Bucket list ideas await in our pick of bold and brilliant experiences
Bucket list travel shouldn’t just happen in your 20s.
We’re guessing a lot of what you did then involved hostels, cheap food, and copious alcohol (actually maybe you don’t remember it so well after all). So now you’re a 30-40 something solo traveller, you probably want to travel slightly differently, with a fresh set of bucket list ideas.
Like a good glass of wine, you’ve matured and developed your taste for the finer things in life. You’re older and wiser, and now have more of an appreciation for how special travelling – and travelling well – is. Years of wanderlusting and holidays have given you a desire to really experience the country you’re visiting – rather than just tick off tourist sites and snap Facebook profile pics.
To help you really make the most of your next holiday, here’s a roundup of our all-time favourite ideas to satisfy the wanderlust within. So grab a pen and a cuppa and get set to seriously lengthen that bucket list.
Come hiking in Patagonia
Sparkling lagoons. Towering mountains. Roaming guanacos. Nope, it doesn’t get much better than hiking in Patagonia. Shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is a wildly beautiful and sparsely populated slice of magic that you won’t forget in a hurry. With the likes of the Torres del Paine National Park to explore, you’ll be alpaca-ing your suitcase in no time.
Marvel at the Northern Lights
Nothing beats the wonder of these ethereal lights as they snap and dance across the Northern Hemisphere skies. And the fact that you can’t guarantee when Mother Nature will play ball only enhances the experience. It’s all in the moment. Head to Finland to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights as you zoom over the tundra on a twilight snowmobile safari. Or stay in a lakeside glamping pod for a front-row seat to the skies above.
Walk with gorillas in Rwanda
If you’re a fan of Planet Earth, this is the holiday for you. Seeing gorillas in the wild is a truly unique and special honour. Even the jungle trek to reach them is awesome. Mountain gorillas are a critically endangered species: experts estimate that there are just over 1,000 left in the wild. A trip to Rwanda is a rare chance to see one of the planet’s biggest, most powerful primates in their natural habitat, and understand more about the urgent battle to protect them.
Ride around Havana in a convertible car
Step back in time and explore the golden age of Cuba’s sizzling capital in an iconic 1950s car. Cuba’s exuberant Old Town capital is etched with faded grandeur. Elegant colonnades sit side-by-side with crumbling Spanish fortresses, 17th Century churches and stately plazas. See the faded sepia beauty of Havana spring to life before your eyes, as you cruise past the boulevards in a classic American convertible. Unforgettable.
Make your own Prosecco in Italy
Prosecco. Venice. Need we say more? Not only is the timeless destination of Venice prefect for dreamy gondola rides, it’s also a mere half an hour from the stunning Prosecco Hills. And if you’re a fan of this trendy tipple, learning how to make its sparkly goodness should be bubbling up nicely to the top of your cache of bucket list ideas. As the natural next step in your Prosecco relationship, it would be rude not to.
Be wowed by an African safari
From the beauty of the wide-open Savannah to the thrill of seeing your first wild zebra, an African safari is a must-do. Here at Flash Pack, we offer game drives and walking expeditions on the Serengeti in Tanzania, or across the febrile bushland of Zimbabwe. Both countries come with the chance to see lions, elephants, giraffes and more in their natural habitat, along with luxury camping stays. Have your binoculars ready, and get set to be moved beyond words.
Uncover the foodie secrets of Vietnam
From spicy spring rolls to steaming bowls of pho, Vietnam is home to some of the finest street food on the planet. If you live to track down backstreet Hanoi breweries, or markets brimming with exotic fruit and seafood, this is the place to be. A simple wander around Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh will lead you some incredible foodie spots, but you can up the ante with bucket list ideas like lunch in a bamboo forest, or a five-course cooking class in the charming lantern-lit town of Hoi An.
Sleep under the stars in Morocco
Morocco’s Agafay Desert – located just an hour away from the lively souks of Marrakech – is a hidden delight, and just the place for a bucket list sleepover. Bed beneath the stars in a series of beautiful safari-style tents filled with glowing lanterns, Berber rugs and locally crafted artwork. A desert dinner here is not to be missed (if you’re lucky, you may catch some live music from local musicians), and nor is a sunset camel ride over the rust-red, cinematic landscape.
Hotel hop through Myanmar
Ah, Myanmar. Diverse, ethereal and undiscovered. The only way to make your Myanmar holiday even more special? Staying at a boutique hotel, of course. Myanmar’s hotel scene is booming right now, but it’s still quite off-radar compared to other countries in the region. That means you can stay at charismatic retreats dotted with lotus ponds and secluded spas, without having to elbow for pool space. Even better, the treasures of Myanmar – including the Bay of Bengal, the Shan Hills, the temple kingdom of Bagan and more – are all in stone’s throw reach.
Explore otherworldly Iceland
From vast glaciers to erupting geysers, Iceland certainly has a lot of clout to its name. A visit here is quite unlike anything else on earth, and is packed with potential for action adventure. Navigate the icy crevasses of Sólheimajökull glacier on a wilderness hike, or cruise across Langjökull glacier on a fleet of snowmobiles. This is your chance to channel your inner Game of Thrones warrior (albeit with rather less gore) and head off-piste into the Great Unknown. As bucket list ideas go, it takes some beating.
