Personal Stories,  Bucket List Travel

Where to Begin: My Travel Bucket List

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Welcome to Valerie & Valise! If you’ve found this post, you’ve been exploring the site!

My Travel Bucket List is my official “first” post – it’s not the first post I ever wrote, but it’s the one I left published to the day this site was launched (October 21, 2013). I update this post regularly to keep track of my lifelong goal progress.

Without further ado, read on and learn what travel goals I’m trying to achieve in my life (and document through this blog).

Why Write a Travel Bucket List?

Travel Bucket List Hero

I was 12 years old when I started my bucket list.

You might think: gosh that’s early for a young person to start worrying about death!

Actually, it turns out that creating a bucket list and organizing one’s life to achieve important personal goals is one of the best ways to ensure your life is well lived. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that this is part of practicing Stoicism, which helps us live better and more joyfully.

Over my teenage years, I continued to add and distill items from my bucket list, until it numbered some 88 items when I turned 16. I then considered it “done,” and got to work trying to accomplish all of the goals on my list. Since then, I have neither added nor removed anything from my list, and haven’t even changed the grammar of the way I wrote them!

The list below is a subset of my total bucket list, focused only on travel experiences. You’ll recognize some of these goals on my 30 Before 30 and 40 Before 40 lists; others will be surprising and new.

Last updated: July 17, 2018

Completed Experiences On My Travel Bucket List

Dance in the Rain of Central Park, NYC

Completed: July 2003

We took a bike ride through Central Park and midway through the ride, the skies opened up and the rain came down. It was simply glorious, and the sewers steamed.

Snowboard Alyeska Ski Resort

Completed: March 2004

I went with my church group. I was so sore the next day, but it was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had snowboarding, even with the major collisions.

Live in a ‘Flat’ in London

Completed: September 2012

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to live in London, England – I don’t even remember the reason why I started to want to! After moving to London and several weeks of agony while searching for the perfect place to live, my roommates Nida, Emmanuela, and I landed the dream apartment in Shadwell – reasonable rent, new building, and good access for running and school. One of the nicest places I’ve lived!

Go to Scotland

Completed: November 2012
While living in London, a group of classmates and I planned a trip up to Edinburgh. We also rented a car and drove a few of us up into the southernmost part of the Highlands, exploring the area around Loch Lomond. I even tried haggis! (I hear it’s better on bread.)

Recite Caesar’s speech on the steps of the Colosseum

Completed: December 2012

So I didn’t actually recite the speech–that would have been weird with about 2,000 other people around. My friend Nida and I did take a few quiet moments to relax and enjoy the sun setting behind the arches, and I thought about how rich human history is… well, it was mostly serious!

Celebrate St. Patty’s with the Irish in Dublin

Completed: March 2013

This was one of the most exciting trips I was able to take while living in London–Spring Break from classes started just before St. Patrick’s Day, so several friends and I all went over to the Emerald Isle for the week. Guinness!

Experience this cultural celebration for yourself: here’s how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin.

Walk on The Great Wall of China

Completed: May 2013

Even though I only went for a week, I was determined to make it to China from Europe–it’s about as far as it is from the US, but I was planning to rotate there, so I had the income. I spent time in both Shanghai and Beijing, but the Great Wall was as breathtaking as expected.

Walk the ‘Walk of Fame’

Completed: June 2014

As part of a week-long road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, I stopped for a day in Los Angeles. While there, I made sure to spend some time in Hollywood and to walk the Walk of Fame and found a blank star for my name. Though it’s in a surprisingly seedy part of town, the stars stretching out along the sidewalk are certainly inspiring.

Spending a day in L.A. Here’s what to do on one day in Los Angeles.

Sit in/on the Dead Sea

Completed: May 2016

After a tumultuous and exhausting trip through Jordan, on my last day, I was able to make my way down to the shores of the Dead Sea and enjoy a short dip in the water. It’s totally wild – I did really float.

Plan a trip to Jordan – you won’t regret it! Here’s my 10-day Jordan itinerary and guide.

Swim in the Mediterranean Sea

Completed: August 2016

Despite having visited several countries along the Mediterranean border before (Italy, Spain, Portugal), I had never taken a dip in the sea due to the chilly weather and water. Taking the first plunge into the sea in Greece was both refreshing and a huge accomplishment for me.

Take a Caribbean Cruise

Completed: March 2017

My friend Marissa from Postcards to Seattle and I swapped cruise +1s in 2017 (I cruised with her in the Caribbean, she cruised with me in Alaska!) – oh the dreamy life of travel bloggers, right? Her cruise invite, sponsored by Princess Cruises, was a 10-day cruise through the Caribbean to the Panama Canal and back.

Heading on a cruise? Here’s my guide for what to do on a day at sea.

Sail through the Bermuda Triangle

Completed: March 2017

As part of the Caribbean cruise itinerary, we sailed through the Bermuda Triangle! Turns out, that’s not hard to do.

Learn How to Surf

Completed: August 2017

I put this particular experience on my list of 40 Before 40 goals, hoping I could achieve it at long last. In August, I went sailing in Bolinas, CA; I went again in Huntington Beach. Both times, I managed to stand up a few times, and catch a few small waves. I didn’t anticipate learning to surf in California, but it turns out to be a pretty great surfing destination!

Incomplete Experiences on My Travel Bucket List

  • Scale the wall of the Grand Canyon
  • Ride with a gondolier in Italy
  • Hike Symphony Lakes trail (Alaska)
  • Go to a New Years Party in NYC
  • Scuba-dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Ride Splash Mountain in Disney World
  • Bike to Eklutna Glacier (Alaska)
  • Attend a Broadway show with front-row seats
  • Set two feet firmly on Antarctica
  • Backpack in the Andes in Peru
  • Drive from Maine to California
  • See Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog’s Day
  • Swim in all five of the Great Lakes
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Get a picture with the pyramids and ride a camel
  • Watch the sunrise from the top of Mt. Fiji
  • Go see the Olympics
  • Swim with dolphins and/or stingrays
  • Go pearl diving and keep my findings
  • See the Triple Crown, all in one year
  • Ride a mechanical bull for at least 45 seconds

Are You a Brand that Can Help Me Accomplish One of These Goals? Let’s work together and your brand could get great exposure in the process! Contact Me

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Joanie

    OK, so instead of replying to your email, this time I’ll leave a comment…
    I love your travel bucket list, I don’t really have one even though I have a few places I’d like to go but never really made a list.
    Like you, I’ve lived in London, saw the dead sea (when I was a kid and don’t remember getting in there) and walked the wall of fame.
    On your list, I also visited the Taj Mahal (I actually have a small nonprofit for education in India and went to the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. When I was a kid we went to Egypt, saw the pyramids and rode camels.
    I see nothing in Switzerland or France, we have beautiful things here too… Maybe one day you’ll come this side of the planet. Until then, keep writing 😉

    • Valerie

      Thanks for the comment, Joanie 🙂 I love that you shared some of the things on my list that you’ve done – sounds like they’re all worth doing! I’ve been to France a few times actually, and Switzerland is on my more informal ‘someday’ list.

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