I’ve Travelled But Been Nowhere: Fighting Against Bucket List Travel

I’ve Travelled But Been Nowhere: Fighting Against Bucket List Travel
Do you find your bucket list inspiring when travel planning? Do you find that other people's recommendations don't suit your style or travel or travel goals? What's your experience of creating a bucket list? Does it stack up in reality?

I’ve Travelled But Been Nowhere:

Fighting Against Bucket List Travel

I want to share a confession with you: I’m a notorious slow traveller who is fighting against the idea of ticking off travel. Given that I often mention that I’ve been travelling since 2011 the slow traveller part of that statement should come as no surprise. I’ve obviously been dragging my heels somehow, but what exactly do I mean by ‘ticking off travel?’ And why is the concept of a bucket list something that makes my nose wrinkle?

I know we’re all familiar about the notion of ultimate bucket list ideas and even I have been known to bandy the term around in my writing. Everybody these days types ‘bucket list travel destinations’ into Google, searching for their next adventure. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gaining inspiration from the sources out there and even asking family and friends for help.

Do you find your bucket list inspiring when travel planning? Do you find that other people's recommendations don't suit your style or travel or travel goals? What's your experience of creating a bucket list? Does it stack up in reality?

But where I run into problems is when our bucket list turns into this formidable checklist of things we must do on our next holiday. Who wants to treat their next holiday like a mundane exercise; ticking off the activities like food from a shopping list once you have put it in the basket?

Can you relate to this in some way? Maybe I need to start at the beginning.

Slow Travel

When people ask me about my life I tell them I’ve been travelling for five years. Immediately, their eyebrows shoot up and they look at me like this nomadic guru whose world experience must be off the chart.

“Where have you been?” they half whisper in the revered tones of someone who believes they are faced with a true master of the universe.

“Well,” I reply somewhat bashfully, “I’ve only really been to New Zealand for two years, Australia for two years and several countries in South East Asia.”

In all honesty, I’ve barely scratched the surface of travel even though I’ve been ‘away from home’ since 2011. The list of places I want to visit remains as long as my arm and shows no signs of diminishing. At the rate I’m going, it will take me the rest of my life to get around to every place I want to see.

And whilst sometimes I must admit this kind of bothers me, I am trying to adjust my point of view. After all, travel isn’t a competition, and just like other areas of my life, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people.

It’s a funny notion to consider that travel has a competitive edge to it. But pretty much every conversation in every hostel I’ve stayed at demonstrates this to me.

A statue in Bali. Indonesia is a bucket list travel destination for many travellers.

Sanur, Bali

Ticking Off Travel

Let’s take a look at pretty much the standard conversation you will have every other day on your travels.

“Where have you been?” someone may ask.

“I’ve been in Bali for a few weeks,” you reply.

“How fantastic! Did you visit X, Y and Z?”

“Erm, no I didn’t.”

There is a slight uncomfortable moment when this is processed. “That’s a shame! You really missed out. So, what did you do in Bali?”

In that moment, my experience of Bali has been reduced by someone who knows nothing more about me than my name and where I come from. There is no mean feeling behind their statement and they mean no harm to me, so they cannot possibly understand the affect of their words.

As much as I seek advice and inspiration from my fellow travellers, I am uneasy when my travels are judged – although I do use that word in its lightest possible sense. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that what I have got up to in Bali differs to someone else’s adventures. After all, aren’t we all travelling new places to discover these alluring unknowns for ourselves?

Why should I visit Bali only to take in the top 10 tourist hot spots that everyone else has seen and can recommend? Where are the tiny, remote beaches and the rugged, winding roads that lead me there? Where are the small villages where the locals look at you with friendly smiles and curious eyes as you wander around with your camera?

But before you all screw up your face thinking, ‘gosh, Meg sounds like a total travel snob, a bit too far up her own arse for my liking,’ I want to jump in to quickly caveat the above statement.

