The Travel Mama’s Bucket List

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Most of us have a bucket list of our ultimate to-do's, whether it's written out on paper, kept in our heads, or posted on the web. This bucket list is made up of unaccomplished dreams, awaiting fulfillment. Many are simple. A few are outlandish. Most deal with travel, but some don't. I don't have a plan for how I will accomplish most of these. I'll add dates and links to stories as I complete my wishes. It may take a while.

Ruins of Rapa Nui on Easter Island

Ruins of Rapa Nui on Easter Island

 Monumental Findings

1. Stand on the Great Wall of China
2. Visit the Great Pyramids of Egypt
3. Visit Mayan ruins near Cancun in Mexico (Tulum – August 2011)
4. Go to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
5. Visit the Taj Mahal in India
6. Tour the Ruins of Rapa Nui on Easter Island
7. Go to Stonehenge in England
8. Visit the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru
9. Tour Jerusalem, Israel (November 2015)

Victoria Falls, Africa

Victoria Falls, view from Zambian side

Discovering Nature

1. See Victoria Falls in Africa
2. Visit a live volcano anywhere
3. Witness Wyoming's Old Faithful erupting
4. Visit the Galapagos Islands
5. Go to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia (August 2013)

Accommodation Aspirations

1. Stay in the penthouse of a fancy schmancy hotel
2. Be a guest at Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
3. Sleep in a castle in France
4. Stay in one of those over-the-water huts in Bali – or anywhere, really!
5. Check in to a health spa for a whole week
6. Experience a dude ranch vacation
7. Spend the night at a Four Seasons
8. Stay at Disney's Aulani Resort on Oahu, Hawaii (September 2011)
9. Stay at a Ritz-Carlton (Ritz-Carlton Herzlya in Israel, November 2015)
10. Spend the night at the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon
11. Stay at Oprah's favorite spa, Miraval in Tucson, Arizona (August 2012)

St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow's Red Square

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square

Most Desired Destinations

1. Go on a volunteer vacation to help a worthy cause
2. Visit French Polynesia
3. Stand in Moscow's Red Square
4. Visit Corsica
5. Speak French in Quebec (February 2012)
6. Visit the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersberg, Russia
7. Visit Morocco
8. Return to Jamaica with my husband, where we honeymooned
9. Go to Rio de Janeiro during Carnival
10. Visit New Orleans (July 2016)
11. Go to all visit-able Hawaiian Islands – one more to go – The Big Island!

Celebrity Greatness

1. Be a part of Oprah's audience (third row center seats & showed up on TV several times! October 2012)
2. Meet Oprah
3. Be a guest on Oprah's show (What? I like Oprah!)
4. Meet Samantha Brown (Met at White House Travel Blogger Summit, December 2014)
5. Watch Saturday Night Live (Live!)
6. Attend a Madonna concert
7. See Lady Gaga live in concert
8. Go to a Dave Mathews' Band concert (Most disappointing bucket list item yet – September 2013)
9. See a Justin Timberlake concert
10. See Cold Play live
11. See P!nk in concert

Taking Flight

1. Take a Singapore Airlines flight
2. Fly first class overseas
3. Be a passenger on an Arab Emirates plane
4. Fly in a hot air balloon (February 2016)

Cruise Cravings

1. Take an Alaskan cruise (August 2013)
2. Visit Disney's Castaway Cay Island (January 2011)
3. Cruise through the Panama Canal
4. Ride the Disney Cruise Line AquaDuck waterslide that goes out over the water (January 2011)
5. Go on a cruise over Christmas or New Year's
6. Sail with Crystal Cruises

Surf Board, Huntington Beach

Recreational Requirements

1. Attend the summer olympics
2. Attend the winter olympics
3. Learn how to surf  (Huntington Beach, California – September 2010 and Maui, Hawaii – September 2013)
4. Go zip-lining (Park City, Utah – August 2012 and San Diego, California – September 2012 and Sevierville, Tennessee – April 2014 and Costa Rica May 2015)
5. Take a violin lesson
6. Go snowshoeing  (Quebec's Outaouais – February 2012)
7. Go ocean-kayaking (At Aulani in Hawaii – September 2011)

Foodie & Drinkie Cravings

1. Dine at French Laundry in Napa, California
2. Eat a multicourse meal aboard the Napa Valley wine train
3. Go wine-tasting in South Africa
4. Drink port in Portugal
5. Eat at Paula Deen's The Lady & Son's Restaurant in Georgia
6. Dine at Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin in New York
7. Eat at one of Bobby Flay's restaurants
8. Eat at one of the restaurants owned by Rick Bayless in Chicago, Illinois (June 2013)
9. Successfully make a souffle
10. Dine at the invite-only Club 33 in Disneyland
11. Be a part of Top Chef in some way and get to taste some of that yummy food!

