In the past few years I have been to 30 countries, 5 continents and countless cities, all in the name of my bucket list. And in honor of my 45th (YIKES!) birthday today, I wanted to create a list of my favorite forty-five bucket list checks from around the world.
Hopefully, you will find bucket list ideas and inspiration from these…
45 Amazing Things to Do Before You Die.
1. Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand
In Northern Thailand, an hour from Chiang Mai‘s city center, I spent a memorable day volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park. This is a special place where there was an eclectic bunch of Asian Elephants; some old, some young, some blind, some injured from working in the logging industry, some abused and some rescued from the circus. Not only were we able to feed these majestic creatures, but we also bathed them in the river.
Read More > Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand
Read More > Bucket List of 18 Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand
2. Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau
Jellyfish Lake in the Micronesian country of Palau is home to millions of jellyfish that are deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. It was still frightening for the first five minutes to be surrounded by jellyfish, some brushing up against my body. But, after the panic dissipated, this was one of my all-time favorite bucket list travel adventures.
Read More > Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau
3. Visit an Orphanage in Tanzania
Kibowa Orphanage is on the outskirts of downtown Arusha, hidden down a bumpy dirt road and painted in a friendly pale blue. There are 48 children that call it home and, after four days on an African safari in Tanzania, I spent a fun-filled afternoon with them. I chose to bring colorful balloons, which could be turned into animals or creative hats. It was a joy to watch the children smile as they each made their favorite shapes.
Read More > Visit an Orphanage in Tanzania
4. Take a Christmas Market Cruise
For the holiday season, Viking River Cruises and my traveling friend Cacinda of Points and Travel invited me to cruise along the Rhine River to visit festive European cities and almost a dozen Christmas markets throughout Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Between the lighted cathedrals, festive markets and abundance of glühwein, I found my Christmas spirit again.
5. Create Your Own Summer Cocktail
In the heat of the Arizona Summer, I decided it was the perfect time to create my own refreshing cocktail. The funnest part? Testing all the different concoctions. In the end, my signature drink was a Lemon-Basil Fizz made with prosecco, coconut rum, raspberries, basil and lemon sorbet.
6. See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London typically happens every other day (daily during the warmer months) at 11:30 am…sharp. Get there early! The guards arrive by marching pass Victoria Monument, directly in front of Buckingham Palace, and then entering through the ornate front gates of the palace. A mesmerizing show follows, filled with band playing, synchronized marching and absolutely no smiles.
7. Release Baby Turtles into the Ocean
While on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, I spent a memorable afternoon helping Osa Turtle Conservation. A group of us were taken to their hatchery along the beach to assist them in releasing baby Olive Ridley turtles into the ocean. Not only is it incredible knowing you are helping with these endangered animals survival, but they are adorable too!
Read More > Release Baby Turtles into the Ocean
8. Get a Fish Pedicure in Sitges, Spain
For €15,00 I had my feet nibbled on by Garra Rufa fish in the tiny Spanish beach town of Sitges, just forty minutes from Barcelona. This technique became popular as a relief for eczema and other skin disorders, but is now a trend around the world and one of the weirdest things to do before you die.
Read More > Get a Fish Pedicure in Sitges, Spain
9. Eat Traditional Fondue in Switzerland
Swiss Chuchi is a well-known eatery in Zurich that specializes in traditional Swiss style food. Though there were plenty of other tempting dishes on the menu to choose from, a pot of fondue sat on almost every table, a not-so subliminal message. This is where I spent lunch indulging in my very own pot of melted goodness.
Read More > Eat Traditional Fondue in Switzerland
10. Give Blood
Thanks to my fear of needles, my heart beated uncontrollably when I decided to give blood. But my mother, who had given blood many times before, convinced me that the feeling of saving lives would far outweigh the fear of that needle piercing my poor, unscathed arm. And she was right. A little pinch in the arm is worth knowing you have helped another person’s life.
Read More > Put on your Big Girl Panties and Give Blood
11. Go Wild Mushroom Hunting in California’s Napa Valley
Though truffle hunting is a popular foodie experience around the world, in Northern California wild mushroom hunting of all kinds in a crowd-pleaser. During Napa‘s famous truffle festival they offered a mushroom foraging excursion where three mycologists, fungi gurus, led the pack. We walked away with a once-in-a-lifetime experience under our belt and a basketful of bounty.
12. Eat Worm Cakes in Hanoi, Vietnam
While taking a street food tour in Hanoi, there were lots of weird food to be eat, but the oddest was the worm cakes. On one street, an elderly woman had set up a propane, one burner stove to sell her fresh ragworm cakes, the live ingredients squiggling right next to the frying pan. The patties, about the size of a McDonalds hamburger, are a combination of worms, mandarin peel, dill and the chefs choice of spices. For just a dollar, the owner fried them up fresh.