Of course I visit a few of the top 10 hot spots when I explore a new destination – who doesn’t? – but what I’m trying to say is that visiting them to say you have been there often leaves you unfulfilled. I’d argue you get far more satisfaction out of doing what you want to do, rather than ticking off Trip Advisor’s ‘Most Popular.’ Whatever you end up doing, you’re going to have fun doing it when there’s less pressure from others and from yourself.

Sanur in Bali. Bali is a bucket list travel destination for many

A fisherman comes ashore. Sanur, Bali

Bucket List Destinations

Let me share a recent example with you. I was recently in Bali, Indonesia. One day I hired a scooter and drove from where I was staying in Seminyak to Tanah Lot temple further up the coast.

I couldn’t tell you anything about Tanah Lot before I went there. I had seen many photos of the location on Instagram and apart from noting its location on a map of Bali, my knowledge about it was zero.

Which is why I wanted to visit, right?

Sure. I had seen these beautiful pictures on the screen of my phone and somehow convinced myself it was a bucket list place to visit whilst in Bali. I should go there. 

At the entrance I dutifully paid my fee, which was more because I was a foreign tourist than if I was Balinese. I walked past the rows and rows of shops displaying their wares – brightly coloured sarongs and ‘I love Bali’ t-shirts – through to the cliff edge where Tanah Lot temple was located.

What immediately confused me was that there were two structures here. One temple was perched at the end of a thin rocky outcrop projecting into the ocean. The waves here were formidable. As the tide was in, the waves rushed up the beach and crashed against the base of the cliff with boundless force. The base of the outcrop had been worn away by centuries of relentless battering by the ocean to form an incredible arch way.

This gave the temple a somewhat perilous perch to rest upon. I couldn’t help but wonder about its permanence. The entrance to this temple was roped off from tourists, understandably, and so I admired this by afar, although it remained a mystery to me.

Tanah Lot is a Bali bucket list travel destination

Tanah Lot, Bali

The second temple stood alone in the ocean a few metres off the beach. This was also impressive. It looked as if the temple had been hewn out of the rock itself as it sprouted from the top of the large boulder.

At low tide the walk across from beach to the base of the temple would be quite simple. As the tide was up when I visited, the brave few who trudged across in water up to their knees were often further sprinkled by crashing waves breaking against them. Their hoots and screams as this happened gave it a bizarre air of comedy.

Those not keen on braving the water remained on the beach side of the temple. I wandered through the throng and couldn’t help but be mesmerised. Hundreds of people jostled on the beach, along the paths that led down to the shore and lined the cliff top. Large family or tour groups channelled past me, following their leader. Kids darted around the crowd. Hawkers mingled, attempting to sell plastic toys or sarongs.

As with the first temple, I had no idea what the one on the rock was all about. Which one was Tanah Lot itself? Was Tanah Lot actually the name for the complex? I looked around for an information board but found none. Unable to access the temples – or unwilling to get wet to stand at the bottom of one – I couldn’t help but fight the sinking feeling that I was missing the point of being here.

What I did see, however, was countless people in this surging crowd taking selfies. A selfie on the cliff, a selfie on the beach, a selfie in the water and a selfie with a temple in the background. I felt that the amount of selfie taking was disproportionate to the amount of knowledge these people were gaining from the temples.

Could any of these people tell me anything about Tanah Lot? Unlikely. It seemed like all they cared about was their selfie to say they had been there.

I couldn’t help feeling dispirited. I, too, can now say I’ve been to Tanah Lot, but what did I really gain from that experience? Was it the best place for me to visit to truly absorb some history and culture of Bali?

I don’t think so.

Tanah Lot is a Bali bucket list travel destination

Tanah Lot, Bali

Thoughts on Fighting Against Bucket List Travel

So when I am thinking about where to head next and what I will do there, I will try to remember these three steps:

  • Don’t feel pressured into doing things because if we don’t we are missing out to another traveller’s standards.

Be true to who you are. Don’t rush to tick off a hit-list because other people have said that you should.

  • Don’t fill your trip with other people’s recommendations

Plan your days around what will make you happy, not what other people think you should be doing in [insert destination].

  • You can’t always see and do everything and that’s okay.

