Putting pen to paper on a travel bucket list might feel like a daunting task—especially if you want to create an achievable one. It’s easy enough to dream about summiting Mount Everest, walking the Great Wall of China and scuba diving Belize’s Great Blue Hole, but is it something you will do?  

How can you make a bucket list that is more than a list of pipe dreams? What tricks and tips can you follow so your bucket list is something you return to time after time to check off items you’ve completed and to add new aspirations, too? 

We’ve got some guidance to help get you started, so get out your pen and paper and start turning your dreams into travel action.  


Tips for creating an achievable travel bucket list 

  1. Start small. The problem with most bucket lists is that they are time bound only by “before you die.” For many, this is too broad a margin to complete the list. You will always feel like you have more time and will put things off. But the reality is that many bucket list items will need to be completed when you are healthy enough to have the energy for the trip. We suggest making annual bucket lists—or at the most five years—so you are more accountable to a specific time frame.

  2. Get your friends and family involved. Don’t keep your bucket list a secret. As you create it, involve friends and family who can cheer you on, keep you accountable and go with you. Unless one of your bucket list items includes solo travel (check out some tips for female solo travel here!), getting family and friends to buy in is crucial since they may come with you.

  3. Identify goals and then destinations. Putting your goals ahead of destinations can be a helpful way to stay in your budget, making your bucket list easier to complete. For example, if you want to go to a tropical beach, you don’t need to fly to Fiji. Try the Bahamas instead and save big bucks on airfare.

  4. Stay realistic. What can you achieve at this time given your budget, the age of your children and your vocation? These factors can be limiting, and making a bucket list that is outside your means or opportunity can be discouraging.

  5. Make incremental buckets. If you do want to summit Mount Everest or dive the Great Blue Hole what are you doing to prepare? Your annual bucket list could include milestones that will help you prepare for your ultimate bucket list items down the road. Start off on smaller, less technical mountains and shallower, less challenging dive locations and work your way up to the more advanced ones. Practice and experience are keys to achieving most adventurous bucket list activities. 

  6. Don’t let guilt be a motivator. Fill your list with items that inspire excitement and joy, rather than guilt. “Should” items are easier to ignore than “want to” items because their aim is not fulfillment.  

The Practical Dos and Don’ts of Bucket List Travel 

Got your bucket list? Gather your family or friends, your calendar and your credit card, and start booking!  

But as you do, keep in mind these important dos and don’ts of bucket list travel. There’s no doubt your travel bucket list will take you to places you’ve never been. Being prepared can make the trip go more smoothly, giving you that bucket list experience you’ve dreamed of.  

  1. DO research the latest current events in your destination. This will help you avoid tricky situations, like simmering political unrest and travel disruptions and restrictions due to strikes, disease outbreaks or terrorism. DON’T get caught unaware in a new location.

  2. DO stay within your budget. If you have to break the bank to check off an item on your bucket list, should it be there? DON’T go into debt over your bucket list. Read here for budget-friendly travel tips.

  3. DO research local accommodations and prepare accordingly. If you’re going off the grid, this is especially important. “Anytime I’m considering going to a remote area, the first thing I’m doing is a weather and terrain analysis of the location,” said Jeff Weinstein, a paramedic and a medical operations associate manager for Global Rescue. “Can you bring a vehicle right up to the site? Do you have to hike in and what is that hike like? What is the closest city? Closest hospital? What are the roads like?”

  4. DON’T rely on others to think through things for you, especially with off-the-grid travel. Read more tips for going off the grid here.

  5. DO prepare for the local cultural norms including dress codes, public displays of affection, and common U.S. hand gestures, like “thumbs up” and the “peace sign” which are offensive in other destinations. DON’T assume other cultures share your values, especially around dress. This could draw unwanted attention.

  6. DO talk to those who have gone before you. DON’T try to figure it all out on your own. Global Rescue members can obtain free destination reports to help guide travel decisions. Read experts’ top travel mistakes here.

  7. DO Research local medical care and the healthcare infrastructure. Before you leave, know what type of medical care is available at your destination. DON’T assume standards of medical care are the same. Read tips for traveling in the post-pandemic world here.

  8. DO sign up for Global Rescue Membership before you leave. Even the best-laid plans can be foiled by sickness or injury. Our on-staff medical team can help diagnose you via telemedicine and connect you with the best local medical care. If you need to fly back home for care, we will arrange it. If political unrest or an injury requires a sudden evacuation, we’re there for you. DON’T travel without the peace of mind that comes from a Global Rescue membership.  

The funny thing about a travel bucket list is that the more you travel, the bigger your list gets. So see your annual bucket list as a launching point to greater adventures. 

Good luck!