Ultimate Guide on How to Make a Travel Bucket List

You've probably heard of a travel bucket list if you love to travel. It's a list of all the places you want to visit and experiences you want to have before you kick the bucket. But how do you make a travel bucket list? Where do you start?

No worries. We'll guide you step by step through creating your travel bucket list.

First, we'll explain a travel bucket list and why having one is important. Then, we'll walk you through setting personal travel goals and researching destinations.

We will cover how to prioritize your list, incorporate diverse experiences, create a timeline, and budget for your bucket list.

Also, we will discuss how to document your adventures, stay inspired and motivated, and revise your bucket list over time.

You'll have all the tools you need to create a travel bucket list that's perfect for you by the time you finish reading this post!

person writing bucket list on book

Understanding the Concept of a Travel Bucket List

A travel bucket list lists destinations, experiences, or activities you want to accomplish during your lifetime.

It's a simple yet powerful tool that helps you prioritize your travel goals and motivates you to explore new places and try new things.

I have two main lists: State Capitol Buildings and National Park Service Sites.

Creating an ultimate travel bucket list requires some self-reflection and research.

You must consider what kind of traveler you are, what destinations and experiences excite you, and your budget and time constraints. It's essential to be realistic and flexible, challenge yourself, and step out of your comfort zone.

To help you get started, here are some tips for creating a travel bucket list:

  • Brainstorm: Make a list of all the places you've always wanted to visit, the things you've always wanted to do, and the experiences you've always wanted to have. Don't worry about the order or feasibility at this stage.
  • Categorize: Group your ideas into categories such as adventure, culture, nature, food, history, or beach. This method will help you see patterns and themes in your interests and prioritize your goals.
  • Research: With your rough list, start researching each destination or activity to get a better sense of what it entails, how much it costs, when it is the best time to go, and what the must-see or must-do experiences are.
  • Prioritize: Based on your research and personal preferences, rank your ideas in order of importance or urgency. Consider factors such as accessibility, seasonality, budget, and time required.
  • Plan: Once you have a clear idea of your top priorities, plan your trips accordingly. Create a timeline, a budget, and a checklist of things to do before and during your trip.

Remember, a travel bucket list isn't set in stone. It's a dynamic and evolving document that can change as you grow, learn, and experience new things.

Feel free to revise or add to your list as you go along. The important thing is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and to enjoy the journey along the way.

person holding I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list card

Setting Personal Travel Goals

When making a travel bucket list, it's important to set personal travel goals that are meaningful and achievable. Here are some tips to help you develop your travel goals:

Determine your travel style

Before setting your travel goals, it's essential to determine your travel style. Are you a budget, luxury, adventure, or cultural traveler?

Knowing your travel style will help you set realistic bucket list items that align with your preferences and budget.

Identify your travel priorities

Identify your travel priorities by asking yourself: What destinations have you always wanted to visit?

What experiences do you want to have while traveling?

Do you want to focus on relaxation or adventure?

Once you have identified your travel priorities, you can set goals that align with them.

Create a travel wish list

Create a travel wish list of all the destinations you want to visit and experiences you want to have.

Use online resources like travel blogs, social media, Pinterest, and travel guides to inspire your list.

Once you have a list of places, prioritize the items based on your travel goals and budget.

A screenshot of a Pinterest Travel board with pins seperated by state.

Set achievable goals

When setting your travel goals, make sure they are achievable.

Consider factors such as your budget, time constraints, and other obligations.

It's better to set smaller, achievable goals than unrealistic ones that will only lead to disappointment.

Track your progress

Track your progress by keeping a record of the destinations you have visited and your experiences.

Tracking progress will help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your travel goals.

By setting personal travel goals, you can create a travel bucket list that is meaningful and achievable. Remember to be realistic and flexible and enjoy the journey.

A screenshot of a portion of a National Park Bucket List with locations, states, and a column for if the site has been visited.

Researching Destinations

When making a travel bucket list, researching destinations is a crucial step. Here are some tips to help you explore your dream destinations:

Start with your interests

Think about the things you enjoy doing and the places you've always wanted to visit.