They were flavorful, tasting more like a minced meat pie than what you would expect a dirty worm to taste like.
Read More > Eat Worm Cakes (& Other Vietnamese Street Food) in Hanoi
Book a Tour > Street Food by Night with Urban Adventures
13. Climb to the Peak of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka
Sigiriya is an ancient palace, built in 480AD, located in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for it’s beautifully landscaped gardens, well-preserved frescos and… a crap load of stairs, all at different anxiety producing levels. Climbing the 1200 steps will take some stamina, but the view at the top will be totally worth it.
Read More > Climb to the Peak of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka
14. Take a Flyboarding Jetpack Flight in Cancun
Flyboarding is an adventurous sport where your feet will be slipped into boots that are attached to a board, much like a snow board. A tube attached from your feet to the jet ski pushes water and propels you into the air. While in Cancun I got my shot to try this and it was beyond challenging. You definitely need to use every ounce of balance you have.
Read More > Take a Flyboarding Jetpack Flight in Cancun
15. See a Movie at an Open-Air Cinema in Santorini
Kamari village located on the popular island of Santorini boasted one of the best open-air cinemas in the world and I was lucky enough to catch a showing of Maleficent while traveling to the island. It was a beautiful evening in Greece to watch an outdoor movie, while sitting on directors chairs and sipping on a glass of red wine. Better than the drive-in.
16. Rappel Down a Waterfall in Costa Rica
From my lodging at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat, it took a short trip by jeep, a treacherous hour-each-way horesback ride and scary twenty minute hike to even get to the King Louis Waterfall. But, that added to this adventure. Once there, the group was given a very brief rappeling lesson and then left to tackle the impressive 100 foot waterfall.
17. Go to a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica
Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is known for practicing morning silence, exercising sustainable tourism, having a secluded beachfront property, healthy farm-to-table meals and as being a place to nourish the body, mind and spirit. Those are all reasons that it made this place the perfect one for my very first yoga retreat.
Read More > Go to a Yoga Retreat. Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
18. Hike to the Top of Bartolome Island in Galapagos
The peak of Bartolome Island was known to have the most perfect view of the famous Galapagos Pinnacle Rock. There was no way that the avid bucket lister in me would miss scaling the 374 steps of this volcanic cone to see a unique perspective of one of the most photographed natural structures in the Galapagos.
Read More > Hike to the Top of Bartolome Island in Galapagos
19. Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, growing up to 60 feet, that’s over ten times the size of me. Their mouths can extend five feet when open. That’s absolutely large enough to accidentally suck me in. Luckily, that did not happen while swimming with these gentle giants in the warm waters of Cancun, Mexico.
Read More > Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun
20. Experience Istanbul’s Call to Prayer at the Blue Mosque
Five times a day throughout the streets of Istanbul you can hear the trilling call to prayer, also known as ezan. During this time the voice of the bellowing muezzin, the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loudspeakers at different mosques in the city. One of the best locations to witness this is while sitting on the benches between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Powerful!
21. Attend Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Notre Dame in Paris may not be the largest Catholic cathedral in the world, but it just might be one of the most beautiful and famous with an estimated 14 million visitors a year. What will make your visit even more special is if you time it for when there is a mass. It’s so powerful that it won’t even matter that it is entirely in French. Plus, it’s totally free.
Read More > Attend Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
22. See the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Greece
Mount Athos is an UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Easternmost “finger” of the Halkidiki peninsula in Greece and there are 20 monasteries that call it home. It is 363 square miles and there are 2,300 monks who live in this place dedicated to prayer and the worship of God.
Men have to have special permission to visit this holy land, while women must keep their distance. No exceptions. But, women can take a boat ride to witness it, as long as they stay 500 meters away.
23. Stay in a Tuscan Villa in Italy
After arriving in Florence, we drove just a few kilometers South of Siena to Villa Pippistrelli, a luxury Tuscan farmhouse located on the Monstegliano estate. This charming house is everything you’d expect from a Tuscan villa. It may be old in years, but the villa has been restored with present-day conveniences and elegant interiors while still keeping its rustic 17th century Tuscan feel.
Read More > Stay in a Tuscan Villa in Italy
24. Have a Private Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
There are several wine related perks to owning a restaurant in Northern California; sales reps are consistently leaving you full bottles of wine from the vineyards they are currently promoting, you receive dozens of comped passes to a variety of wine events, wine tastings and freebie promotional wine swag.
But, nothing has been as impressive as being invited to the exclusively private wine tasting at Napa Valley‘s Trinchero Family Estates that included an overnight stay at the Sutter Home Victorian Inn.