Set aside time every single day to do absolutely nothing. Embrace and absorb. I much prefer to savour my experiences than jam a checklist into a short amount of time.

If your interest has been piqued, take a look at what I’ve got to say on:

Over to you! What are your thoughts on bucket list travel? Am I balmy for feeling slightly awkward at ticking off travel simply to say you’ve been there? Have you ever been let down by a tourist destination that you felt you had to visit? I’d love to hear from you!

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Do you find your bucket list inspiring when travel planning? Do you find that other people's recommendations don't suit your style or travel or travel goals? What's your experience of creating a bucket list? Does it stack up in reality?

Do you find your bucket list inspiring when travel planning? Do you find that other people's recommendations don't suit your style or travel or travel goals? What's your experience of creating a bucket list? Does it stack up in reality?

72 Comments

  1. May 9, 2017 / 11:55 AM

    I loved this Meg. “Travel is not a competition”! The further I get into the travel blogging community the more I question my legitimacy to even be there! Everyone always seems to have been everywhere I may never get the chance to go. But I have my own voice with my own experiences and though those experiences may be limited, they are no less valid…
    I had a similar thing with the Colosseum in Rome as you did in Bali. I went because I was supposed to, but the only impression I have of the place is being overrun by tourists taking selfies and gypsies hawking their wares. I barely remember what it actually looked or felt like! As a result I don’t like Rome and I probably won’t go back: even though I know I *should* and that people love it!

    • May 10, 2017 / 11:41 AM

      Thanks, Laura! Definitely stay true to yourself. And when is that not more important than with our precious holiday time? Enjoy your future travels!

  2. Liliane Fawzy
    May 9, 2017 / 4:28 PM

    While I completely respect your point of view, articles like this annoy me. Not everybody has the privilege of slow travel. I like that you at least maintain that it’s your opinion and your preference but just because the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty (as examples) are in every top ten list possible doesn’t really make them less impressive. I’ve encountered so many people who think they can’t afford to travel or don’t have time to travel and for those people things like these just continue to tell them they can’t. Ultimately, if your only choice in travel was to see a place in 1 week or to not take vacation at all, a large majority of people would still opt for that 1 week.

    • May 10, 2017 / 11:31 AM

      What an interesting perspective, Liliane! I believe that length of trip doesn’t really impact upon the whole notion of the bucket list too much as it can be modified to fit the time you have at your disposal. If all you have is a week’s holiday and want to visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower then great. I also believe it’s perfectly fine to visit Paris for a week and NOT see the Eiffel Tower as you know it’s something that won’t interest you. I guess the point I was trying to make was about how travel shouldn’t be about comparing yourselves and your trip to others’ and creating an itinerary – for however long you have – that suits you, rather than what someone else expects you should do. I’m sad to think that people reading this article may feel that travel is best enjoyed slowly – that was not my intention at all so thanks for your feedback and I’ll make sure I watch my tone. Thanks for reading!

  3. May 10, 2017 / 8:56 AM

    True I agree with you. I don’t have a bucket list as well. For me I will go to places as my situation allows me and no pressure. I like it that way.

    • May 10, 2017 / 11:25 AM

      I think the bucket list certainly serves its purpose for inspiration, but I feel it’s best if we don’t force ourselves to stick to it if we don’t want to. Thanks for reading, Vinneve!

  4. May 10, 2017 / 6:48 PM

    Loved reading this. Many times, I feel the same; crowded places stress me out and I can´t even take nice photos because somebody is always running in front of my camera. (Not like I only go for the pic, but I do love taking them and don´t want a tour leader with a pink umbrella to spoil them all…). As a result, I basically don´t plan what I will do at all. I just get to a place and see whatever I find.

    • May 10, 2017 / 7:40 PM

      I agree that it’s tough when your focus is taken by the crowds of people rather than the place itself! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. Anna Katina
    May 20, 2017 / 7:23 AM

    In my opinion you don’t have to see X et Y like people say. Traveling is about no stress, if you have time to visit thing, do it, if you have other plans or you just want to relax, it’s fine too. It’s YOUR trip, do what you want to <3

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:24 PM

      Yes! No stress indeed! Love it. Thanks for reading, Anna.