Do you love the beach? Are you a history buff? Do you want to experience new cultures?

Make a list of your interests and use them as a starting point for your research.

As you think of ideas, jot them down on a piece of paper or make a file you can easily add to your list of things.

Black board with white and pink chalked words "Things to do before I die" with items listed to do.

Use travel guides and websites

Travel guides and websites can be an excellent resource for researching destinations.

Look for guides specializing in the type of travel you're interested in, such as adventure, luxury, or budget.

Websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet can also provide valuable information and reviews from other travelers.

Consider the time of year

Picking the perfect moment for your travels can magnify your enjoyment and ensure you make the most of each destination.

To witness the enchanting glow of the Northern Lights, you'd aim for the cold, dark winters of the Arctic Circle.

Similarly, visiting Machu Picchu during the dry season from May to September offers clearer skies and firmer hiking trails.

The mild Australian winters present the clearest waters for those yearning to dive into the Great Barrier Reef.

It's not just about dodging lousy weather—some experiences are time-specific. Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom season, a short yet magical window, or the Great Migration in the Serengeti, with their unique natural spectacles.

The timing can also affect crowds, prices, and local activities.

Failing to account for these seasonal factors may result in closed attractions, unfavorable conditions, or missed events.  Align your itinerary with nature's calendar, creating more vivid and fulfilling travel memories.

Look for hidden gems

Be bold and look beyond the popular tourist destinations. Often some of the best travel experiences can be found in lesser-known destinations.

Look for hidden gems by talking to locals, reading travel blogs, and exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Following these tips, you can research destinations that align with your interests and create a travel bucket list tailored to your preferences.

This image depicts "Carhenge," a quirky and creative replica of England's Stonehenge made entirely out of vintage automobiles painted in gray, capturing a blend of ancient mystique and modern pop culture.

Types of Trips to Consider

Is your bucket list just for you? Or will you share it with a close friend? Below are some ideas of types of trips to consider – and maybe even spark some additional travel inspiration!

I love road trips, and a road trip can be woven into many of these ideas!

  • Solo Adventures: Embark on a journey of self-discovery by traveling alone. Solo travel allows you to explore at your own pace and connect with new places and people on a deeper level.
  • Group Tours: Join a group tour to meet like-minded travelers and enjoy the convenience of a pre-planned itinerary, ensuring you get all must-see attractions.
  • Family Holidays: Choose destinations that offer fun and relaxation for all ages, from theme parks to all-inclusive resorts, creating lifelong memories with loved ones.
  • Romantic Getaways: Plan an escape with your significant other to enchanting locales offering romantic dining and beautiful scenery, or even stay in an overwater bungalow.
  • Extreme Sports: Add destinations to your list that fulfill your adrenaline cravings, whether skydiving, scuba diving with sharks, or skiing down remote slopes.
  • Cultural Immersions: Select locations rich in history and culture, where you can dive into the local way of life, participate in traditional events, and sample authentic cuisine.
  • Wildlife Safaris: Consider places where you can observe animals in their natural habitats, from African savannas to the jungles of Southeast Asia.
  • Volunteering Trips: Include travel that gives back, like community development projects or wildlife conservation efforts, offering a meaningful way to explore the world.
  • Luxury Retreats: Splurge on exclusive experiences at high-end resorts, private islands, or aboard luxury cruises for a touch of indulgence on your travels.
  • Road Trips: Plan a self-driven adventure, taking scenic routes that let you stop at hidden gems and experience regional charm at your leisure.
Enjoy a scenic drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!
Enjoy a scenic drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

Organizing Your List

Keeping your travel bucket list organized gives you a clear path to realizing your travel dreams.

A straightforward approach involves using pen and paper. Jotting down your aspirations in a notebook allows flexibility; you can sketch, doodle, or attach pictures, making the list yours.

Physical lists can be gratifying, as crossing off completed items offers a sense of achievement and progress.

