Why I Hate Travel Bucket Lists: But Why I Have One Anyway

hate travel bucket lists

I’ll admit it—I hate bucket lists. While I used to think they were a great idea and had one growing up for as long as I can remember (sadly, meeting Elton John never came to fruition), I’ve kind of found myself hating the lists I’ve created. How can you compile all the life experiences and places you want to visit onto one list…no matter how gigantic?

I’m also not a huge fan of listing life experiences because it’s not really living, in my opinion. I know so many travelers who have taken time to compose an encyclopedic-like list that they cross off. This makes it seem like travel is a game or some sort of accomplishment that needs to be rushed through instead of enjoyed. Most of all, there is a lot we can learn from travel that can’t be put on a list or defined so narrowly. Goals change, perspectives change, and it is often much for fun to enjoy the ride.

Even with all the opinions, I still have a bucket list anyway. As hypocritical as it may seem, I still like having a vague idea of what I do want to accomplish before I die. Some of this includes travel, some of it life experiences I can only have in new cultures or areas, but some is just things I would like to learn or use as a tool to increase my knowledge.

I have riding a Vespa on the list, visiting an elephant sanctuary, and learning to speak multiple languages. Much of it is because I don’t want to forget at this moment and time why those goals are important to me and why I want to have those experiences at this point in my life. Will I remember that I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro without writing it down? If I don’t, is that really something that should be on my bucket list?

I’m not the only one who has had trouble with the concept. You have pros and cons surrounding travel bucket lists from all travelers. Some swear by them, others hate them. And some, like me, are in the middle.

I had visit the pyramids of Egypt on previous bucket lists, but that was the least favorite part of my trip. Sure, it was amazing to see these structures up close and personal and to know that this experience had been woven into my life. But I personally loved Luxor more and seeing the temples there was equally as impressive and life-altering as what was originally on my list. Would I have made it to Egypt if it wasn’t on my list? What about to Luxor?

As usual, these things tend to be more complicated than they initially look. Everyone needs to have their own travel journey, and to explore the world in their own ways. I have my bucket list because I like imagining the possibility of visiting places that look intriguing to me. It’s in a constant state of flux because, although I like having it, I am constantly in flux. Travel is such a personal thing, and the destinations you choose to visit equally so. Maybe I’ll change my mind about riding a Vespa in dangerous Roman traffic, after all.

I don’t hold myself to my bucket list all the time, or I push myself if I really feel I need to accomplish what I have written down. But I don’t judge those who love them or those who hate them because the purpose is all the same—getting out and exploring the world.

Do you keep a travel bucket list? Why or why not?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


  1. ᴬᴰᴱᴸᴸ

    I’ve got a list of places I would like to visit but I don’t Class it as a bucket list. As it is there to look pack on and possibly go to, more for inspiration really. Although on the top of my list is the Faroe Islands it’s a long term goal to go there.

  2. Karen

    I have SO many places I want to go. My bucket list is basically the whole planet (besides N. Korea) so it’s useless. I don’t really find it useful either.

  3. Dreamsvoyager

    I tried to make a bucket list once but then I didn’t really followed that idea until when I actually once sat down and wrote a blog of my winter bucket list destination of my lifetime and set next 20 years goals onto them. Well you are right travel experiences sometimes vary from what we anticipate before but I think it also sort of given us directions what we want to achieve when we get lost sometimes! Btw..great post! Keep up! 🙂

  4. Ron

    I’m also right in the middle when it comes to this Alex. I used to hate them but it’s just like setting goals, you’ll never get it all accomplished if you don’t write it down. For me, it’s just a loose guide of what’s to come. Great post!


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