The Fascination with Bucket Lists

Hello everyone! Today I have my first guest blogger here in my GoTravelGlobal blog. I find Ilona’s blog super interesting and totally fell in love with this article she wrote for my blog so be sure to check out her blog. I hope you enjoy her inspiring bucket list themed post.

Ilona is an avid traveller from Northern Germany who explores the world through holidays in far-away countries and weekend trips throughout Europe. You can follow her adventures and see her bucket list on her blog.

The Fascination with Bucket Lists

I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with bucket lists. Especially travel bucket lists. I can spend hours looking at other people’s bucket lists. Some of them are very simple, merely a collection of places whereas others include specific experiences around the world. Many of them, like Viivi Severina’s bucket list are a mixture of both.

But what exactly is a bucket list and why are so fascinating?

A bucket list is a list of all things you’re hoping to accomplish before you die. The Bucket List Guy says that there are several possible origins of the word ‘bucket list’. The one I’ve seen the most often is that it is derived from the term ‘kick the bucket’. You see, in the middle ages, when someone got hanged, they would stand on a bucket with the noose around their necks. The hangman would then kick that bucket and the poor person would die.

Not the nicest explanation, is it?


It still doesn’t keep me from being fascinated with bucket lists. I’ve set my wordpress reader so that whenever I go online, all posts tagged with ‘bucket list’ are shown to me. I’ll browse through them and see if I get inspired to add items to my own travel bucket list. I do have a bucket list for other areas in my life as well, but let’s focus on the travel aspect here.

So why is a bucket list so fascinating and why should everyone have one?

Bucket lists will help you focus on your goals. Everyday life will try to throw as many distractions at you as possible. Do you know that feeling of just making it from day to day, reacting to what is happening to you? A bucket list can help you focus on what you really want in life.

This goes for travel bucket lists, too. Everybody knows a destination that is safe and easy to travel to. And we all know how much easier it is to stay at home. No flights to book, no risks to take.

Deep down, you’ve always wanted to see the gorillas in Uganda. But somehow, you never got around to looking up tours and flights. A bucket list can help you focus on what you want to achieve, so you don’t end up spending your holiday sitting around in your apartment, wondering what to do.

Come on, those gorillas are waiting for you.

A bucket list can also help you focus on areas of the world you’ve previously overlooked. I put down pins on a map for every place and experience that was on my bucket list and quickly saw the ‘white spots’ that I didn’t know much about.

Western Africa, for example. I did a bit of research and quickly stumbled on Voodoo ceremonies – attending one was exactly what had been missing on my list. And on that note, if you need more inspiration for Western Africa, the westernmost point is located next to Dakar and very easy to access. Plus, Senegal is an amazingly easy country to travel through (I highly suggest you go in November so you won’t miss out on the pelican migration).

For me, travel bucket lists are not just about location-specific items. I also enjoy adding experiences that can be done all over the world. Sleeping in an ice hotel, ziplining and hang gliding are just a few examples.

Those items will help you focus on enjoying life. Maybe you can tick off one of them while you’re at home. It’ll shorten those months that are left until your next vacation. Or maybe you’ll realise that your next trip takes you to a spectacular hang gliding location that you shouldn’t miss.

No matter what’s on your bucket list, you will want to work on achieving your goals. I think part of the fascination of bucket lists comes from putting a difficult goal on the list and then not having to think about it anymore. Needless to say that this is not the purpose of a bucket list.

If you end up with all those amazing experiences on a list and then never look at it again, you’ll have the perfect excuse to go on with life as it is. Instead, what you should do, is take out your list over and over again and look at it. Read through the goals and pick one or two to focus on. That is why I highly recommend not only to create a digital bucket list but to also write it down on a piece of paper. That way, you can take it with you wherever you go and it’s always available to look at.

The next step to achieving goals on your travel bucket list is to set a time frame. Those goals you picked, choose a specific date to accomplish them. For example, let’s say you want to visit Easter Island. It’s a remote location and deciding to go there within the next two weeks probably won’t work. But it’s achievable if you set a time frame of two years.

As soon as you start ticking items off your bucket list, or even sooner, you should start adding new ones.

Bucket lists aren’t set in stone. You can add whatever you want. There are no rules for what goes on there and what doesn’t and I think that makes up half of the fascination with them. If you want to learn how to scuba dive, add it. If you want to stay in a tree house, that goes on there, too.

