Not a bucket list: the travel priority challenge

I’ve been reading a lot on other travel blogs recently about bucket lists, and had started giving more thought to my own. Then, I came across this post by Adventurous Kate (which inspired this great post by Paul at My Postcard From), and they made great points about setting travel priorities instead of making a checklist of list of things to do before dying. In short, if travel is a priority, make it a priority.

Following Kate’s challenge to identify 5-10 travel priorities and complete at least one in the next two years – challenge accepted! I want to see a lot of things for a lot of different reasons, but these are the things that occupy my daydreams and evening Googling. With that in mind, here is my not-a-bucket-list list of travel priorities for the next two to twenty years.

South Africa

South Africa has been a travel priority for me since Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Fingers crossed, 2012 is the year it’s finally going to happen.

Update: It’s happening, booked and paid for. I leave in late October 2012 for three weeks and I’m a little awestruck that it’s actually going to happen.

Return to Spain

I’m already planning to return to Spain in 2014 to celebrate a milestone birthday by walking the Camino de Santiago. When I’m finished my trek, I really want to go back to Sevilla, drink some tinto de verano, and take a flamenco class.

Southern Hemisphere birthday

My birthday is at the end of January. Living in Canada, it’s always cold and nine times out of ten, it snows. Just once in my life, I want to experience my birthday in the summer and I will go to the Southern Hemisphere to do so.

An RTW to call my own

Ever since I discovered the round-the-world trip planner on the Star Alliance website, I’ve known it’s only a matter of time before I go on an extended RTW adventure. Time, money, and career are the deciding factors presently for this one, but it will happen, even if it has to be after I retire.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

I love the pageantry and saucy fun of Mardi Gras, but I loathe unruly crowds. I will make an exception to this rule, but only for Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Update: The marvelous folks at @VisitNewOrleans tweeted me back! “Hope you’ll join us for Mardi Gras! The parade route is not as crowded as you might think.” SOLD! I’m going to look at this for 2013.

Frolic under the midnight sun in the Yukon

Canada is huge – and as diverse as it is large. I want to see more of it, generally, and go to the North specifically. To that end, and because I read a lot of Pierre Berton when I was younger, I want to spend some time the Yukon. Who could resist a summer evening under the midnight sun and something in Dawson City called Diamond Tooth Gerties that sounds crazy fun. I also want to see the Northern Lights for myself, but that requires winter, so I’m pretty confident I can do pick it up another time at a lower latitude.

Update: The nice folks at @TravelYukon retweeted me and are luring me to see them with their friendliness: “Let’s fulfil this dream!” Oh Yukon, I’ve got to get up there and see you.

“Live” in New York City

NYC is one of my favourite places in the world. In the next five years or so want to save up a block of vacation time (and money) to  live in New York for a month. Squeezing a lifetime of NYC living into a month could very well be the book I(‘ll probably never) write.

Volunteer at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica

I think about this one all of the time. Spending a few weeks volunteering at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica is sure to make my heart grow three sizes.

Travel with strangers

I’ve traveled solo, with friends, and have done a G Adventures group tour with a friend, but it will be an interesting learning experience to travel with a group of complete strangers. Are you ready for me again, G Adventures?

Update: My old friends at G Adventures assure me: “We’re ready for you again!” Be careful what you wish for, buddies.


This one is on the less-realistic side, but if I win the lottery, I’m going to space.

If you have suggestions for making the most of these travel priorities, tips, tricks, frugal adventures, or more, fire away in the comments!



  1. Great list! Made me think about what my own would be, I’ve come up with 1. Re-doing my 2010 disaster of a Paris trip with my mom (4 months away). 2. Hanging out in a sauna with my friend at her cottage in Finland. 3. Staying at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhelvi (hope I spelled that correctly) resort in Chaing Mai, Thailand. 4. The vegetable tasting menu at The French Laundry followed by a road trip down to the coast to LA. 5. An African safari 6. Shanghai. 7. Retire in France – I spent 5 months there in 2008 and still wish I was back there everyday 🙂

  2. Love this. Living in New York for a month has been a long-time dream of mine too. The rest of my list is:

    1) Similar to New York, I must live on a Greek Island for a month. I’d love to retire to Greece as well. Obviously, things are little up in the air for Greece since I last visited, but I feel like that’s where I belong in the world.

    2) I’d love to visit Bali.

    3) I spent a week in Malaga city, but I must return to Spain to explore Sevilla and Barcelona. A spring visit is necessary to take in the orange blossoms.

    4) It seems so wrong to say this, but I have never been to Paris. I need to fix this.

    5) I need to experience Hogmanay in Edinburgh.

    7) The Festival of Lanterns, Chiang Mai, Thailand looks amazing. I will make it there one day.

    There is so much more, but I’ll stop here.

  3. Nice list. I’ve never put my travel plans into a list…I sort of go when I think of them. Although, if I were going to do a list of places I’m currently thinking of/making plans for they are (totally thinking of these on the spot and they feel very un-exotic compared to others):

    1) Iceland (again)

    2) England – I call it the Jane Austen tour, but really, it’s just highlights of England that happened to be mentioned in Jane Austen books/movies (like Bath, Lyme and the Peak District).

    3) Barcelona – because my cousin lives there, so it’s a really good excuse to go over. And I figure I can fly over on the cheap from the aforementioned England trip.

    4) NYC – I’ve mostly done day trips and weekend trips there, so I’d like to spend more time. I love your idea of living there for a month (unlikely to happen for me, but I like the idea).

    5) Southern/Southwest United States – I totally want to do a road trip from the Florida panhandle to California. I’ve got some highlights I want to see including Austin, the Grand Canyon, and the neon graveyard in Vegas. And I’d like to go back and stop in Amboy again.

    6) Northern California – wine, eating at Chez Panisse (because I read about Alice Waters ten years ago and have wanted to go since), shopping at Heath ceramics, and then taking a drive down the coast to my parents place in Palm Springs.

    7) Cabo – my parents now have a place there, so why the hell not?

    8) Paris – the dream would actually be to rent an apartment in Paris and use it as a homebase to visit the city and around the country. But I’m willing to adjust that plan to fit my budget.

    9) See more of NS – I finally have access to a car, so similar to your Operation Hometown Traveller, I’m determined to take some day trips around the province.


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