Digital tools offer another layer of convenience and organization. Use apps like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets to create detailed itineraries and track budgets.

They are dynamic, enabling you to efficiently sort destinations by priority, cost, or dates. Plus, digital lists are always available on your mobile devices, ensuring you have your plans at your fingertips wherever you are.

The image shows a detailed park checklist for the Midwest Region, featuring a variety of National Parks and Historic Sites across states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin, with checkboxes to mark visits, providing an organized way for travelers to track their explorations.

Prioritizing Your List

Now that you have brainstormed and listed all the places you want to visit, it's time to prioritize.

Prioritizing your list will help you focus on the most important destinations and make your travel planning more efficient.

Here are some ways to prioritize your travel bucket list:

By Interest

Start by identifying your top interests and hobbies. Do you love history, nature, adventure, or food?

Once you have a clear idea of your interests, you can prioritize the destinations that align with them.

For example, if you love history, you might prioritize visiting ancient ruins in Rome or exploring the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

On the other hand, if you are a foodie, you might prioritize visiting culinary hotspots like Paris, Tokyo, or New York City.

Time Square, New York during daytime

By Feasibility

Consider the feasibility of each destination. Some places may require a longer travel time, a more complex visa process, or a higher level of physical fitness.

It would help if you prioritized the most feasible destinations for you based on your current circumstances.

For example, suppose you only have a week of vacation time. In that case, you might prioritize visiting a nearby destination that only requires a short travel time.

Or, if you have a limited budget, you might prioritize visiting a destination with a lower cost of living.

By Budget

Speaking of budget, it's important to consider the cost of each destination.

Some places may require a higher budget for transportation, accommodation, food, and activities. It would help if you prioritized the destinations that fit within your budget.

For example, if you have a limited budget, you might prioritize visiting a destination with a lower cost of living or a favorable exchange rate.

Or if you have a higher budget, you might prioritize visiting a luxury destination like the Maldives or Bora Bora.

By prioritizing your travel bucket list, you can make the most of your travel planning and ensure you visit the destinations that matter most to you.

brown wooden cottage on blue body of water during daytime

Incorporating Diverse Experiences

When creating your travel bucket list, consider incorporating diverse experiences to enrich your travel experience. Here are some tips to help do this:

Research Different Cultures

One of the best ways to incorporate diverse experiences into your travel bucket list is by researching different cultures.

This research could involve learning about the customs, traditions, and cuisine of the places you plan to visit.

Doing this will help you better understand the people and places you'll see and appreciate them more.

Visit Different Regions

Another way to incorporate diverse experiences into your travel bucket list is visiting different regions.

For example, plan a trip that takes you from the mountains to the beach or from the city to the countryside.

Exploring other areas will allow you to experience each region's different landscapes, climates, and ways of life.

Try New Activities

Trying new activities is another great way to incorporate diverse experiences into your travel bucket list.

Try new foods, learn a new skill, or participate in a cultural activity. Doing this lets you step out of your comfort zone and gain a new perspective on the world.

Cooking classes are an enjoyable cultural activity!

In this image, adventurers are ice climbing a large, frozen waterfall. Dressed in colorful winter gear, they are using ropes and climbing equipment to navigate the icy facade, with some climbers ascending and one person belaying at the base. The scene captures the exhilarating challenge of winter sports in a snowy woodland setting.

Meet New People

Finally, meeting new people is one of the best ways to incorporate diverse experiences into your travel bucket list.

Consider staying in a homestay or hostel, attending a cultural event, or joining a tour group. By doing this, you'll be able to connect with locals and other travelers and learn from their experiences and perspectives.

Incorporating diverse experiences into your travel bucket list will make your trips more enjoyable, broaden your horizons, and enrich your life.

Creating a Timeline

When creating a travel bucket list, it's important to have a timeline in mind. A timeline will help you prioritize your destinations and determine when you can realistically visit them.

Here are some tips for creating a timeline for your travel bucket list.

Steps to getting goals: pad of paper with some basic steps listed, with light bulbs around pad of paper on wooden surface.

