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Simple Bucket List Ideas – The First Step to a World of Travel Adventures

A Woman in a red top and sunglasses stannic in front of a large salt sculpture with the words DAKAR BOLIVIA carved on it.

Updated on April 30th, 2024

For my first post in this new year, I decided to revisit the process of writing a Bucket List. After facing personal tragedy back in 2014, I created my first List and since then it has formed a roadmap for me to heal, find myself and have a wealth of adventures along the way. If you want to travel and are looking for inspiration or just don’t know where to start, then look no further. Here are some simple Bucket List ideas which helped me take the first step into a new life. I hope it will do the same for you.”




SueWhereWhyWhat and Husband Terry take a close up selfie on holiday.

Back in 2014 I tragically lost my beloved husband Terry. I was left devastated, grieving & unclear on what my future held. All I knew was that I couldn’t go back to the life I had, for me that just seemed too hard. I was offered redundancy from work which I grabbed with both hands. I developed a mantra:

When everything changes, change everything.”

An Orang Utan in Borneo
21 Best things to do in Naxos, Greece

My friends & family stepped in to support me in any way they could & they knew that my passion was travel. I was invited on numerous trips during that first 12 months & exercised my “Say Yes to every opportunity” muscles. In the end, I went skiing in Canada, hunting for orangutans in Borneo, island hopping in Greece & taking my first trip to Hawaii. I appreciated every offer & every mile & their company (almost) every step of the way.

My final trip that year was to Australia to visit my family for Christmas. It was then that I realised a few harsh realities:

  • A blonde woman sitting in front of a large waterfall with people swimming in a rock pool behind herRelying on friends & family was not sustainable. There would come a time when, no matter how well-meaning they were & how much they cared for me, I would no longer be their number one priority.
  • If I did keep getting the invites, then I would always be chasing things that others wanted to do. When would I get to do those things that really sparked my interest?
  • I was on my own again. There was no way of getting away from that fact & therefore I had to create a life for myself now I was alone. I had been with Terry for 18 years. I had no idea even who I was anymore.

It was time to take back control. But where did I start? I decided to create a list of everything I wanted to do in life. My Bucket List.

A light blue Oblong banner with a red sign me up now button

What is a Bucket List?

A blonde woman in a cap crouching on a rocky beach in front of a group of marine iguana

The official definition is:

A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.”

The bucket in question is before you “kick the bucket” i.e. die. However, I had just been through the most traumatic experience of my life. The idea of including the prospect of death in anything I did was a little too close to home. I called it my (cleverly titled) “List of Things”, which eventually became my Life List. Things to do while I am living was a much more comfortable notion for me.

Kilimanjaro - The Ring of Beara Route. A Road Less Travelled on the Wild Atlantic Way in Cork

By the time I was finished it contained 117 items. Not a round number but it was certainly enough to be getting on with!

Since then, my travel bucket list has provided me with a roadmap to adventures & allowed me the time to grieve, heal & find myself again.

So, as we enter a new year, one that we all hope will be different from the last two, is now the time to create your own?

Do you have a Bucket List? Is it written down? Do you have a plan on how to make it happen?”

If your answer is NO to any of these questions, then you have come to the right place…read on!

This post may contain affiliate links. By using these, Sue Where Why What may receive a small commission. You will not pay any extra charges for this. My opinions, reviews & recommendations remain my own. For more information see my disclosure.

Simple Bucket List Ideas – The First Step to a World of Travel Adventures

An illustration of a note book cover for 201 travel ideas

If you are looking for your own Bucket List ideas, then you can read my full List as it was back in 2016 by checking out my post HERE. I also reinvigorated it in 2019 (when we thought the world would stay the same!). But for your ultimate inspiration, then why not get my FREE 201 Inspirational Travel Bucket List Ideas Guide? Hopefully, there will be lots on there to spark you to create your own list of future explorations & adventures.

But having a list is one thing. Next is to make it part of your reality. For this, I spent hours doing research on each item.

Where can I do it? When is the best time to go? What else can I do while I’m there? Can any of them be combined?”

From there, I started to plot it out in my diary. And then made it actually happen!

By following the links above, there are plenty of Bucket List ideas to whet your appetite. However, I also wanted to provide some inspiration on how writing it down can create a plan. And then the plan leads to your travel dreams becoming part of your future reality.

Close to Home

SueWhereWhyWhat in fencing outfit and with family

Before we get on to the big travel items, it is important to note that the whole of my list did not involve large distances or huge expenses. Many were possible to do close to home with very little outlay.