  6. May 20, 2017 / 8:05 AM

    I really like this post 🙂 I don’t have the opportunity to slow travel at the moment, so I do end up doing a lot of the must-sees. I try and mix it up with a bit more free exploration to see what I find. Might think twice about Tanah Lot though when I go to Bali in September! I do have a travel bucket list, but it only contains my absolute top items that I’ve been dreaming about for years (Great Pyramids, northern lights, work holiday visa, Antarctica etc.). My other Pinterest boards are more ‘oh this might be interesting to look more into’.

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:23 PM

      Nothing wrong with seeing the ‘must-sees!’ I agree with you that my bucket list tends to be a little bit more whimsical rather than practical – usually dream destinations that it may take me a long time to actually see happen! Enjoy Bali in September, I am sure you will have a great time. Thanks for your comment, Laura.

  7. May 20, 2017 / 8:39 AM

    Great post Meg. I’ll three days away from finishing my East coast Australia tour and didn’t visit the Whitsundays or Fraser Island and got lectured by complete strangers for it. But had any of them been to Daintree Rainforest or hiked Castle Hill in Townsville to watch the most amazing sunset? No. Keep doing your thing!

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:21 PM

      I adored the Daintree! It’s so beautiful up there! Sounds like you’re having a blast on your east coast trip, Minna. I bet you wish it could start all over again.

  8. May 20, 2017 / 8:56 AM

    Hi Meg,

    Thank you for this- this post is something I relate to a 100%. I am a slow traveler too and I’m no permanent nomad. I have a home base and a family in Dubai and I travel often but like you said, I hate reducing travel to some country-count contest. I’ve been to about 20 countries in 5 years of travel and find myself returning to a few of these again and again because I like to explore small regions in a few weeks.

    I cannot zip through sights and cities like I’m on a mission because that is not personally fulfilling. I like to experience life like a local in new places which means that there will be days when I will just do laundry and work on my writing in a cafe, go to a market and buy vegetables and cook in my apartment or hostel, or just have a two-hour long conversation with a local I just met about their city. That to me is the fulfilling part of travel and I could not possibly do that if I am only chasing sights.

    Nice to see I am not alone or crazy to not want to do everything there is to do in a new place.

    Best,
    Natasha

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:20 PM

      You’ve raised another excellent point, TheBohoChica, which is: what happens when we want to re-visit a place because we loved it so much? I am sure some of us would feel guilty at doing that and other’s wouldn’t even give it a second thought! I loved your descriptions of some of your days; it sounds like bliss to me! Enjoy those chats with the locals!

  9. lincalinca
    May 20, 2017 / 9:06 AM

    I see two ends of a spectrum in this – some people would reject any of the top 10 of tripadvisor and say whoever visits those is a tourist and not a wandered (or some other fancy word describing a-guru-type-of-travel), the other one is to say – “you haven’t been there if you haven’t done this and this”. Well, most people who live in that place mostly haven’t done that, since it’s a tourist thing, yet they haven’t left their hometown, so how haven’t they been there? I think whatever people like, they should do, judge others less, get inspired from others and don’t push their own method of travelling as the best one.

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:18 PM

      Definitely agree with the judging people less! It’s so hard not to influence people with your own travel preferences.

  10. May 20, 2017 / 9:22 AM

    I find myself in so much of what you’re saying – thank you for this post! I sometimes find myself counting the countries I’ve been to, only to forget it as soon as it’s done. Can I really count a country that I’ve only visited one city in? Anyways, I love the idea of exploring without a bucket list, and visiting destinations off the beaten path to learn more about the country and its culture. My favourite thing is to talk to locals, hear their stories and the inspiration they draw from their home.

    The only thing I would say though, is still to ask for recommendations – particularly locals. Just don’t blindly follow top 10 lists written by people who’ve spent about a week in that country or city 🙂

    • May 20, 2017 / 6:04 PM

      Yes to asking the locals what they would recommend! This is such a great tip, thank you Kathi!

