Planning Your Travel Bucket List

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Do you have a bucket list? Is travel a major part of the list? For many of us, travel is a priority when we think about what we want to do in the future.

What do you want to do before you are 30? 40? 50? 60? If you think of a bucket list in these terms, it becomes easier to say, “Yeah, I’d like to see the Eiffel Tower by the time I’m 30.” Another way to look at your list is to decide what you would like to do by each future year. Somehow, it’s easier to visualize when you think in concrete terms for future events.

To start planning your travel bucket list, sit down with pencil and paper and brainstorm for 15 or 20 minutes. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is too wild, to impossible or too far out there. No editing. Just write what comes to mind.
Now try to organize your list. Do certain things pop out? Can you see an Asian tour in your future? How about traveling to all seven continents? How about all 50 states? Maybe you just want to visit different places in and near this new place you have just moved to. Organize the list around the obvious. Pick out the one that really excites you the most and begin planning it. Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet and Deckopedia are good places to start when planning your trip.

Foreign travel will require the most planning. You have to consider the passport, visas and specific vaccinations for the countries you plan to visit. You may need certain types of clothing. If you plan to travel to Tierra del Fuego and maybe even Antarctica, you will need to study the ships and tours available. You can’t just go wandering around as if you were on a backpack tour of Europe. The National Geographic organization has tours ranging up to $23,000 plus for 24 days; this is a great sort of trip to set as a goal for savings! Polar Cruises is another good website to explore.

How to Plan
Don’t dismiss a trip out of hand because of cost. If you really want to go, use a travel budget calculator such as the one on Independent Traveler to help you determine how much you need to save. Make allowances for the cost of getting to the expedition site and the cost of staying there before the tour begins and when you return. Many tours going to Antarctica begin in London, for example. Others begin in Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile.

You will need to make allowances for food and drinks, activities, extras for souvenirs and changes to your itinerary. Putting all of these expenses on your credit cards is not smart. Instead, figure out when you plan to go, such as in one year or two years, and set a monthly amount to sock away in a savings account that is a little difficult to take money out of. Try to have all the money in the account two to three months in advance of the trip to give yourself a buffer against unexpected inconveniences.

Be sure to include travel insurance in your budget to protect against unexpected medical expenses should you become ill or injured while traveling. It also protects your travel investment in case you need to interrupt your trip for an unexpected emergency at home.

Who Are You Traveling With?
This may seem silly, but if your significant other can’t stand the idea of going to India, would you expect them to go and then be miserable the whole trip? Have some serious talks with your partner before you decide. Maybe you can compromise on certain details that will make the trip fun for both.

On the other hand, your partner, siblings, parents or BFFs may be as wildly excited about the trip as you are. You will be able to share expenses and bounce ideas off each other. You’ll find that the more people who are involved, the harder it is to postpone or procrastinate about a trip.

When It’s Over
Completing a bucket list item is so much fun that it’s impossible to forget it. Find a way to continue enjoying your accomplishment. Journaling is the traditional way travelers of yore recorded their memories. A more modern twist is to create a small book with your photos and give it to each person who participated in the trip with you. Maybe you could mount your very best pictures as a montage on a prominent wall or create a Pinterest page dedicated to your bucket list achievements. Some travelers keep a Facebook or other social media journal, or a digital record. Remember to back up your photos!

Now that you have learned how to have fun with your bucket list, what’s next? ■

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