Welcome to 2023! A new year full of new experiences to have, memories to make and places to explore. Time to start dreaming about what your 2023 bucket list might include whether you’re a thrill-seeker, an explorer, a soloist or a friends and family traveler.  

To help kick off your planning, we’ve identified three buckets of travel experiences that might describe you: extreme adventure, family and destination travel.  

Whichever bucket you’re in, we have ideas to inspire. 

The Extreme Adventure Bucket 

Looking for new thrills in 2023? National Geographic has released its top five adventures for 2023.  

Bulevar Villa Deportiva, Guatemala

In light of the post-COVID travel boom, National Geographic’s list goes off the beaten track to where the crowds are few but the thrills are many:  

  1. Paddleboarding the Colorado River. Utah’s parks get a lot of foot traffic. To help preserve the terrain, Utah is promoting new outdoor adventure initiatives in the state, like paddle boarding the Colorado River in Moab, Utah.
  2. Choquequirao, Peru. Is Machu Picchu on your bucket list? Probably, but guess what: it’s also on the list of hundreds of thousands of people who will travel there this year (1.5 million before the pandemic!). Stick out from the crowd and visit Choquequirao, instead. Accessible only by foot, Machu Picchu’s sister city is for extreme adventurers like you. 
  3. Austrian Alps. If extreme winter sports are your thing, give the mountaineering villages (or Bergsteigerdörfer) of the Austrian Alps a try. To promote their small towns while protecting the surrounding environment, the Bergsteigerdörfer rejects “large-scale tourist projects like sprawling ski lodges and peak-scaling cable cars [and] puts greater emphasis on green or sustainable mountain tourism.”
  4. Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico. “Revillagigedo National Park…is North America’s largest fully protected underwater park. It offers sanctuary to the continent’s greatest concentration of tropical marine megafauna.” It also might be the only place on earth where you can have such close interactions with aquatic species, like the bottlenose dolphin, marine biologist and underwater filmmaker Erick Higuera shared with National Geographic. 
  5. New Zealand. A beloved adventure destination is back from the pandemic, open to international travelers and boasting exciting new activities for thrill-seekers—especially cyclists. For the more adventurous cyclist (like you) check out the 31-mile Coronet Loop Trail, which will take you on adventures into the backcountry.  

Need more inspiration? Don’t miss National Geographic’s complete Best of the World List here. 

The Family Bucket 

When traveling with family, choose the experience you want before the location. You don’t need to travel to Fiji to experience a beautiful beach. Using your list of goals to inform your travel destination can help you stay within budget and avoid longer trips, which can add stress, especially with family. (Read tips for traveling with your family here.) 

Family on holiday in Thailand.

Rather than recommending specific locations, we’ve provided goals you might not have considered to kick off your dreaming:  

  1. Visit a place that is special to your family’s history. Did your family members march during the Civil Rights Movement? Did your grandfather or great-grandfather fight on the beaches of Normandy? Take a step back into your family’s history, and visit the cities and towns at the center of your family’s history. 
  2. Seek out a spiritual experience. If your children are teenagers, they’re likely becoming open and interested in learning about the meaning of life. Consider taking a spiritual retreat or going on a pilgrimage. Christopher Elliott, a travel writer, wrote about the benefits of Spiritual Tourism for USAToday here.
  3. Give back together. Consider a humanitarian aid trip with your family to grow your bond through service to those in need. GoAbroad.com compiled a list of 7 Meaningful Family Volunteer Vacations here.
  4. Unplug together. Do you feel like your family just can’t get off the screen? Pursue a vacation outdoors, like camping, where the internet is unavailable. Family Vacation Critic suggests 13 different family-friendly unplugged vacation destinations.
  5. Learn something new together. Introduce a new sport, like snow skiing or mountain biking. Learn how to cook a new cuisine or a new language. Trips to Discover keeps a list of the 16 Best Places to Learn a New Skill on Vacation. 

The Destination Bucket 

Are you a destination junkie? Is your passport cluttered with international stamps? Do you plan your travel based on an overwhelming desire to see new places? The top bucket list destinations are still off-the-beaten-path sandy beaches and metropolises with famous landmarks.  

Kangaroo Island is off the coast of South Australia and is one of the best places in Australia to see wild animals like koalas, kangaroos, sea lions and seals.

Does your travel bucket list criteria include travel for food, culture, adventure and natural beauty? The New York Times‘ top 52 bucket list destinations for 2023 offer some familiar locations that meet those measures – like London, Cuba and New Zealand – but introduce unusual locales like Kangaroo Island in Australia, Vjosa River in Albania and the Burgundy Beer Trail in France.  

Vogue shared the 12 Best Places to Travel in 2023, according to travel experts. If you’re itching to visit Asia again after COVID-19 lockdowns stopped travel, check out Singapore and Japan. If luxury hotels are your thing, Guatemala beckons with its “intimate” Villa Bokeh. Chile, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Scotland also offer stunning hotels to give you an enchanting place to relax when you’re not seeing the sites.  

Are you looking beyond the so-called tried and true destinations? Check out Make Time To See The World’s recommendations for out-of-the-way places like Nunavut in Arctic Canada, Christmas Island in Australia, Olomouc in the Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan and many others. 

Finally, one of the trends alluded to in National Geographic and echoed in Vogue is that people are craving solitude after the frenetic post-pandemic return to travel of 2022. Iceland and Greenland are the perfect places to receive the peace of solitude while enjoying such sites as the Northern Lights. 

Global Rescue for Any Bucket 

Whichever bucket you fall into, don’t forget to grab your Global Rescue membership before you travel. Whether at home or abroad, we’ve been helping people complete their bucket lists for more than 20. Let us give you the peace of mind you need to complete yours in 2023.