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Bucket List Travel: Where to Go & Why It's More Popular Than Ever

planning a bucket list trip
Allianz - planning a bucket list trip

The challenges of 2020 have reframed so many things in our lives. Travel is no exception.

Take the idea of bucket list travel. This has always been a list of our dream trips and destinations — from New York during Fashion Week to Pamplona to run with the bulls. But in 2020, the bucket was empty most of the year, unless we included the socially distanced tables on the patio of our neighborhood pub.

Now travelers are refocusing on their bucket lists, and in some cases rewriting them, too. Whereas time seemingly stood still for much of the previous year as we struggled with crossword puzzles and went to work in our robes, the travel clock is now ticking again. Not only are travelers picking up the pace of their bookings, especially for the second half of 2021, but they’re also trying to fit in the trips they didn’t take the previous year.

That means that if you have your eyes set on traveling in the future, timing is everything.

Take Africa Adventure Consultants (AAC), which offers bucket-list-travel-worthy luxury African safari tours. The trip of a lifetime, right? Some 90% of clients have rescheduled their getaways for 2021, and the year is getting full, fast.1

The basic idea behind bucket list travel hasn’t changed. But our motivation and itineraries have evolved after muddling through 2020. We have a vision for our next trip, and we’re not ready to compromise or get distracted while in pursuit.2

Here’s a closer look at how bucket list travel is transforming post-pandemic…

Leave Nothing to Chance

After sitting on the travel sidelines, the last thing we want is an unexpected mishap that sends our long-awaited trip off the rails. But life happens, as we know now more than ever. And whether there’s a problem on the home front before you even take off on your trip, or your adventure quickly veers into a misadventure, you want to have a back-up plan.

Allianz Global Assistance has that plan: a travel insurance plan matched to your itinerary and budget. With benefits including Emergency Medical Transportation, reimbursements for travel and baggage delays, and Trip Cancellation to reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable costs, there’s a plan for every trip and traveler. With financial protection and peace of mind, you’ll take off on new adventures knowing you’ve taken the right precautions to help you out of a pinch.3

Into the Great Wide Open

It’s no secret that travelers have a greater comfort level with outdoor places and wide-open spaces these days. That attitude is being reflected in some of our early choices for bucket list travel. In other words, crowded cathedral tours may sink to the bottom of the bucket (just for now).2

We already mentioned travelers’ increasing appetite for African safaris. But you don’t need to hop continents to catch wildlife in their home environment. Instead, you can just head to New Mexico’s Vermejo, where Ted Turner Reserves sprawls out over 550,000 acres. Share your vacation with black bears and bison, socially distanced, of course. Then drop your lines in the water to reel in the catch of the day. Finally, after a long day of soaking in nature, hit the spa.4

If you’re looking to chill out at an even more sparsely populated destination, there’s The Ice. The world’s seventh continent is one of the hottest destinations for travel, according to Intrepid Travel, a small group adventure travel company. Crowds definitely won’t be a problem here, unless you run into some penguin traffic. Other landing spots growing in popularity include the Galápagos Islands, Tanzania, and Madagascar.1

Live Your Best Life

Sometimes, your standard order room service simply doesn’t cut it.

When your suitcase collects dust and your dishwasher is out of service from being overworked, it’s time to kick back, relax, and be doted on. Many travelers have pent-up wanderlust filling their bucket list travel. And it will only be satisfied by total lux treatment.

What better a spot to indulge than a converted 1800s mansion? Baltimore’s Ivy Hotel offers 18 super private, luxurious suites — each with distinct, ornate décor — that have hosted many a celeb and politician. It will be easy to dodge the paparazzi as the boutique hotel is strictly off-limits to all non-guests. So, hit the spa, step up to the billiards table, or sample the wine cellar and oysters at Magdalena.5, 6

But what about the other half of the trip? Checking off one bucket list travel item — in this case, living like an A-lister for the weekend —  may not be enough. According to Classic Journeys, a luxury travel company, travelers are more likely than ever to combine multiple bucket-list-worthy excursions into one trip. It’s like a buffet of travel, one of those really nice buffets with ice sculptures and a chocolate fountain.1

Renewed Purpose

Many travelers want to make up for lost time by plotting bucket list travel with real meaning or purpose behind it.

Ancestral travel is one such path. But translating genealogy records into an itinerary can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where finding the right tour operator can make all the difference. For example, Ireland’s Brendan Vacations can distill family trees into bookings at B&Bs with significance to your lineage.7 Who knows who you’ll be sipping Guinness with at happy hour.

Maybe you’re looking for the right trip to introduce a new passion into your life. You probably already know about cooking classes in Tuscany, but what about trying your hand at woodworking with a trip to Woodcraft in Orlando? Or dabbling in archeology as a family at Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Colorado?8, 9, 10 The possibilities of booking excursions that grow your talents are only limited by your own imagination.

Bucket list travel destinations and motivation have shifted over the past year, rejuvenating our desire to make travel as meaningful and memorable as possible. Whether your next getaway is the trip of a life time, or it simply seems like a lifetime since your last excursion, be sure to make it count.

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