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our bucket list

What we like to do and what we’d like to do define us much better than any cut-and-dried bio ever could. We drafted this list while huddling in our sleeping bags on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, seeking refuge from a storm that raged outside, and have added to it periodically since. Even as we cross some items off the list, we hope to add many others. If you have a bucket list or have done some amazing things you think would fit on this one, please share! We’re always looking for new ways to expand our horizons.

  1. Travel for a year continuously
  2. Backpack (S backpacked through South America for 8 months with her sister; D did a similar 5-month trip)
  3. Visit each of the seven continents (AfricaAsia, Australia, EuropeNorth AmericaSouth America, Antarctica)
  4. Live abroad
  5. Hike the Appalachian Trail (we have hiked small sections of it together, including climbing Mt. Katadhin, which marks the northern endpoint, as one of our first dates)
  6. Hike Israel’s National Trail
  7. Run a marathon (this is for S only; D prefers team sports to running)
  8. Advanced open-water SCUBA certification (also S; the one time D went scuba diving he couldn’t equalize the pressure and had a bad nose bleed/headache for several days afterwards)
  9. Go skydiving
  10. Bungee jump (D’s gone twice – once in Denmark and once in Costa Rica; S has no desire to ever go)
  11. Go paragliding
  12. Take a hot-air balloon ride
  13. Climb a mountain (Once we crossed this one off the list, a whole slew of other things naturally followed)
  14. Stand atop one of the 7 Summits (we harbor no illusions about doing all seven, but would really like to climb Aconcagua and D also wants to do Denali, in addition to Kili)
  15. Climb above 20,000 feet (the 6,088m Huyna Potosi D climbed in Bolivia is 27ft short of this mark)
  16. Take a mountaineering course and do an ice climb sans guide
  17. Go B.A.S.E. jumping
  18. See the snows of Kilimanjaro
  19. Hike in the Himalayas (D finally scratched this itch in 2019, but S has never been)
  20. Trek in the Andes (the Huayhuash trek is Peru is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful high-altitude treks in the world)
  21. Learn to surf (D took one lesson in Brazil, but something got lost in translation because he couldn’t figure out when he was supposed to try to get up on the board)
  22. Go sand-boarding in the desert
  23. Camp in a desert (S spent several nights in Egypt’s Black and White deserts; the closest D has come was spending a night in a mock bedouin camp in Israel)
  24. Attain fluency in more languages than we already speak (UPDATE 2016: We are nearing the end of our immersive French studies at FSI. French will be S’s 4th language, and D’s 6th. UPDATE 2020: S learned Tagalog prior to her assignment to the Philippines, which would technically be the 5th language she has attempted, though she has now forgotten almost all of the Russian she had previously learned. She retains some French and Spanish though. D has similarly forgotten nearly all of his nascent Romanian and most of his Swahili, retaining Russian, Spanish, and some French)
  25. Road-trip across the United States (Three separate trips through 2016, through California and the Southwest, and others thereafter)
  26. Learn to sail or go on a long-distance sailing trip
  27. Learn to drive stick
  28. Learn to drive a motorcycle
  29. Raft a world-class river (the Quijos River in Ecuador was the site of the 2005 World Rafting Championship)
  30. Float in the Dead Sea
  31. Swim with sea lions in the Galapagos
  32. Swim with dolphins in open water. Also: see whale sharks (2020 add).
  33. Go whale-watching
  34. Raft the Nile
  35. Learn to whitewater kayak
  36. Go on a multi-day canoe trip
  37. Rock climb outdoors (for D; S has this crossed off her list)
  38. Go canyoning/rappel down a waterfall
  39. See Big 5 on African safari
  40. Do a long-distance bike trip (This is S’s impetus; D very rarely gets on a bike.)
  41. Explore ancient ruins (We’ve both been to Machu Picchu; S has also been to the Pyramids in Egypt, which remain on D’s list.)
  42. Read all the books on the BBC 100 Greatest Book list
  43. Read Don Quixote in Spanish (2020 Update: this is no longer on S’s list; D read it twice – once in a college course and again during his year of study abroad in Madrid) and the Russian classics in Russian (D’s only read a handful and is rightly ashamed that he can’t cross this off)
  44. Play in a scrabble tournament (only D, and only maybe)
  45. Hike Grand Canyon rim-to-rim and go rafting inside it (UPDATED 2016: We’ve gone hiking inside the Grand Canyon and subsequently changed the goalposts on this one)
  46. Sail down the Amazon River (S sailed down the Mekong, and D down the Parana)
