Lessons Learned From A Bucket List

Do you have a wish list of things you want to do in your lifetime? Some might call this list a bucket list, courtesy of the popular 2007 comedy-drama movie “The Bucket List”. I created a list of things I want to do in my lifetime before I actually knew the term bucket list even existed. In fact, I have two lists, one is called my “travel wish list” and the other is “things I want to do list”. But they are both basically a bucket list only the travel wish list has an “accomplish by” date.

I have been encouraged by several friends to share this idea and what I have learned as it might inspire or help someone else. I created both lists in my early twenties before I was married and had kids. While I realize not everyone likes to travel, I have learned the most thus far from trying to complete my travel wish list, so I am going to focus on that one and share with you my lessons learned.

As you might guess by the title, “travel wish list”, it contains all the places I want to visit, at least as of my early twenties. Over the years I have added a few new places to the list but not many. The goal was to complete the list by the age of 50, which at the time seemed pretty far away. Now that I am in my 40′s, age 50 doesn’t seem too far away. With that said, over the last couple of years I have become much more strategic in my travels in hopes to check a city off of my list as often as possible.

I included about 26 places on my list. The plan was to complete the cities in the United States and the Caribbean by the time I was 50 and leave the international travel with no “accomplish by” date. Here are some of my lessons learned from my travel wish list:

1. Writing your goals down helps to keep you focused. Having places I want to visit written down has made it easier when I am planning a vacation. The same is true for any bucket list. If you have it written down it makes it easier for you to know exactly what you want to accomplish so when you have the time you already know what you want to do. It is a big time saver.

2. Setting your intention is key. My intention when I created my travel wish list was to complete it by age 50. When we set an intention it prepares us and we are more likely to work towards the intention that was set even when we come across obstacles. I am happy to report that my intention of completing this list by age 50 looks pretty good.

3. Look at your list. This is a critical piece. If you write your bucket list and never look at it then you might forget what is on it which will lead you to not accomplishing it. In fact, if I would have looked at my list a little more frequently I believe I would have checked off a few more places sooner.

4. Have gratitude for what you have accomplished. I am very grateful for checking off so many of the places on my travel wish list and I am grateful for all the places that I have been in addition to my list. Have gratitude for yourself on things you accomplish, you probably do for other people, so why not for yourself.

5. Know that it is okay to add to your list. The list is not set in stone. There might be times you want to add something to your list so go for it. I added a few places over the years and I already have several new places that I want to add to a new travel wish list once this one is completed. We are always learning and growing and when you get excited about something new that you might want to try that feeds your spirit, so add it if you want.

6. Be flexible not rigid. I realized that the list I created in my twenties might not really be where I want to go now that I am in my forties. Because I have had the opportunity to travel to many places that were not on my list, I have realized some of those “not on the list” places have fulfilled me in one way or another and the need to see a few cities that were originally on my list is not there any longer. Here is an example- I had plans this summer to check off Connecticut. When I went to plan the trip I could not figure out where in Connecticut I wanted to go. I looked at maps and, I Googled places but I was coming up empty. The only thing I could come up with was Mystic, Connecticut and that was because I remembered an 80′s movie called Mystic Pizza that was filmed in Mystic, Connecticut. I decided, with the help of a friend, that it was okay to take Connecticut off my list. I had been to Boston and Rhode Island and visited a few cities in both and felt that might be part of why I was having difficulty figuring out where to go in Connecticut. I am sure Connecticut is also beautiful but at this point in my life I decided to take it off the list. It is important to allow yourself to be flexible. If it doesn’t feel right anymore then remove it from your bucket list and know that it is okay because it is your list. You haven’t failed you might of just changed a little.

7. Honor who you were and who you are now. This is a big one because all of our experiences in life make us who we are today. I can look at my travel wish list and remember why I put some cities on there and enjoy those memories of why that particular city made the list. In addition, if I truly feel like it is not a place I need to visit at this point in my life I will honor that too. So honor whom you were when you created your bucket list and who you are as you move through the journey of checking items off your list.

8. It is fun to have a bucket list. I cannot tell you how many fun conversations I have had over the years regarding my travel wish list. Most friends know that I have a love for travel but when I share about my travel wish list they always enjoy hearing more about it. It is a great way to share more about you to others by sharing your bucket list because it is not often we get a chance to share our dreams in today’s busy world.

If you have a bucket list share it with your friends and family as it makes great conversation. They will probably learn something new about you. If you don’t have a bucket list then consider creating one. Be creative and don’t put limits on yourself. Enjoy the journey of creating, accomplishing and checking off the things on your bucket list.