Short-Term Plans

Short-term plans typically refer to travel you want to do within the next year or two. You're most excited about these destinations and can't wait to visit.

When creating your short-term plans, consider your budget, vacation time, and any upcoming events or holidays you want to plan.

One way to organize your short-term plans is to create a table or list that includes the destination, the estimated cost, and the ideal time of year to visit.

A list will help you prioritize your travel goals and ensure you make the most of your time and money.

Long-Term Dreams

Long-term dreams are the destinations you hope to visit someday but may need more time or resources to travel to in the near future. These destinations may be more expensive or require more planning and preparation.

When creating your long-term dreams list, consider factors such as your career goals, family obligations, and any other long-term plans that may impact your ability to travel.

It's also a good idea to research and determine the best time of year to visit each destination and any visa or travel requirements.

One way to organize your long-term dreams list is to create a separate section in your travel journal or planner.

Having a separate section will help you keep your short-term plans and long-term dreams separate and ensure that you're progressing toward all your travel goals.

Budgeting for Your Bucket List

When creating a travel bucket list, budgeting is essential to the planning process. Here are some tips to help you budget for your bucket list:

Saving Strategies

Saving money is crucial when planning a travel bucket list. Here are some strategies to help you save:

  • Create a budget: Before saving, create a budget that includes all your expenses. A budget will help you identify areas where you can cut back and save more money.
  • Set up a savings account: Open a separate account for your travel fund. This new account will help you keep track of your progress and avoid dipping into your regular savings.
  • Cut back on expenses: Look for ways to cut back on your daily expenses, such as eating out less, canceling subscriptions you don't use, and buying generic brands instead of name brands.
a man holding a jar with a savings label on it

Cost-Effective Planning

Once you have saved enough money, it's time to start planning your trip. Here are some cost-effective planning tips:

  • Travel during the off-season: Traveling during the off-season can save you a lot of money on flights, accommodations, and activities.
  • Stay in budget-friendly accommodations: Instead of expensive hotels, consider staying in hostels or Airbnbs. These options are often much cheaper and can provide a more authentic travel experience.
  • Use public transportation: Instead of renting a car or taking taxis, use public transit. Public transportation can save you a lot of money and allow you to experience the local culture.

Following these budgeting and cost-effective planning tips, you can make your travel bucket list a reality without breaking the bank.

 Documenting Your Adventures

When you travel, you create memories that you will cherish forever. Documenting your adventures is a great way to relive those memories and share your experiences with others. Here are two ways to document your travels:

Travel Journaling

Keeping a travel journal is an excellent way to document your adventures. You can write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, including pictures and mementos. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Choose a journal that is small enough to carry with you but big enough to write in comfortably.
  • Write down the date and location of each entry.
  • Include details about your experiences, such as the sights you saw, the people you met, and the food you ate.
  • Use descriptive language to bring your experiences to life.
  • Include pictures, ticket stubs, and other mementos to help you remember your adventures.
A creative travel journal spread dedicated to "MILANO" (Milan), filled with handwritten notes, photographs of iconic landmarks like the Milan Cathedral, travel tickets, and decorative stickers and cutouts, capturing the memories and experiences from a visit to this vibrant Italian city.


Photography is another great way to document your travels. Whether you use a camera or your smartphone, capturing your experiences in pictures can help you relive your adventures. Here are some tips to help you take great travel photos:

  • Research the best places to take pictures before you go.
  • Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Look for interesting angles and perspectives.
  • Take photos of the people and culture, not just the landmarks.
  • Feel free to experiment with different settings and techniques.

By documenting your adventures, you can relive and share your experiences with others. Whether you keep a travel journal, take photos, or both, you will have a record of your travels that you can cherish for years to come.

I keep a scrapbook of my adventures and use photos to create Christmas ornaments!

A playful perspective photograph where a person appears to be drinking from a waterfall in the background. The person's head is tilted back, mouth open, aligning perfectly with the cascading water, creating a fun and creative optical illusion.

