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Is there anywhere you’ve always dreamed of going — like India, France, or Switzerland? Most of us would like to travel around the world more, but sometimes, it’s hard to find the motivation to plan our next trip due to commitments from our daily life.

Still, most of us have places we’d like to visit and things we wish to experience at some point in our lives — like swimming with whale sharks in Mexico or kayaking in New Zealand. To check these items off your travel bucket list, you need to make solid plans. This guide will show you how to make a travel bucket list that will motivate you to travel and help you find the right place to stay wherever your dream destinations may be. 

Start With a Travel Journal

First, it’s important to track where you’ve been, and where you want to go. For this, we recommend starting a travel journal: a place where you can log all your adventures, and even write where you want the future to take you. Some people like keeping a handwritten travel journal, while others may prefer to make them online. The important thing is that you have a place to record your bucket list adventures. 

You can separate your journal into different continents, countries, or states, depending on where you want to visit. If you want to travel within the United States, for instance, you might have a section for each state, and each state can have its own set of destinations. Perhaps you want to visit a vineyard in Napa, California, or the Statue of Liberty in New York. The more details, the better. 

Writing down as many specific destinations as possible will make it more likely that you’ll actually plan the trip. The following sections will show you a few things you’ll want to include in your travel journal. 

The Places You’ve Been

Reminiscing about your past trips will remind you how much you love to travel. Write about cool things you’ve done, funny things that happened, and the great food you tried. Add pictures of your experiences. Maybe you tried tsukemen in Tokyo, and it was the best thing you ever tasted.

Your travel history can reveal your travel preferences. You might find that your favorite trips have been to beautiful beaches like the Galapagos Islands, or your favorite things to see have been natural wonders, like the harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

You might realize you want different experiences. For example, maybe you’ve been to Scotland and Norway, which are both in Europe. However, you’ve never been to Asia, so you book your next trip to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China.

The Places You Want to See

Write down some travel bucket list ideas, and be specific. You’ll get a much better mental picture of your goal if you write about a specific city like Kyoto instead of the entire country of Japan. 

Write down why you want to visit your travel destinations, too. Do you want to see Canada’s natural beauty? Add interesting facts to your travel journal. If you’re an American history buff, for example, you might want to go to Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Don’t limit yourself. Write down the places you most want to go, and don’t worry about anything that might hold you back. Just because Cambodia is thousands of miles away doesn’t mean you can’t dream about the beautiful Buddhist temples of Angkor Wat. There will be a time to be realistic and think about planning, but this step is all about getting that dream down as motivation. 

person-with-travel-journal

The Experiences You Want to Have

When you finally go on your dream vacation, what experiences do you want to have? Do you want to see lions on a safari in Africa or snorkel through the coral reefs in Hawaii? There’s a limitless number of unique experiences to be had all over the world. 

Knowing what kind of experiences you want will not only keep you excited about traveling, but it will also help you find alternatives to unmanageable trips. 

For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to scuba dive in Bali, Indonesia, but you can’t afford to spend 22+ hours on a plane both ways flying from the United States. Instead, you can try somewhere closer in South America, like Buenos Aires, Argentina. Take a peek at our blog for guides on some of the coolest experiences you can have on your travels.  

Do Your Research

Research everything you can about the places you want to go. The more you know about a place, the more likely you are to have fun and remain safe at the same time. Read travel guides and study websites to learn everything you can about your destination. 

For example, if you’re going to Germany, you might want to know some common phrases in German that will help you get around. Apps like Duolingo are great for helping you brush up on your language skills. Wherever you go, you’ll want to know how to ask things like, “Where is the bathroom,” or “Please take me to this address.” 

Some other bits of knowledge you might find useful include things like:

  • The exchange rate and common prices for goods and services
  • Holidays, special dates, and events
  • Common greetings 
  • Popular day trips
  • The easiest way to get from one area to the next

Prioritize Your Travel List

A bucket list can be overwhelming, which is why you should prioritize where you want to go. List your top 10 destinations, with No. 1 being the trip you most want to go on. Your list might look something like this:

travel bucket list

There are a few other factors you might want to take into account when you’re deciding which places to hit first. Certain trips are great for single people but not so great for families. For example, staying in a hostel in Vietnam might be best suited for those straight out of college versus later in life. 