  11. May 20, 2017 / 9:40 AM

    I totally agree with your post. I like traveling slow, stay in a certain place for months – to live the life of the locals, learn more about their culture, open my eyes to a lot of things. That way I learn that our differences makes us all the same. That’s my main purpose of traveling. Every person has a different purpose of traveling. To each his own. But in everything we do, we should aim to develop ourselves as a person, and be a good contribution to anywhere we go. Thank you for sharing this.

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:16 PM

      I love to stay as long as I can in a place, although it’s not always possible. When I plan a whistlestop tour and only give myself a couple of nights somewhere I usually wish I was staying longer! Sadly, this is not always achievable on many reasons and so we must make the best of what we have. Thanks for your thoughts, I think you summed it up perfectly.

  12. May 20, 2017 / 10:15 AM

    I love this! I work part time so I’m not able to travel anywhere near as frequently as I would like. But that’s okay, I think. Of course I’d love to be able to travel full time, but spending more time in one place is also really great. I agree with your thoughts about bucket lists, too. I always find myself admiring Instagram photos from peoples travels to amazing places, and because of that reason I always say to myself “I want to go there!”. You made a lot of great points, and I loved the way you wrote this! 😀

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:14 PM

      Thanks so much for your comment, Rhiannon. I’m so pleased you like the post. I definitely us Instagram and other blogs as inspiration, but I try not to worry about following their recommendations too closely. I’m happy with figuring out things as I travel to each new destination.

  13. May 20, 2017 / 11:08 AM

    Girl I love this and I am so with you. As a fellow slow traveller, I’m so much happier getting lost in the middle of a foreign country than I am visiting that country’s number one tourist destination. I love tourist hotspots and I love “off the beaten path spots” but only if they are interesting to me, or open the door to adventure. Doing something just because “you have to” or just because “its much less touristic” is, I think, missing the point. Anyway, loved this.

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:12 PM

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, fellow Megan. I agree about finding the balance between ‘number one hotspot’ and off the beaten path; I believe you can enjoy both in equal measures.

  14. lostinthiswholeworld17
    May 20, 2017 / 11:58 AM

    Great post Meg! I find myself fighting against the idea of ticking off countries rather than attractions within a place. I think it’s about finding a balance and seeing what you want to see when you are away and if that means you skip some of the top attractions, that’s ok but equally if you want to see everything then do it. I do make lists in my head of all the things I want to see when I go somewhere but it’s based on me and not necessarily somebody else’s list (unless I agree with them of course!) I also think it’s about finding that balance of not completely ignoring all the top attractions simply because they are so popular because that can result in missing out on something spectacular merely through being stubborn.

    I am currently halfway through The Everywhereist’s book and she talks about bucket lists too. She thinks we shouldn’t have bucket lists at all because it means you have to do these things before you die and it puts undue pressure on yourself and also means you appreciate your actual life less because you are constantly trying to tick these things off before you die (even though you have no idea when that will be). Obviously she puts is far more eloquently 😉

    • May 20, 2017 / 4:11 PM

      I am going to check out The Everywhereist’s book – thanks for that suggestion! It sounds like something I’d like to read. I’m constantly trying to find my balance, and I can definitely be stubborn sometimes as well.

      • lostinthiswholeworld17
        May 20, 2017 / 4:17 PM

        I am really enjoying it. It’s not like your typical travel book but more like a memoir of her life so far, full of love, travel and things going wrong.

        • May 20, 2017 / 4:26 PM

          I shall definitely check it out, thanks for the great tip! Couldn’t have come at a better time as I’ve finished my last book 🙂

  15. May 20, 2017 / 12:06 PM

    I think people spend far too much time worrying about what other people do. A bucket list is just a list of places you want to see. Nothing more, nothing list. Everyone should travel how they want.

  16. May 20, 2017 / 12:13 PM

    I wholeheartedly agree! I have no desire to actually just collect passport stamps. I have been living abroad off and on since 2009 and I am a teacher. I like to take my time and really experience places. I have been planing my summer travels and have 6 weeks for Eastern Europe and as much as I wanted to fit in a ton of places into the 6 weeks, I managed to whittle it down to 4 countries so that I wasn’t rushing anything. I think you haven’t really seen a country if all you do is go to the capital city for a weekend. I need more time!! Anyways, great post!

