TRAVEL

7 Reasons Not To Make A Bucket List

Dec 21, 2013

They're fabulous in theory, but bucket lists -- from short ones to long ones to ones for the coming year -- can harm your travel life more than they help.

Here are seven reasons to ditch yours.

1. A bucket list gives you tunnel vision.
If you arrive in Australia fixated on that singular bungee jump that's been on your list for decades, you're a lot less apt to notice the kangaroo by the side of the road-- you know what we're sayin'? When you design an entire trip out of crossing off one specific activity, you automatically make that activity the "purpose" of the trip. Consequently, you're more likely to turn down any little side adventure, attraction, or spontaneous offer that steals time away from the trip's "purpose." And as we know, it's those random side adventures that make travel awesome.

2. High expectations will sabotage you.
You've been Googling pictures of that jellyfish lake -- where you can swim among golden jellies without a sting -- for years. So what if, due to migration patterns, the jellies aren't swarming on the day you finally make your visit? Major disappointment. Trip ruined. Your expectations have rendered this trip "a failure," and it's going to feel horrible. Much of the time, it's better to travel carefree, expecting nothing more than quality time with yourself or those around you.

3. Bucket lists make you travel for obligation, not pleasure.
You don't reeeally have money to spend on your bucket-list ticket to the soccer league finals, but you're doing it anyway because it's on your bucket list, gosh darn it, and how could you neglect something on your one and only bucket list? The truth is, though, that people change and their travel goals change. When you have a bucket list, you risk spending precious travel time on experiences you feel obligated to complete, not on experiences that you're craving at the moment. Travel when you want, and go where you want... follow your whims.

4. Bucket lists cause regret.
You're not a "bad" traveler because you didn't get to everything on your bucket list, or because you've yet to check anything off it yet. But that's the way we tend to think whenever make a list of sky-high goals. A bucket list automatically sets a travel standard for yourself, and it's a standard you're not likely to meet. Ditching it erases the potential for regret and allows you to celebrate the trips that you do accomplish.

5. You'll miss out on spontaneous getaways.
Bucket lists are not often cheap to complete. So if you're serious about your bucket list, you're much more likely to turn down all those little trips along the way, because you're saving money and energy for your "big" bucket list journeys. Spontaneity is pretty much the essence of travel, though, and when you look back, you'll be bummed that you didn't hop on your friend's last-minute road trip or that two-day-only deal with flights to Hawaii. Embrace last-minute adventures!

6. Bucket lists contribute to the one-upping epidemic.
And nobody wants to cause an epidemic. Bucket lists are all about doing the most epic thing, in the most epic place, to make for the most epic life. Though we may tell ourselves otherwise, way too often the real reason for wanting this epic-ness is so we can brag about it to others in conversation... and on Facebook... and on Instagram. There is a question the traveler must always ask himself: am I pursuing these experiences for my own enjoyment, or for the enjoyment of telling others how much I enjoyed them?

7. A bucket list turns you into a tourist.
The issue here is how experiences make it onto your bucket list: much of the time, it's going to be because you saw them on a travel blog or on TV or in a guidebook. These activities are the coolest activities a particular town or region has to offer. But beelining for the regional hotspots, my friends, is what tourists do, not what travelers do. It is not the most authentic way to soak up local culture. Take that big-ticket music festival off your itinerary so you can escape crowds of foreigners and instead roll with the locals to where people really hang out.

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