Have you noticed all the bucket list articles lately? I don’t know what it is, but all of a sudden, I’ve seen article after article about sky diving over Dubai, riding a camel in the Sahara Desert, or cycling through South African vineyards on a carbon negative tour.
I was wondering, if perhaps, I missed a sale on buckets at my local bucket store, or maybe it was “national buy a bucket day” last week and everyone but me stocked up on buckets. And now, to get some use of them, people are filling them up with big dreams and lofty visions of travel grandeur.
Being a self-proclaimed master planner, this all should be well and good to me. Besides, who am I to tell folks how to use their buckets? After all, dreams can't come true if you don't have them, right? But it seems to me, that creating a fantasy travel dreamland, could end up in a wide-awake letdown when you actually hit the road for your vacation. So, in keeping in the spirit of adventurous travel, here are some ideas to make your dream bucket travel a reality this summer.
Set up an automatic savings account: Have your bank put aside a small amount into a travel fund and use it ONLY for travel. I like to squirrel away my credit card rewards for travel too. It doesn’t have to be much, because as it begins to grow you’ll start to make plans for where you’ll go. Now your travel budget is becoming a reality and this will encourage you to save even more in your day-to-day spending in effect tricking yourself into affording it sooner.
Plan to Splurge: No matter which kind of traveler you are and what your financial situation is, you’ll want to make sure to allow extra money for spontaneity and little luxuries. Go ahead, if hotel views make you giddy pay extra for the top floor. Consider yourself a foodie? Try out the cities chefy restaurant. Like getting a thrill? Pay the extra for the zip line adventure or Hot Air Balloon ride that you DIDN'T PLAN FOR. Spontaneous adventure is one of the things that makes the memory. A general rule for us has been to plan for the vacation to cost 15 to 25% more than we think it will.
Utilize Long Weekends: There’s a lot that can be accomplished in a 3 or 4-day weekend. No, I don’t mean giving the dog a bath and cleaning out the garage. Hop in the car and go explore the gems close to home. I am always surprised how many people I’ve met in my home state of Utah who have not been to Capitol Reef, taken a ride on the Utah Valley Railroad train, or gone for a dip in the Crater. Yet these places are at the top of someone’s bucket list in other parts of the world.
Keep your Expectations in Check: With all the resources we have at our fingertips, it’s easy to, over plan, set yourself up for failure, or just expect too much. I recently stumbled on a travel article for a roadside attraction that I had been to on more than one occasion. I first discovered it while traveling between states and randomly stopped to stretch my legs and let the kids’ blow off some steam. It’s since become a traditional resting stop that we enjoy every time we pass through.
The article however, made this destination look AMAZING, like some kind of bucket list fairytale. It had stunning photos accompanied with an article of interest. A quick Google search landed me on several similar accountings. In reality, this little roadside attraction takes less than an hour to explore and by the articles standard would be a let- down. Had we gone with the expectations the media set we would have been disappointed and never returned. It’s much better to adopt an attitude of discovery, this way you aren’t disappointed and are always excited to see what's around the corner.
Don’t Over Plan: This has been my personal stumbling block. I tend to research and attempt to plan every minute of my vacation. Thinking I would never return, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a thing. After many failed attempts at planning our every move, I have finally accepted the fact that no matter how well planned I was, we WOULD miss something awesome. It's impossible not to. Plus, having to be accountable for every activity just makes the getaway stressful. Not to mention I was SUPER annoying to my fellow travelers. While researching your destination is imperative, especially if there are tickets you’ll need in advance, it’s important to break from your normal self and let your adventurous side cut loose.
The reality is, most of us will only be able to afford a few or our dreamy bucket list travel destinations, and they will be spread out over a lifetime. But, taking time off regularly is crucial for our mental and physical wellbeing. So go ahead, travel freely, to affordable destinations and restrain yourself from over dreaming what a vacation should be. With the right attitude your affordable travel could become your bucket list …. checkmark.