I think it was while visiting a friend in Bombay in 1988, on a city train at the heart of rush hour, that I realized how much I love to travel. This was only my second time in India and I was unused to the sheer volume of people everywhere, millions it seemed, walking, cycling, driving and yes, packed onto that train. The huge, crowded commuter was hurtling loudly along the tracks, with the rhythm and sounds of the train’s metal wheels screeching along on the iron rails, and the Indian heat mixed with the smells of the miles of shantytowns wafting up from a just a few hundred feet away. I suddenly realized this experience would change me forever, as it struck me how fortunate I was in my own life.
In that moment, I appreciated how important it is to travel the world and to see other cultures and other places, not only for the pleasure to be had in experiencing new things but more importantly for the perspective to be gained.
And so my bucket list began.
With World Tourism Day landing tomorrow (September 27th), I was inspired recently to dust it off and revisit it. Now I know some people put everything and the kitchen sink on their bucket list, including all kinds of things like meet a celebrity, get married, have kids, have a dream career etc.
But my list is very focused. I’m talking about a bucket list of destinations, of places to explore and new adventures to be had, exotic places to discover and new cultures to experience. My bucket list consists entirely of seeing new people and amazing places, all over the world. I have, what you might say, the “travel bug”.
And I’m not alone. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), travel and tourism has experienced a revolution in the past 50 years. In 1950, there were 25 million international tourists; today there are around 1.2 billion people travelling the world. Travelling has become a huge part of many peoples’ lives. When we travel, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Our perceptions of the world change as we see more of it. And as I learned on that trip to India, we come to appreciate others and ourselves in a very different light.
And so today, my bucket list includes, among many other things, climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa, hiking deep in the Amazon jungle and taking a really deep breath and crossing the newly opened Glass Bridge in China. It includes seeing the fjords of Norway and Alaska’s glaciers, before they melt. Greece, Australia, Thailand, Morocco and Chile…yes, lots to see, lots to do.
Luckily, I’ve been very fortunate to have already done many of the things on my list, including seeing the Pyramids of Giza, walking through Hagia Sophia in Turkey, standing in awe of the Taj Mahal and climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I’ve been on safari in Africa (twice) and visited Chichen Itza in Mexico, visited Buckingham Palace in London and admired the stunning Butchart Flower Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. But still my list is long. For every wonderful experience, there’s another yet to plan.
And that, of course, is part of the adventure, listening to the great adventures of others and being inspired to keep adding to that list.
Whether you like to plan well in advance for your trips, or take advantage of last-minute flights and travel on the spur of-the-moment, it’s still a good idea to have a bucket list.
A study by the Dominican University of California showed that people who wrote down their goals, and shared those goals and sent weekly updates to a friend were, on average, 33% more successful in accomplishing their goals than those who didn’t. That means that if you’re motivated enough to write down your bucket list and share it with a friend or partner, you’re more likely to actually accomplish at least some of what’s on your list.
In fact, there are even some tools online to help you. BucketList is a website where you can set goals, get tips and be inspired by other people’s ideas. As of writing this, there are over 420k members on BucketList tracking over 5 million goals. That’s a lot of inspiration!
There are also a number of Bucket List apps to help you find inspiration, plan and dream:
Here are some tips to help you get going with your own Bucket List:
- Write your list down
- Make it tangible – on your phone, on a pad of paper, on a whiteboard in the kitchen – anywhere as long as you can see it
- Spend time to think about it
- Make it part of your life plan
- Make a plan
- What will it take
- Time off
- Mental or physical fitness
- What’s in your way
- What will you get out of it
- Meeting people
- Giving to others
- Get it done
- What can you do first
- Start now
- Don’t procrastinate
- Enlist support
- Keep it going
- Do it!
- What will it take
This year, Thailand hosts the official celebrations for World Tourism Day 2016. The theme, “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility”, is a challenge to tourist destinations everywhere to recognize the necessity of accessibility for all, particularly in a world with an aging population. With 15% of the world’s population estimated to live with some form of disability, that’s 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privilege of knowing other cultures, experience nature at its fullest and experience the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights.
And to travel is just that – an amazing, awesome privilege that allows us to see the world through the lens of different experiences. I’m so looking forward to expanding my bucket list, and continuing those journeys. Next trip for me is Montreal in October, and then possibly Myanmar, where I was born, after that.
So, what’s on your bucket list?