Plan Your Trips

Planning your trips will make them feel real. Create a plan for each of the trips on your top 10 list, and take into account everything you’ll need for each trip. Answer questions like:

  • What time of year will you take the trip?
  • How will you get there?
  • Where will you stay?
  • How long will you stay?
  • What specific events will you attend? 
  • Where will you eat?

Think about what extra things you’ll need for particular destinations. For example, Europe has a different electrical setup than the USA, so you may need to remind yourself to pack an electrical converter. Also, some other countries require or recommend you get certain vaccines before visiting. If you’re traveling to the Amazon, for example, you’ll need to be vaccinated against Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Yellow Fever.

When you know everything that you’ll need for your trip, crunch the numbers. Calculate how much everything will cost for each trip. Finding out how much a trip will cost is the first step toward saving money for it. Look up nightly rates in the places you want to stay, and try to figure out how much you’ll need to save each month to afford your trip.

Look for Deals

Always be on the lookout for deals that can make your trip more affordable. Prices for flights and lodging fluctuate constantly, so setting up price alerts is a great starting point.

Keep in mind that costs for lodging tend to be lower when there’s not a huge amount of people visiting that particular location. Unless there’s a celebration or holiday that you really want to be part of, plan your trip during a time when no big events are happening. 

Another way to keep costs down is to see if anyone would like to travel with you. You might even have like-minded friends or family members that can help you save money. If you can find two or three companions to split a place to stay, you’ll dramatically decrease the price of your trip.

Always Be Prepared

Admittedly, this isn’t as big a deal if you’re traveling within your own country, but you should be prepared if you’re traveling abroad. There’s a whole host of things you need to have in order before you can take off, and some things can’t be done overnight. Renewing your passport, for example, takes at least four to six weeks. 

Collect clothes and gear that will be appropriate for your travel bucket list destinations. If you’re going to a tropical paradise, you’ll need beachwear, but if you’re heading to a ski hill, you’ll want to bundle up. 

Know what credit cards are accepted where you want to go, too. Not all cards are accepted everywhere, and some are better for travel abroad than others. Ensure you have the right cards for your destination so that you don’t have to scramble to get new ones before you leave. 

Revisit Your Plans

To make the most of your travel bucket list, you should continually revisit and update it. As time goes on, your tastes could change, and you might find that certain locations don’t excite you the way they did before.

You don’t have to do this daily, but every so often, take a look at your travel journal and make sure all your trips still reflect your desires. You might even find that taking a look at some of your old notes reignites your wanderlust if you haven’t thought about vacationing lately. 

Life changes can also alter your travel dreams. Maybe at one point, you envisioned yourself floating down the Grand Canal in Venice while being serenaded with your significant other, but now that you have kids, you want to see the excitement on their faces when they meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World. 

changing-travel-plans-on-map

Think About Safety

When it’s finally time to go on one of your bucket list vacations, safety should be a top priority. A few precautions you can take include:

  • Be sure to have any needed prescriptions filled before you travel. 
  • Call your insurance company to make sure your policy is active at your destinations. If it’s not, it would be wise to purchase travel insurance. 
  • If you’re traveling abroad, consider registering your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Doing so will notify the U.S. embassy in your location of your presence. They’ll reach out to you in cases of emergencies, whether related to family, natural disasters, or caused by social unrest. They can also help your family contact you if there’s an emergency back home.

Find the Perfect Place to Stay With VacationRenter

No matter where your travel bucket list trips take you, let VacationRenter help you find the perfect place to stay. Whether you find yourself in a winter wonderland in Alaska or at a beach resort in the Caribbean, VacationRenter has you covered. 

We offer a collection of rental properties in the most desirable tourist destinations around the globe. We also have search tools that make it easy to find places that cater to your specific needs. Give VacationRenter a shot today and see what we can do for you. You’ll be pleased with how easy it is to find a comfortable, intriguing vacation spot that fits your budget. Let us make finding a place to stay easy, so you can focus on crossing off your bucket list.

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