The Travel Mama’s Bucket List – Updated!

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Most of us have a bucket list of our ultimate to-dos. Whether it’s written on paper, kept in our heads, or posted on the web, a bucket list helps define our greatest desires, and hopefully, draw those things into our lives. My 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 to accomplish most of these. I’ll add dates and links to stories as I complete my wishes. It may take a while.

Touching the Western Wall, a.k.a. Wailing Wall, in Israel wasn't on my bucket list until I did it

Touching the Western Wall, a.k.a. Wailing Wall, was bucket list worthy (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Monumental Findings

1. Stand on the Great Wall of China.
2. Visit the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
3. Visit Mayan ruins in Mexico. (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. Put a note in the Wailing Wall in Israel. (November 2015)
10. Tour the White House. (December 2014 and the Oval Office! March 2015)

Butchart Gardens is a bucket list item for any botanical garden lover

Butchart Gardens should be a bucket list item for any botanical garden lover (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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)
6. Float in the Dead Sea. (November 2015)

Beautiful grounds at Four Seasons Scottsdale with Kids

I had always dreamed of staying at a Four Seasons and the Four Seasons Scottsdale did not disappoint! (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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. Experience a dude ranch vacation.
6. Spend the night at a Four Seasons. (June 2017)
7. Stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu, Hawaii. (September 2011)
8. Stay at a Ritz-Carlton. (November 2015)
9. Stay at Oprah’s favorite spa, Miraval in Tucson, Arizona. (August 2012)

Colorful flower boxes in the French Quarter

New Orleans was just as romantic and fun as I had imagined (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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!
12. Visit Japan. (November 2016)
13. Live in a foreign country with my family.

Me with two bucket list celebrities, Oprah and Samantha Brown

Me with two bucket list celebrities, Oprah Winfrey and Samantha Brown

Celebrity Greatness

1. Be a part of Oprah’s audience, meet Oprah, be on Oprah’s show. (It’s a long story…October 2012)
2. Meet Samantha Brown. (December 2014)
3. Watch Saturday Night Live, Live!
4. Go to a Dave Mathews’ Band concert. (Most disappointing bucket list item yet – September 2013)
5. See a Justin Timberlake concert.
6. Watch Cold Play live.
7. See P!nk in concert.
8. Take my kids to a Taylor Swift concert.
9. What the heck, I’d REALLY like to meet Bono!

A hot air balloon bucket list flight with my husband

A hot air balloon bucket list flight with my husband

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)

Disney's private island, Castaway Cay is worthy of any Disney fan's bucket list

Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, was a bucket list item for me (Photo credit: Disney)

Cruise Cravings

1. Take an Alaskan cruise. (August 2013)
2. Visit Disney’s Castaway Cay Island. (2011 and 2012)
3. Cruise through the Panama Canal.
4. Ride the Disney Cruise Line AquaDuck waterslide. (January 2011)
5. Go on a cruise over Christmas or New Year’s.
6. Sail with Crystal Cruises.

Zip-lining in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Zip-lining in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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 – San Diego, California, September 2012 – Sevierville, Tennessee, April 2014 – Guanacaste, Costa Rica, May 2015 – Vail, Colorado, October 2016 – Mall of America, January 2017)
5. Take a violin lesson.
6. Go snowshoeing. (Quebec’s Outaouais – February 2012)
7. Go ocean-kayaking. (September 2011)

Wine tasting in South Africa? Bucket list worthy, for sure!

Wine tasting in South Africa? Yes, please! (Photo credit: dewaldkirsten,

Foodie & Drinkie Cravings

1. Dine at French Laundry in California Wine County.
2. Go to the invite-only Club 33 in Disneyland.
3. Eat a multi-course meal aboard the Napa Valley wine train.
4. Go wine-tasting in South Africa.
5. Drink port in Portugal.
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. Be a part of Top Chef in some way and get to taste some of that yummy food!