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:56 PM

      I am so envious of your Eastern Europe trip! I would love to explore more there myself. I hope you have a fantastic time. Thanks for reading.

  17. May 20, 2017 / 12:41 PM

    I had that same experience in Bali. I spent about 3 weeks there and didn’t tick off the ‘normal’ things. But I did my own thing… and it was cool. So what does it matter? Honestly the more I travel the more I like getting off the tourist trail and taking the slow route. I do want to see it all, but its not a race.

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:55 PM

      It’s definitely not a race, Hannah, I agree. Travel can be inherently selfish, so we shouldn’t mind curating our trips to suit ourselves.

  18. May 20, 2017 / 12:41 PM

    “Travel is not a competition.” Can I take just a moment here and hug you? Consider yourself internet-hugged by me. So much here I agree with, thank you so much. I think it’s wonderful that you take your time and really absorb a place as you travel. <3 This is exactly how I hope I can travel one day.

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:54 PM

      Thanks fellow Meg! This is hands down the best comment I’ve ever received!

  19. May 20, 2017 / 12:57 PM

    This was such an enjoyable read. I agree with you on all points. I have no bucket list and I like it that way. I know I could live two lifetimes and still never go everywhere I’d like to, so I’m content just to keep seeing what I can when the opportunity comes up. I am an avid list-maker in every other area of my life, but I refuse to let travel become “something to tick off”. Where’s the fun in that?!

    Loved your thoughts on Tanah Lot, too. I have to try really hard not to roll my eyes at the excessive selfie travelers. 🙂

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:52 PM

      My travel list just keeps growing and growing with no end in sight! I’m also very haphazard in the order I tackle it too, just going to wherever I can next! Thanks for your thoughts, Sarah.

  20. May 20, 2017 / 2:06 PM

    I agree not to feel pressured to tick off the bucket list items, but at the same time I think it is totally fine to see all the places that are considered ‘must dos’. All of it creates each destination.

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:51 PM

      Definitely, Anna. It’s about finding what works for you and means that you enjoy your experience the most. Travel is a very personal activity!

  21. Karen
    May 20, 2017 / 2:17 PM

    I really love this. I also used to think that you HAD to visit somewhere to experience it, but it’s funny: sometimes in NOT doing the touristy stuff, you see a side to a city that most tourists don’t see that make you fall more in love with a place. That was the case for me with Amsterdam. (I also love little small towns where I can take my photos in peace!)

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:50 PM

      I love the random little towns too! I find that you usually get excellent food at great value too in such places! Thanks for your comment, Karen.

  22. trilingualtraveleram
    May 20, 2017 / 2:51 PM

    This post is full of great advice! I would LOVE to do what you call “slow travel” and spend more time in one place…unfortunately for me, it just hasn’t happened that way! I tend to do the quicker trips so I can fit several cities into one vacation. But I definitely agree with you about the selfie thing. People these days tend to be a lot more interested in bragging about their travels than fully experiencing them!

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:49 PM

      The selfie thing baffles me! It’s like what they came to see just takes the background whilst their own face takes centre frame. Enjoy your travels and whatever suits you best!

  23. May 20, 2017 / 3:00 PM

    Great read, really thought provoking article. Bucket list experiences are great, but some people make travel all about them. The unexplored destinations elevate travel to a different level altogether. My best experiences have been when I veered off the touristy path and visited places just because I felt like it.

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:47 PM

      Too true, Ketki! I love discovering places that have perhaps been overlooked and making my own memories of a place around these experiences. Thanks for reading.

  24. May 20, 2017 / 3:02 PM

    I absolutely love this Megan! “You can’t always see and do everything and that’s okay.” – YES to this, 100% agree. It’s so tempting and easy to compare yourself and your travels (or lack thereof) to people on social media, who always seem to be in a new city or country every day, living a glamorous, fast-paced life of luxury travel, for whom every day seems to be a bucketlist day. Ha! In our brains, we know this can’t be reality…but it’s easy to be tricked into feeling inadequate or like you’re “doing” travel the wrong way. So not the case. Slow travel is the way to go in my book!