  47. Hike in the world’s deepest canyon (D spent a week in the Cotahuasi canyon in Peru; S visited the nearby Colca canyon, which is about a 100 meters shallower)
  48. Hike an active volcano. See lava flow
  49. Go volcano boarding (down Cerro Negro in Nicaragua)
  50. Visit the world’s largest crater (Ngorongoro in Tanzania; D’s also been to Sierra Negra in the Galapagos, which is the largest active crater)
  51. See aurora borealis
  52. Go dog-sledding
  53. Go to the camel-jumping festival in Yemen
  54. Ride in a camel derby
  55. Camp in the African Wilderness
  56. Visit a salt flat (We’ve both been to Uyuni in Bolivia, on separate trips)
  57. See a playoff game 
  58. Go to the Olympics
  59. See a World Cup match live
  60. Lists of the world’s best museums vary; we want to visit: Louvre (Paris), Hermitage (St. Petersburg),Prado (Madrid), The Met (NYC), Uffizi Gallery (Florence), National Gallery (DC), Tate Modern (London)
  61. Attend a Carnaval celebration (S has been to the one in Rio; D went to the one in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which at half a million people is the third-largest in the world)
  62. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  63. Go to a mutli-day music festival
  64. Ride the Trans-Siberian railway
  65. No desire to go running with the bulls, however the Tomatina (in Valencia) and the Batalla de Vino (La Rioja) are definitely on our list (D has been to Las Fallas and would love to go again)
  66. Learn to can and can regularly (On S’s list; D tries to set foot in the kitchen as little as possible)
  67. Take a hand-to-hand circus class (also S; D had never even heard of this before)
  68. Sleep in a castle (for S; D checked this off in Spain, where there is a whole luxury hotel chain that includes castles, monasteries, and the palaces where the Spanish kings stayed when they traveled around their realm)
  69. See an opera in Italy (for D; S checked this box with her grandma when she turned 16)
  70. Drink a Guinness in Dublin and tour the Guinness brewery
  71. Write a book
  72. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  73. Sail in the Mediterranean
  74. See the Cannes Film Festival
  75. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
  76. Go skiing in the Alps and/or the Dolomites
  77. Walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain/France
  78. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail
  79. Climb Mt. Whitney and Mt. Rainier
  80. Go non-car camping in the wilderness
  81. See the Love Parade in Berlin
  82. Climb Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh
  83. Visit the Son Doong cave in Vietnam (still on the list, but we visited plenty of other caves in Vietnam in 2019)
  84. Explore an ice cave
  85. Visit Maldives before they disappear and see phytoplankton
  86. Visit all 59 62 U.S. national parks (2020 Edit: The number of national parks increased by three since we first wrote this, but we have been making progress through this list. D is up to 21 and S is up 20, if we count White Sands, the most recent of the parks to be upgraded to National Park status, which we sort of visited during the government shutdown a few years ago.)
  87. Visit all 50 U.S. states (Through 2020, there are 27 states we have both visited, another 3 where only S has been, and 4 that only D has visited)
  88. Go canyoonering down a slot canyon
  89. See the sunrise at Angel’s Landing and/or Bryce Point
  90. Hike the Wave
  91. Ascend Half Dome in Yosemite
  92. Take photography classes. Do a traveling photo tour
  93. Travel through all of the countries comprising the former USSR
  94. Learn to solve the NYT crossword puzzles (D has this checked off; S is starting on Monday puzzles and aims to get good enough to solve Wednesdays)
  95. Play Ultimate Frisbee on every continent (minus Antarctica) (AfricaAsia, Australia, EuropeNorth AmericaSouth America)
  96. Shoot pool in Poole (for D)
  97. Drink a Bombay martini in Bombay (Mumbai)
  98. Festival hop in Europe (D got a small taste at isolated festivals a few years ago)
  99. Read all the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. If completed, the Man Booker winners too.
  100. Do a Big Year (clearly this is for D only, as despite his dogged attempts S is yet to become a birder).
  101. Visiting every country might be a tad too ambitious, especially since there are a handful we’d rather not go, but at least 100 seems like a worthwhile target (D has been to 64, S to 60 as of the end of 2019).
44 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love your list, theres is a lot on there which is quite similar to mine. You have managed to loads of great things on there!!! I’m glad you got the opportunity :)

    November 3, 2012
    • Is there anything on yours that you’d recommend we add to ours?

