There are so many things we want to achieve in life and so many things we want to cross off our bucket list. Maybe for you, it’s getting married, moving to your dream city or pursuing a career in becoming a professional sleeper. Nevertheless, the most common bucket list item is travel. I love to travel. (I mean, let’s be real, who doesn’t?) I love discovering new places and being able to immerse myself in different cultures.
I am by no means a travel expert or a globetrotter, but my parents have always taken my sister and me on fun trips all over the world (10 countries and counting), and I am really thankful for that. However, there are tons of countries that I still want to visit and so many things I still want to experience. I have a mental travel bucket list in my head that I am always adding to. Whether you already have a travel bucket list or not, here are nine things you’ll want to add ASAP!
- Tandem Skydiving in Interlaken Switzerland
Even though skydiving seems absolutely terrifying, it is something that I have always wanted to do. With skydiving, you get to see Earth from a bird’s eyes and experience what it would be like to fly (even though it’s more falling than flying).
Interlaken, Switzerland is an extremely popular tandem skydiving destination. It involves taking a 10-minute flight in a helicopter over the scenic town of Interlaken and two beautiful glacier lakes. Once you’re at 14,000 feet (4000 meters), you jump out of the helicopter, free falling for about 45 seconds. The parachute opens at around 5,500 feet (1500 meters) and then you slowly descend back to the ground.
Doesn’t that sound like such an incredible experience? (As long as it doesn’t end up being your last experience.) To ease your fears, the United States Parachuting Association (USPA) says there is only a 0.0007% chance of someone getting injured or killed while skydiving, which statistically speaking is less risky than driving a car. That’s worth it in my opinion.
- A Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is one of the most popular destinations in the world for hot air balloon rides. This area called Central Anatolia in Turkey is recognizable by its distinctive fairy chimneys, river valleys and cliffs and hot air balloon rides at sunrise.
The balloons typically take off quite early in the morning at around 5:00 – 5:30 am. The flight can be anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours depending on the tour company, and you can admire the spectacular view all around you throughout the flight. Every morning the sky is filled with hundreds of colorful hot air balloons, with the picturesque sunrise being the perfect backdrop.
- Go Shopping on Oxford Street in London
London is truly an incredible city. The weather is insane, but once you get used to the constant rain, it’s actually amazing. I fell in love with the city when I visited it around four years ago. Due to my love of shopping, it’s no surprise how much I loved Oxford Street.
This beautiful street is Europe’s busiest shopping street with over half a million visitors each day. There are hundreds of stores, so it’s basically a shop-a-holic’s dream come true. When I was there, union jack flags lined the top of the street with the iconic red buses all along the road, and I remember stopping to just look around at how beautiful it all was. London has my heart.
- Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
I am really afraid of fish, which is kind of ironic considering I’m a Pisces. I don’t know why, but in the past I have gotten recurring nightmares involving fish. I’m sure there’s some psychological meaning to it, but I have no clue.
I have been snorkeling before in Thailand a few times, although it wasn’t that much of a success. I didn’t really see that many fish, mostly menacing looking sea urchins and coral. Scuba diving is on a whole new level, though. Since I am not the most confident swimmer, this one is definitely one of the more challenging ones on my bucket list.
The Great Barrier Reef has always fascinated me. Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, it is the world’s largest coral reef and is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. What is even more interesting is that it is the only living thing on Earth that is visible from space. There is a diverse variety of sea creatures in the reef, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles and over 1,500 species of fish. Just imagine scuba diving in the beautiful, deep blue sea, surrounded by all of these spectacular sea creatures and vibrant coral. It would seriously be a dream come true.
- See the Taj Mahal in India
This is something I crossed off my bucket list when I visited Agra around seven years ago, but I definitely want to go back again someday to take better pictures (do it for the gram?). One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is a popular tourist attraction and is as impressive in real life as it is in pictures. The mausoleum was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died of childbirth. The monument is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the symmetrical architecture is intricate and incredible.
