Managing Director for travel specialist Adventure World, Fiona Hunt dissects the pros and cons of travel 'bucket lists'.
These days, the bucket list is almost an industry: there are movies, blogs and books devoted to our frantic pursuit of the ‘must do before I die’ experiences. One of the most popular is travel. Maybe you want to swim with dolphins, jump out of a plane onto a deserted beach, or zipline over the Amazon – but can a bucket list really help you achieve your dreams?
Bucket lists can both motivate and dishearten. When our goals become too optimistic, ‘failure’ to reach them can be a downer. One friend dreamed of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity. He trained for months, but halfway through the ascent suffered altitude sickness and had to be airlifted out. He was gutted, although his supporters were awe-inspired by his efforts.
Consider too, that no matter how proactive you are, you may never polish off that list. Relationships, children, mortgages and careers will all do their best to chomp away at your dream of swimming the English Channel or studying the western lowland gorillas in the Congo. On the other hand, having a bucket list can be a huge motivator. The act of writing one means you’re spending time thinking about your goals and sharpening your focus. It turns an abstract goal into something achievable.
My bucket list is based on doing something memorable on every significant birthday. I spent my 35th knee-deep in mud in a tribal village in the South Pacific, and my 40th on a Venetian art pilgrimage. However, along the way there has been a myriad of incredible experiences that came as a complete and wonderful surprise. The power of an Uluru sunset, the kindness of strangers in London, the juxtaposition of order and chaos in Tokyo, or realising at 20 that the contents of my backpack were the only material goods I really needed.
As an art lover, my travel bucket list these days is more about standing in the presence of great art. I still want to see Gaudi’s ‘La Sagrada Familia’ and Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’. But I’ve learnt that it’s often the unexpected that makes our stories and our lives so interesting.
So by all means create a list of dreams, but be sure to leave room for the spontaneous opportunities that come to you. The beauty of the bucket list is knowing when to embrace it, and when to leave it behind.
Fiona Hunt, Managing Director, Adventure World
Follow Fiona on Twitter: @AW_Fiona
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