Read More > Have a Private Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
25. Take a Helicopter Ride into the Grand Canyon
After having traveled to Las Vegas a half a dozen times in the past couple years, on this current trip I was looking for something more than sparkling lights, feathered girls and dancing water fountains. I wanted a unique “Things to do Before You Die” experience. A helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon fit the bill. Sundance Helicopters took us 45 minutes from Las Vegas and landed us right into the Grand Canyon where we had time to explore and have a picnic.
Read More > Take a Helicopter Ride into the Grand Canyon
26. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Vineyards of Sonoma County
Even though this bucket list experience required waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am, it was worth every minute of missed sleep. A group of us met at the local airport, where our balloon company, Up & Away drove us to the take-off location. From there we spent one incredible morning floating over the vineyards of Sonoma County, California. They even dipped the basket low enough to touch the water of a pond.
27. See the Blue Footed Booby Mating Dance in Galapagos
There are 3 types of boobies on the Galápagos Islands: Blue-footed, Red-footed and Nazca. Though we did see them all, my real bucket list goal was to witness a Blue-footed Booby mating dance. This dance was their unique courting ritual, which included rocking side-to-side while lifting their eye-catching baby blue feet. On our last day of exploring the Galapagos Islands, on North Seymour, we saw one very popular female bird surrounded by a few male Boobies who were strutting their stuff trying to impress this desirable lady.
28. Drink in a Shinjuku Golden Gai Bar in Tokyo
Golden Gai is a neighborhood in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys, made only for pedestrians. Most bars in this section of town seat less than ten drinkers and cater to the locals. But, it is possible to find somewhere the travelers are welcome and will flock to. I ended up doing most of my Golden Gai drinking at Nessun Dorma, which means None Shall Sleep.
29. Get Spooked at the Catacombs in Paris
The Catacombs in Paris, France is a labyrinth of caves underneath the heart of the city and the resting place for the bones of six million Parisians. Starting in the late eighteenth century, remains were transferred to the ossuary as overcrowded graveyards were closing due to the risk to the public. Though the underground maze is extensive, the portion that is open to the public is a two kilometer Catacombs tour filled with skulls, bones & stones. Traveling through these caves was creepily cool.
Read More > Get Spooked at the Catacombs in Paris
30. Attend a Baseball Game in Japan
The game of baseball isn’t just one of America’s favorite pastime, the Japanese are passionate about it too. They just do things a bit differently at the games, like waving umbrellas for home runs, snacking on edamame and having cheerleaders.
31. Visit a Maasai Tribe in Tanzania, Africa
On the way back to the city of Arusha, after a long day on safari at Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, our Shadows of Africa driver took us down a dusty, bumpy road to get to a Maasai village. We were greeted by the chief’s son and he welcomed us into the inner circle of their living quarters, which consisted of about eight small huts. There was one for each wife and their children, plus one for the husband who alternated which woman stays with him each evening. Not only was their polygamist lifestyle interesting, but so was their farming capabilities, minimalist living and culture.
Read More > Visit a Maasai Tribe in Tanzania, Africa
32. Put a Love Lock on Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris
The Paris Pont des Arts bridge, near the Louvre, is a place where couples can put padlocks along the rails to secure their love. Then they throw away the keys so the love can not be unlocked. We bought a small gold lock, which had three keys attached, for five euros from a brilliant vendor who stood at one end of the bridge. The merchant even supplied a selection of colored markers to write our tender message with.
Read More > Put a Love Lock on Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris
Read More > 23 MUST DO Experiences For Your Couples Bucket List
33. Work a Pottery Wheel with a Master in Italy
Gulio Lucarini is one of the skilled ceramists behind Terrabruga Ceramics and I was invited to their tiny laboratory which is located in the quaint town of Cortona in Northern Italy. Here Mr. Lucarini gave me a private pottery lesson entirely in Italian. Even though my vase turned out lopsided, it was a favorite experience on my Things to do before you die list.
Read More > Work a Pottery Wheel with a Master in Italy
34. Get a Natural Mud Bath in Palau’s Milky Way
While boating in and out of Palau’s 300+ islets in search of the best snorkeling spots, we had found some spectacular sites loaded with colorful fish, gigantic clams, whitetip sharks and intricate coral. But, we also found a spot to slather the white limestone mud all over our bodies to get a natural mud bath.
Read More > Get a Natural Mud Bath in Palau’s Milky Way
35. Explore the Depths of a Cava Cave in Spain
Even as gorgeous as the wine caves of my home in Northern California are, they didn’t quite compare to exploring the seemingly endless, channels of a Cava cave in Spain. Some Cava caves would make the perfect location to film a horror flick, while others could be used as a skilled mathematicians puzzle.
