The point of the bucket list is to examine your relationship to the world and write down those experiences that you believe are essential to living a full and rewarding life. In many ways, it’s the ultimate list of individual priorities and as such, virtually everyone’s bucket list will be different. Therefore the 20 items we present here are suggestions. You may find some or even all dovetail with your interests and desires. Or you may simply use these suggestions as a springboard to creating your own list. In either case here are 20 things we think you should consider adding to your bucket list.
1. Live Overseas for a Year
Few things will provide a better perspective on this thing we call life and this planet we call earth than wandering outside your comfort zone and living in a foreign country for a year. You’ll no doubt wind up questioning your own ideas and beliefs (questioning, not necessarily abandoning) and you’ll likely develop a more sympathetic and well-rounded appreciation for what others go through in their own quest to live happy, fulfilling lives. In addition, you’ll find stores of resilience and determination within yourself you may not have been aware of.
2. Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon
The spectacular vistas available at the rim of the Grand Canyon are only a tiny part of the story. As you descend into the canyon on foot the history of the earth itself is laid bare. There are places on the trail that make the pleasures of the rim seem quaint. Astonishing passages through layers of multicolored sediment meticulously carved by the action of water alone over the course of millions of years. By the time you reach the Colorado River at the bottom, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the world you live in.
Jumping out of airplane thousands of feet above the ground is not for everyone. That much is certain. However, if you can muster the courage to take the plunge chances are it will be a transformative event in your life. One that provides a unique perspective on your world and which helps you cast aside many of the fears and inhibitions that may have been holding you back. Like most of the experiences on this bucket list, the point of skydiving is to help you discover your true self.
4. Research Your Genealogy
Most people’s understanding of their family extends from their grandparents to their grandchildren and that’s it. But the true story of your family reaches back deep into the recesses of history. We are the sum of all the generations that preceded us. Each one of our ancestors had a unique and compelling existence and each sacrificed in some way so that you could be where you are today. Take the time to discover the true story of your family by researching your genealogy.
5. Visit Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was the last, legendary stronghold of the Incas. It rises majestically above the Urubamba River Valley in Peru and is one of the most astonishing creations of ancient mankind. The planning, creativity and sheer effort that went into raising this city on a mountain peak is mindboggling to contemplate and breathtaking to experience in person. The site is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America so bring your patience along with your camera and your sense of awe.
6. Learn Another Language
If you speak English, congratulations. You will be able to communicate with the nearly 400 million other native speakers and 500 million people who speak English as a second language. The problem is that leaves 6.1 billion humans you can’t communicate with including more than a billion who speak Chinese, half a billion that speak Spanish and hundreds of millions who speak Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and more. As such it’s no exaggeration to say that learning another language can open up the world to you in a way few other things can.
7. See the Milky Way
Prior to the invention of the electric light, the specter of the Milky Way looming over our collective heads was a commonplace source of endless wonder. Today, however, reflected light from our megacities combined with air pollution means that taking in the grand view of our celestial home requires a special trip to an out of the way place like the desert southwest. Take that trip. Once you train your head toward the sky and see the murky cloud of stars extending from horizon to horizon your view of your place in the universe will never be the same.
8. Run for Office
The world has entered a period that, unfortunately, promises to be the most turbulent in history. As such the need for able individuals, committed to the common good has never been greater. If you feel you have something to contribute consider adding a run for office to your bucket list. Public service is the ultimate expression of your concern for your fellow man, your kids, the earth and all the generations to follow. Plus the experience of running for office is one you will never forget whether you win or not.
9. Start a Business
Regardless of how interesting and rewarding a job may be it will never provide the same level of satisfaction as starting and nurturing your own business from acorn to mighty oak. Those who have had their own businesses are almost never inclined to go back to working for someone else if that business fails. They’d rather try and start another business because it’s potentially so much more fulfilling. So before you head off to that big interview in the sky go all-in on your faith in yourself and start your own business.
10. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Those people you see on the street on your way to work weren’t born there. Something happened to them along the way that sent their life off the rails and they wound up with nowhere to go and no resources to get back on their feet. By volunteering in a soup kitchen you’ll discover that far from being “homeless people” or “poor people” the folks you’re serving are just “people”. And that in many cases the only thing separating you from them is nothing more than the roll of the karmic dice.
