Creating Our Family’s Travel Bucket List

February 7, 2018

The photo above was taken at Cape Tribulation in Queensland, Australia in August of 2002. Australia and New Zealand were definitely on my and my husband’s travel bucket list. I’m so glad we made it there when we were young, and hopefully we’ll get there once again.

In this post I outline the process we used to create our family’s bucket list. If you want to learn more about how your family can create and reach their travel goals, you can subscribe here for my free quick and easy guide, How to Create Your Family’s Travel Bucket List:


What are our travel bucket list goals?

First, we had to decide what travel goals we want to achieve through the bucket list. These might differ a little for my husband and I than for our kids, since he and I did some travel before they were around.

1. See all seven continents: My husband and I have seen four of them (North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia). The kids have seen North America and Europe. So places in South America, Antarctica and Africa are going to be priorities for us. Here is our reasoning behind pursuing this travel goal.

2. See all 50 states: I think of the four of us in our family I’ve seen the most states (42, to be exact). The kids are keeping track. Hitting all 50 seems attainable. Here is our reasoning behind pursuing this travel goal.

3. Find natural wonders and sweeping vistas: We love mountain ranges, waterfalls, and sweeping vistas where you can see for miles. We are not mountain climbers, so no need to get in climbing condition, but we do like hiking (and some of us are more avid mountain bikers than others). The kids love water and beaches. I love water but can do without the sand. My husband doesn’t hate water, but he’s much more of a landlubber. Cities are lower on our priority list. We won’t avoid them, and there may be things in cities we want to see, but I would be surprised if cities explicitly land on our bucket list. We also love seeing places that not everyone flocks to see. That explains to some degree why we are a little more averse to Walt Disney World and cruises than others are. Here is our reasoning behind pursuing this travel goal.

4. Ride as many ziplines as possible along the way: Ziplines have kind of become our thing in recent years, now that our kids are a little older. Here is our reasoning behind pursuing this travel goal.

5. To explore more of our own “backyard”: Which for us means exploring Minnesota and the surrounding area. Here is our reasoning behind pursuing this travel goal.

You can see us track all of our travel bucket list goals here.


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There are also some other factors we have to consider about places we will include on our travel bucket list:

1. Accessibility: Honestly, we will consider political climate and safety when considering locations to add to the list. More power to the people that brave dangerous conditions.

2. Time you need to see it: This is more about considering timing of when to cross things off our bucket list. We went to Australia and New Zealand despite only having two weeks of vacation time, so we’re not averse to powering in a destination under less than ideal circumstances. But, for example, my husband’s dream of driving to and from Alaska and within Alaska might have to wait until we are living in a more flexible employment reality than we currently do.

3. Variety of other things to see in the area: We really want to see Glacier National Park. But part of the reason we haven’t gotten there yet is that there doesn’t seem to be much else to see or do in the vicinity of the park. (We do recognize the park itself is full of things to see and do.) If we can accomplish and see many things we’re interested in within one country or region, it’s more likely we’ll make that destination a higher priority.

A few places that likely will never make our travel bucket list:

I think this list is pretty short, but it seems like naming the places that we know won’t make the travel bucket list helps narrow down the field. This is not to say we won’t ever get to these places. It’s more that we won’t make getting to them a priority over other places that will make the bucket list.

Russia and other former Soviet Union countries

Nothing personal. We just have never had a strong desire to go there. Nor have we seen pictures of natural wonders in that area and thought, “Wow, we have to see that!” And a lot of the area is cold. We live in Minnesota, so I think we’re good on experiencing cold climates.


I’ve never been to China. I’d LOVE to go to China. I desperately want to see the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. But my husband’s already been to China. Three times. And on the grand scheme of places to put on a travel bucket list, he’s not feeling the need to add China. Boo.

Most of the islands of the Caribbean

I know, I know, this a fairly blasphemous statement. Again, this is not to say we won’t ever get to any of them. But my husband and I are not very beach-y. The very idea of laying on a beach bores me, and while I love water, I despise sand. I know many islands like Costa Rica are rich in amazing wildlife and natural wonders to see, so maybe that will be a possibility. But the islands that seem to mostly consist of all-inclusive resorts, beaches, and swim-up bars? We’re not in any big hurry to don our bikini and Speedo for that scene.

Some likely travel bucket list finalists:

Without having consulted with anyone in my family, here is a potential list of travel bucket list possibilities we might consider, given our goals and the factors we’re considering, in no particular order:

South America

Recently our son expressed interest in spending time in a tropical area, maybe in South America. He probably saw pictures of Rio de Janeiro during a Latin America unit in his Global Studies class. In our travel planning to squeeze in trips before the kids graduate this could be a special trip we do for him. My husband will likely want to see mountains, so maybe a Peru/Chile/Argentina type of destination might fit the bill. I’m thinking we can’t realistically squeeze tropical scenes and Patagonia into the same trip, though.


This might end up being linked with a South America trip sometime. I haven’t done much research on the best ways to get to Antarctica, but I do know that cruises out of South America are one popular option.


I have to confess, this is the one I’ve thought least about. I’m open to suggestions. My tour leader from my first trip to Europe in 1997 was from Zimbabwe, and she said that Namibia is fantastic. On that same trip a fellow traveler was from Cape Town, and he said it was the most beautiful place he’d ever been (and he’d seen a lot of the world). Again, more to ponder here.

United States gaps

As much of the US as we’ve already explored, there is much more yet to see. Some big gaps we’d like to fill:

Hawaii: Our daughter was born on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and she has her heart set on seeing the memorial.

Alaska: As I’ve mentioned above, my husband has grand road trip plans for this one.

New England: We want to finally get up to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It seems like, with some intentional planning, we could knock that out in one trip, but obviously more research is needed.

Glacier National Park: It it jam packed with scenic vistas and mountains.

These goals may shift along the way as our kids mature and our travel needs change. But I think working through this process has built a strong foundation for our family travel bucket list.

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Creating our Family's Travel Bucket List


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