Where do I want to go? What am I doing with my life? Am I satisfied with where I am?
There is a part of me that really enjoys a philosophical approach to travel and life. So when Traveling Ted shared his bucket list and asked me to be a part of it, thinking about “where I want to go?” seemed like a fun way to stop and take a look at my life.
So using the bucket list approach, I want to look back at experiences I have appreciated as well as places I want to go – a bucket list for the past and future.
However, travel photos and shared destinations aside, why does anyone else care about another person’s bucket list?
My bucket list shouldn’t matter to you. You’re not allowed to disagree with it. However, reading what is on my bucket list and understanding why they are there can change your life and help you understand who you are.
A bucket list from the past
These are the places that I have been that I am thankful I had the chance to see. For many of these, the memories and impact they had on my life are more meaningful than the destinations themselves.
These destinations may not have been on my travel bucket list but they impacted my life.
This is the one trip that has had the biggest impact on my life as a traveler. Visiting Estonia stirred a passion for culture, languages, people, and travel that I never knew I had. I was 20 years old and in college when I went to Estonia. Wide-eyed fascination, meeting Estonian people, trying new foods, and learning Estonian phrases on a 3 hour bus ride I may never use again.
I haven’t written much about that visit to Estonia but it did inspire me to write an Estonian love story – The Crush
For the city of love in France, I have quite a few memories – and lessons learned – from here. The first trip was my last stop on a month long tour of Europe – my first trip to Europe aside from the two trips to Estonia.
I enjoyed the trip but it was full of highs and lows. This trip happened during a difficult time in my life. I let my hair down on this trip and had some fun.
Yet there were also times I was lonely and sad. I had my best and worst experience in those last few days in Paris. I loved the city but my time there was a metaphor of the ups and downs I was experiencing in my life. However, eating at McDonald’s on my last day in Paris did give me one of my best travel experiences.
My second trip to Paris also felt a bit like an escalator – more ups and downs. However, I was able to experience Paris in the Fall and see things I didn’t see the first time. I also learned a lot about myself and some lessons on traveling as a couple.
Here are some ways to save money in Paris when you are on a budget.
Who doesn’t love Hawaii? I admit I do love it. However, in my travel confessions I’ve also stated I don’t like really like the beach. I grew up at the beach, I am white and sunburn easily, and I’ve been stung by a jellyfish. I don’t avoid the beach completely – I’ve even been to a nude beach. However, Hawaii is different.
On this trip, I rented a fantastic house on the beach. I’ve been to Maui but I loved Kauai a lot more. It’s a quiet island with not as many tourists.
I love the hiking there and the many other things to do in Kauai that didn’t involve the beach. I love the memories I have from Kauai. And while there is no way I can probably recreate the experiences I had from that first trip, I can’t wait to go back.
I have the privilege of living just 100 miles away from one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. While many people love to visit during the summer, hang out on the lake, and enjoy the many ski resorts, I love Tahoe for other reasons. One of the best things I’ve learned from my trips to Tahoe is that you don’t have to travel far away from home to enjoy the pleasures of traveling.
I love hiking in Lake Tahoe. There are lots of trails and some beautiful scenery. The area surrounding Tahoe is also my base for my annual trip to check out the Fall colors – places like Hope Valley and Markleeville. Whether it is being in nature or just enjoying time with family, Lake Tahoe provides a place of peace, quiet, and reflection and calms my soul like no other place I’ve been.
Honestly, this place was never on a bucket list for me. It’s near a destination that many put on their bucket list – Washington DC. However, this trip helped me appreciate America, its people, our culture, and history.
I’ve never lived in Annapolis but my visit there made it feel like home. I enjoyed the people and the community and the connections I made there. As part of my College Football Travel Tour, my visit to the Naval Academy gave me goosebumps as I was there to see the Army – Navy football game. This trip gave me a greater appreciate for food, opened doors I never knew existed, and was one of the most rewarding trips I’ve ever taken.
So after looking back on a travel bucket list, I look ahead to where I want to go. And my travel bucket list for the future begins where the bucket list in my past ended.
A travel bucket list for the future
Maybe I am different than other travelers but when I think about where I want to go, my experiences and moments in life are more that the sights, attractions, or a checklist of places. I am not turned on by places but experiences.
With that perspective, I can never argue with anyone’s bucket list. For me, a travel bucket list is personal made up of who we are, our experiences in life that have shaped us, and the people who have been a part of our lives. My bucket list may not be for everyone but it is uniquely me.
