Now that it’s the new year (Happy New Year everyone!), I hope you’ve dedicated at least one resolution to traveling more.
I’m not sure how many resolutions you normally make (I typically write down around 10), but according to a University of Scranton study from a few years ago, only about eight percent of people actually accomplish their New Years resolutions. Though this stat is pretty indicative of our short attention spans, this year is going to be different for you. While I can’t help you lose weight, stop procrastinating or make more money, I can help you get organized so you can at least cross one resolution off your list. In 2017, when you’ve earned enough vacation days (or worked up the courage to ask) to take time off from work and head somewhere amazing, there will be no time wasted scrambling to research. But how can that be? Preparation, preparation, preparation.
With more than 190 countries to choose from, how can you possibly know where to begin? The answer is, you need a bucket list! And yes, I mean an actual, physical, tangible list (whether written on paper or digital) that you can carry around with you. For anyone who knows me personally, you know how Type A I am. Literally everything in my life requires a list, typically a color-coded one, from daily appointments and groceries to new restaurants I’m dying to try and of course my travel goals. It’s great to have some dreams and ideas floating around in your mind, but putting them into a concrete list makes them feel much more attainable. Though you certainly can wing things when you get there, for a corporate America employee who gets limited vacation days, it’s important not to waste any precious time on logistics. Follow these five simple steps to create the ultimate bucket list so you can travel as many places as time will allow in 2017.
1. Put the whole world in front of you, literally.
Perhaps there’s one place in the world you’ve always wanted to go. That makes it easy. But that’s not the case for most people, who usually have a number of places in their minds that they’ve always wanted to visit. Take out a world map, major props to you if you have an atlas or globe laying around (I think they’re essential, but it makes me sad I’m in the minority on that) or pull one up on the computer, and print it out. Staring at the world can be a bit overwhelming at first. After all, you will technically have the entire world at your fingertips. Familiarize yourself with the geography of the countries and get comfortable with which countries are located on which continents. With these quick and painless tips, you’ll be more than capable of creating a bucket list from the expansive planet.
2. Figure out what kind of traveler you are.
Are you into adventurous thrills or cool cafe chills? Do you like to live by a schedule of activities or prefer to leave your watch behind and kick back? Does the word “vacation” conjure up images of spas and beaches or hiking and outdoor wonders? The type of traveler you are will greatly impact which destinations you select. If you prefer luxurious hotel living and relaxation versus backpacking and adventure, you might select traveling to The Maldives or Belize over New Zealand or Tanzania. Determining the kind of traveler you are and the experiences you seek will assist greatly in narrowing down the options.
3. Make sections based on travel time.
Section off your list to include categories for Day Trips, Weekend Getaways, Week Vacations, Two-Week Experiences and Three-Plus Week Journeys. Of course, no matter how badly we want to see the world, some places can’t possibly be reached in a short time window. The destinations assigned to each section should reflect the amount of time it takes to get there from your home-base. Travel time not only includes the physical time spent in route but any additional time required to actually go from door to door. Air travel can add up to two additional hours of just waiting time at the airport. For a short getaway, the two hours there and two hours back really drain your limited time spent in a location. Trips with three hours of travel time (or less) are perfect for weekend getaways, while destinations that require more than 10 hours would need to be placed in the two-week or three-week buckets. You don’t want to spend half of your trip in airport terminals and on planes, so dividing your list into these categories will get you one step ahead when the boss says you can take off next week. To create the most comprehensive list possible, take the map and go continent by continent, starting with your own. Utilize the knowledge you determined in step two about the kind of traveler you are to make your selections.
4. Rank in order of priority.
Now that you have made your selections, I highly recommend you reorganize in order of priority. If you’re like me, you may find you have 20 or more destinations in one particular section. Prioritizing based on I cannot live the rest of my life without seeing versus would like to visit if given the opportunity will help you create an organized, actionable list for the moment vacation time presents itself.
5. Pick one and go.
The last step and best one yet – pick one (or a few depending on how close other bucket list destinations are) and start checking off your travel bucket list.
6. (Optional) Compare and combine bucket lists with your travel partner.
I have added a sixth and optional step for those who know that they can’t always have everything they want. If you’re in a relationship and know you won’t be traveling solo, I still highly recommend that rather than making only one list as a couple, each party makes their own. Once you’re both done, compare the destinations selected, the order you’ve placed them in and the type of traveler you are. Where can you make compromises? Where do you have non-negotiables? In order to be happy travelers (and have a happy life in general), you will need to find common ground while still holding onto your unique identity. Maybe you don’t want to go to every place on his or her list, but there will certainly be some overlap. If not, find destinations that are in close enough proximity (even if it requires a flight) to craft an even more diverse, well-rounded itinerary. Regardless, it makes for a fun activity and is a great way to really get to know your significant other.
As the new year begins, my wish is that 2017 will be the year you resolve to stop thinking about your wildest dreams and start living them.