My bucket list started in the same way it may be starting for you: sitting at my desk, in a job I wasn’t excited about dreaming all of the interesting things I could be doing.
This was 2009, but everything has changed since then.
Now we’ve got social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok feeding us exotic travel destinations, insane meals, and celebrityy encounters with a simple swipe of the thumb.
There’s even more FOMO, and if you’ve been languishing over the past few years, seeing it can often feel even more hopeless.
This is what I felt when I was working as a financial analyst in the height of the recession over a decade ago.
But there’s one thing that saved me.
The very first step I took, completely changed the trajectory of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.
What was it?
(I bet you can see where this is going.)
It was starting my bucket list.
I’d saved up all of my vacation time for the year to go to Rio de Janiero for Carnival. It was two weeks of the most epic adventures I’d ever had in my life.
We went hang gliding over Rio, went to Iguazu Falls, danced in the Carnival parade – we did it all.
And the whole time there was this nagging thought that I couldn’t shake:
“I should be able to do this stuff whenever I want.”
To cap it all off, the day I got back I got a 20% pay cut.
A few weeks later I had a chance encounter with
- Create a bucket list
- Start a blog to hold myself accountable for checking things off said, bucket list.
So that’s what I did.
Two months later Location Rebel was a reality, and I set to work checking things off my bucket list.
In less than a year, this led to me leaving my job, moving to Thailand, starting a business and creating a lifetime’s worth of stories in a short period of time.
Chris and I used to meet at Starbucks every month or two during that first year. It was pretty cool to see him 11 months after that first meeting at a Starbucks in Bangkok:
Within a couple years of publishing my bucket list in an effort to hold myself accountable for actually doing these things, I:
- Moved to a tropical island
- Climbed a mountain
- Went to Cuba and smoked a cigar before the embargo was lifted
- Played golf at Pebble Beach
- Stayed in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives
- Had a Singapore Sling at the Raffles
The list goes on (you can see it below).
Over a decade later, I’m still working for myself and having adventures. And it’s all thanks to creating my bucket list of things I wanted to do before I died.
But that’s enough about me, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about creating a bucket list of your own or perhaps you’re just looking for ideas of what to include in your list.
I’ve spent nearly a 1/3 of my life crafting this, editing this, and checking things off.
It’s safe to say I’ve learned a lot about what makes a useful, fulfilling list.
(And guess what, it’s not just adding the obligatory “visit the Eiffel Tower” item.)
So today I’m going to show you how to create a bucket list in a way that’s meaningful and is likely a bit different than any other posts you’ve read on the topic.
We’re going to answer questions like:
- What is a bucket list?
- How do you create your own bucket list?
- What items should you put on a bucket list?
- Why should you create a reverse bucket list?
- And more.
I’ve also included the most up-to-date version of my bucket list that you can use for ideas and motivation.
Table of Contents
What is a Bucket List?
I can hear some of you right now, saying “what the heck is that?”
A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die (or, morbidly before you “kick the bucket”).
The key here is that your list should be things that you want to do and would love to do.
That’s all there is to it.
It was made popular from the movie called “The Bucket List” where two terminally ill guys (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) meet in a hospital and then set out on an adventure to try and do everything on their lists.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to go and have some adventures with these guys, right?
What Should You Put on Your Bucket List?
My thoughts on this have evolved a lot over the last 13 years.
My original list, had some unique items, but a lot them were your typical “see the Eiffel Tower” type items. (Which, check by the way.)
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see the typical touristy hotspots. But I think your bucket list should be more personal than that.
For instance, what are the things you’re truly interested and passionate about? You should have a lot of items specifically related to those things.
What people do you want to have experiences with? The best part about traveling and frankly, life in general, are the people you share things with.
So the current iteration of my bucket list has a number of things I’d like to do with certain people that I think would be really meaningful.
A few other categories to think about are:
- Unique Experiences
We go into more depth on this one in our “How to Start a Bucket List” post. So if you’re looking for a walk-through for creating your own, check that out.
The Bucket List Quest
A bucket list can be whatever you want it to be, but I personally love the idea of a quest. A quest is a type of bucket list, but you’re generally working towards a goal in a specific niche.
For instance, Chris wanted to visit every country in the world by the time he was 35.
I’m trying to play the top 100 golf courses in the world.
I’m also trying to visit the top 100 bars in the world.
While I don’t call them bucket lists, that’s effectively what they are.
It’s a list of things I would like to experience before I die – they just happen to be all related to a common concept.
So if you’re really passionate about something, consider creating a “quest” rather than just a typical bucket list.
My Bucket List (And Bucket List Ideas for You)
Without further ado, let’s jump into my current bucket list.
This has evolved quite a bit from the original 100 things I published. Many items are still on there, and many have been removed. But I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve done, and added a little commentary about each section, to help give insights that might inspire you and your own list.
Experiences with Specific People
I love being around people who are passionate about something. This holds especially true, when I have a shared passion for that thing. So many of these are people I’d like to meet, but I don’t just want to shake hands and say hi. I want to do something more memorable than that.
