It's far too easy for your bucket list to take on a life of its own. Our world is bursting with adventures, ideas and experiences, and inventorying the best travel has to offer is a guarantee that your list of "must dos" can quickly spiral into a never-ending ream of "can dos."
Your wandering soul deserves better. Done right, a bucket list is a source of inspiration — a tempting, mind-watering place that piques your thirst for adventure and identifies how you most want to challenge yourself. Use the questions below to start crafting a bucket list that reflects your own personal Mount Everests.
• What do you want? Always harder than it sounds. Sit in a quiet place with a pen and paper (no internet required!). Write down all the things you'd like to do—find a hidden beach in Thailand, RV across the American south, surf in Australia. This is brainstorm mode, so don't censor yourself. Imagine money is no concern. If you're having trouble, consider this: You're given an airline ticket, no questions asked, no expense spared, to anywhere in the world. You must leave in the next 24 hours. Where would you go? What would you do?
• How does it feed your senses? Go through your list and visualize each adventure. Use your senses to make it specific and evocative. Can you practically taste the crispy boquerones in Barcelona? Feel a pang for the vibrant hustle and bustle of a market in Marrakesh? Smell the mist radiating off rainforest greenery just after a storm? Who's travelling alongside you, if anyone? Add the details that make each adventure so close you can almost taste it—make your travel bug itch for it.
• How many adventures can you handle? Your list is intended to fit in a bucket—make sure you can carry yours. The saying goes to write hot and edit cold, so walk away from your list for a couple days. Which experiences keep nagging at you? Which do you keep adding colour to? Which ones visit when you have a quiet moment at work, or when you're trying to sleep at night? Highlight the top five adventures that feel urgent and irresistible.
• How does it move beyond the bucket? List out steps you need to take to accomplish one of your bucket list items. What stands between you and your destination? Maybe it's "research vaccines needed for Malaysia" or "find a ferry to the archipelago in Fiji." As you'll learn, you'll find more tasks to add, but each decision brings you one step closer to making your dream a reality.
• What comes next? If you tick an item off your bucket list, add another. Refer back to your original long list or do the visualization exercise again. Keep the list you're working on to five items, max—if you want to add more, you'll need to hit the road and make space for it!