For example:

  • Fly in a glider
  • Take a photography course
  • Visit Buckingham Palace (obviously living just outside London in the UK is a huge benefit for this one ;))
  • Learn to fence
  • See a film in an outdoor cinema
  • Sponsor a child
  • Swim a mile
  • Make pavlova with my Grandmas recipe
A rainbow arcs across the grass and tree covered waterfalls of the Upper Circuit, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
The Mountains and ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru

So, when you are creating your own Bucket List, bear in mind that everything doesn’t have to be epic. Also, note down those things that you have always wanted to do but somehow have never got around to.

Once you have committed to your Bucket List, the next thing is to make it happen. Here I share a few of the adventures my List has created for me, to get your travel juices flowing!”

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, ArgentinaVisit South America

At the time of creating my Life List, South America was the one continent I had yet to explore (apart from Antarctica which remains elusive…). There was also a lot I wanted to see & do there. Back in 2017, I was lucky to be able to spend 2 months exploring Argentina, Bolivia & Peru. I began with a friend in Argentina, which enabled me to tick off a few from my list. Visiting Buenos Aires was the first, followed by a trip to see the glaciers in Patagonia & stunning Iguazu Falls. So, within the first 2 weeks, I had 4 of the items on my Bucket List achieved.

SueWhereWhyWhat poses with friends at Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca
Capybara, 10 Essential Things to Know before Visiting the Amazon in Peru

Then it was off to Bolivia for a couple of weeks (another item completed) before heading out on a tour of Peru. Once here, I was able to hike the epic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu as well as spend a few days in the Amazon rainforest. Having these all on my Bucket List, enabled me to select the most appropriate tour with my favourite tour operator, G Adventures to make sure all the places I wanted to visit in Peru were covered.

It was an amazing couple of months & I came back from Peru just wanting to return to this fascinating continent & wondering how it had taken me so long to get there in the first place!”

A promotional banner for G Adventure holidays

2 views of the thin vibrant streets of Havana in Cuba, with people, vintage cars and two seater 'tuc tuc' style 3 wheeled bikes going about their dayLearn Spanish

Different coloured vintage cars driving passed the front of Hotel Ingleterra in Havana, Cuba

I had heard from others that to get the most out of a trip to South America, it was best to learn some Spanish. I am not a linguist & at school, it was certainly not a strength, but I started taking lessons once a week at home to get a basic understanding.

But one lesson a week wasn’t quite cutting it for me. So I decided to head off to take an immersive course where they spoke Spanish. However, although it was close to home, Spain wasn’t on my list…but Cuba was! I headed off in 2016 to spend a month in Cuba which included 2 weeks living with a family in Havana & taking Spanish lessons. It was intense with 3 hours every morning in one-to-one lessons. But I had arrived barely being able to string a sentence together & I left having chatted for 10 minutes non-stop about my time so far in Cuba. And you can’t go to Cuba without taking a few salsa lessons, so to clear my head every afternoon I went for an hour of salsa while checking off another item from my list, learn to dance!

I developed both these skills further on the remainder of my time & the whole experience cemented Cuba as my favourite country in the world.”

If you are interested in learning any skill while travelling then don’t miss my Ultimate Guide to Adult Learning Vacations, which contains over 30 inspirational ideas for you to choose from.

Sunrise, Los Acuáticos, Viñales, CubaSWWW Vinales Yoga Retreat, CubaAttend a yoga retreat

I found myself returning to my beloved Cuba the following year when I was there to achieve another Bucket List objective, attend a yoga retreat. The retreat was being run by my now good friend Kathy & was exactly what I needed on both a physical & emotional level. In addition, it gave me a chance to tick off a couple of other elements from my Bucket List too. While there, I started to learn the fundamentals of meditation & visited a Fortune Teller. You can read all about that experience HERE.

If you would like to go on a retreat like this or the amazing one I attended in Iceland then please check out Kathy’s website at The Santosha Warrior. She is currently offering a discount for her forthcoming Iceland retreat starting 28th May if you mention my name & book before 15th February. So now is the time to act!

St.Thomas's Regatta, St.Thomas's, BVILearn to sail

Swimming Pigs at Big Majors Spot, Best of the Bahamas

My final example to highlight the importance of writing a Bucket List is how I learned to sail. Learning the skill in itself was high on my list & having done my research, I found that the best courses were run by the RYA, based in the UK. So, I spent a week completing my Competent Crew course in The Solent in the south of England. But I’m not a natural sailor, as you’ll quickly learn if you read my post about the challenges of my sailing journey! But needless to say, when I then went to tick another item off my list, explore the Caribbean, I took to the ocean once again.