Read More > Explore the Depths of a Cava Cave in Spain
36. Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo
You can’t fully understand the intensity of this sport unless you are up close and personal at a sumo wrestling practice to witness the panting, grunting and dripping sweat. The practices are not attractions created for tourists, they are serious and you need to show respect while you are there. Though there are several other stables to visit, at Hakkaku Sumo Stable in Tokyo you can spend the morning watching an intense Sumo wrestlers practice.
Read More > Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo
Read More > 22 Bucket List Things To Do in Tokyo
Book a Tour > Watch a Morning Sumo Training
See > More Sumo Related Experiences
37. Eat at a Themed Restaurant in Tokyo
At the Alcatraz ER themed restaurant, you can eat a plate of beef shaped like a brain on the floor of a jail cell while sipping cocktails out of a dummy’s head, which is exactly what I did. If a gothic cathedral environment is more your thing, try Christon Cafe or opt for The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku that takes dinner and a show to another level. There will be loud music, dancing and robots fighting, plus a little sushi to dine on if you should choose.
38. Go on an African Safari in Tanzania
There are plenty of places in Africa to go on safari, but mine was done in Tanzania with the Shadows of Africa tour team. For four days we explored the surreal Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks. Though we missed out on spotting the big five, because of the elusive rhino, it was still one of the most memorable travel bucket list adventures.
Read More > Go on an African Safari in Tanzania
39. Eat Insects at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market
While exploring the plentiful booths of Chiang Mai‘s Sunday Night Market, there was one stall that caught my attention. It had all sorts of varieties of edible bugs; crickets, cicada, mealworms and whirligig beetles. How do I choose? I opted for the insect sampler pack for 20 baht ($0.65 usd), a little of each. I like variety.
40. Take a Junk Boat Ride Through Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour
While in Hong Kong I checked off seeing the Symphony of Lights and riding on a traditional Chinese junk boat in Asia of my bucket list in one shot. A twofer. The Symphony of Lights laser show does a display that runs throughout the skyscrapers along Victoria Harbour, the same body of water that an ancient sailing vessel, a junk boat, tours.
Read More > Take a Junk Boat Ride Through Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour
Read More > Bucket List of 17 Things to Do in Hong Kong
Book a Ride > Enjoy Stunning Views of HK’s Skyline on Aqua Luna
Book > Hong Kong Harbor Night Cruise and Dinner at Victoria Peak
41. Nibble on Chicken Feet at the Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurant
Tim Ho Wan is a hole-in-the-wall dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong that gained recognition after receiving a coveted Michelin star and therefore being known as one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world. And it is cheap. Really cheap. Though they are well known for their pork buns, all their food is quite tasty, especially their chicken feet.
42. Have a White Christmas in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park in California with grand waterfalls, flowing creeks, picturesque hiking and monumental granite cliffs. During the holiday season it turns into a Winter wonderland with plenty of snowy activities for the entire family.
Read More > Have a Very White Christmas in Yosemite Valley
43. Swim with Sea Turtles in Olowalu
Olowalu is just five minutes South of Lahaina in West Maui, the location where the kayak/snorkeling tour we had signed up for took place. This snorkling spot had been the center of numerous turtles sightings and the day we were there was no different. We were able to swim alongside several of these amazing creatures.
Read More > Search for Sea Turtles & Sharks in Olowalu
44. Attend a Proper British Afternoon Tea in London
A proper Afternoon Tea in London is a British tradition that I had no intention of missing out on. I like tea. And tiny little sandwiches. The Royal Garden Hotel set up a traditional Afternoon Tea in London at their Park Terrace restaurant for us. Here we indulged in Pear Caramel and Chocolate Chip Truffle tea, along with sandwiches, sweets, scones and curd.
Read More > Attend a Proper British Afternoon Tea in London
45. Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Tokyo
Happo-en Japanese Garden sits in Shirokanedai district of Tokyo and is an exquisite example of natural beauty with its ancient bonsai, koi pond and blanket of cherry blossoms in the Springtime. Not only is it a beautiful representation of a Japanese garden, but you can schedule to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where you will be drinking Matcha in their wooden Muan tea house.
Read More > Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Tokyo
Read More > 22 Bucket List Things to Do in Tokyo
Book Tour > Experience a tea ceremony or wearing kimono at Bonsai Museum
Related & Helpful Resources
10 Incredible Ways a Bucket List Can Improve Your Life
My Book: Bucket List Adventures
5 Ways to Find Ideas for Your Bucket List
12 Bucket List Goals That Can Actually Save You Money
My Bucket List: 800+ Ideas
The Ultimate Bucket List Resource Guide
250+ Bucket Lists: 10,000 Things to do Before You Die
Couples Bucket List: 23 Must Do Experiences