    • May 20, 2017 / 3:45 PM

      It’s awful when we feel like our travels don’t stack up – but who have we got to blame for all of this? Only ourselves! It’s a constant struggle to balance expectation vs reality and I find that I manage it better when I’m travelling more slowly. Thanks for your comment, Sierra. I’m glad you liked the read!

  25. May 20, 2017 / 4:29 PM

    OMG I totally get you. I hate when people say “oh you missed out because you didn’t see xyz”. Seriously??? And what you wrote about Tanah Lot…i was JUST there and had same feelings. I enjoy really learning about a place. We can’t compare ourselves to others. Our experiences are ours! 2 months somewhere is an experience onto itself that can’t be compared to a week where somebody frantically sees as much as possible.

    • May 20, 2017 / 6:00 PM

      Ahh, glad to hear I’m not alone in my feelings about Tanah Lot! I wish I enjoyed the experience more. I try not to compare myself to others or to live someone else’s trip, but it’s hard sometimes!

  26. themormonadventurista
    May 20, 2017 / 6:00 PM

    I love how honest and raw this is! I’m a new traveler and the places I’ve been to are still small, but tailored to my goal destinations. I had to learn real quick to not compare myself to others and I’m at peace with it. I have a bucket list on my blog, but it’s a living document that is always changing whenever I learn about weird and quirky places.

    • May 20, 2017 / 6:03 PM

      Goal destinations is a nice way to phrase it – it keeps it personal and vague enough to make changes, which I like very much!

      • themormonadventurista
        May 20, 2017 / 6:13 PM

        Cheers!

  27. May 20, 2017 / 6:13 PM

    This is a really incredible post. I came into it thinking “I love my bucket list, what are you talking about?” and ended going “Oh, yeah, I agree with pretty much all of this.” In the past, I’ve argued for bucket lists, that they’re a great way to strike up conversations with people on a common ground, and that they help organize thoughts and become a “diary” of sorts. At least, I use mine that way (to remind myself of what I’ve done). But you’re totally right. Travel shouldn’t be a competition. Travel experiences shouldn’t be boiled down to “if you’ve been to Paris, you’ve done it right. If you’ve visited France and you haven’t, wth, you’re missing out! That’s a pity.” People shouldn’t need to live and die by the bucket list. What’s more, I often fall into the taking-photos-of-places-I-don’t-know-the-history-of trap, and I do think that’s an epidemic that I am trying to battle in my own life. Travel should be personal. It should be whatever you want it to be, and it shouldn’t be judged if you don’t get to the places on the “Top 10 Bucket List Destinations.” So I totally get it. Thank you for this great reminder. 🙂 I’m pinning your post so I can read it later when I get to “activity” focused in my travels.

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:49 AM

      I battle the need to take photos of places I then look back on and think, ‘why did I do that, I can’t remember a thing about it!’ I have my moments when I love the concept of a bucket list, but then there are definitely times when I just feel like they set me up to fail more than fulfil. I’m so happy that the post resonated with you, Anna. Thanks for Pinning, too!

  28. May 20, 2017 / 6:15 PM

    I love this post!

    For me, there are two problems with “bucket lists”. The first is when people expect your bucket list to be the same as theirs. Yes, maybe they can’t understand why you haven’t been to X place, but as you say so well, travel is personal and we don’t all have to go to the same places. If the other person can’t understand that, it’s their loss instead of yours – but it has taken me many years to be comfortable with that!

    The second is that life changes, the world changes and YOU change. I have a tentative list in my head of places I’d like to visit and things I’d like to do, but new items get added to that list all the time, other things drop off the bottom and that’s ok. What I want to do now is different from what I wanted to do 5 years ago, and if I stuck rigidly to my old plans I’d miss out on so many things that have become important to me since.