That’s when I realised another fundamental of travelling alone. If you go where they do activities that you like, you will meet people who like them too!”

Learning to sail & being in the Caribbean, put a whole lot of wind into my sails & before I left I had sailed around the Bahamas, taken part in a regatta & even gone skinny dipping in the ocean, all of which were also on my list.

SWWW Sailing Regatta

So, to conclude, the most simple Bucket List ideas are just to write it down, make a plan, do your research & make it happen. The world is a big place & if you’re reading this then I’m guessing you either love to explore it or would like to see more. In particular, if you are in a similar position to me, needing a fresh start but lacking in direction, then writing a Bucket List is exactly what you need to do. And once you have, who knows what adventures the future holds!

Interested to read more?

You can Subscribe Here to get regular updates & special offers from Sue Where? Why? What? along with a copy of my 201 Inspirational Travel Bucket List Ideas for FREE! I hope you choose to join me on the journey.


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  1. You are my new hero! Wow! You learned to sail. This is something that I’ve sort of fantasized about doing but never imagined I could ever do it.

    1. Thank you Julie! I have to say I would never claim that I can “do it” though. But I’d love to get back out on the water & continue my education.

  2. Wow Sue, I am so sorry for your loss, but impressed at all you have done! I don’t like the term bucket list either, but I do have a Life list. You’ve inspired me to add to it in 2022! Can’t wait to read more of your adventures and get more inspiration!

    1. Thank you Mel & I’m glad I’ve inspired you to revisit your Life List. Look forward to hearing how it expands!

  3. Starting something like a bucket list often gets stalled with knowing where to start. Sadly it often gets triggered by a tragic loss like you had. We don’t have an actual list but continually review the list of experiences we want to have and prioritise those with a reality check. We have moved some of the more strenuous ones up higher on the list as we age. It is so great that yours has provided you with a roadmap that you are following!

    1. Thanks Linda & sounds like you have a very active list too! I know what you mean about prioritising the more strenuous ones. I did the same, after the Inca Trail decided I had to take action on Kilimanjaro sooner rather than later!

  4. I love this! I don’t really have a bucket list but the idea of thinking about travel as a means to explore experiences I want is so meaningful. 🙏

  5. I love this guide to building a bucket list! I do have a long bucket list but I am guilty of never writing it down! I really need to put it down on paper! I love that you have highlighted that bucket list experiences can happen close to home too! Some of my favourite bucket list items I’ve already checked off happened right on my doorstep! Thanks for the great guide!

    1. Thanks, Hannah & I went through years of not writing it down…but when I did, I also started to properly make it happen. But glad yoou have managed to tick lots off close to home too. That makes it so dynamic & acheivable.

  6. Learn Spanish is on my bucket list and I’ve just taken the first steps to starting private lessons next week! Love your other ideas too.

    1. Fantastic – I love learning Spanish. It makes travelling so much more nourishing when you can practice your skills & be understood!

  7. These are great tips! I personally don’t have an actual written down bucket list, but I do at least one big trip (for several months) each year and I always feel like I’m ticking things off my bucket list without actually having one hahaha

    1. Sounds perfect to me! And I love those trips too. I’m about to head off for 2 months & I can’t wait!

    1. Thank you Anukrati, there is only so much you can rely on others before you take control of your own situation.

  8. Building a bucket list gives us a sense of joy. We get to day dream a little in order to think what do we really want to experience – both close to home and far away. Just as you have done. I hope your bucket list planning and striking them off the list brings you joy.

    1. Thank you Renee & I do love a list. Unfortunately they always have a habit of growing but with travel it is always filled with excited anticipation so I don’t mind as much!

  9. Hi Sue,
    I’m so excited. I think your advert came up on Facebook & I followed it. I’m all signed up now.
    I’m so excited to travel again even more so now after lockdowns etc. I used to travel a lot – often alone, which I loved.
    I’ve missed it so much!!
    We hit the Canaries next week & based on your Life List, I’ve booked a pile of things. My relatively new partner who never traveled is horrified & nervous – LOL
    THANK YOU for giving us the courage to go back out there & experience life after the horror of this global pandemic.
    Aoibhinn (aka:- Flossy)

    1. Wow Aoibhinn (or should I call you Flossy?!), I am so excited for you! Thank you so much for your lovely message & I’m really pleased that you found inspiration on my list. Please let me know how your trip to the Canaries goes & what you recommend. Safe travels! xx

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