Why You Should Throw Away Your Bucket List

A lot of people ask me about places I’ve been because it’s on their “bucket list” and they want to go there “someday”.  I always enjoy telling stories and sharing pictures so I’m happy to tell them about some of the cool places I’ve been (you can check out for yourself on my Trip Reports page).

bled slovenia

Lake Bled, for example

But there’s something that gnaws at me about bucket lists and I’m finally willing to say it.  Get rid of your bucket list.  Right now.  Here’s why.

Bucket lists are monuments to things you haven’t accomplished

Especially in an America that’s obsessed with checklists and accomplishments, it’s too easy to look at a bucket list, sigh, and say “oh someday” without actually planning to cross anything off of it.  Quit looking at your bucket list and reminding yourself of all the hopes and dreams that you have of Traveling More or Seeing New Zealand or Whatever.

What happens when you die someday?  If you have a long bucket list, did you fail?  I hope not.  I hope you’re pushing back the darkness of the world and making a positive impact on those around you, regardless of how many boxes you’ve checked on some arbitrary checklist.  Identify the next place you want to go, figure out who you want to go with, make a plan, and go!

It’s easier than ever to find amazing things you haven’t done and amazing places you haven’t been to

Buzzfeed, HuffPo, Andy’s Travel Blog.  At least two out of those three are constantly posting articles about The Most Amazing Places In Micronesia or some other place you probably haven’t heard of.  This is great, so you add it to your bucket list.  Before you know it your bucket list is 30 places long!  The places that I want to visit but haven’t yet are places I’ve researched backwards and forwards and know a ton about before I plan a trip there.  Seeing an amazing place should make you want to know more about it, it’s too easy to overwhelm ourselves with professional photographs from blogs and websites without getting an accurate perspective of a place.  When you go to a place you have to experience it warts and all.  There are good and bad things about every place, don’t just trust a select few pictures you’ve seen on a website.

It’s easier to say you want to do something than to do it

Bucket lists should be about doing things, not wishing things.  So often I see people with long bucket lists and no plans for accomplishing those things!  Now, part of having a good list of travel goals is understanding the life stage you’re in.  If you just had twins, maybe travel isn’t in your future for a year or two.  But if you have the time and have the resources, go do something on your list!

You probably have too many things on your list

Pick the one place you want to go next.  Or maybe you shouldn’t.  Maybe you should look in the mirror and say, “for the next year I belong at home.  I’m going to be content here and throw all of life at Home and be present for my friends, family, and coworkers as best as I can.”

 

What’s this all mean?

I think it’s important to live in the Right Now.  It’s good to have goals but you must make sure that the goals are motivating you to achieve them instead of sitting there and looking at websites that are telling you “not yet, you still haven’t made it”.  Don’t escape to some future where you’re sailing from island to island on your yacht in Croatia instead of dealing with stuff in the present.  If you can swing Croatia, awesome!  If you need to take care of business at home, do that and do it well.

Rant over.

 

What do you think?  Do you agree/disagree?  Why?

4 Comments

  1. I totally agree that the idea of a bucket list is way overplayed. Personally I don’t have one.
    I do have a list of places that I would like to visit, along with a rough idea of whether they are doable in my current situation or what needs to change before those places are viable. That way I can shove the less realistic ones to the back of my mind and focus on those that are doable and make plans on how to accomplish those.

    I don’t let that planning stop me from taking spontaneous trips or finding good deals to travel to places not on or a lessor priority to me.

    Reply
    • I love your outlook and approach. I always leave room for spontaneity as well (for instance, Croatia has been my Next Place for a few years and I’ve been to 10+ countries since it became tops on the list).

      Reply
  2. Andy,

    Do go to Croatia! The Plitvice Lakes are beautiful. It’s a bunch of lakes, each one overflowing into the next with masses of waterfalls and wild greenery. You follow a series of boardwalks around them, from one to another, keeping your feet dry. At the biggest lake a little ferry takes you across. Problem is masses of tourists, so avoid them by starting early AM and avoid high season.

    Drive there, a long way from anywhere, and stay in a clean b&b.

    Avoid Dubrovnik, no one lives there anymore. They’ve all moved out to rent to tourists.

    Do go to Split and walk the waterfront at night listening for local music. Get a tour of Diocletian’s Palace.

    Go to the Istrian Peninsula and sleep in Volosko, then walk the beautiful 19th century waterfront, 12? km.

    Brooke

    Reply
  3. I agree with you that you should live in the presence – because you never now what happens – and that it is better to visit a place than to put it on a list! But there is something to be said about having a list: I made up my list after another long day with co-workers over drinks – we put together the perfect trip around the world, which none of us had time to do, and we kept adding to it. But when the economy went down the drain, I took off for a year and traveled to all those places on my list – something I would never have done if I didn’t have that bucket list in the back of my mind, with all these places to visit!
    Granted, I added at least two new places to my list for every one I scratched off on that trip, but hey… I keep working on it 😉

    Reply

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