The main entrance that leads to the iconic white structure is built with red sandstone and is decorated with calligraphic script that quotes the Quran. The top of the gate has 22 smaller white domes which represent the 22 years it took to build the Taj Mahal. There is also a mosque that faces the holy land of Mecca, along with a guesthouse on the east side that supposedly housed pilgrims at some point in history. The main structure is obviously the magnificent Taj Mahal, the large domed white marble structure with four minarets on each side. The minarets were purposely constructed to not be perpendicular to the ground, but at a slanting angle, so that if an earthquake were to damage the minarets, it would not fall onto the Taj Mahal and cause damage. The entire structure is decorated and embellished with carvings of vines, flowers and leaves made out of colored precious stones from all over the world.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal, you certainly should because it is breathtaking in person. Make sure you take a guided tour because your tour guide will tell you all the interesting details about the history as well as the architectural elements of the monument.
- Float in the Dead Sea
When I first heard about the Dead Sea in my middle school Social Studies class, I was shook. You’re telling me that there is a body of water in which I cannot sink? Which also means that I will, potentially, not drown? This was very appealing to the eleven-year-old me who could not swim to save her life. Of course, now I know that you physically cannot swim in the sea. All you can do is simply rest and float in the water.
In case you didn’t know, the reason it is impossible to sink in the Dead Sea is that the water is saltier than any other body of water on Earth. This extremely high concentration of dissolved mineral salts in the water causes it to be so dense that we can float easily. Supposedly, as soon as your legs are in the water, it feels like you’re being pushed up, and the deeper you go, the more buoyant your body gets.
I don’t really like to swim, but I do love just being able to float on my back and look at the sky. Floating in the Dead Sea seems like the most relaxing thing in the world.
- Go to the Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in Page, Arizona. It includes two slot canyon sections: the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon. The canyons are located on Navajo land, and you can only visit them on a tour with a Navajo tour guide.
The Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular slot canyon because of how photogenic it is with its high, narrow walls, light beams and falling sand. It’s also wider at the bottom than the Lower Antelope Canyon, which makes it feel less claustrophobic and easier to walk through. Walking through the canyon is super simple since it is all at ground level. The tour lasts around an hour and a half, including the drive to the canyon. It’s the perfect location to take beautiful pictures and even hear about the local history.
- See the Northern Lights in Iceland
There are several countries where you can see the northern lights or aurora borealis, but one of the best places to witness this natural phenomenon is in Iceland. The northern lights are caused when the sun’s electrically charged particles collide with the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in the electrons moving to a high energy state. Once the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release photons. This creates the mesmerizing green, pink and purple lights that swirl around over the Arctic Circle.
The peak viewing season for the northern lights in Iceland is from September through March, during when the nights are considerably long. You can view the aurora borealis at many of Iceland’s cities, but the most popular ones include Reykjavík, Hella, Höfn, Skógar and Snaefellsnes. Being able to see the captivating beauty of the northern lights would be such a one-in-a-life-time experience, and I want to be able to cross it off my bucket list at some point.
- Ride the World’s Fastest Roller Coaster in Abu Dhabi
I visited the United Arab Emirates with my family for the second time two years ago, and it was hands down one of my favorite trips. I absolutely love the modern and glamorous city of Dubai, and I was so glad I could revisit it. Even though we were in Dubai for the majority of our trip, we also stayed at the capital, Abu Dhabi, for three days.
One of the highlights of the trip was going to Ferrari World, an amusement park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Ferrari World is famous for housing Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. The roller coaster goes from a speed of 0 to 240 km/h (149 mi/h) in only 4.9 seconds. Basically, it’s really fast. I don’t know how to describe the exact sensation, but it felt like I was hurtling through a space-time continuum (not that I know what that feels like); like my soul had momentarily left my body and finally caught up to me once the ride was over. It kind of felt like my face fell off, but in the best way, as if I was a human cannonball being shot out of a canon.
Basically, it is the most thrilling ride I have ever been on, and I want to go back to Abu Dhabi just to ride it over and over again.
A disclaimer: after you ride Formula Rossa, every other roller coaster seems really mediocre in comparison.
Fingers crossed that someday I will be able to cross off all these items from my travel bucket list, along with many more beautiful cities and interesting experiences. I hope that this article gave you a few ideas of what to include in your travel bucket list, and hope that you will also be able to visit all your dream destinations.