The bucket list – a waste of time?

The original title for this post was just “The bucket list”. I was going to start the post with a list of some of the coolest (ok, let’s be honest, the most impressive sounding) stuff that I’ve done in my life. Then I was going to write a list of the things I want to do before I kick the said bucket.

But I realised something…everything on list 1 was completely unplanned. Everything.

Sure maybe I planned to go to the Peruvian Amazon but I never planned to see a wild cat or try a frog poison psychedelic. I booked my flight to New Zealand but I went river surfing on white water rapids because my friend won a free ticket in a pub competition. The decision to go skydiving was made late one morning after a five minute chat with my equally spontaneous friend. Running with the bulls in Spain was the result of bravado and a drunken bet. I just happened to be standing on a hill in Ecuador overlooking Volcano Tungurahua as it erupted sending ash to float down on us miles away.

So is there any point in planning what things you want to do before you die? What moments or actions will make you life a completed one? Maybe it’s all about taking some risks and being open to whatever opportunities arise along the way. Because, after all, you never know what your really capable of until your right there in the moment. You never know what the memories and moments are that will add colour and texture to the picture of your life when your one day looking back. And maybe too expectation is a killer of spontaneity and enjoyment. When you picture something in your minds eye a million times can the actual ever really equal the dream?
Or…then again…maybe it is crucial to write it all down. To mentally plan in order to push yourself and be clear of what you want, then you can have that sense of achievement as you tick each item off.

I’m undecided but here is my “bucket list” anyway. Needless to say this is a work in progress, I’m pretty sure tomorrow I will have another twenty more ideas.
– Go on a safari in Africa
– Drive across Australia, see Uluru
– Try Ayahuasca
– Learn to meditate and do yoga in India
– Learn to scuba dive in Thailand
– Live completely off the grid for a while
– Learn french
– See a mexican wrestling match
– Visit my friend in Black Forest, Germany
– See the land in Italy where my grandparents were born and lived

I wonder if one day I will do all these things. And if I do, will they reach my expectations? Or maybe I will do a whole list of other crazy unexpected things and never get to tick one thing off. And actually, now I think about it, that will be just fine by me.

How to be a tourist not a traveller

So, you’re off on a trip, whether for a short time or a long time you’re going to a place far from home. What will you gain from this? Hopefully nothing because you, luckily, are a tourist, not a traveller. Here is a step-by-step guide to ensure that you don’t cross that dangerously fine line between ignorant tourist and informed and inspired traveller.

Rule No. 1– Stay with people from your own home country. Actively seek them out, speak only to them, no one else understands you anyway right? If people who seem foreign to you try to join in the conversation simply continue talking like they aren’t there. This way you are able to stay uniformed and ensure you don’t make any new and potentially life changing connections.

Rule No.2– Your guidebook is your gospel. Don’t get off the beaten track, beat it some more. If someone invites you to do something that you haven’t read about in your trusty guidebook, don’t do it. I repeat do not do it. It is a sure-fire way to learn something new and meet other people. If you do these things that aren’t mentioned in your guide-book you will end out of your comfort zone, this will obviously lead to an opportunity to grow as a person and learn new things. From there it’s a slippery slope to the doom of being an educated world traveller.

Rule No. 3– Complain often and forcefully. Don’t ever bother to see things from the perspective of the country you are travelling to. Please don’t have empathy or understanding. “This food tastes different”, “the weather is too cold”, “the wi-fi is too slow”,” no one understands my language no matter how loud I yell!”. These are the things you should be saying on a daily basis. Don’t bother to see the positives in a difficult situation, again this is going to help you grow to be a better person, don’t do it!

Rule No. 4– Plan everything and never deviate from this plan. If you can, plan each allotment of time in your day. Once you have completed an extensive plan never deviate. If you see an opportunity to try something new that you had never imagined doing, don’t. If it’s not on the plan you’re not interested. After all you already know before leaving what the best things to do are. Don’t listen to the locals, they know nothing. If you are constantly open to new ideas and ready to take a risk your right there in travellers territory, before you know it you’ll be chatting away with locals and learning a new language. Resist.

Rule No. 5– Only eat food that you like and have tried before. Even if this means actively searching out a fast food store, do it! You have no idea if you will like the food other people are eating. The local food might different, probably different flavours, different ingredients something memorable and completely new. Stay away. Best to eat the burgers and fries that are as similar as possible to what you make at home and be done with it. If you happen to be forced due to starvation to try something new please refer to rule no.3 and complain as loudly and obnoxiously as possible.

Rule No.6– Go with preconceived ideas, don’t change these for anything. Stereotypes are always right, everyone knows that. Don’t bother to see the diversity in a place, to look for new perspectives of your preconceived ideas. You know what it is like before you get off the plane, that’s why you have your plan. It doesn’t matter the people you meet or the things you see that challenge these conceptions, you were right and always will be.

Well, dear readers, if you can’t seem to quite follow the rules above I feel sad to tell you that you may in fact be a traveller. A world wanderer looking for new experiences. A person wanting to grow and be challenged in a way that is completely new and thoroughly exciting. My condolences, this life will lead you to meet amazing people and see things you never knew existed. It will take you to far-fetched places and you will get to feel a part of the culture of a spectacularly different place in the world. Shame isn’t it, that we can’t all just be ignorant tourists