Building Your Bucket List

How to Build Your Travel Bucket List Infographic
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Where have you always wanted to go, and what have you always wanted to experience? As we gaze wistfully out our windows during quarantine, dreaming of the day we can travel again, it seems that “someday” is always in the future. Well now is the perfect time to start planning!

Maybe you have a rough bucket list- you want to visit Machu Picchu or Hawaii; perhaps you’d like to go wine tasting in Argentina or on a safari in South Africa. But how do you actually make that happen? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to building a list that takes you from vague dreams to concrete plans.

Part 1 – Dreaming

Get inspired

If you don’t have a travel bucket list yet, or if you haven’t thought about it in a while, the first step is to start dreaming.

screenshot of annies escapes Instagram

Go onto Pinterest and Instagram, look up articles with bucket list travel destinations. Check out the UNESCO World Heritage site and read travel blogs. Be inspired!

Then take thirty minutes and write down every idea you can think of. Write without limitations, without worry about finances, time, or feasibility.

Pare it down

Look at what you’ve madly scribbled down in the past half hour and begin to really consider each place. Why is it on your list? What excites you about going there?

compilation of animal photos from different vacations for Bucket list adventures
Do you dream of interacting with wildlife?
sunrise off the deck of an over water bungalow in Moorea
Is relaxing in an over-water bungalow in French Polynesia your idea of paradise?

Pare your list down to only the most exciting places. Try to keep it to a manageable size (five to ten?) You can always add on as you make your way through this exercise.


Now that you have a list, it’s time to put it in order. For each place on your list identify three things:

1) Physicality: Are there any physical challenges presented by this destination or experience? Consider if it will require strenuous exercise or activity, or if it’s a place you can kick back and relax. Place more physically demanding trips higher up on the list (if you’re dreaming of hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, for example, you might want to do that while you’re younger), while other more relaxing destinations might be perfect for when you’re retired (winetasting in Tuscany can be done at any age!)

2) Cost: You don’t have to get into specifics at this stage but briefly consider the overall cost. Maybe rate the places on your list with dollar signs from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$). Is this a place you’d want to splurge on the finest luxury resort or invest in pricey private experiences? Or, is it someplace that can be done on a more moderate budget?

3) Travel Partner: Some trips are perfect solo adventures, and others are the romantic getaway every couple needs. There are places you want to experience with your best buds and places you’d love to take your grandkids to see someday. Write down your ideal travel partners for each place.

Now, make a fresh bucket list in order of physicality (from most to least physical), cost (from least to most expensive), and travel partner (from single to grandkids). This should help you determine which life stage is best for which destination/experience.

Bucket list version 1
Bucket list version 2 placed in order of physicality and cost


Next, we move into preliminary research and this current pandemic is the perfect time for it! Since the pandemic, many places and natural wonders now have virtual tours! You can utilize these to decide if you want to go see that museum in person, or if the botanical garden is worth the hype. There’s no need to pin down everything exactly– just use this time to form more detailed dreams.

Once you have a few more specifics you can write down an estimated length for each trip. For example: if you’re researching Iceland and you find you want to do The Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, and Hike a Glacier and see Icelandic Ponies then you know your Iceland trip will need to be more than a weekend.

bright blue hotsprings surrounded by dark volcanic rock in Iceland
The golden circle geysir shoots up against a beautiful morning sky in Iceland
So much to do, so little time in Iceland

Annie pets the muzzle of a fuzzy Icelandic Horse

While you’re researching, pay careful attention to climate and seasonality.

Some places are beautiful pretty much all year round, while others have severe rainy or cold seasons. Other bucket list experiences only occur at certain times of year (like the cherry blossom festival in Japan, or whale watching in Alaska). Find out if your activity has a certain months or get an idea of which months to avoid.

Part 2: Planning

You have your list of places, you have some basic parameters for each one and now it’s time to start making a 5-10-15 year plan!


The first step in planning is to look at your life. Do you have any big milestones coming up in the next five or ten years? A big birthday? A big anniversary? Any special occasions that might be perfect to pair with a bucket list trip?

standing with a mug and two performers on stilts in a day market in Austria

You could celebrate your 50th with a river cruise down the Danube!

Start plotting your travel timeline with these big events in mind. Using these mile-markers will help you visualize a more concrete timeframe to put your trips into motion.

Solidify Your Plans

You did it! You made a bucket list, prioritized it, and gave some thought to timing. Now you just need to take the final step: start penciling it in!

Final bucket list ready to start planning!

If you reach out and share your list with us we can walk you through when to start planning and what kind of a budget to set aside, and we can also keep our eyes out for new and exciting offers for the destinations on your list!

You may not be ready to book anything right away, but we can start making plans so that when the world opens back up you’ll be ready to start checking items off your bucket list!

My chuckle for the day

I’m trying not to laugh.

A travel agent friend of mine just shared an email from a “sometimes” client who went ahead and booked a quick getaway to the Florida Keys on her own. Her agenda looks like this:

It’s a quick two-night stay. Found a great flight arriving in Miami at 5:20pm on a Monday night. Rent the car and be in Key West by 7pm. Spend the night on Duvall Street and the following day on the beach, then leave right after dinner on Wednesday for our 8:40pm flight home.

If you’ve ever been to the Keys, you know she’s in for a rude awakening. Factor in the Miami airport hassle, rental car lines, rush hour traffic, and the fact that it’s about a 150 mile drive, and she won’t be in her hotel until at least 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. As far as the plan to have dinner on Duvall Street before driving to Miami for an 8:40 pm flight home — good luck!

Sure, Miami is “right next to” the Keys, right? So it’s understandable that she thought this itinerary would work. But a travel professional would have explained the realities of the geography (the actual distance, the fact that it’s a two lane road in sections) and the nightmare that is the Miami airport (I prefer to fly into Fort Lauderdale instead, drive the extra distance, and maintain my sanity) and would have presented her with some much better options — like flying directly into Key West, which is the only thing that makes sense for such a short stay.

This is a perfect example of why even the simplest getaways can benefit from some professional guidance and advice. But I will admit that do-it-yourselfers like this are great for the entertainment value!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)