    So my bucket list is written in pencil, and I don’t care what others think of it! Which for me is the best way to be… 😊

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:46 AM

      I wholeheartedly agree! That’s a great point about time changing you and your priorities and for that reason the bucket list can never be a thing we stick rigidly too, even if we try. Thanks for your thoughts!

  29. May 20, 2017 / 9:29 PM

    I just came across your blogpost and it made my day. Today I wrote a rather impulsive blogpost about why I don’t ask for much travel advice so I recognize the things you describe. I love travel and exploring and I don’t even have to go far to get that excitement and inspiration. So very glad to read this 🙂

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:44 AM

      Awesome, Fenne! I often find my most impulsive blog posts are my favourite ones! I am so glad the words struck a chord with you. Happy travels!

  30. Jean
    May 20, 2017 / 10:09 PM

    Oh sister you are preaching to the choir over here!! I’m openly anti bucket list. So frustrating. I always tell listers that I’m not ready to die yet.

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:43 AM

      Haha, this is a brilliant response, Jean! And strangely accurate!

  31. May 20, 2017 / 10:27 PM

    Right on the spot! I’ve always believed that travel is an individual and unique experience and that no one is less of a traveler because they haven’t seen “bucket list items”.

    Amazing post!

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:42 AM

      Exactly! “No one is less of a traveler” – couldn’t have put it better myself, Brenda. Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you liked the post.

  32. May 21, 2017 / 12:29 AM

    I loved reading your post. I do think that popular tourist attractions are popular for a reason, so I never cross them off my list. Still, I do research do decide if it will be interesting for me, or not. I tend to get annoyed (almost sad) when I see a place being destroyed (physically, or culturally) by tourism. Sometimes, tourism helps preserve a place. Sometimes, it just ruins it. I don’t mind what people say about where I’ve been and where I haven’t been. I actually like to hear about places I missed, and maybe I will go back one day and check it out. I have never counted the number of countries I’ve travelled to. As you say, it’s not a competition. But some see it a different way, and that’s okay – but we won’t travel together 😉

  33. May 21, 2017 / 4:10 AM

    Love this! And yes I agree “travel is not a competition”. It’s sad how most of the travellers I met these days would try to squeeze in as much things as possible in their trip, chasing bus schedules and getting to their next destination as fast as possible. Sometimes you just need to take the time to breathe, sit and relax – and to just enjoy the experience altogether.

    Ps/ I had the same thing in Tanah Lot! The only difference is that I got really annoyed by the crowd that day :p I think Ubud provides a more Balinese feels.

    • May 21, 2017 / 8:40 AM

      I guess we’re all driven by the same need to see as much as possible in the time we have, without stopping to think whether that’s necessary or not. Ah, Tanah Lot again hey? I wish I could say I left with a deeper connection to that place, but unfortunately I couldn’t. Thanks for reading, Alyssa.

  34. May 27, 2017 / 12:09 PM

    I like this post ! I don’t have the opportunity to slow travel at the moment as I am a full time worker and part time traveller. I make the most of my 5 weeks’ annual leave travelling around the world. However, I like the new and unknown. I love that with traveling I can go somewhere new and experience things that I am not used to and know very little about. It’s too easy to get comfortable in our routines and comfort zones but it’s no way to live and I like the learning that comes with experiencing all the newness.

    • May 28, 2017 / 4:14 PM

      It sounds like you definitely make the most of your travel time! I think going somewhere new and exploring different places is exciting and it certainly motivates me to travel too. Thanks for your comment!

  35. May 31, 2017 / 12:08 AM

    I totally agree. I love spending a significant amount of time anywhere I visit…It helps me get to understand the people. the culture, the history, the way of life, etc. I love being in a city/town/village long enough to get to understand the politics behind something, to meet locals who want to talk to me about their country, take a cooking class, etc.. Read the local papers (if it’s in a language I understand!) and really try to understand this new world. I know slow travel isn’t always available to everyone and it’s something that I am grateful for being able to do.

    • May 31, 2017 / 7:44 PM

      I’d love to take a cooking class. That’s something I’ve never tried and I think I’d enjoy it. Happy travels, Kiki, thanks so much for reading!

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