Personally, I have never been a big fan of bucket lists. With every “20 places to see before you die” and “10 once in a lifetime trips” I shudder at the fact, that some few experiences (like seeing the Taj Mahal or hiking Machu Picchu) are deemed to be more valuable than others (like seeing the Victorian necropolis in Glasgow or hiking Sambock in South Tyrol). I cherish every single journey I am on, and whether the mountain I climb is in exotic Costa Rica or my home country Austria, does not matter. The hype sometimes even keeps me at distance – for example, I have never been to Paris or Thailand and part of the reason is that I have heard over and over again that I HAVE TO SEE THEM if I want to call myself a real traveller. That simply puts me off entirely.

But of course, the more I see of this world, the more curious I become to see the places others talk about. I’d call this a wish list rather than a bucket list though. The items on my list are not on there to be ticked off like the veggies chocolate on my shopping list, they are experiences that change me as a person. Travelling is not about doing something cool to show off in your next Facebook profile pic. Travelling is about learning new skills, gaining knowledge and growing as a person.

The Travelettes Wish List 2015

I love the challenge of travelling to new countries or meeting new people and I think that group trips can be a good way to combine the two. Tour operator Contiki offers trips all over the world which are organised (not my favourite tag word), but flexible (absolutely my favourite tag word). They combine a set programme with enough spare time to discover on your own, and visit places that are not necessarily on everybody’s bucket list. They will not only bring you to the 1 or 2 “top must-see’s” of a country, but focus on experiences that will stay with you your entire life.

My personal traveletty wish list is endless – there are simply too many countries, cities, lakes, mountains, rivers and forests to explore – but here are some more or less location-independent examples. Maybe you add the one or the other experience to your wish list for 2015.

The Travelettes Wish List 2015

1) I want to get lost on a lonely island.

Faraway places like the Galapagos islands or New Zealand are on my wish list because of their endemic wildlife – I love giant turtles! – and breathtaking landscapes. I love to get lost in the green hills or white beaches, finding peace with myself and contemplating the decisions I have made in my life. I hope to connect to nature in my very own way and find some soothing solitude. On a recent trip to Arran (two hours away from my hometown) I got literally lost in a mountain and it was an amazing experience. I want to do this again, no matter where the island is.

bilbao-boat

2) I want to cruise down a river.

Surprisingly enough – after sailing in Croatia and sea-kayaking in Scotland – I have to admit, that I am scared of the ocean. Spending day after day in a place where jaws and giant octopuses roam free (even 5000km and probably a film script away from me) is creepy. Lakes and rivers on the other side are the realm of my dreams. I dream of floating down a river, or paddling along chains of lakes, soak in the nature that surrounds me and feel like I’m exploring a place slowly enough to take it all in. After a little taster last year, I would like to return to the Amazon river for a longer cruise, or visit Asia for the first time and discover the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. These massive rivers remind me of how small I am, and that travelling can be a matter of floating along.

engadin valley switzerland

3) I want to go on a EuroTrip.

This makes my wish list sound an awful lot like a conventional bucket list, but there is a good reason for this. The fact that I used to dismiss EuroTrips as something that everybody does, and therefore I wouldn’t, means that I haven’t seen a big junk of my own home continent. I have not been to some of the most beautiful capitals; I have only travelles 14 of the 28 countries in the European Union; I have been to four countries in Scandinavia, but only one in the Balkans. I want to experience what is close at hand, instead of flying half-way around the globe to lie on an exotic beach (which might as well be in Croatia or Montenegro).

dogsledding

4) I want to explore the Arctic North with huskies.

Winter is rough up north, but I still love it. Earlier this year Frankie told us about dog sledding in Northern Norway. Even though she has in later conversations called it the physically and emotionally most challenging trip of her life, I couldn’t imagine anything better to do. Maybe a slightly less colder version in the Alps would do as well, but eventually Siberia, Scandinavia and Alaska are the aim.

The Travelettes Wish List 2015

5) I want to cross a continent – but not by plane.

Don’t get me wrong. I love planes. They get me to a new place faster and sometimes even cheaper than over-land transportation. However, some smart person once said “the journey is the reward”, and that is exactly what I’m aiming at here. I want to drive or bike or paddle or walk across an entire continent. I want to rely on my own skills on the way and if these fail, on the helpful people I meet along the road. By travelling slow I want to explore a place to the fullest.

Wish List 2015 / Kathi Kamleitner

6) I want to step on a new continent.

But not to tick it off a list (I’m on 3 and counting…) but to leave my comfort zone and experience a completely different culture. Yes, any two European countries can be very different, but the culture shock will be more effective in any given Asian or African country. I want to be immersed in a new culture, hear new languages, meet people with an inspirational lifestyle – and learn from them.

The Travelettes Wish List 2015 (3)

7) I want to travel with my best friend.

I have known her since we are 6 and yet, we have never been on a longer trip together. Travelling is what defines me and I would like to share one of these defining moments (or several of them) with her. I want to explore Morocco with her, or Oregon, or maybe even just Austria – as long as I get to share my passion with her.

The Travelettes Wish List 2015

Of course, this article shall be taken with a little pinch of salt. While I’m very good at criticising, I’m not always so good at not falling for something in the end. I love to make lists of the places I wanna see, but along the road I usually reflect very well on the experiences that I made and hope to make in the future.

How about you, do you write your own bucket or wish lists? Is there anything you want to do or see before you die?

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner, Katja Hentschel, Marie Colinet & Kathi Greinstetter.

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This article was sponsored by Contiki.