Bucket List Travels
Picture this: You can go anywhere in the world and do anything your heart desires for as long as you’d like without worrying about a dime. Really, close your eyes for a few moments and visualize the possibilities. When there are no limits, where does your daydream take you? Does your fantasy involve trekking up Mount Everest in Nepal or hiking up an active volcano in Iceland? Or would you rather chill ocean-side at a luxury resort in the Philippines with a refreshing drink in hand?
What would you do if anything was possible? We surveyed 2,000 people in the U.S. to find out what would be on their bucket list if they had no limitations (including money). Read on to see what they dreamed up, and feel free to add some of these great adventures to your own bucket list.
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Where in the World Would You Go?
Foreign travel is a top item on the “limitless bucket list.” The number of U.S. residents traveling overseas has increased annually since 2011, with approximately 32.79 million U.S. citizens traveling internationally in 2015.
Japan topped the list among survey takers as the most desired country to visit. Ripe with historical landmarks including the Himeji Castle, traditional cultural rituals and ceremonies, and popular tourist destinations, such as Tokyo and Mount Fuji, it’s easy to imagine why Japan is a dreamer’s top spot. And it’s one that has also seen a steady increase in American tourism since 2011.
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Italy and France hit the mark in Europe. This is no surprise considering their wide range of cultural and recreational attractions, including art museums, architecture, theaters, and authentic cuisine. Travelers looking to experience Italy’s rich cultural heritage can enjoy gondola tours in Venice, fall in love in the romantic setting of Verona, and soak up Rome’s ancient history at the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Hop on a train from Italy to France to cross more destinations off your European bucket list!
Choose Your Own Adventure
Once you get to your bucket list destinations, there are endless ways to experience life in a new location. Thinking back to the fantasy trip you pictured a few moments ago, what kinds of activities would you choose to indulge in? While a relaxing vacation can be nice, bucket lists can also include thrills and excitement.
In fact, the concept of a bucket list is inherently adventurous: a list of things you want to see or do before you die. When fantasizing, survey takers tended to pick thrilling activities that allowed for the best views of the terrain. Just imagine the view you’d see hiking up snow-capped Mount Fuji in Japan or sailing over Melbourne at sunrise in a hot air balloon. Is your blood pumping faster yet?
More Than a Place to Rest
When choosing a temporary home-away-from-home during vacation, a no-limit bucket list becomes synonymous with luxury accommodations. Under the guidelines that money played no factor in their decision, the men and women in our survey opted for five-star hotels for their bucket list digs. Overnight stays in rented accommodations with daily cleanings, room service, bed-making, and white-glove concierge service can certainly enhance the experience of your ultimate vacation.
An option for traveling in a mobile camper or RV was least popular among women surveyed, while luxury hotels and rental homes were considered more preferable. These options offer more of the comforts of home, so time spent indoors is supremely comfortable and relaxing. Men tended to prefer the mobile benefits and simplicity of an RV, which may sacrifice luxury. Perhaps they secretly prefer glamping?
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Theme Parks Around the World
Some people prefer a more amusing bucket list. Immersive theme parks around the world invite visitors to escape day-to-day reality and enjoy their imaginations. The adventure usually comes with exciting rides and a famed cast of characters. The top-ranking park likely won’t surprise you – it’s Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida; the resort includes several unique parks, which span an area larger than Manhattan Island.
Altogether, six Disney locales made the list: beloved parks in the U.S., France, Hong Kong, and China. For some, these wonderlands are a true bucket-list destination; the Disney company is part of more than 40 percent of wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Other high-ranking parks included resorts that are often adjacent to Disney, such as Universal Studios in Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood. The collective chain of 13 Six Flags parks, located across North America, came in at No. 7.
All Around the World
Bucket lists are often about finding things that are greater than ourselves and discovering curiosities around the globe. The natural wonders of the world are evidence that there is so much more to life than a routine existence. One of the most magical of the natural wonders is the Northern Lights, which can be seen from several destinations including Canada, Iceland, Denmark, and Alaska.
For people who’d like to experience something completely out of their element, underwater exploration is the closest that most humans will get to experiencing life in another world. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia (the No. 2 country to top the most bucket lists in our survey) is the world’s largest reef system. This location, comprising more than 900 islands and home to over 1,500 fish species, is an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Museums around the world, which showcase the arts and sciences across the ages, also dominated the top wish lists. Above them all is the Louvre in Paris, host to hundreds of thousands of works of art and artifacts from antiquity, including perhaps the most well-known painting of all time, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Following the Louvre is the Smithsonian’s collection in Washington, D.C.; it’s home to historical artifacts, such as paleontology specimens and famous gemstones as well as an extensive zoo and displays of aviation and space technology. At No. 3 are the Vatican Museums in Vatican City – an urban area that’s considered its own nation-state. The related sites are host to remarkable works of architecture from past centuries, such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The latter is known for its ceiling, which is covered in detailed artwork with religious themes painted by Michelangelo.
Planning the Perfect Vacation
On a global scale, most tourists don’t travel too far; instead, they opt for destinations within their own geographical region. Even if money isn’t a consideration, U.S. residents have a lot to see and do, all of which doesn’t require a passport.
It may come as no surprise that Hawaii is No. 1 on most bucket lists. The southernmost U.S. state is home to some of the best weather and the most spectacular beaches in the world. The landscape features sprawling islands, beautiful waterfalls, lush rainforests, and active volcanoes. The culture in Hawaii is a melting pot, and the Hawaiian people practice the “Aloha Spirit” as a law of the land. The custom promotes a gracious, warm, and inviting atmosphere that is the foundation of the island experience.
Alaska also provides travelers with a variety of reasons to visit. This state known as the Last Frontier, offers prime viewing of native wildlife by day and the astonishing Northern Lights by night. With its unique activities, such as dog sledding and heli-skiing, Alaska is a perfect place for individuals and families of all ages. For an American version of a safari, "visitors can spot black bears, brown bears, polar bears, moose, mountain goats, orcas, and bald eagles.
In the contiguous U.S., California also tops the list with something for everyone. Families can enjoy the state’s long Pacific coastline and sunny beaches or hike in Yosemite National Park. Wine lovers can discover a new appreciation for “vintage” history with tastings and tours at California’s many vineyards and wineries.
Beyond theme parks, cities, or museums is the unsurpassed beauty of the natural world. America’s protected lands are ideal for budding explorers. When it comes to wild bucket lists,Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park holds the top spot; it’s a geologically active site that spans thousands of square and two additional states. It features massive geysers (Old Faithful, anyone?) as well as free-roaming bison, bears, and wolves.
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona comes in at No. 2. The famed spot sprawls across a million acres and is home to a massive gorge carved by the Colorado River. This extraordinary natural feature, which is a mile deep and over 200 miles long, draws visitors from around the world. Runner-up national parks include include Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and the Great Smoky Mountains; each present stunning peaks, glaciers, forests, rivers, and American wildlife.
Planning the Perfect Vacation
When money and other perceived limitations are out of the picture, it’s easy to dream of all the bucket list destinations we’d like to visit. Ultimately, though, our perceptions are often the biggest limitations. Luxury travel can be super affordable and easy to plan, especially with the help of knowledgeable agents who can make your dreams of skydiving over Italy come true. Life is too short to postpone happiness; if you want to check things off your bucket list, don’t wait – start now!
We surveyed over 2,000 people in the U.S. to find out what their bucket lists would look like if money were no object.