How often do you hear someone refer to a travel experience as something that’s on their “bucket list.” “Eating a hot dog at Wrigley Stadium? Oh, yeah, that’s on my bucket list.” Capturing quality footage of a Sasquatch running through a mossy Oregon forest? Bucket list!” But the bucket list as elusive as the the Loch Ness Monster. Has anyone ever actually seen one? And who came up with this “bucket list” term anyway? It’s almost cringe worthy. And I’m not crazy about the idea of keeping important things in a bucket. Buckets are good for holding beach sand, soapy wash water, and paint, but I don’t keep money, jewelry or my dreams in a bucket.
But I do like lists. Is there anything more satisfying than checking something off of a list? Come on, you know you’ve added things like “put on shoes” and “drive to work” to your daily to-do list so you can experience an early day sense of accomplishment. And what’s the best kind of list? A list about lists of course! So let’s make one. Oh, this just appeals to my personality all over!
Here are three steps to transform your travel “bucket list”(someone puhleeeze come up with a better phrase!) from a hazy presence in the back of your brain into an actual, real-life, I’m-going-to-accomplish-cool-things-and-cross-them-off-and-feel-awesome list.
1. Put it in words.
Set aside 30 minutes and relax with your favorite tool for capturing your ideas. I’m a paper and mechanical pencil girl, but you might like typing on your tablet or talking in your phone’s voice memo app. Whatever works. Imagine all the places you’d like to go, the things you want to do, and events you want to experience. Involve all of your senses: “I want to bite into a flaky croissant, still warm from the oven of a Parisian bakery.” Or “I want to hear Mozart played by a symphony orchestra in Vienna while wearing a red ball gown and elbow-length gloves.” Or “I want to freeze my nose hairs by inhaling the icy clear air of an Antarctic sunrise.” Go crazy with it. Tell your practical side to wait in the other room and snack on some kale chips.
2. Give it form.
Next, take your messy, beautiful dreams and organize them into an actual written list. It may help to use categories: Music Festivals, My Quest to Find the World’s Best Cup of Coffee, Things to Do While the Kids are Still Kids, Things I’d Better Do Before Arthritis Sets In, or whatever shapes your life.
Write your list on something you can hold in your hand and see. Something you can edit as inspiration strikes or ambitions change. You could buy a composition book at the dollar store, type it into Evernote or Word, or you could write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Just don’t leave your list fluttering around in your head like moths under a streetlamp. And certainly don’t put it in a bucket.
3. Share it.
Nothing makes something real like sharing it. Sometimes it’s scary because we don’t want anyone to trample on our fragile dreams. “Seriously, why would you want to kayak around Iceland?” Or “I knew someone who went to Peru. He came back with a tapeworm.” So share with care. If love is what brings stuffed animals to life, then it’s sharing that makes dreams real. Once you say them out loud, or let someone read your list, you’re accountable for actually doing at least some of those things. Share your list here in the comments. I love to hear people’s travel dreams and I promise to hold them as gently as a newly hatched chick.
So, take that first step toward accomplishing something on your travel wish list and set aside the time to make a real life list. Then, tune in next week and we’ll figure out what to do with it.
Wishing you sweet travel dreams!