Most travellers I’ve met have a bucket list with all the places they want to see and the things they want to do. It doesn’t have to be an actual list, anything physically written down. It might just be in your head. Whenever you see or hear about some destination you think “oh yes, I want to go there!” But then, some people in fact do have it written down. Or they at least have a pinterest board. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, as long as the list is there.
However, my bucket list is a lot longer than what you find written down anywhere. It really includes almost everywhere. Some points are rather general, like do a safari in Africa, or visit Iceland. Some are more specific. See the pyramids of Giza. Visit Machu Picchu. Visit the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. (Yes, I’m a geek.)
I always looked at a bucket list as a good thing. After all, it helps to know what you want, doesn’t it? To have something to look forward to, that helps you pick your next destination and work towards making that trip possible.
Then one day, I had a discussion with a friend about the pros and cons of purposefulness. She argued that it makes you single-minded and blind to everything outside of your path. It closes your eyes to all the unexpected things and surprises along the way, because you are so focused on reaching your destination. While the conversation was not about bucket lists directly, it got me thinking.
Can we be so focused on the destination, of ticking a point off our bucket list, that we forget to enjoy ourselves on the way? In German we have a saying: “Der Weg ist das Ziel”. It translates roughly as “the journey is the reward.” That is a good thing to remember, especially when travelling.
On a trip there are often some points on the itinerary that excite us more than others, specific locations we look especially forward too. Those that are on our bucket list. However, no matter how excited we are about those, we shouldn’t allow them to make us forget all the other experiences we make on the trip.
The beauty of travelling is that it always includes a factor of unexpectedness, of the unforeseen. Don’t close yourselves to those unplanned events, even if they seem to deter you from reaching your goal for a time. I know I’ve been guilty of sometimes wishing I could reach my bucket list destination faster, but it would have meant missing out on so much along the way. Sometimes the unexpected things even turn out to be the true highlight of the trip.
Keep chasing your goals, but don’t forget to take a break sometimes to enjoy the scenery on the way. You never know what you might find by taking a detour. You’ll have experiences that never made it on your bucket list only because you didn’t know about them, not because they were not worth it.
So should you have a bucket list? You certainly may, but don’t hold on to it too fiercely. Or do as I do and simply include absolutely every destination on your list. That way, no matter where you go, it’s always the right destination.
Do you have a bucket list? How long is it? Did you ever allow yourself to deviate from it and it turned out to be the best experience of your trip? Share in the comments!