My dog-sledding team in Outaouais, Quebec ~ Is dog-sledding on your bucket list?

My dog-sledding team in Outaouais, Quebec (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Animal Ambitions

1. Go on an African 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. See wild snow monkeys in Japan.
7. See polar bears in Canada.
8. Go swimming with wild manatees.
9. See a live blue whale.
10. Go dog-sledding. (Quebec’s Outaouais – February 2012 and Skagway, Alaska – August 2013)

My book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide

My book, “The Travel Mamas’ Guide”

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. (Well, it’s one of the top 5 family travel blogs…does that count?!)

The Travel Mama’s Bucket List Fast Forward

I originally posted this bucket list in 2010. It’s grown and shrunk over the years. Some of these things I didn’t know I wanted to do until I did them, like dog-sledding in Quebec or floating in the Dead Sea in Israel. But once I did them, I knew they belonged on this list! I’ve deleted some things, too. For example, I got rid of “Walk through a monkey preserve in Belize” because I’ve read too many nightmare stories about those mischievous monkeys. Yes, I still want to see the snow monkeys in Japan. I didn’t say bucket lists need to make sense!

Even if you don’t have a bucket list, I suggest writing a reverse bucket list. It will make you realize all of the wonderful things you’ve already experienced and achieved. Learn more now!

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!

About Colleen Lanin

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. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

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

  5. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    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. Amy @ The Q Family says

    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. Lisa Bergren says

    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. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    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. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    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. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Robin W – Copy away, my friend! 🙂

  19. Doyle Delmundo says

    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!

  20. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    That is so awesome! I think it’s so important to follow our passion. I love the ticking off of the bucket list. I do it, too!

  21. Great lists. I need to get going on my own.

  22. Jeni Hawkins says

    You have some amazing items on your Bucket List, for sure! Makes me want to create one, and start knocking them off, too!

  23. I am so jealous of you! I would love to do more traveling than what I am now. I would love to check out a whole bunch of the places that you have gone too. The Wailing Wall would be a absolute dream to check out.

  24. Melissa Chapman says

    Your bucket list is quite extensive and you have already done a good many things. I have been to the Wall but have done very few of the others.

  25. I am too a travelling fan but I haven’t explored so many places. I love reading your experience.

  26. Oh my goodness, this just is seriously incredible!! I need to start one of my own…you’ve inspired me!

  27. Great list! I think I’ll be adding some of these to my own bucket list. Thanks for the inspirations!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      You’re welcome! That’s the fun thing about bucket lists, they can grow and shrink over time. We don’t stay the same and neither should our dreams!

  28. This is such an amazing list! So many things on here that I’d love to experience. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. Lisa Bristol says

    These are all great bucket list ideas. I have just started to make my bucket list. I will have to add a few of these ideas to mine.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      It’s fun to keep a bucket list. I’ve had many over the years but kept losing them. Now that mine’s online, it’s easier to check as needed. 🙂

  30. What an awesome bucket list … you’ve inspired me to create my own travel bucket list!

  31. Very amazing list. I love so many of those places.

  32. Jennifer Leal says

    This is the best list ever, but makes me realize, I need to do a lot more traveling!

  33. You have a great list here. I need to make myself a bucket list. I think it would really help me to actually get out there and do the things on my list.

  34. The only thing I have done that you haven’t is see Justin Timberlake in concert, lol. I want to use this list as inspiration for my own. So many awesome goals here!

  35. You’ve already done a ton of cool things! Checking the rest of the things of the list will be so much fun. There is a lot I still need to do too.

  36. Okay..this is amazing. I have a list of places I’d like to visit with my family, but I’ve never actually listed it! You’ve inspired me to.

  37. Wow you have already done some really amazing things! I would love to create a travel bucket list to use with my family and for solo travel.

  38. Your bucket list is awesome! I love that you have very specific goals and you are checking them off! Your life is such an adventure.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thank you, Keikilani! As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

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