Don’t miss out on your dream bucket-list trip

Start brainstorming

  1. What’s your “happy place” when you have bad days? Again, for some this might be a specific place — Bora Bora or the Alps or Johannesburg. But more than that — what’s the feeling you go to when you’re stressed out or stuck in traffic? Do you imagine the lazy perfection of pristine beaches? The thrill of craggy mountains? The rush and sensory feast of busy marketplaces? The smells of spicy foods? Make a quick list: 10 things that come to mind on the most fun, free, relaxed, no-obligations, open day you can imagine.
The markets of Morocco may be exactly where you see yourself on vacation.
  1. What do you crave? Think of what you say you wish you had more of — free time, adventure, romance, time to learn a new skill, sunshine, purpose. What are you truly, deep down, just plain hungry for? What do you long for? When you imagine being your best self — what are you doing? And who is with you? Jot down 10 things you are longing for in your life right now.
  2. What season suits you best? Do you love to soak in the sweltering heat in your swimsuit? Or the crisp crunch of autumn leaves underfoot? Or the intense blue quiet of a mountain snowfall? When do you feel most at home in your body and most in love with your environment? Your perfect vacation doesn’t have to be the most popular! It’s your perfect vacation, remember?
  3. What’s one crazy luxurious thing you secretly wish for? For some people, it’s as simple as a pile of books and no emails to answer for three weeks. For others, it’s endless room service or all-day spa treatments or king-size feather beds and huge whirlpool tubs. No matter how big or small — go ahead. Write down 5 luxuries that would make you feel like you’d won the lottery if someone handed them to you right now.
  4. When you scroll through magazines, which images grab you the most? What colors draw your eye? Spicy and exotic? Cool and laid back? Misty and mysterious? Go to a bookstore, and pick up four or five travel magazines — take notice of which images you’re drawn to, the ones that make your heart skip a little. You might be surprised. Some people assume that their “dream” trip is in an all-inclusive resort somewhere. But if you keep coming back to the pictures of a bike tour through Tuscany or the Northern Lights in Norway — well, that’s worth paying attention to! That experience might feed something in you that an all-you-can-eat buffet might not even begin to touch. Cut out the images that speak to you the most and look for common themes, even (and especially) in images that seem to be opposites.
Ubud, bali
The mountains and rice terraces of Ubud in the center of Bali where luxury and relaxation reign supreme.
  1. What is your wildest dream? When you think of travel, where does your mind gravitate toward? Is it a trip around the world? A luxurious cruise on the Mediterranean? Trekking in the Himalayas? Or maybe it’s all about the accommodations — a marvelous hotel or an over-water bungalow or a tree house. Head to the library or a book store and grab anything that sparks even the slightest interest. Find a cozy corner, a cafe, or sit down at home in front of the fireplace and make a list of everything you may want to visit. Don’t exclude anything because it’s too far away, or too expensive, or you think no one there speaks English. This is a free-flowing list of anything you may enjoy!

Turn your notes into attainable goals

When you’ve had time to assemble your thoughts — and if you’re working on this with your partner or friends or family members — look for overlaps, recurring themes, those quiet nudges you can’t seem to shake. Listen to your gut. And start to dream B I G.

bicycle tour
If you love to bicycle, maybe your dream trip is cycling Europe or Asia.

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Cindi Sanden

Cindi Sanden

Traveler, mother, wife, life-long learner, and optimist in training.