One of the first posts I wrote when I started The Travelling boomer was called, “What’s on your travel bucket list?” It’s lost in the mists of time now, but I still hear the term from a lot of fellow travellers, both baby boomers and Gen-Xers. So I thought it was time to take a second look at my travel bucket list.
A bucket list, if you’re not in the know, is a list of things you want to do before you kick the proverbial bucket. In the case of a travel bucket list, it’s a list of the places you want to visit. Sometimes they’re places you’ve seen in a movie or a book, sometimes the places your family came from generations ago, sometimes just places that spark your imagination. According to a recent survey, most baby boomers are intent on ticking those places off the list, even if they spend their kids’ inheritances doing it.
I shared my list in the original post, but since then I’ve had the good fortune to cross off a couple of places of my own. In January, I spent a week in the Galapagos (seen above), one of the world’s great destinations — and one with a few surprises. And in August, thanks to Nikon Canada and Adventure Canada, I spent time in the Canadian Arctic – even a couple of days in Greenland. Another amazing experience.
However, that still leaves a good list of places I want to see before it’s all over. And I’ve come up with a couple more to replace the ones I’ve crossed off. So here’s my travel bucket list — the new version.
The Serengeti plains
I’ve been to six of the seven continents, but for some reason Africa has always kind of scared me — a bit too wild, too far, too expensive. I almost made it there in 2015, but cancelled when the cost escalated beyond my budget. Still, I feel a little tug every time I see those movies of lions, leopards and herds of wildebeest migrating across the plains. This is a must-do trip — my journey won’t be over until I’ve seen the wildlife of Africa.
The Greek islands
Long ago, I read a National Geographic story about some people who sailed their boat through the Greek islands. The image it painted of the sun setting over the harbours and white-painted houses overlooking the wine-dark sea has stayed with me for more than 30 years. But it may not haunt me much longer: my friend Maarten, of the Heilbron blog and popular video channel, just alerted me to a small-boat cruise that might well take me there …
I don’t know much about Madras, except that in 1827, my great-great grandfather, Thomas Marshman, was an English soldier stationed there as part of the British Raj. There he fathered a son named Benjamin, who joined the same regiment, fought in the Crimean war and later was posted to Toronto, Canada, where I was born and raised. I don’t know what I’ll find in Madras, or how I’ll feel when I find it, but it’s a trip that has to be on my travel bucket list.
Half my ancestors were Irish, which could explain the fact that I was able to make a living as a writer for 30 years. So one day I have to see the old country for myself: the green hills, the castles, the rugged coastline with its fishing villages, the thatched houses, the Celtic music with its strange, wild flavour. Every year I tell myself the time has come, but somehow it never happens. But don’t worry – one day it will.
The Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids may be the most iconic monuments on earth, the prime destination of Victorian tourists and still one of the essential offerings of international tour companies. They’re a legacy of an amazing ancient culture — in some ways the father of modern European culture. And they’re still revealing their secrets, little by little. Even though urban Cairo has encroached on their borders, the Pyramids are still a sight that has to be seen.
If there’s a runner-up to the Pyramids in the Old World, it has to be Petra. The rose-red city, carved into the living rock by the Nabataean Arabs back in the first century B.C., is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. It’s hard to browse through a tourism brochure without seeing a photo of its amazing treasury building, its classical features emerging from a sheer stone cliff. Petra even appeared in an Indiana Jones movie. As well, it’s a paradise for photographers: I have to go.
This is a one-of-a kind destination: not Africa, nor India, nor anything but itself. It’s a cultural melange, flavoured with the exotic spices that are grown there. And it’s another natural treasure trove, filled with strange-looking baobab trees and wonderful creatures like lemurs and chameleons. I should see them soon, while they still exist: wildlife is under siege in Madagascar.
I’ve seen the sights of India, but for a truly exotic experience, you have to push a little farther north and east, to the kingdom of Bhutan. This unique country, set high in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, is as close to Shangri-la as you can find in today’s world. Yaks, remote monasteries, strange Buddhist rituals – it’s a place of mystery. It’s also a place with a different mindset. Bhutan is one of the world’s only democratic monarchies, and a country that measures gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product. What’s not to like?
So that’s my travel bucket list. Keep watching The Travelling Boomer to see how many of these places I manage to tick off in the next year. And if you have a travel bucket list of your own, leave a comment and let us know what destinations you just have to see before you bid the world goodbye.
And check back Friday, when I’ll offer a list of great destinations I think belong on everyone’s travel bucket list. These are places that offer the best of what the world has to offer, and they’re all places that I’ve been to, so I can vouch for them personally. Stayed tuned.
Photo credits: Leopard standing in a tree in the central Serengeti by Caelio; Al_Khazneh, Petra, by Bernard Gagnon; Birr Castle, Offaly, by Tpower, all courtesy of Wikimedia Commons