Here’s another suggestion: Volunteer to help nesting sea turtles

Even travelling to remote and inaccessible places like Somalia is a possible goal. There are no limits because no matter how impossible the goal, if you work hard enough, you will get to that place and you will have that experience.

So what are you waiting for? Go and write your own bucket list. Or just browse through existing ones until you’re so fascinated, you’ll automatically reach for pen and paper to make yours.

A photo by Aaron Burden.



30 thoughts on “The Fascination with Bucket Lists

    1. Bucket lists are really something funny to do and even more fun to accomplish. I will definitely check out your bucket list. I’m always happy to see what places others dream about. Thanks for commenting 🙂


        1. I just tried to check out your blog but for some reason my ipad doesn’t let me open the site… I will take closer look to it when I have time to open my computer. 🙂 And then I will also add Romania to my bucket list. Any recommendations what is bucket list worthy in Romania?


  1. My message went too soon…So I was gonna write of the surprisecharges…For example now our computers hard disk is almost broken and there seem to be always something…Also the car have tooken money…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It would be nice to plan trips to make and I am dreaming so many countries where to go, but the problem is money. So I can’t plan anything. For those who say you can spare, I really can’t. My weight goes to bills, rent and food. (Also there is allways surprises, where you need money, like now were computer is There isn’t where to speare. Hope you all traveller understand how preferential you are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think being able to travel is preferential like you said. But most of us who travel also do a lot of work to make it happen. Right now I haven’t been able to write a lot here in my blog because I go to school but at the same time do as much extra work as I can. I don’t have a lot of money but travelling is the thing that makes me feel alive so I do everything I can to make it happen.

      I don’t use money to sweets or movies like my friends. I have tight budget and I follow it. Sometimes (well too often) I get surprising things I have to use my money. Like living in hostel for week two weeks ago because I didn’t have apartment in my new home town. But traveling is my passion so I just make it happen. Even if it means I will eat only cheap food for month to go for short weekend away trip.

      I hope you can travel too one day in the future. If it is meant to happen it will. 🙂


      1. Well yes, it’s maybe one thing that I can’t resist treats…and my partner can’t, but still…I started to think, could I really spear so much. I made a calculation that we should spare atleast 5 months to go to some cheap place and it would be ONLY the minimum budjet. So it means I should be eating only pasta/omeletti and bread/porridge or something like that almost half year. I think it’s too much for me…or us…Then like I said, life have always surprises (atleast we have all the time). What if our computer for example broke (it could, the hard disk have been working badly for a while)…and oh yeah, our new workchair did just broke. Also we pay (for now) every month our car’s cooler, which we had to change for a new one. So I think our trips must wate…unfortunatelly. Maybe one day it’ll happen. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There is always times when we are having bad money situations. You just need to believe that at some point your hard work pays of and you can travel.

          If you don’t have money for long trips take the short ones. I guessed you are from Finland? So maybe go to see Tallinn’s old town or go to Stockholm for day. I was just checking the prices and with Viking line it did only cost 24€ for one room in the cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm. Or check out cheap flights. From Turku you can fly to Gdansk for 50€ (sometimes even cheaper) if you find the right time. And then just stay in hostel.

          Just believe you will one day travel and I think it will happen. I really hope you will find the way to travel. Thanks for commenting! 🙂


          1. Yes, I wish some day I can travel (hope it’s before I’m too old ;)) and yes, I’m from Finland. Tallinn and Stockholm are ok (specially I like Tallinn, and their food), but those I have seen a few times. I’ll just have to wait more, but I allready have waited so long, so this beginning to be depressing. Anyway, thanks to your support!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You are never too old to travel so no worries there! If you have visited Stockholm too many times you should try Umeå. I’m going there next weekend but have heard a lot of good things about the city and it’s super cheap to go from Vaasa by ship. 🙂

              Toivon kaikkea hyvää sinulle ja perheellesi!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been blessed to be able to start checking of my bucket list items since I retired in 2013. That year I checked off the big one at the top, Greece! What I found was much more than I expected that added so much more to the experience. You can follow that adventure and my others at

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bucket lists really are amazing way of traveling! Greece is one of the places I hope to visit one day. I will check out your blog, you seem like you have interesting stories to tell.

      Liked by 1 person

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