Japanese Snow Monkeys

Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) bathing in a hot spring in Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Animal Ambitions

1. Go on an African (photo) animal safari
2. Hold a koala bear in Australia
3. Track gorillas in Rwanda
4. Snorkel to see sea life in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – No, I have no desire to learn how to scuba dive
5. Witness grizzly bears fishing for salmon in Alaska
6. Visit a monkey reserve in Belize
7. See wild snow monkeys in Japan
8. See polar bears in Canada
9. Go swimming with wild manatees
10. See a live blue whale
11. Go dog-sledding (Quebec's Outaouais – February 2012 and Skagway, Alaska – August 2013)

Career Goals

1. Get The Travel Mamas' Guide published (Launched May 2013)
2. Be a guest on the Travel Channel
3. Write my own ongoing PAID column for a large newspaper, magazine, or website  (Became a regular contributor to the TODAY Show website on – February 2012)
4. Make a liveable wage as a professional writer/editor (Hired as Travel Channel Leader for – February 2011)
5. Get paid to teach writing classes (Started teaching blogging classes through San Diego Writers, Ink – February 2011)
6. Speak at a blogging or writing conference (TBEX Cancun September 2014)
7. Teach a college class (Started teaching blogging classes through UCSD Extension – January 2012)
8. Give travel tips on TV (Several times!)
9. Talk travel on the TODAY Show or Good Morning America
10. Host my own show on the Travel Channel
11. Grow into one of the top 10 most popular personal travel blogs in the world
12. Run successful, paid (and fun!) travel Twitter chats (April 2014)
13. Become a broadcast media spokesperson (November 2013)

I know there are more great places to see, things to do, and dreams to dream beyond this list. Is there anything you think I should add to my list? What's on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!

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About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.


  1. Great list! I’ve been to see the grizzlies in Alaska (amazing) and polar bears in Churchill, Canada (life changing). I wanna see tigers in India. Someday!

  2. My bucket list:
    1. Share as many things on your list with you, for real. 🙂

  3. I’d love to go be an audience member in one of those shows with you. I’ve done that a couple of times and it’s always fun.

    And you better get busy on that surfing dream, girl. You’re not getting any younger:)

  4. Debi – You’ve inspired me! See Animal Ambitions #10!

  5. Debbi F. – Ahem…look at Recreational Requirements #3. Check! Just finished my first surf lesson. Yes, I stood up…on the first wave & a few others! Yay me!

  6. I would expect nothing less. I’m jealous! Have fun:)

  7. Great lists! I love how to categorize them such a type A mom. 🙂

    For your Oprah items, you might want to get working on that because this year is her last.

  8. Christina Moore says:

    You have quite to bucket list! Going on an African safari, visiting the Galapagos Islands and holding a koala bear definitely top my list as well. Visit Costa Rica if you want to go zip lining and see a volcano. My husband and I stayed near Arenal and we got to tour the volcano and go zip lining all in the same area. We even ended up getting a free hotel night. Enjoy crossing off your list and best of luck!

  9. Love your list! I have done a few of those. I would add seeing Angkor Wat. Think I am going to create my own!

  10. Quite a list you got there.

    Here is a great place to create, manage and share your bucket list. You can also get some interesting ideas to put on your bucket list from others.

    Check it out.

  11. Love the variety of your list! I’ve done 2,3, 4, 7 of your first list, if you ever want advice! And I share many of your others…you’ve inspired me. I think I need to do my bucket list too.

  12. Lisa – I hope you will write out your bucket list too. Come back & post a link to it when you do!

  13. That’s quite a list. Good thing you’re young!

    Though it’s not really a true bucket list, since I’ve got a passion for skating, I’m collecting “Places I’ve skated”. I always bring my skates along on trip if there’s a chance I will be able to get out.

    Recently, my son and I got to skate around Paris, France with about 4000 new “friends”. It was a blast and a really unique way to see the city.

    Good luck on the rest of your list!

  14. Love your list… why does having small kids make it so hard to do half the things on mine?? One day I’d really like to take a trip to Japan and do nothing but visit the baths all over the country…

  15. What a great list! I should create one too! A list is a step closer to making it happen! Oh, and I completely share your desire to stay in one of those places hovering on the water. I’ve been to Bali, but stayed in a much more modest place; you need to be aware of some of the people trying to sell you things ALL the time. Once I had someone call out to me when I was 50 feet swimming in the water to try to sell me something! LOL! Maybe you bypass all of that nonsense being in an exclusive location 🙂 PS The Indian Ocean’s water is so WARM! It’s like bath water – lovely!!!

  16. I love all of the bucket list ideas! If you’re a blogger and you have a bucket list post, be sure to come back & add a link to it so I can go check it out!

  17. I love it!! I’m such a copy-cat, I want to do your list too! – Robin

  18. Robin W – Copy away, my friend! 🙂

  19. As I’ve read often your blog in 2012, my Wishes for you in 2013 God gives You..12 Month of Happiness,52 Weeks of Fun,365 Days Success,8760 Hours Good Health,52600 Minutes Good Luck,3153600 Seconds of Joy..and that’s all!

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