      November 3, 2012
      • I would love to do conservation work in Africa, Asia and South America with them being so ecologically diverse and also do the Inca Trail in Peru, I’d also love to kayak through the canals of venice. There are many more, my list often grows when I read lonely planet :)

        November 3, 2012
        • Kayak through the canals of Venice – awesome! We suffer from enough wanderlust without reading Lonely Planet so we try not to pick up the LP books unless we’re actually going somewhere.

          November 3, 2012
          • Good advice, unfortunately until I finish university and start earning enough i’m stuck dreaming of the adventures your having, wish the best of luck and lots of fun with them :)

            November 3, 2012
            • Thanks! If you’re still at university, then you have plenty of time to make your bucket list dreams come true :)

              November 3, 2012
  2. I love your blog title :)

    Umm, “play in a scrabble tournament” ? That came out of nowhere… :)

    I like your plans though, and it seems like you’re well on your way !

    November 3, 2012
    • Read the post titled “unhealthy obsession” and it’ll make sense

      November 3, 2012
  3. Cannot even describe how in awe I am write now. You have a new, dedicated blog follower. I just want to go have coffee with you and hear about all your travels, but this blog will do! :)

    November 4, 2012
    • Great! thanks for the support – we hope you enjoy our travel tales, those that are already up on the blog and those to follow also. :)

      November 4, 2012
  4. Great list! Looks like you have no time to lose here :)

    November 4, 2012
  5. Great list. My husband and I have got ‘visit the 7 wonders of the world’ in our list. :)

    February 23, 2013
    • Which 7? The list for the seven wonders of the ancient world is pretty definitive (and most of the wonders on it no longer exist), but we’ve seen way too many variations for the “seven wonders of the modern world” – which seven are on your list?

      February 23, 2013
      • Yes, most of the ancient wonders sadly don’t exist. We’ve taken bits from the old and new ‘modern’ list, and they are:
        Great Wall of China, Petra, Machu Pichu, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Colloseum and Pyramids of Giza. We’ve seen all but the first 3 in my list.

        February 23, 2013
        • We’d recommend Machu Picchu before the other two – it’s perched on some precarious fault lines and an earthquake or two will likely render it either inaccessible or nonexistent in the near future. And it’s definitely worth seeing.

          February 23, 2013
  6. Amazing list.

    March 10, 2013
  7. Amazing list, I am definitely going to actually write mine down rather than just try to store it in my head!

    March 10, 2013
    • Thanks! If you have some cool items on your list, please do share :)

      March 10, 2013
  8. I love your list! We have many similar “to-do’s” but I might still a few more ideas from you ;-)

    March 11, 2013
  9. I’ve nominated you for a “Sunshine” award. If you would like to accept and join the fun, check out this post

    March 25, 2013
    • Thank you! That is very kind of you – we’re glad that you enjoy our blog.

      March 25, 2013
  10. Edd #

    Loved the blog and the list. Inspired me to start a list of my own:

    May 15, 2013
  11. Congratiolations, I have nominated you for the Best Moment Award! :)
    More about this nomination here:

    July 11, 2013
  12. Love your bucket list. I haven’t written one down for myself, but I’m thinking I should so I can be more intentional about the amazing things I want to experience.

    July 27, 2013
    • Thanks! We’re always on the lookout for more cool ideas, so if you do jot yours down drop us a line with some suggestions.

      July 27, 2013
  13. Very, very, very cool… This has inspired me to write a bucket list with my fiancé… We have been traveling for almost 2 years and have done many of the things on the list… do you think its allowed to write things on the list you have already done? ;) You seem a bit more “adventurous” as I don’t think I could hang with sky diving, bungee jumping… all of the scary thing but many listed are great ideas. I don’t see any language learning on here.. unless I missed it? Wouldn’t it be cool to learn common conversation in Russian or Mandarin? Or how about getting into Handstand? These are two of mine…. ; I wish you luck and look forward to hearing more!