Staying Inspired and Motivated

Creating a travel bucket list is exciting but can also be overwhelming. You may find yourself needing to be more motivated or inspired at times. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and keep your travel dreams alive:

  • Set achievable goals: Break down your travel bucket list into smaller, achievable goals. Realistic goals will make it easier to track your progress and keep you motivated. For example, instead of putting “visit every continent” on your bucket list, start with “visit two new continents in the next two years.”
  • Visualize your goals: Use visual aids to keep your travel goals in sight. Create a vision board with pictures of your dream destinations or set up a travel-themed screensaver on your computer. Looking at the vision board will help you stay focused and motivated. Want to visit all the states or National Park sites? Scratch-off maps make a great visual to keep you motivated!
  • Stay informed: Keep up to date with travel news and trends to stay inspired. Follow travel bloggers and influencers on social media, read travel magazines and blogs, and attend travel expos and events. Travel trends will help you discover new destinations and experiences to add to your bucket list.
  • Get support: Surround yourself with people who share your passion for travel. Join travel groups or forums online or attend travel meetups in your area. Interacting with others will give you a support system and help you stay motivated.

Remember, your travel bucket list is a personal journey. Don't compare yourself to others or feel pressured to keep up with anyone else's list. Focus on your goals and stay motivated by keeping your dreams in sight.

The image shows a passport-style booklet with stamped cancellations from various National Park Service sites within the Mid-Atlantic Region. The stamps include dates and locations, documenting the visitor's travels to these historic and natural sites on specific dates visited.

Revising Your Bucket List Over Time

Your travel bucket list may change as you continue to travel and experience new things. Revising your list periodically to reflect your evolving interests and priorities is important.

One way to revise your list is to remove destinations that no longer interest you.

You may have already visited a specific location or have discovered that it doesn't align with your travel goals. Feel free to cross it off your list and replace it with a new destination.

Another way to revise your list is to add new destinations you've discovered. You may have heard about a hidden gem or a unique cultural experience that you want to include in your travel plans.

Keep an open mind and stay curious about the world around you.

It's also important to consider practical factors when revising your bucket list. Your budget, time constraints, and travel companions may all impact your travel plans. Be realistic about what is feasible and adjust your list accordingly.

Remember, your travel bucket list reflects your interests and goals. Keep it flexible and adaptable to inspire and motivate you to explore the world.

Sharing Your Wanderlust

Sharing your travel aspirations creates a ripple effect beyond your excitement. You might find that their interest aligns with yours.

This shared enthusiasm often serves as a catalyst, transforming idle dreams into tangible travel plans.

Suddenly, you have a travel companion who is just as eager to explore New Zealand's rugged landscapes or dive into the vibrant culture of Southeast Asia.

Making your intentions public holds you accountable. People remember your goals and inquire about them. This accountability can be the motivational push you need to go from dreaming to booking that flight.

It's also not unusual for these conversations to uncover hidden opportunities – someone in your circle might know the perfect guide for your adventure through the Grand Canyon or have tips for staying in an idyllic overwater bungalow.

Each shared journey begins with a conversation, and your willingness to speak about your travel goals can be the key to unlocking experiences you've only imagined.

The support and information that friends and family provide are indispensable in making your bucket list a reality.

Two women in winter jackets standing a blue railing talking in a city as night approaches.

FAQ's: How to Make a Travel Bucket List

What are the essential elements to include in a travel bucket list?

Your travel bucket list should include destinations, experiences, and activities you have always wanted to try. It should be a reflection of your interests, preferences, and goals. Some essential elements to consider including in your travel bucket list are:

  • Destinations: Places you have always dreamed of visiting, such as Paris, New York City, or Tokyo.
  • Experiences: Activities you have always wanted to try, such as skydiving, scuba diving, or hot air ballooning.
  • Accomplishments: Goals you want to achieve, such as climbing a mountain, running a marathon, or visiting all the continents.

How can I prioritize destinations on my travel bucket list?

