Off the Grid: 5 Ways to Rethink Your Bucket List

Travel Lists

Buying experiences is more fulfilling than buying things. That much we know. Which is why many of us have bucket lists. With so much to see and do, you’d be crazy not to keep a list of things to experience before kicking the bucket.

At the same time, there is no bucket capable of holding everything life has to offer. And more than one person has surely died focusing on what they didn’t accomplish rather than what they did. That’s a shame because of the top regrets of the dying, “wishing I had traveled more” doesn’t even make the list.

Not to get all schmaltzy on you, but the trick to planning adventures is not to plan too much. Here’s how you can do that and back into unplanned encounters more often, while still enjoying the anticipation, financial savings and day-dreaming perks the bucket list affords.

1. Add Items You Truly Care About

Peer pressure doesn’t stop in grade school. As an adult, you’ll be urged to validate others’ travel logs by re-experiencing them “for yourself.” Resist the temptation. Plan for the trips that have meaning to you or that you’ve always wanted to take for yourself. Many of these won’t be status enhancing. But that’s not the point of travel. So take Confucius’s advice: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

2. Don’t Overdo It

Photo courtesy of Fox-Searchlight-Pictures

The most helpful travel buckets list general destinations rather than day-filled itineraries. In other words, they list at least one or two must-do activities per trip. Further, upon booking, seasoned travelers recommend no more than one or two planned activities per day (on average). Doing so leaves room for spontaneous and off-the-beaten-path encounters. Whether with people, places or things, said experiences often end up as the most memorable parts of the trips we take. For your happiness and pocket book, less truly is more.

3. Prioritize and Update

Photo courtesy of Fox-Searchlight-Pictures

Dreams change with age. Unless you update your bucket list accordingly, you could end up denying new additions, or worse—being a slave to your list rather than a beneficiary. Remember: the goal is quality, not quantity. Even the most well-traveled veterans croak before seeing everything on their list. Likewise, you’ll never experience everything. But with periodic prioritization and self-awareness, you can see the things that will have the greatest impact on you.

4. Traveler Reviews are Guides, Not Religion

Photo courtesy of Fox-Searchlight-Pictures

TripAdvisor has its benefits, and online reviews often help steer us to the cream of the travel crop—from well-rated lodging and attractive adventures to local food and hidden gems. That said, there is a limit to an online review’s utility. Often times your personal tastes won’t match the reviewers’. Their collective experience isn’t always exhaustive and it can lead to herd mentality. By all means, do your homework when deciding upon places to visit. That’s half the fun. But understand that a review won’t necessarily translate to your satisfaction.

5. Consider Burning

Photo courtesy of MGM

If you really want to channel your inner-hippy, consider burning your bucket list. Many spontaneous people, after all, travel well with just a mental list. So if your list isn’t fun, do away with it. Plan for whatever happens to be your desire in this moment and then see where that prompts you. The only rule you should follow: go somewhere that inspires you. And don’t forget: Meeting new friends is usually more life-changing than the miles traveled, the inanimate artifacts and the landscapes we usually target. We are social creatures, after all.

Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Visit his website or follow @blakesnow.

Share Tweet Submit Pin