    August 3, 2013
    • Hey, thanks for your comment! Languages are on there (#24) — S has just started taking Russian, which would be her third foreign language; D speaks three, Russian among them, but would like to add a couple more. We had a similar dilemma when we first wrote this page as to whether we should list the cool things we had already done. We wound up including some and leaving off others. The ones we included were things that we had always wanted to do — backpack and live abroad, for example — and had checked off our individual bucket lists before we met each other. The ones we left off were things that we had done that might have made the bucket list, but which we happened to do without really trying to cross off a life list.

      August 4, 2013
  14. Great list! What’s the name of the company for the castle?

    September 10, 2014
  15. Great blog! Loving the new post about Croatia.

    We’d love to have you guys come over to Yonderlist! We support travel bloggers by posting links to your blog and getting you more exposure. All you need to do is set up a profile and review some of the places you’ve been. Good luck with your blog and safe journeys!

    September 23, 2014
  16. Isabel #

    Hello! I just found your blog via Mama Mgeni. What an amazing long bucket list! As an Australian myself, I think you should definitely come to Australia sooner rather than later, and also add ‘go hiking in New Zealand’ to your list because it’s so beautiful over there. When you come to Australia (not if, but when) the things you must do include ‘The Overland Track’ in Tasmania, a visit to The Kimberley region in Western Australia, and maybe a walk in the Northern Territory. Good luck with completing everything on this list! I love people with big, exciting, adventurous dreams x Isabel

    August 29, 2015
    • Hi Isabel! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We haven’t looked at our list in a while and it will definitely need an update soon. We’ll add the items you suggest — neither of us has been to Australia or New Zealand and we both want to go. We’ve always thought of these sorts of lists as open-ended and aspirational. We hope to do as many of the things on here as we can but we also hope to never finish the list — life is too short to be able to check off all the things that are worth doing.

      August 30, 2015
  17. Joyce #


    My name is Joyce, I am a marketing executive at which is a leading expat information and services website.

    I saw on your blog that you are and expat. I wish to interview you to further share some of your tips. The questions are mainly about the housing, the daily life etc.

    It just takes 5 minutes (or more depending if you have lots to say :)

    Of course, if you accept we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.

    If you are interested to participate at this project, please send me an email at

    November 5, 2016
  18. Greetings!

    My name is Onin, Podcast Program Assistant for James Thomas, host and creator of the expat and immigrant focused podcast Four Seas One Family. James is an American who now lives in Taipei.

    Here in Four Seas One Family, we want to build bridges and not walls. In the podcast we tend to highlight how foreign nationals adjusted to just about anything from the countries that they are not a native of. Our goal is to take out any hesitation or negativity and let listeners know that people regardless of nation, have a lot more in common than they think.

    I’d also like you to know that we’re currently looking for more people for James to interview in Four Seas One Family and thought you would make an excellent guest for the show. I came across your blog through and when I went through your page I couldn’t stop reading your posts(I loved “The Curse of the Congo” post)! That said, we would like to formally invite you to join our podcast for a short interview. We guarantee it’ll be a fun and and memorable experience for you.

    I do hope you would consider being a guest at our show. Your experiences while living overseas can help those who are thinking about living abroad or those who are already living abroad find happiness while on their life journey.

    If you agree to be on the show you can either contact me through my e-mail or you can go directly to the scheduler in the link below.


    my email:

    Thank you for your time and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

    Niño Rolando Matignas

    Four Seas One Family, Taiwan

    July 25, 2018
  19. Love your list!! Gave me some good inspiration. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with pretty much a million things on our lists :-) Happy adventuring.

    October 10, 2019
    • Thanks Lexi! The only real way to keep a bucket list is to keep expanding it…if you cross everything off, then you’re ready to kick the bucket :)

      October 10, 2019
  20. Wow. Gorgeous list. In Helsinki we have:

    Samba Carnivals

    This was only one example what my country offers. Have you ever heard about Reindeer races which are open for everybody and they are free?

    Happy and safe travels!

    November 23, 2019
    • Been to Helsinki, but not during the Samba Carnivals. Thanks for sharing!

      November 23, 2019

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