Prioritizing destinations in your travel bucket list depends on your personal preferences and goals. You can prioritize based on the following:

  • Time: Destinations requiring more time, such as a long-haul flight or a road trip, can be prioritized accordingly.
  • Budget: Destinations requiring more money, such as luxury resorts or cruises, can be prioritized accordingly.
  • Interest: Destinations that align with your interests, such as art, history, or food, can be prioritized accordingly.
  • Accessibility: Destinations that may be more difficult to access, such as remote islands or national parks, can be prioritized accordingly.

What are some tips for setting realistic goals for my bucket list travels?

Setting realistic goals for your bucket list travels is essential to ensure you can achieve them and enjoy the experience. Some tips for setting realistic goals are:

  • Be specific: Define your goals in detail, such as the destination, the activity, and the timeline.
  • Be flexible: Allow room for unexpected changes or delays, such as weather or transportation issues.
  • Be realistic: Consider your physical abilities, budget, and schedule when setting your goals.
  • Be accountable: Share your goals with someone else, such as a friend or family member, to help you stay motivated and accountable.

How can I track my progress on completing my travel bucket list?

Tracking your progress on completing your travel bucket list can help you stay motivated and focused. Some methods to track your progress are:

  • Create a checklist: List all the destinations, experiences, and goals in your bucket list and check them off as you complete them.
  • Use a map: Pin the locations of your completed destinations on a map to visualize your progress.
  • Take photos: Take photos of yourself at each completed destination or activity to create a visual record of your achievements.
  • Keep a journal: Write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences at each completed destination or activity to create a personal record of your journey.

How can I research and add new experiences to my travel bucket list?

Researching and adding new experiences to your travel bucket list can be fun and exciting. Some methods to research and add new experiences are:

  • Read travel blogs and magazines: Find inspiration and ideas from travel experts and enthusiasts.
  • Ask friends and family: Get recommendations and tips from others you know who have traveled to destinations or tried activities that interest you.
  • Use social media: Follow travel influencers and hashtags on social media to discover new destinations and experiences.
  • Attend travel expos and events: Attend travel expos and events to learn about new destinations, activities, and trends.

How often should I review and update my travel bucket list?

Regularly reviewing and updating your travel bucket list can help you stay focused and motivated. How often you review and update your travel bucket list depends on your personal preferences and goals. Some suggestions are:

  • Annually: Review and update your travel bucket list annually to reflect changes in your interests, priorities, and goals.
  • Bi-annually: Review and update your travel bucket list every six months to stay on track with your progress and adjust your goals accordingly.
  • Quarterly: Review and update your travel bucket list every three months to stay motivated and inspired by new destinations and experiences.
Yellow paper with red lines. My Bucket List printed on the top of the page.

Final Thoughts: How to Make a Travel Bucket List

Whether your travel bucket list goals are local to the state you live in, encompass just the United States, or expand the globe.

No list is too short or too long. Your list may be quirky, like hitting off-the-wall roadside attractions or historical sites, like visiting all the state capitols. There is no right or wrong way to pick travel bucket list destinations.

Your vacation wish list is all you – enjoy the overall experience of creating a bucket list that resonates with you and enjoy the process of ticking off all the beautiful places on your list!

Pin this for later:

Choose the image(s) that resonate with you to pin to your travel board on Pinterest!

Bright yellow notepad labeled "Travel Bucket List" placed next to a classic magnetic compass and a model airplane, all against a vibrant blue background. The notepad, compass, and airplane symbolize planning and adventure, while the striking colors enhance visual appeal, making it perfect for a travel blog or inspiration article.
The image presents a top-down view of a person's hand writing on a notebook with the header "Bucket List". Accompanying the notebook are travel essentials such as sunglasses and headphones, set against a clean, white background. This setup illustrates the process of creating a personal travel bucket list, perfect for a guide or blog post on travel planning.
The image features a close-up of a notebook with the words "Bucket List" written at the top and numbers indicating a list format. It's a visual guide or a prompt for creating a travel bucket list, perfect for a tutorial or blog post about planning adventures and personal goals. The presence of glasses in the background adds a touch of personalization to the setting.

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