The Benefits of a Travel Bucket List

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Do you keep a travel bucket list? It’s a controversial topic among bloggers and travel writers. Naysayers point to travelers moving too quickly with the idea of checking an item off before rushing to the next destination on the list. They claim it leads to shallow travel experiences that don’t properly explore a place.

Why you should keep a travel bucket list

Alan and I are on the “a travel bucket list is good for you” side of the argument. We think it’s more about setting goals than making a list. And the benefits of bucket lists are numerous:

  • Keeping a travel bucket list gives us something to look forward to. And for us, anticipation is one of the biggest travel pleasures of all.
  • Knowing that we have an active trip coming up that might be physically challenging inspires us to keep fit and take care of our overall health.
  • Entering the stage of life where parents (and friends) are declining, or even passing away, can be depressing. A travel bucket list keeps hope alive, giving us something positive to think about.
  • Realizing that there’s an expensive trip with our name on it encourages good financial habits so that we can actually afford that trip.
  • Being open to new ideas and opportunities rather than being inflexible about travel plans.

A bucket list for every type of traveler

We didn’t intend to add ATV exploring to our travel bucket list…until we bought one. See what I mean about keeping your list flexible?

Alan and I have so many places that we want to visit. Keeping a list is no problem for us.

But if you’re not a list maker or having trouble knowing what to put on your travel bucket list, we recommend setting travel goals around interests—or checking out this page of  bucket list trips.

Perhaps seeing all of the U.S. National Parks is a worthy goal. Or aim for visiting every UNESCO World Heritage Site. The point is to maintain a list that is meaningful to you.

To get you started with your list, here are some of my recommendations:

History lovers

The archaeological ruins in Ephesus, Turkey, are worthy of adding to your travel bucket list.
History reveals itself at every turn while exploring Ephesus.

Mediterranean cruises offer history lovers the opportunity to travel back in time. And I mean way back in time to the days of the Phoenicians and Romans.

We appreciate the ability to experience the smaller ports that only small ship cruises can visit. So the next time you’re thinking about exploring Europe’s history, consider Sicily to explore off-the-beaten-path Selinunte or Sardinia to see the ancient city of Nora.

Sassi settlement in Matera
People have lived in these stone houses and caves since prehistoric times.

If you’re exploring Europe by land, Italy is perfect for history lovers (and food fanatics). Start in Rome to see the Colosseum and Forum. Then walk with history in Matera. Of course I’ve barely scraped the surface when it comes to Italian historical sites.

National Park fans

If you enjoy winter travel, don't miss a Glacier National Park winter trip to snowshoe or cross country ski on Going to the Sun Road.
Glacier National Park in the winter is spectacular!

National parks are a bucket list trip for many boomer travelers. And they should be! The National Park Service protects some of our most precious land.

Glacier National Park is a must-see in my opinion. If you love stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, then plan a week or two exploring Glacier to see why the Montana park is called the Crown of the Continent.

Unfortunately, the park is becoming increasingly popular. That’s why I recommend a winter trip to Glacier National Park, if you don’t mind cold and snow. You’ll practically have the winter wonderland to yourself.

dry tortugas day trip to fort jefferson
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park on a road trip to the Florida Keys.

Dry Tortugas National Park offers an intriguing look at Civil War history. The best part? You have to take a ferry to reach this isolated islet in the Gulf of Mexico. Did I mention the spectacular snorkeling?

Adventure cruisers

Add floating with icebergs in Leconte Bay Alaska to your boomer bucket list.
An expedition cruise puts you up close and personal with Alaska’s wildness.

An adventure cruise will take you to exotic destinations like the Arctic or Antarctica. The memories from these trips are especially dear.

If you are new to expedition cruising, begin with an adventure cruise to Alaska. It’s a good introduction to adventure cruising and a great way to see the state up close and personal. You might get to float with icebergs.

Luxury travelers

South African Safari is an excellent addition to your boomer travel bucket list.
Plunge pool at our Ivory Lodge Villa at Lion Sands, South Africa.

Luxury travelers have so many options these days. It used to be that a luxurious trip meant staying in over-the-top accommodations. When Alan and I take a luxury trip, we expect experiences to be part of the luxury, too.

For us, a South African Safari tops our luxury list. Dipping into a relaxing plunge pool after an early morning of wildlife watching is the best! It’s the perfect combination of over-the-top accommodations and outstanding wildlife experiences.

Triple Creel Ranch winter getaway
Luxurious guest ranch fun starts here!

Here in the U.S., a luxury guest ranch stay is another heady mix of wildlife, active travel fun and luxurious lodging. We’re partial to Triple Creek Ranch in our home state of Montana.

River Cruise newbies

Strasbourg, France, is part of the fun on a Rhine River Christmas Market Cruise.
A decorated building near the cathedral in Strasbourg, France.

For ambiance and festivity, a Rhine River Christmas Market cruise is a fun introduction to the world of European river cruising. Wander the festive market stalls while you sip gluhwein without the bustling summer crowds.

canal with cruise with bicycle in foreground
What an idyllic setting!

If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, try gliding through France on a Burgundy Canal barge cruise. You’ll pedal bikes, sip fine wine and explore history in a gorgeous setting.

Adventure travelers

Paragliding in Maui is an over-the-top bucket list experience.
Paragliding over Maui.

Life is about the experience, right? And stepping out of our comfort zone is good for us. Yes, it is!

If I could recommend one activity that builds confidence while offering inspiration, it’s paragliding. I felt like a bird flying over Maui. And the energy high lasted for days.

Red SUV covered in dirt on a four-wheel-drive-trail with mountains in the distance
The dirt your car collects is proof of the fun you’ve had!

Alan would tell you that getting behind the wheel of our jeep for a four-wheel-drive adventure is always high on his bucket list. The rougher the road, the better, which is why driving the Alpine Loop in Colorado will always be a favorite.

I hope you’ll use these travel tips to plan an unforgettable trip or two (or more). Your life will be richer for it!

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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