Travel + Leisure said that if 2022 was the year of people wading back into travel, then 2023 was the year of diving in head first. It cited market research from American Express Travel, showing that travelers wanted to take more trips and spend more money on travel than they had in a while.
That would fit my experience. Like most others, my travel frequency was slowed down by Covid, and at some point I realized I was falling behind in my world travel plans. I didn’t even know I had a world travel plan, or a bucket list. But I became aware that I do subconsciously maintain one when I saw that I was falling behind.
Since 2007, screenwriter Justin Zackham coined the term, based on a list he had made for “things to do before I kick the bucket.” But though the verbiage is new, it seems like everyone must have a bucket list, consciously or not. It’s a real thing that pre-dated the term itself. And it must be nearly universal for travelers.
Before the slowdown, when I was traveling frequently, I was always focused on my next adventure. That’s all I had the bandwidth for. I liked the feeling of getting totally immersed in the trip at hand, and not thinking much beyond that. Since I was traveling regularly and often, I was always just looking at the top item on my list of travel aspirations. Beyond that, I had many passing thoughts of other places I wanted to visit. But I never formalized a list beyond the first few priorities. Whenever I have achieved the travel aspiration at the top of the list, another one would replace it.
At first, I resisted formulating a bucket list for myself. I didn’t like distilling the great richness of travel into numerical terms. I have seen people who pass over a border then scratch that country off their list, as in “Been there done that,” before racing on to the next one. It almost seemed as if the list was more important than the travel experience itself, as if the only purpose of the trip was to check off items in a scavenger hunt.
But that’s not a problem with keeping a list. That’s just about one’s attitude toward travel. At this point, I am getting serious about making and keeping a bucket list. It’s still essentially infinite, but I’m trying to be more deliberate, put those priorities in order, and get moving.
I think of my list as one of travel experiences, not places. I may scratch an experience off my list when I have done it: bungee jumping off Victoria…