- Drink Japanese Whisky with Kevin Rose
- Shoot a Vlog with Peter McKinnon
- Shoot a vlog with Jesse Driftwood
- Jam with Joe Bonamassa
Chat watches with Ben Clymer at Hodinkee (November 2019)
- Share a Cocktail with Ryan Chetiwardanya
- Go for a Bike Ride with Noah Kagan
- Visit Lake Como with Nick Ramil
- Golf with Justin Timberlake
- Take an International Trip with My Mom
- Take an International Trip with My Dad
Meet Phil Knight
- So many things with my wife and daughter, listing just one would be impossible.
Places I’d Like to Ski
Vail, Colorado (Many times now)
- Aspen Mountain, Colorado
Deer Valley, Utah Snowbird/Alta, Utah
- Chamonix, France
- Lake Tahoe
- Zermatt, Switzerland
- Anywhere in Southern Hemisphere
Niseko, Japan (February 2018)
- Take a wine class
Get a drink of mine on a menu at a bar (“The Ogle” – Gilt Club, Portland, OR) Drink a scotch older than me (Glenlivit 50, January 2013) Have a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel (November 2015) Visit the #1 bar in the world Drink a bottle of Opus One (May 2021)
Go Wine Tasting in Napa Valley (October 2013)
- Go to ALL of the top 100 bars in the world
Drink a bottle of wine from my birth year (May 2021)
Food and Restaurants
Eating can be one of the great joys and experiences in life. This is especially true when you travel. If you like to eat, food can be a fantastic starting point when creating your own bucket list.
- French Laundry (Napa Valley)
- Alinea (Chicago)
- Tickets (Barcelona)
- Eleven Madison Park (NYC)
- Ultraviolet (Shanghai)
- Gaggan (Bangkok)
- Osteria Francescana (Modena)
- Franklin’s BBQ (Austin)
- Blue Hill at Stones Barns
Fireworks Feast on Prince Edward Island – (September 2018) Eat sushi in Japan (February 2018) Eat Chili Crab in Singapore (November 2015)
- Eat a beignet in New Orleans
Have pad thai in Thailand (January 2010) Eat tacos in Mexico (January 2013)
- Literally, throw another shrimp on the barbie in Australia
- Eat a steak and drink Malbec in Buenos Aires
Make Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington (December 2021)
The Fireworks Feast was the single greatest culinary experience I’ve ever had:
Work and Business
Many of these bucket list goals were set when I originally published this list in 2009. It’s nice to see that I’ve made some progress!
Start my own business (2005, 2007, 2012, 2019) Make My First Dollar Online (August 2007) Make an Average of $10/day Off My Online Business (Summer 2010) Make a Living off My Online Business (Summer 2010) Reach 10,000 Followers on Twitter (2014)
- Reach 100k YouTube Subscribers
- Shoot a Sequel to The Desk
Work from a Resort Hotel (Many times now)
- Gross $100,000 in a month (Current best: $68,221 – August 2021)
- Gross $500,000 in a year (Current best: $408,000 – 2021)
Do a $50k Product Launch (January 2014)
- Donate $10k+ to a cause that’s important to me
- Launch a charitable arm to my business
Speak in Front of a Large Crowd (TEDxCMU 2012)
As I mentioned above, golf is a passion of mine and something I’ve traveled extensively for. So naturally, a portion of my bucket list is going to have some golf-related items.
- Make a Hole in One
- Make a double eagle
Make an eagle. Break 80 (March 2016)
- Break 70
Take my dad to Bandon Dunes (June 2020)
My Top Golf Courses I’d Like to Play
- Cypress Point
Pebble Beach (June 2015) St. Andrews (Old Course) – September 2016
- Augusta National
- Pine Valley
National Golf Links of America (September 2018)
- Tara Iti
- Shinnecock Hills
- Wade Hampton
- Friars Head
Bandon Dunes (November, 2013) Loch Lomond (September, 2016)
Buy a House (April 2014) Sell a House for a Profit (August 2021)
- Buy a Vacation Home in Caldera Springs or Sunriver
Sunriver is one of my favorite places on Earth:
I’ve always had a weird obsession with luxury hotels. Often it’s the hotel that I’m most excited for when I travel. This list could easily be dozens of items long, but these are some of the highlights for me:
- St Regis New York
Shangri-La at the Shard (January 2018) Park Hyatt Tokyo (November, 2018) Overwater Hut in the Maldives (November, 2015)
- Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur, California)
- Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)
- Upperhouse (Hong Kong)
Four Seasons Punta Mita (April 2022)
- Como Shambala Estate (Bali)
- Mandarin Oriental (Bangkok)
- Burj al Arab (Dubai)
- Four Seasons Hualalai (Hawaii)
- Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch (Colorado)
- Posthotel (Washington)
- Allison Inn (Oregon)
- Go to a World Cup purely for the atmosphere
- See Foo Fighters in concert
- See Rolling Stones in concert
See Paul McCartney in concert (July 2019) See Dave Matthews at the Gorge (August 2008)
- Go to a Full Moon Party in Koh Phanang
- Attend the Monaco Grand Prix
Have a Beer at Oktoberfest in Munich (September 2017) Dance in the Carnival Parade (February 2009)
- Attend each of the tennis Grand Slams (0/4)
Go to the Masters (April 2012)
- Finish a Marathon (May 2011)
Have a pint of Guiness in Dublin (December 2017) Go to New York City (August 2010)
- Go to Burning Man
See the Eiffel Tower in Person (April 2019)
- Visit the Ruins of Pompeii
