My take on travel planning has always been impulsive, so I was intrigued to learn about a friend’s more methodical approach. This friend prefers not to leave a digital footprint, so her name is not included here. PL
Please tell us about your list
As far back as I can remember, I have had what some people call a “bucket list.” It comes from my childhood, when my parents impressed upon us that we shouldn’t take life for granted and then regret missed opportunities. Embracing the next travel opportunity, both near and far, was a common topic of conversation and, arguably, the glue that connects us as a family. Some travel adventure stories make for great dinner conversation, like my father recounting his unorthodox journey to find the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or my sibling’s first trek to Machu Picchu. While other stories, often the most meaningful experiences in my view, are best shared only with those we love. I remember what the sun felt like while exploring the Cinque Terre or how the air smelled like citrus in Capri, which doesn’t exactly make for tantalizing dinner conversation, but these are some of my favourite memories nonetheless.
Bucket lists are what people make of them. My list is not a resolutions list ,which is an important distinction in my view. My list, which I have dated and signed, is a formal commitment to choose to spend my time pursuing activities that maintain a sense of happiness rather than attempting to deprive myself of something in hopes of becoming happy. Contrary to my sibling who has recently taken a year’s leave from work to go through her list (e.g., cage diving with great white sharks off Cape Town, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro), my list, including timeline, may seem more whimsical than adventurous but it is equally as meaningful to me.
My list really started taking shape in 2004. Woven from experiences and memories from my childhood, it was in my early twenties, when experiencing a sense of loss of control, that I felt an urge to log destinations that would bring me a sense of peace. This was the beginning of my bucket list. The first item that I jotted down was the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in Iceland, which is perfect for me, because I love water.
Ten years after I started the list, I felt an urge to formalize the it following a challenging life event. I made a conscious effort to include experiences that make me very happy and connect back to my childhood and shared interests with my family. I was then ready to embark on the first item: the Blue Lagoon. Within days of completing the list, I bought an airline ticket, booked my accommodation and went to Iceland for a long weekend. After a four-and-a-half-hour flight from Toronto, I arrived in Reykjavik. Having organized my transportation and purchased my entry pass to the Blue Lagoon prior to my departure, I was soaking in the milky-blue mineral-rich water of the Blue Lagoon by 10 a.m. on the day of my arrival. I spent two glorious days there. I draw on those memories of calm and happiness during challenging moments.
I haven’t added anything to the list since formalizing it, partly to keep it accomplishable rather than becoming a lengthy laundry list. I’ve developed an approach to ensuring that I make my way though the list in an organized manner. I generally pick one thing to do each year, though some years I’ve been able to complete more than one item. In 2016, I completed a destination half-marathon run with my mother. which was included in the list when we discovered our shared love of running. As a tennis enthusiast, attending Wimbledon with my father was an experience I will not forget. Despite having to queue for hours for day tickets, and numerous rain delays, my father and I experienced Wimbledon together. Three glorious days of tennis, including indulging in strawberries and cream and numerous selfies. I’m hoping he will remember how to keep score when we return to Wimbledon in 2017.
There are 17 things left on the list, so it will take about another 15 years to complete, but I’m undeterred. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t taken such a strong position about not reviewing the contents of the list where appropriate, but I’m also afraid that if I open it up, I won’t complete it. I do have an “It would be nice …” list, which is exactly that, for which I don’t have the same passion.
What items have you already experienced?
- Bondi Beach, Sydney, which I had seen in a children’s travel magazine during my youth. I was there in November. It was raining. There were huge waves and no one was swimming. I put on my bathing suit and went in up to my waist armed with a huge smile and warm towels waiting.
- Snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, which reminded me of snorkelling in the Caribbean when visiting my father’s family.
- Saw the ballet Swan Lake in the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. My lack of artistic talent has never overshadowed my appreciation for the arts.
- Went to an epic rock concert. I saw U2 at an outdoor rugby pitch in New Zealand. Jay Z was the opening act and he helicoptered in and out, as if he was the headline act.
- Was in Cannes for the film festival and saw a red-carpet première. An experience shared with my father, a fellow movie enthusiast.
What is still on the list?
- Go on a “proper road trip,” meaning Route 66 or the Pacific Highway, rather than driving to Montreal from Ottawa. Although a solo trip is not out of the question, this would be a great adventure to share with my sibling.
- Run the New York marathon. During a hard running patch, this item was revised to completing a 10-km race to surviving a 5 without losing hope. Having done three “halfs” this year, including one “destination run” in Las Vegas, it may be that NYC is possible.
- Travel abroad just to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Truth be told, I was on the mailing list for El Bulli until they shut down! I once had appetizers at Noma in Copenhagen. Does that count?
- Take a cooking class abroad. This was inspired by watching numerous cooking shows but now I think it would be more fun just to go to a restaurant and have them cook for me. Given my lack of culinary skills, the latter could be interesting…
What item on your list will feature in 2017?
Stay-away tennis camp for adults! Perhaps I will convince some of my tennis friends to join me. Stay tuned!