Travel Tips

Wed, 20 Jun, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Why I don’t make travel bucket lists

Why I don’t make travel bucket lists

Do you find your travel bucket lists shelved year after year? Here’s why that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, ditching your version of the travel industry's go-to buzzword will actually make your travels more flexible, fun and maybe more fulfilling.

Although the pursuit of new experiences and places is worth aspiring to any day of the year, a travel bucket list is not unlike a shopping list except with tour groups and Instagram updates instead of Apple products, furniture or clothes.

Much the same as a weekend shopping adventure, the afterglow from purchasing or, in this case, achieving a trip tends to fade quickly. The appetite is insatiable no matter how far down the list you are with box-ticking. Now you could argue, since experience and memories are more valuable than possessions, why should an abundance be seen as a negative at all? 

But when you're storming on to item 15 on your Before-I-Die list, yet you can barely recall voyages two or three, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons. A shopping addict by another name.

The bucket list, by its very nature, inflates expectations and is often born out of comparison to others' adventures – two ingredients bound to rob you of some satisfaction of the main event when you fly thousands of miles to see it.

Which is why – and let me adjust my armchair psychologist's hat here – it's common to hear friends and relatives recount their travel tales with particular enthusiasm for the unexpected village, the hidden beach or the quirky local yet details of the Pyramids, the Great Wall, or Big Ben are retold as blemishes.

Bucket lists are simple yet specific, in many cases. They focus us too much on our goals, but when planning an overseas adventure you should be open to new things and, indeed, changes to your plans. They obscure from view the great opportunities that we find on the road and hold us captive to best-laid plans that are no longer fit-for-purpose.

One of the best examples of this is the sunken cost fallacy. It's the idea that you shouldn't stick with a plan, idea or investment and deny yourself better savings, benefits or enjoyment simply because you have put money and effort into the original goal.

When on holiday, the sunken cost fallacy would be to stick with your hotel and Pink Palace tour instead of taking the invitation to be hosted on a yacht in Monte Carlo.

This week I shook off the sunken cost fallacy when offered the chance to go on safari, which meant kissing goodbye to a few hundred dollars' deposit for a ski week (#yolo).

Now I find myself 38,000 feet above Mt Kenya on somewhat of a whim because, despite loving all things alpine, money spent shouldn't distract you from once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. First World problems and all that. The examples need not be flashy because the facts remain: whether you take the bus or business class, chronic planning and box-ticking kill spontaneity and embracing new ideas where ever they formulate. Add this one to your list.

Do you agree with this advice?

Written by Josh Martin. Republished with permission of