Travel Bucket List: My 7 Dream Destinations
Cliched though they may be, I have a huge soft spot for creating travel bucket lists. Why? Because the places that people fill them with tend to be the destinations of dreams, rather than reality. And they’ll stay that way, without careful planning to make them happen. That’s where your list comes in.
Your travel bucket list sets out your goals. Once you’ve done that, you can start to work backwards and establish what it’ll take to get you there. No matter how many steps it might take, your travel bucket list is the bridge that can help turn your dreams into real-life experiences.
One of the things I love the most about working as a freelance travel writer and full-time weddings journalist is how often I get to see, write about and sometimes experience some seriously incredible places. One of the biggest struggles? Finding the time and finances to visit them all – even for people who are lucky enough to travel regularly, a travel bucket list comes in handy. So, what destinations make it onto mine?
1. Alberta, Canada
This is a trip I have been planning since my teens and my obsession with the TV show filmed on an Alberta ranch – Heartland. After flying into the city, I’d spend a couple of days exploring Calgary before heading into the country. I’d also time my trip to be in July, so I could catch the iconic Calgary Stampede. After the rush of watching bull riding subsides, I’ll don a newly purchased cowboy hat and hit the road. Next stop, Lake Louise!
Visiting Alberta, for me, is all about the scenery and wildlife, so my days will be open to allow plenty of time to pull over, wait and watch. From Lake Louise, I’ll drive to Jasper, and then on to Banff, before returning to Calgary.
2. Lapland, Finland
When I make it to Lapland, it’s going to be in the winter. And while I have no doubt that this trip will redefine the meaning of freezing to me, the layers, thermals and endless shivering will be worthwhile for even the most fleeting glimpse of the Northern Lights. I imagine holing up in a log cabin, as far north as is practical, with a steaming hot chocolate in hand (cream, but no marshmallows) and perhaps a steaming hot tub outside, too…
By day, I’ll be gliding through the snow on a husky sled, wildlife watching and visiting reindeer. As soon as night falls, I’ll be keeping lookout for the elusive but oh-so magical aurora borealis. If I’m lucky, I might even get to watch them from the cosiness of bed in a glass-topped igloo. When you’re writing a travel bucket list, you’re allowed to dream, right?
3. Road trip through Italy
My boyfriend and I have decided that when the time comes, a road trip through Italy will be our perfect honeymoon. This might sound a little premature, but that’s what you get for having a weddings journalist as your girlfriend! We’d start in the north of Italy, enjoying some luxury on Lake Como before the trip properly begins. And we’d be in good company, seeing as Lake Como is well known for being a hit with the celebrity crowd.
Moving west, we’d visit the charming collection of colourful buildings that form picture-postcard Cinque Terre. Imagine eating lunch at an outdoor cafe, with a glass of excellent wine, here. Next time we jump in the car, we’ll be going south, to take in the cities of Rome and Florence as well as the rolling countryside, vineyards and cypress trees of Tuscany. The Amalfi Coast – Sorrento in particular – would be our next romantic destination of choice. And finally, we’d conclude our Italian road trip with a short hop over the ocean, staying in Sardinia. The stunning scenery here makes it well worth the journey.
4. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has pretty much flown under my radar until this year. It was when my editor wrote a feature on twin-centre honeymoon ideas that Sri Lanka’s status changed for me. For the better, seeing as it soared straight onto my travel bucket list. Beyond being a beautiful island with a culture and character to uncover, there’s a wealth of wildlife to be seen, and that’s what really appeals to me.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a safari in Kenya as a child (and it remains my best holiday of all time, all these years later), but Sri Lanka would offer something different. Different environments, landscapes, species… so much to see, and I’d feel extremely lucky to do so.
5. South Africa
My intrigue in South Africa stems from my work as a weddings journalist. When writing featured weddings, I noticed a common theme in the photographs that resonated with me – the light. Imagine the ethereal, whimsical, half-light of the golden hour, but even better, and that’s it. And where were all of these photos taken? South Africa.
It’s also from real weddings that I take inspiration for where I’d go. Following a few days in Cape Town, I’d hire a car and drive the Garden Route, taking in the stunning scenery along the way. Think picnics, plaid blankets and ice-cold drinks. I’d also make time for an indulgent few days in the Cape Winelands. This trip would be every bit as luxurious as a honeymoon, but then again, that is what inspired it…
6. USA Road Trip
I’d definitely need to nail out the details of this one, but like almost every travel writer, I couldn’t settle with just seeing one state when I visit the USA. With so many climates, landscapes and cities, I’ll be the first to join the road-trippers club and hit the highway to explore more. What might make my dream USA road trip a little different is the places I’d choose.
Montana is a must – for the scenery, the mountains, the bears, and the border with Canada, which became the focus of my university dissertation. I’d also love to visit Colorado and Zion National Park in Utah (thank you Instagram!). Of course, visiting the Grand Canyon is more predictable, as is exploring Napa Valley along with Malibu and Los Angeles in California. I’d also love to spend time horse riding in Texas and line dancing in Nashville. Can you tell I’m a country girl at heart?
The spice island of the Caribbean delights my every sense. What could be better than a laid-back, rustic retreat amid rainforest canopies, impossibly blue oceans and dishes that would please the fussiest foodie? Grenada isn’t called the spice island for no reason, and it’s a hub for nutmeg among others.
While the natural beauty of the island is what appeals the most, I would definitely make time for a trip to St George’s. Colourful streets are charming in almost any setting, and no where more so than here, where they mingle with beaches and eateries in an irresistible combination.
One of the other interesting things that happens when you create a travel bucket list, is that you realise what kind of tourist and travel niche you love best. For some, it’s blissful beaches and island escapes. For others, it’s buzzing city breaks and cultural revelations. For me, it’s wildlife and natural environments.
The beauty of the planet is that there’s something for every traveller. And there’s usually a travel agency or tour operator to go with it. They can be an invaluable next step as you prepare to make a dream destination your next holiday reality. You want it to live up to your every expectation, and they’ll have the insider relationships and knowledge to make that easy.