Carrie Saba, Holistic Health Coach, helps others see themselves in a new light and recognize their inner strength. She is a lifestyle change expert and her clients are energized by her insightful, upbeat coaching style. She is great at zeroing in on where their passions lie and has very clear and targeted advice and always has their best interest at heart.

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How to Use Bucket Shop Airfares: Very Carefully

Bucket shops, or “travel consolidators,” are travel agencies who have arrangements with specific airlines to sell international tickets for considerably less than the airline’s published fares.

You can indeed save money on bucket shop fares, and experience a completely successful trip abroad. However, this segment of the travel industry contains enough landmines that you should use bucket shops only if you follow the tips given in this article.

Although financially secure vendors like Priceline may match or exceed bucket shop international discounts, and provide you with a more comfortable purchasing experience, the bucket shop option is still worth exploring. Their tickets often permit you to change your destination or dates for a fee, which Priceline “Name your own price” tickets, for example, never allow.

But, study these guidelines and proceed with caution!

How to find a reputable bucket shop:

You may see ads for bucket shop airfares in major newspapers and on the Internet. However, even though the newspaper or website may have a good reputation, the bucket shop which advertises there could be at best, disorganized, and at worst, downright dishonest.

Over the years, I have heard many tales of fly-by-night, shady bucket shops (and have had run-ins with several myself), and so I use these only if I have a solid recommendation from:

o a friend who has used the same bucket shop over time,

o a report from the Better Business Bureau, or

o an article in a respected travel journal, such as Frommer’s Budget Travel.

One of the best sources for a reliable bucket shop referral is a friend from the same ethnic group as your destination. If it’s comfortable, ask your friend to obtain the price quotation. On many routes, travelers whose families originally came from the destination country get the lowest quotes.

A Cautionary Tale: Follow these tips before using bucket shops:

o If you are reside in the U.S., just use American bucket shops. It could be very difficult to pursue a transaction that turned sour if you use a foreign travel consolidator.

o Shops tend to specialize in specific countries. The one you use for Australia is not necessarily the one you want to use for Kenya.

o Bucket shop discounts excel at Asian, Australian, Middle Eastern, eastern European, and African destinations. Discounts are less competitive to western European cities, such as Amsterdam and Paris, because airlines frequently publish specials to these destinations.

o Realize that bucket shop advice may often be biased. Airlines that give bucket shops special deals expect them to push business their way. A bucket shop may not tell you if another shop sells a cheaper or more convenient itinerary.

o Request that quoted fares include all taxes and fees. Extra fees can be a way for a sketchy bucket shop to amp up the price considerably. So get the total price before making a reservation.

o Savings tend to be greatest when you deal with a company that writes its own tickets, instead of an agency that orders tickets from somewhere else. Confirm this with the agency. A good question is, “Can I pick up my ticket today?”

o Pay with a credit card. If the bucket shop turns out to be a scam, you may be able to stop payment with a credit card, but you can’t with cash.

o Ask to have their rules for canceling or changing flights in writing. These can be emailed or faxed to you if you cannot get to their office. Some bucket shop tickets may allow you to change flights and dates, others may not. Also, fees for changes may vary considerably.

o Try to buy travel on one airline (or its partners), with as few connections as possible. Any time you increase your number of connections or airlines, you increase your risk of complications, especially if you’re traveling with separate tickets for each airline.

Suppose you’re flying to Delhi via Moscow on separate airlines. If you miss your Delhi flight because the Moscow flight was late, the Delhi airline in Moscow may tell you it’s not responsible for re-booking fees, a hotel overnight, etc.

o In addition, bucket shop tickets are often marked “non-endorsable.” This means that if you miss a connection, you can’t be rerouted on another airline. On top of that, you may not have the visa required to leave the airport terminal if you have to wait a day or two. So it’s always best to fly with as few connections and airlines as possible.

o If possible, pick up your ticket at the bucket shop, instead of having it sent to you, so that you can examine it carefully before leaving the store. Make sure that you have coupons for each flight, correct dates, etc.

Have I scared you off?

Some bucket shops are reputable and some are not. I am not promoting them, nor am I saying to stay completely clear. I just want you to be armed with the best strategies for protecting yourself and setting up a comfortable trip when you find a reputable one. (And, remember – the best source is a trusted friend who has used the same bucket shop many times.)

Let’s say better safe than sorry, rather than better save than sorry!

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