We got your attention, but we don't have the intention to give you 10 reasons to make a bucket list, quite the opposite. When we talk about destinations, travel, does that really make sense to number them, to add them to a bucket list?
Top 10 reasons to make a bucket list
We get it, who wouldn't want to know the "100 places in France where every woman should go". Everyone has a bucket list (it can even be a ranked one), or at least is able to put something on it, most of the time, a destination. Take a simple test, read "The Ultimate Bucket-List Travel Guide" from the WSJ and check if you can avoid saying at least once "I agree, I would put that on my bucket list". Don't cheat!
Why we keep a destination bucket list
There are "9 Psychological Reasons Why We love Lists" (we even prefer when the numbers are not spelled out, makes it more scientific, it's a real number, 9 and not "nine") behind making the list, but why do we pick what makes it to the list. Let's be honest, some is about keeping up with the Jones - they went to Antartica, I need to go to the North Pole. Even that selection gives us a deep understanding of our motivation, because not everyone can be a Zen Monk live his life through "I am content with what I lack" (Inscription at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto).
Our bucket list affliction is hiding something deeper.
- Seeing is believing: In this time and age we can see it all from the comfort of our phone (wherever you look at it is your prerogative). This overload creates a need to experience it, to go past the picture and see it "for real" - to associate all senses to the experience (including if need be the pain of a hike to get there).
- A sense of belonging: Walk around a sculpture to take it all in and you feel you already know it better - being present is associating oneself with the place, to communicate with the essence of it. Visit where you favorite author was born and it feels like you know him or her better.
- Been there to share: It's your first time, but someone told you about the place, or your parents have lived there and this create a sense of shared experience, a common memory of some sense.
- The unexpected: Disconnecting from your daily routine allows to reconnect with yourself but also with others, as a fresh start.
- Dreaming to feel alive: may be the trip won't happen, but the anticipation is a big part of the andorphine spike.
Making a bucket or top 10 list is our way to not forget that we exist and that we want to go beyond our day to day live, to reconnect and experience. The bucket list will have all sorts of experiences we want to accomplish. Why not continue adding to this bucket list, and keep it an ever moving target.
The case of the Return Trip
When does a destination get off a bucket list? Jen Murphy for the WSJ would most likely consider that the most meaningful ones never get off that list as The Best Travel Is Sometimes a Return Trip; going back to the same place is not a lost opportunity to stamp your passport, it's really a need to reconnect to something familiar. Not everyone agrees it's a good plan, as Claudia Hammond (the same one who has 9 reasons to love lists) argues, in her Lasting Summer article, that by going to different places your trick your mind to expand time. Why not mix and match.
Going to the same place multiple times can be a tricky proposition because it will not be "the same" as the first time, you may even experience different weather or go with different people; the mix of familiarity and novelty creates a deeper and more genuine experience, as you know your way around (no more eyes stuck to the map), and take the time to disconnect, and be one with yourself.
Travel is not about places
At the end it's not a place we long for, it's an experience and a connection. Travel is not about checking places off a list but truly about forming a relationship with a place. Discovering new places teaches us something about time and our place in eternity.
On our bucket list, each year we have the Met Museum rooftop exhibit (put it on yours!) because this spot mixes city, nature, and art. The 2010 Big Bambú: You Can't, You Don't, and You Won't Stop by Doug and Mark Starn embodies so much the sense of travel: it is always complete and yet it is always unfinished and ephemeral, it is an overwhelming structure all in the connection.