While many people may have visited the same places I listed on my bucket list from the past, no one can say their experiences were exactly the same as mine. It is these experiences that have helped my put together my travel bucket list for the future.
College football games
While sports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I love the passion and culture of sports and how it relates to travel. Growing up as a college football and South Carolina Gamecocks fan, these experiences had a big impact on me growing up.
This past year, I had the chance to combine two of my passions, travel and college football, to create the College Football Travel Tour. This series allows me to check out college football games all over the country while exploring college towns, enjoying local food, learning more about these colleges and universities, and sharing stories and my experiences that can inspire people to check out a part of American culture that is so much bigger than a football game on a Saturday.
After visits to the University of Washington, University of South Carolina, and the US Naval Academy, I will now have opportunities to see more college towns and attend college football games as I learn about college life and local cultures here in America.
Yosemite National Park
As excited as I am to have this on my list, I am almost embarrassed for putting it on here. I like the outdoors, love to go hiking, and I have lived in California for over 10 years now. However, I have to admit that I’ve yet to visit Yosemite. I have a feeling some of that peace, quiet, and beauty that I experience in Tahoe will be found here as well (along with a few tourists as well).
England, Scotland, and Wales
There is so much about the British culture that I love – English football, small villages and towns, the outdoors, the history, and places like the Cotswolds. I’ve spent many days watching soccer/football on TV following my favorite teams in England.
Some of my favorite TV shows of all time are British sitcoms and dramas (and this coming from someone who doesn’t watch that much TV). Scotland and Wales have some beautiful places and history that I want to learn about as well.
However, part of the intrigue comes from my family history – I’m part English. So discovering my roots along with my interest in British culture and geography puts this high on my list. Also, this seems like an easy place to take kids. Plus when your last name is pronounced and spelled like David Beckham’s it makes England (as well as Scotland and Wales) all the more intriguing.
I’ve been to the Alps before but I would love to spend a week or more hiking the trails in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia. I love the mountains, alpine villages, and being outdoors. I’ve hiked in the Alps but this would be a dream trip. I don’t need to skip and twirl singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” The sounds of nature will be a harmonious melody to my soul.
The Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef. Just a few of the places that come to mind when I think of Australia. And before you say “I thought you didn’t put stuff on your bucket list based on places or destinations?”, you are correct – I don’t. And Australia doesn’t go on the list for these reasons as well. Some of my reasons are sentimental and some are sports related.
Because I enjoy sports, I would love to see the Australian Open (I love Grand Slam tennis) while I am there or even a rugby or soccer match. Plus the stories I hear about the people and culture make me want to go even more.
A travel bucket list – a personal travel journey
So why does my travel bucket list for the past and future matter for your life?
As I’ve spent time reflecting on my bucket list from the past and looked ahead to my bucket list for the future, I realized that a bucket list is more than a checklist of places you want to see before you die.
A travel bucket list is life’s personal journey reflected in a list of future destinations.
Each item on my list reflects the moments and experiences that have shaped my interests and personal journey through life. Those bucket list items tell me where I’ve been, what I’ve experienced, who I am, and what I have enjoyed.
Without Estonia, I may have never taken that first trip to Europe or realized how much I love other cultures. If it wasn’t for the college football games I went to with my dad and in college, I wouldn’t care as much about sports. And if it weren’t for those travel and sports experiences, there would never be a College Football Travel Tour.
On each and every item on my list, I can point back to experiences or moments in my life that have made me exclaim “I want to go there!” and put it on my list. Funny how life is connected like that.
My hiking experiences, Lake Tahoe, Switzerland, and Slovenia – bucket list items for the Alps and Yosemite.
My bucket list won’t allow you to experience the same things I have. However, a travel bucket list can help you understand your life journey and path. It can be a bridge that helps you connect your past to the future. Why many people may know where they want to go, they may not understand how they got there or why a place is on their list (beyond it being pretty or romantic).
The places on your travel bucket list can help you understand what experiences in life have had the biggest impact on you.
So use your bucket list as a chance to dig deeper, to understand that places you have chosen are on there beyond the superficial reasons of “it’s beautiful” or “I’ve heard a lot of great things about it.”
As time goes on, I may add items to this list as I have more experiences and moments that impact my life. That’s why no one can ever argue with another person’s bucket list – no one’s personal travel journey and experiences of life are the same.
What items are on your travel bucket list? What experiences in your life led you to putting those things on your list?
Filed Under: Traveling Thoughts