19 Travel Goals to Accomplish Before 35

A huge flock of emperor penguins in the snow in Antarctica
Posted: 08/20/13 | August 20th, 2013

Back in June, as I was reflecting on another birthday, I looked at a very, very old version of my website and spotted a list of travel goals I’d written that I had forgotten. As I’ve made changes to this site over the year, I moved the list around, removed it, put it back up, and, then, put it aside until I could figure out what to do with it.

And, then like so many lists I write, I had forgotten it in the dust bin of my mind.

But seeing that list again made me think about how five years ago, when I created this list, I had all these lofty travel goals — and barely reached any of then.

To be fair, I’ve done some amazing things in the last five years! Galápagos Islands? Check! La Tomatina? Check! Learn to scuba dive? Check! Oktoberfest? Double steins of beer? Double check!

Now, I hate bucket lists – as if there’s some set number of activities to enjoy in the world in order to die happy. I think that’s crap. Life changes and so do your goals and desires. The bucket list you write when you’re 20 is not the same one you write at 40. If I wrote a bucket list 10 years ago, it wouldn’t include 90% of the things I’ve done with my life.

But, as I reflect on that long lost list, I think after five years, it’s time for a new list. Mostly because I love lists (I make at least one a day) but also because it would be good to collect and refocus my thoughts on where I want to go in the next few years.

As a nomad, there’s nowhere in the world I don’t want to see at some point, but there are definite things I want to do and places I want to see sooner rather than later.

So, instead of writing a bucket list, I’m writing my travel priorities for the next three years in order to better focus and have some goals to strive for. (Updated 11/2019: Here’s what I ended up doing!)

Safari in East Africa (DIDN’T DO!)
The sunny savannah on a safari in Africa
This is one of the things I want most in the world, but I’m only going to make this trek with someone else. As I discovered in Africa, such beauty is best not seen alone, and a long safari around the region will be on hold until I find someone to go with.

Hike the Inca Trail (DIDN’T DO!)
The historic ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru
I can barely hike up my stairs without getting winded (I need to follow more of Steve’s advice!), but the thought of hiking this ancient path, setting sight on Machu Picchu, and wondering how the hell they managed to build a city on a mountain top is too appealing to pass up.

See the World Cup (DIDN’T DO!)
Players in the World Cup surrounded by cheering fans
I’m a huge soccer fan, and the World Cup just seems like a crazy party you can’t miss. I got into the sport when I began traveling around the world, and knowing Latin America’s obsession with the sport, I can only imagine how great it will be next year. Brazil 2014, here I come!

Spend 4–5 months backpacking South America (DID 2 MONTHS!)
I’ll be tying my World Cup goal into what will be my next major trip. I don’t like piecemeal travel, and I’d rather explore this entire region in one go, so despite my attempts at slowing down and becoming more settled, New York City will take a brief backseat to South America next spring while I roam the continent.

See Antarctica (DIDN’T DO!)
The snow and glaciers of Antartica on a sunny day
Penguins, glaciers, and whales, oh my!

Spend a month living in the Seychelles (DIDN’T DO!)
A beautiful beach on the paradise of Seychelles on a bright and sunny day
These islands are what my version of heaven would look like, so why not spend a cold winter month there soaking in the sun? Sounds perfectly fine to me.

Climb to Everest base camp (DIDN’T DO!)
Given my general out-of-shapeness, this is going to be a real challenge, but one I will prepare for and embrace.

Sail along the Amazon and explore the heart of the rainforest (DIDN’T DO!)
Because ever since I saw photos of this river, I’ve felt the need to satiate my inner Indiana Jones and explore this vast, wild, sometimes uncharted, out-of-the-way region.

See the Northern Lights (DID DO!)
The northern lights in the winter in Iceland
Because it’s too beautiful to pass up!

Take the Trans-Siberian Railway (DIDN’T DO!)
I’ve always dreamed of this long train journey, and my desire has only increased since Katie wrote about her trip. This long, rustic train ride also appeals to me, because in the age of the Internet, travel has gotten too easy and there’s no Internet here to rely on. It’s just you and your travel skills.

Cruise around the Pacific Islands (DIDN’T DO!)
Because Torre made me jealous, and I think it would be pretty fun to pretend I’m Robinson Crusoe. Sailing the islands is difficult to accomplish, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Spend a week in Borobudur trying to figure out the meaning of life (DIDN’T DO!)
The ruins of Borobudur Temple in Indonesia
Borobudur is a Buddhist temple in Indonesia whose winding walkway is lined with reliefs of Buddhist teachings. The higher up you get, the harder the reliefs become. Monks were supposed to figure out the meaning of each relief before moving on. When you’ve made it to the top, you’ve unlocked all the Buddha’s teachings. That’s a challenge I accept.

Walk the Camino de Santiago (DIDN’T DO!)
Can I walk across Spain? I don’t know, but it will be fun to try. I’ve heard so many good stories about this trip that even if I only make it halfway, I think I’ll enjoy it.

See Petra, Jordan (DID DO!)
The historic treasury at the Wonder of the World Petra in Jordan
Ever since I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as a kid, I’ve always wanted to visit this historic site. Many of my friends have visited and come back with wonderful stories of not only Petra but of Jordan too. I just have to remember that the cup can’t cross the seal or we’re all doomed (Indiana Jones reference).

Travel to the Arctic and see polar bears (DIDN’T DO!)

I can’t see one pole without seeing the other. It’s only fair, right? Plus, I want to see these amazing animals before they go extinct.

Spend three months in India (DIDN’T DO!)
The world-famous Taj Mahal in India bursting with visitors
Because it’s too big and interesting to spend any less time here. I just don’t feel a short trip would do the country justice.

Learn about wine in France (DID DO!)
bThe sprawling green fields in France's wine region
I’m a wino, and it would be fascinating to learn about the complexities of what I’m drinking. Is that a hint of raspberry in there? Why yes, it is!

Sail around the Caribbean(DID DO!)
Just call me Captain Nomadic Jack Sparrow.

Visit Morocco (DID DO!)
This country has been on my must-see list for far too long. I love Moroccan food, the kasbahs seem amazing, and a camel ride in the desert is just what the doctor ordered.


UPDATE: Well, while I might not have gotten to a lot these goals over the last few years, I did a lot. But I also did a lot in my life – starting a blogging school, moving to Austin, writing two books, and doing a lot of other personal things that filled some of my travel time.

But, during this time, I also learned to end all my goals. Rather let some list determine my future plans, I’ll just go where I can, when I can. I’ll never get to see the entire world. And I’m finally OK with that.

When you travel, less is more anyways!

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