11. See the Aurora
There are two major celestial shows in the night sky although they originate from different places. The Milky Way is the galaxy we live in while the aurora borealis is the result of charged particles from the sun hitting and reacting with the electromagnetic field that emanates from the North Pole. These Northern Lights as they are called provide a surreal spectacle with few equals and even though there are scores of videos available on the Internet nothing comes close to experiencing the aurora in person.
12. Learn a Musical Instrument
Music is the language of the soul and few things provide the same sense of satisfaction as mastering a musical instrument. Learning a musical instrument enables you to feel a much greater sense of connection with the human experience and to express yourself in unique and compelling ways. You don’t have to be Yo Ma or Stevie Ray Vaughan or Mozart. Just taking some guitar or piano or cello lessons will be more than enough to broaden your horizons and provide a new perspective.
13. Take an Extended Sailing Trip
Before the days of steam or diesel or even nuclear-powered vessels, mankind explored the entire globe using only stars to navigate and the power of the wind for propulsion. If you have never experienced the joys of sailing then this should definitely be on your bucket list. Sailing compels you to align yourself and your vessel with the forces of nature, to kick back and relax and to let go of the “I want it all and I want it now” contemporary mindset. Just make sure it’s an extended trip so your body and spirit have enough time to properly acclimate.
14. Go Winter Camping
Fairweather camping in the great outdoors has the ability to refresh and rejuvenate the spirit. But if we’re talking bucket list level experiences nothing can compare to winter camping in the deep woods. It will require extensive preparation to be sure and it will test your fortitude and survival instincts, but the rewards will speak for themselves. If you are far enough north the aurora borealis may even keep you company at night, which will really turn your trip into a life-altering experience.
15. See the Pyramids
They are the only one of the original 7 Wonders of the World to have survived into our time. They were already 2,500 years old at the time of Julius Caesar. Think about that for a moment. And think about this too: while there are plenty of theories kicking about regarding how they were built no one, not even the most learned Egyptologist, really knows for sure. They are one of the greatest enigmas the human race has ever produced and seeing them in person should be on everyone’s bucket list.
16. Take an Epic Road Trip
All the items on your bucket list should allow you to expand your horizons and gain fresh perspectives on your world and the people and other beings you share it with. Loading up the car and setting off for parts unknown for several weeks or even months will open your eyes, bring you in contact with places and people you’ll remember forever and provide a sense of wonder you may not have experienced since you were a child.
17. Watch a Rocket Launch
While the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle have been permanently retired a new generation of space explorers has picked up the gauntlet and is determined to make their own mark in the great beyond. In many ways, ours is the true golden age of space travel with NASA and a slew of private companies all vying to be the first to Mars or to return to the moon. Be a part of these historic efforts by making sure you witness at least one rocket launch in person.
18. Go on a Safari
As the human family continues to expand finding places where nature still holds sway becomes more difficult with each passing year. No bucket list should be considered complete that doesn’t include a trip to one of the incredible wildlife sanctuaries of Africa. Witness the migration of millions of animals across the Serengeti plain, commune with more than 120,000 elephants in Chobe National Park in Botswana or witness a million zebra and wildebeest navigate their way across the Mara River in Tanzania.
19. Sponsor a Child
We live in a world of incredible riches and technological wonders our ancestors would scarce believe. But for all our technological prowess and all our abilities to create and expand our wealth our system is still imperfect and far too many people get left behind. There are myriad organizations today that will put you in touch with a child in need. And you’ll be amazed at the kind of difference you can make with only a minimal investment of time and money. If you’ve never considered it before sponsoring a child should be on your bucket list.
20. Donate Your Organs
The final item on our proposed bucket list has to do with your legacy and your ability to pass on life even after you ultimately pass on. Making sure you fill out organ donation cards is the best way to ensure the time you spend here ultimately serves a greater purpose. Oftentimes people will decide to donate their organs after they have undergone a personal transformation in the wake of their other bucket list experiences. But whether it’s number 1 on your list or number 20 make the most of what you are by passing on the gift of life to others.