Among the many things you aim for in life (promotion at work, being a better cook, etc), chances are you also have a bucket list. A bucket list is everything you want to experience before you “kick the bucket,” and travel dominates in priority. In fact, according to a study by Ketchum Research, 83 percent of participants put travel at the very top of the list—and with good reason.
From climbing Mount Everest to relaxing in the Maldives, there’s no shortage of unforgettable journeys on our planet. But while most people add destinations to their bucket list, many never actually check them off. Which is a shame, because actually experiencing the trip is the life-changing part. To help, we’ve listed the best ways to make your once-in-a-lifetime trip a reality.
Set Your Intentions
Beach hopping in Thailand. Wine tasting in France. Safari in South Africa. There’s no destination that’s out of reach. Once you set your intentions to get there, they can become a reality. It’s important to set intentions by visualizing the dream trips you specifically want to take, why you want to take them and how they’ll make you feel. This is the key. You can make a list of hundreds of fantasy vacations but actually visualizing the ones that resonate with you most is extra motivating. Anyone can dream big, but setting intentions gets you halfway there. Remember to actually make a list and even put the list in a place you can see every day, like your fridge, so that dream trip doesn’t just fizzle out of your mind.
Pick a Date
When you set an actual date for your bucket-list trip, you’re giving yourself a deadline, which makes the trip more of a goal you’ll want to achieve. The date can be six months from now or two years from now, whatever you think feels right. If you have more than one dream vacation, prioritize them. Which one really calls to you? Which one makes you smile when looking at the list? Which one will your husband or friend or sister take off work for, and what months are better for both of you if you want to travel with a partner? When you set a date, it’s also important to plan around times that make sense to you. For instance, off-peak travel can save you money and there will be fewer crowds. If your bucket-list trip revolves around a festival or event, like going to Mardi Gras, focus on those dates.
This step is crucial: get inspired! Let’s say your bucket-list vacation is in Thailand. Learn how to make Thai food, cut out pictures of Thai beaches and put them on your wall, learn basic Thai language, imagine getting pampering massages and visiting markets when you’re stuck in traffic. Spend time researching everything you want to do in that destination. If you make the dream bucket-list trip part of your life right away, it will help inspire you to make it happen.
Bucket-list trips are not cheap (it’s why they’re on your bucket list in the first place… they’re once-in-a-lifetime journeys!). Putting money aside now will motivate you to make the trip a high priority in life, and you also take the trip more seriously rather than simply dream about it. Even if you skip one meal out and stash $25 under your mattress every week, your dream-trip vacation fund adds up faster than you would believe. Also, now’s the time to use those frequent-flier miles you saved!
Don’t Keep it a secret
The more you share your bucket-list trip with your friends, family and colleagues, the more encouragement you have. They help you visualize your dream, stay in line with your set date and can offer tips and advice if they’re well traveled. Their excitement will be infectious, so spread the news. Don’t keep your bucket-list trip a secret; put it out there in the universe! And who knows? Maybe a friend or family member will want to join you, which will not only help keep the expenses down, but having a travel buddy can make any adventure more memorable.
Celebrate Your Journey
The life-long memories from a bucket-list trip will be priceless, and you should prepare to celebrate them. Imagine the amazing slideshow with all your beautiful photos. Make a post-trip video on YouTube shared with all your friends. Or even plan a celebratory gathering upon your return. This can be a house party, an intimate dinner or a fun night out where you can recap your adventure to your loved ones. Not only will everyone be proud of you for achieving your bucket-list trip, they will be inspired. The bucket-list trip is one that took heart and effort, so it should be celebrated and immortalized upon your return. And, best of all, it may just motivate you to do it all over again with a later bucket-list trip in another exciting destination.