- Rock Climb in Yosemite National Park
- Heli-Ski in Valdez, Alaska
- Ride Every Roller Coaster at Cedar Point
Go to Cuba Before the Embargo is Lifted and Have a Cigar (January 2012) Take a roadtrip from LA to NYC (March 2012) Hang Glide Over Rio de Janeiro (February 2009) Visit Iguazu Falls (February 2009)
- Stay in the Amazon Jungle
- Trek to Machu Picchu
- Visit Every Continent (4/7)
Travel for at least 3 months straight (April 2010) Live for a month on a tropical island (September 2011, Bali) Go to the airport with no pre-conceived idea of where I’ll be going (May 2010, BKK –> MNL)
- Fly in a fighter jet
- Visit Victoria Falls in Zambia
- See a giraffe in the wild
- Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef
- Go on a cruise
Other Interesting Bucket List Items:
Climb a Mountain (August 2009)
- Be an extra in a Hollywood movie
Bungee Jump (June 2006) Go Skydiving (June 2012)
- Learn how to sail
- Go to Space
- Do a Vipassana Retreat
Get a photograph published Get an article I’ve written published (June 2011)
- Fly in a private jet
Become proficient at Adobe Photoshop (2011)
- Learn a foreign language
- Bench press 200 pounds
Make at least 1 terrifying decision that will get me closer to my goals (January 2010 – Move to Thailand)
- Record an album with 10 original songs
Achieve zero debt (2016) Drive a Ferrari (June 2015) Do something newsworthy (May 2011)
- Take dance lessons for
- Swim with dolphins
Ride something larger than a horse (June 2012, Camel)
- Play tennis with a current or former top 10 player in the world.
Embarrass myself in front of a bunch of people (June 2013, see Reverse Bucket List video below) Compose at least one spectacular HDR image (June 2012)
- Climb a 5.11 climbing route (The current best is 5.10+)
- Win (another) tennis tournament with at least 12 entrants)
Wake up before 6am everyday for 2 weeks (October 2014)
- Create a list of my top 100 albums of all time
- Have coffee with the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company
- Write a book
- Shake hands with a President
Give a speech that makes people both laugh and cry. (June 2018, Best Man Speech)
What is a Reverse Bucket List?
A reverse bucket list is simply creating a list of things you’ve already done, rather than a list of things you want to do in the future.
The idea is to help you realize that you’ve done more than you think. It’s a great way to be thankful for those experiences, rather than frustrated at the things we haven’t done.
Plus, we all like to take a minute and appreciate everything we’ve already accomplished, right?
We look at what it is in detail and talk about how to create one in this video:
Want to learn more? Check out our post on reverse bucket lists.
How to Get Anything You Want in Life
A lot of people start out with a bucket list because they’re thinking of all the things they truly want in life. Whether it’s material items, experiences, or relationships.
Well here’s the deal, getting anything you want in life is actually not as difficult as you think.
Read: How to Get Anything You Want in Life (in 31 Simples Steps)
How to Create a Bucket List of Your Own
Over the years I’ve written quite a bit of content about bucket lists, because creating one has had such a dramatic affect on my life.
Hopefully, these posts will help you come up with some cool bucket list ideas of your own and give you some things to think about as you begin creating your list.
- How to Create a Bucket List – Stuck on how to start? You’re in the right place. In this post, I share 10 real deal actionable steps on how to get started right now. Read this and you’ll be brimming with your own bucket list ideas by the end of the day.
- The Best Bucket List Books for Doing More in Life – I don’t know about you, but there are few things I find more inspiring than reading the stories of people who have done the impossible. In this list of books, you’re going to find people doing just that. Plus a few books chock full of ideas to help you create your own list.
- The Importance of Having a Bucket List in Business – Look, bucket lists don’t just apply to life, you can apply them to business too. In this post, I share how having a bucket list can help transform your business opportunities.
- Why Every Entrepreneur Should Have a Bucket List – Building your own business can be rough. It can be hard to focus on anything outside of work and sitting at the laptop 10 hours a day doesn’t help. This post shares my advice on how entrepreneurs can break out of a rut with a bucket list.
Other Bucket Lists I Enjoy
Everyone has their own take on this, but there are a few other unique bucket lists that may provide additional inspiration to you:
- Steve Kamb’s Epic Quest of Awesome – Steve essentially turned his bucket list into his own video-game like quest.
- Joel Runyon’s Impossible List – Joel coined the term “Impossible List” which is simply doing meaningful things to you, that most people might consider “impossible.”
- Thomas Frank’s Impossible List – Successful YouTuber Thomas Frank took a page out of Joel’s book and did his own Impossible List.
Enjoy, and here’s to doing more of the things that make us happy in life!