about ways to make it actually happen.

Right now I am saving to go to Ireland with my bestie. It’s not on my bucket list but it is on hers and I’m down for an adventure! We both have savings goals because we want to go in late April of 2017. We both have focus and determination to save up because we have that drive and focus a bucket list can give you. If you’d like to read more about how I’m saving then check out my post about Saving for Ireland.

You Can See and Do What’s Really Important to You

If you make a specific, goal orientated bucket list then you can focus on what’s really important for you. Deciding on a specific thing to see or do is more important, in my opinion, to self-fulfillment than a generalized to-do list. You can really hone in on why something is important to you or why you want to experience it.

As I said earlier, my bucket list is small. Actually, it’s tiny. The reason is simple: I have a few things that are really important to me and they focus on experiences that I want  and nothing else. I’m not in a competition with anyone to check off things on a list. I don’t want a collection of stamps in a passport so I can smile smugly at another traveler in an airport. I want to do these things because I want to do them and for no other reason.

A Specific Bucket List Item Can Create an Adventure of a Lifetime

Here’s a twist! Here is an abstract way of thinking about adventure: What if you wanted to do a “thing” and that’s what was important. Not where. Not how. Just simply put, “I want to do this.” Imagine the adventure you could have!

One of the things on my bucket list was to see the Northern Lights. I didn’t care where, I just wanted to experience the awesome, awe-inspiring sight at some point in my life. And then, all of a sudden, there was a travel deal to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. Iceland?! I never cared to go (mainly because I didn’t know anything about it) but I did want to experience the Aurora Borealis. So we booked a trip to Iceland! Not only did I see the Northern Lights but I also got to do a ton of other cool stuff. You can check out what all I did in Iceland.

What’s the Right Way?

So, as you can see, there are some pros and cons to having and not having a bucket list. The decision is ultimately up to you and what works for you. The advice I have after thinking about these 6 different points is this: Think about what you want to do and why, then make it happen.

And Finally…

I promised I would share my bucket list so here it goes! I always wanted to see the Northern Lights, so we can check that one off the list! When I was a kid the Goodyear Blimp was stationed close to my house. I saw it all the time! Now, I want to ride in a blimp! (Oh, and I found a place in Germany to do it, too!). And the last thing on my tiny, little list is this: I want to be on the Price is Right. So, there you go!

What do you think about bucket lists? Do you have one or do you just happily go through life collecting adventures and stories? Share what works for you in the comments below!