Glamp on a secret Philippines island
In this on-demand world we live in, it’s hard to get truly off-grid. But a secret island in the Philippines’ Bacuit Archipelago is a castaway experience we can all get onboard with. Throw your phone to the wind as you zip round the caves and coves of this stunning beach paradise by private boat, eventually ending up on a hidden plot where you can camp out by the ocean in boutique one-man mesh tents. Of course, there’s a private chef on-hand for beach barbeques, too: because even desert islands deserve a slice of luxury, right?
Salsa dance in Cartagena, Colombia
Let’s set the scene. The Caribbean Sea is lapping away in the distance, you’re sipping a rum cocktail and surrounding you is a beautiful assortment of colourful buildings. You’re in Cartagena, Colombia’s coastal gem of a city, and it’s time to salsa. Few things are more fun than this experience of letting your hair down with Colombian locals, losing yourself in the rhythm and sway of hip-swinging live music. Just leave your inhibitions at the door and prepare to party.
Wild swim in the wadis of Oman
Wild swimming is on the rise thanks to its therapeutic values, and Oman is a land that was made for it. This Arabian Peninsula kingdom is peppered with emerald wadis: peaceful pools framed by gently swaying palm trees and pink cliff terrain. Often, these are quite adventurous with inlets you can explore, or caves with hidden entrances and waterfalls to leap down. Always use a guide to help you navigate the wadis safely, and find the very best swimming spots.
Grab a cultural fix in Japan
The sheer diversity of Japan makes it a beacon for bucket list ideas. This is a country with stunning natural terrain: think hazy mountain trails, thick bamboo forest and spectacular cherry blossom. It’s also steeped in tradition, from onsen bathing to ninja rituals and ancient palaces and shrines. Meanwhile, its cities pulsate with intrigue and the promise of the future. Lantern-lit alleyways, boutiques, neon malls and cutting edge technology: all are ripe for exploring. And that’s not even mentioning the intoxicating food. Get involved.
Get off-grid in the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands still hits the sweet spot when it comes to wild, uncharted terrain, along with jaw-dropping wildlife. For anyone craving a David Attenborough-style experience of the natural world, this farflung territory should be top of the bucket list. See giant tortoises, sea lions and marine iguanas in a remote, cragged landscape of volcanic islands. This is raw, unfiltered nature at its best.
Abseil down Table Mountain, South Africa
Adrenaline junkies, ahoy. One of the world’s highest commercial abseils beckons at the peak of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. On a clear day, you can see right across the bay here and the feeling of tip-toeing over the edge is a buzz quite unlike anything else. Once you’ve recovered from the rollercoaster ride, more exhilaration awaits by way of surfing, paddle-boarding and swimming with seals (the friendly “dogs of the ocean”). Because adventure in the Western Cape truly lives up to its name.
Come caving in the jungles of Borneo
The steamy rainforests of Borneo are alive with wonders. You can stay in a traditional jungle longhouse, see endangered orangutans in their natural habitat, or even forage for cocktail ingredients in the tropical undergrowth. One great way of tapping your adventurous side, however, is with caving in Mulu National Park. Crawl your way through mysterious rock formations and crevices, wading through underground rivers in an immense cave system filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Around each new corner lies new secrets – you’ll feel like a regular Indiana Jones.
... And 4 more bucket list sites
Of course, some bucket list ideas can be found in spectacular sites. Even with crowds, these world wonders are still worth seeing – but think about timing your visit carefully, and also curating the experience so you’re not simply ticking it off a list. Here’s how to explore four legendary landmarks in the most meaningful way possible.
The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu carries major bucket list monopoly. And our getaway to Peru does not disappoint, reaching a finale at these fabled peaks. We spend a good few hours mooching around one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, with an optional trek around Machu Picchu mountain. But you know when one mountain just isn’t enough? For added kicks, our Peru trip also features a climb up Rainbow Mountain. This 5,035-metre ascent is not for the fainthearted, but the overnight camp at altitude and kaleidoscopic summit are certainly worth the sweat.
The rose-red city of Petra never fails to charm those who wander her realm. And at Flash Pack, we make good on this bucket list rite in a number of different ways. First up on our Jordan escape, we experience the ancient treasure by night. See the carved stonework come alive in the glow of thousands of candles, with live Bedouin music, for a moment of true awakening. Then, we hike a secret “backdoor” route into Petra, with a hidden trail that neatly avoids the tourist hordes. Finally, we tuck into an al fresco feast at Little Petra, dining on Bedouin delicacies amid a maze of sandstone canyons. Bucket list, done and done.
The Taj Mahal, India
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the most imposing monument to love ever seen. We wallow in the pristine beauty of this white marble wonder on our India and Nepal trip, with a spectacular sunrise pilgrimage. See the sun turn from fiery red to pink and blue and watch the extraordinary silhouette of the Taj Majal come to life as it’s mirrored in the water. Our jaunt to this region also takes in a stay at a Jaipur palace (#posh) and a hike through the Himalayan foothills to a remote mountain lodge.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The ancient capital of the Khmer Empire is ripe for exploration and a day moseying around the labyrinth of temples and ruins is not easily forgotten. A place that teems with rich archeological heritage, Angkor Wat will fire up your imagination and allow you to reflect on the immense beauty of life. Our Vietnam and Cambodia escape takes full advantage, as we visit the site at both sunrise and sunset. Get your cameras primed for the most magnificent views known to mankind, before cooling off afterwards in the inviting pool of the Shinta Mani hotel.
Ready to bring your bucket list to life? Check out our Flash Pack adventures for solo travellers aged in their 30s and 40s, and let the dream commence.
Images: Shutterstock, Unsplash, Flash Pack