Travel Bucket List: My Top 10

Posted on Feb 9, 2010 in Reflections | 3 comments

“So where do you want to go next?”

It’s a common question.  And a valid one.  But a difficult one to answer, as any true wanderluster can attest to.  It’s also a list constantly in flux; once you conquer one place it’s removed it from the list, to be replaced by another…or you might discover someplace so incredible you’ve no choice but to knock a lesser one off the list entirely.  Ireland got checked off my list after I finally got a long-awaited chance to visit last year, and believe me, it’s a satisfying feeling.  Hopefully that feeling of accomplishment has just begun.

After much thinking over time, I’ve come up with the below list…my Travel Bucket List: places I dream of visiting above all others.  In order of tenured spots on the list, they are:

10.  Bhutan

Admittedly 2 very, very superficial things first sparked my interest in this tiny country.  One was this video, the other was Eric Weiner’s book The Geography of Bliss, in which the second chapter’s account of the author’s visit imparted a vivid vision of a land whose soaring Himalayan peaks and Zen-like natives would offer the kind of quiet, contemplative peace one might not find elsewhere.  Travel companies like National Geographic Adventure are already catching on to this previously under-the-radar destination.  I dream of visiting this sleepy, beautiful, curious world, feeling it’s crispy-cold breeze on my skin and it’s warm smiles on my heart, and leaving for home with a soul calmed by acceptance and insight – before the tourist throngs become too dense and the experience less authentic.

9.  Slovenia

Slovenia originally came to my attention because it’s a hop, skip and a jump across the Adriatic from my favorite city, Venice.  Then I read an article in Nat Geo Traveler about the intensity of Slovenia’s Alpine beauty, unique sights and attractions and deep history…and my curiosity was appropriately peaked.  Calling it “overlooked Europe,” Traveler’s prose on everything from Slovenia’s rambling wine country and craggy medieval castles to its monasteries and markets, was enough to twist my arm: it’s a must-see.  Plus, my family is from nearby Preko island…so I’ll be getting in touch with my roots!  Right?

8.  India

Samantha Brown says that places that are as far from what you know and are used to are the ones that make the best memories.  A country so rich in culture, so steeped in religion and history, so vibrant in everything from food to dress to customs to being everything that is as far from my American upbringing as I could imagine…well, what futher reason do I need?

7.  Norway

Scandanavia has always intrigued me…probably because I’ve grown up in sunshine and surf and the thought of a people inhabiting a place so cold and so-often dark (though conversely so-often light) has intrigued me greatly for a long time.  But it wasn’t until my mom came back from a Norwegian cruise waving photographs of it’s soaring snow-capped Fjords that I knew I had to get to the Land of the Midnight Sun.  Aside from the natural wonders and opportunities for exploring the outdoors, it too has its fair share of unique architecture, food and hidden secrets.  Whether on from the bow of a ship or the heights of a peak, Norway can’t disappoint.

6.  Thailand/Cambodia

photo by J. Pfitzer (miss you buddy!)

After a close friend spent 3 summer months doing missionary work here and I spent those 3 months obsessively checking his blog to see his pictures and follow his adventures (which included everything from riding an elephant and shopping at the floating market to things like going to a Thai boxing match and eating stuff I can’t even spell), I knew these places couldn’t disappoint.  Aside from the renowned hospitality and pristine tropical beaches, it’s got fantastic cuisine, great nightlife and activities no matter what kind of traveler you are – outdoorsy or not.  An Ultimate Vacation Spot, to be sure.  And climbing Angkor Wat?  Pretty much have wanted to do that since I could climb a tree…and saw Indiana Jones.

5.  Botswana

Taking an African safari has always been a dream of mine, but since Kenya has become (so I hear) over-touristed (sorry Lamu, I had high hopes), and Tanzania fearing the same, my focus has drifted south to this tiny country.  Mountain Travel Sobek, a fabulous adventure travel company, describes Botswana’s famous Okavango Delta as “Africa the way you’ve always imagined it – wild, free and ruled by nature.”  Night drives in a Jeep, birdwatching in the Kalahari, tented camps under the stars, pole-boating down a sleepy river…it IS where the wild things are.

4.  Peru

I wouldn’t be a proper adventurer if climbing Machu Picchu wasn’t in my top five.  I can’t wait to feel the cold stones and mossy green earth of this ancient Incan paradise under my fingertips.  It’s every climbing adventure I’ve ever dreamed of rolled into one, with a pretty rewarding view at the top.

Also, I speak Spanish.  For once I’ll know what everyone around me is saying!

3.  Australia

Who DOESN’T have Australia on their list? The animals!  The friendliness!  The beaches!  The vegemite!  Well, maybe not the last one, but I’m pretty convinced that if I don’t snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and it dies before I get a chance, my future children will think mom is a loser.

2. Patagonia

I like to throw in a rugged destination because, let’s face it, if every travel experience involves shopping, nightclubs what have you really done to stretch your personal limits?  It’s part of the reason Patagonia appeals so highly and you can move around the country using services like Taxis or Ubers, and get cheap uber insurance and save money doing it.  I want a place I can hike, kayak, whitewater raft, mountain bike and otherwise odyssey my way across the landscape with nothing but a backpack and sheer pluck.  Since this place has one of the best lines of outdoor-wear and equipment named after it, it’s probably a good bet.  Conversely this is also the destination that terrifies me most, but still the one that I imagine I will most enjoy ruminating over…once I’m back home with my instant coffee and cashmere socks.

1.  Iceland

Ah, Iceland.  I have wanted to go here since I learned how to spell.  I have no idea why.  I guess because it sounded remote and exotic.  I didn’t even know anything about it.  But I’ve spent the past several years thinking more seriously about it and doing some research…and have discovered it very worthy of the attention.  Plus with the economy (unfortunately) the way it is, there have been few better times to take advantage of visiting this sub-Arctic paradise, which used to be one of the most expensive countries to travel to.  More than once I’ve imagined relaxing in a  natural hot spring and experiencing Reykjavik’s notorious nightlife.  From the dramatic scenery to the joyous people to the unspoiled nature preserves where the intrepid kayaker can spot Arctic foxes and rushing waterfalls, it has “trip of a lifetime” written all over it.  Having discovered several pals who share my passion for a glacial getaway, hopefully this one won’t be too far off.

What about you?  Where have you always wanted to go?  Anything I missed so conspicuously you can’t hold it inside?  Comment or drop me an email at cgtravelsblog[at]gmail.com.  The best suggestions will appear in a future blog :)

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3 Comments

  1. Overall, a tamer list than yours: Libya, Jordan, Oregon Coast, Driving trip through the Southern U.S., Nepal, Tanzania, Vietnam, Paris, Morocco, and there is always more of Greece to see.

  2. We have a couple of similar destinations on there, though! And Morocco – you must go…check out my blogs on it, it is an INCREDIBLE place! I can’t wait to go back myself.

    Have never been to Greece…I have debated long and hard about how to fit that one on here, too. :)

  3. In no particular order:
    1) Peru
    2) Italy
    3) Ireland
    4) Austria
    5) Monaco
    6) South Africa
    7) Greece
    8) Iceland
    9) Argentina
    10) Australia

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