18 Travel Goals Everyone Should Have
Life is long, and so is our travel bucket list. Oh, the places we'll go! We've got plenty of destinations on our agenda, but in addition to the "wheres," there are many activities we hope to take part in when we travel. Read on for 18 travel goals we think everyone should have on their list, from wandering through ancient ruins to speaking a foreign language.
Traveling by train may not be the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B, but it will give you access to sights you could never see from the road. Some train journeys, like Norway's Bergen Line—which passes fjords, glaciers, and snow-capped peaks on its way from Oslo to Bergen—offer unparalleled views one could never see in such a short amount of time (and without getting really adventurous). Train travel is also a great way to unwind if you've had an exhaustive trip thus far—and it allows you to go directly from small town to small town, something commercial air travel can't compete with.
Getting lost during your travels isn't something you can plan for, but you can will it to happen if you release your grip on that map of yours, leave your smartphone in the hotel, and purposely take a wrong turn. The experience will no doubt help you uncover surprises, get to know the locals, and find confidence in your abilities. Just keep your wits about you and you'll have the time of your life.
A grand plan of sailing the world is not everyone's cup of tea, but a sailing trip of any length—be it just a day or two, or a months-long voyage—is a special experience that will give you a unique perspective. Not only will the journey teach you a thing or two (and make you feel like an old soul), but when you pull into a slip in a new city, you'll quickly make friends in the marina and find yourself a part of the sailing community, a special thing most tourists don't get to experience.
No matter what wine region you're in—Napa, California; Alsace, France; or Mendoza, Argentina—tasting wine on the soil where grapes grow is an experience like no other. You'll learn about all the countless details that go into each and every glass, from the terroir to the oak barrels to the bottling, and you'll relish the sight of the rambling vineyards, no doubt one you won't forget.
At some point in your life, rent a house or an Airbnb apartment and live like a local. Stay a little longer than you planned. Shop at the local farmer's market. Wake up and go on a run like you would at home.Take a siesta like the locals do. See a movie in a different language. Throughout your time in this new town—be it a week or a month—create a routine for yourself. Soon you'll notice yourself seeing the same faces, and you'll get to know the rhythm of the town. You won't become a native overnight, but you'll give yourself the opportunity to see what life is really like.
The world is divided into seven continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Some are easier than others to reach, of course—darn you, Antarctica! But visiting all seven certainly can be done in a lifetime. Time for a new stamp in your passport.
There's a reason the government owns national parks: The land is truly something. Plan a camping trip, and get up close and personal with the landscape; take in all its untouched beauty. If you're not into hiking Half Dome, you can just set up camp, have a cookout, and stargaze—no need to scale mountains if that's not your thing.
Of the original ancient seven wonders of the world, there's only one still standing: the Great Pyramid of Giza. But there are plenty of new lists to explore: the new seven wonders of the world (which include the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal) or the seven wonders of nature (which include Table Mountain, Halong Bay, the Amazon, etc.). Check a few off and you're just getting started.
Travel is the ultimate opportunity to develop your photography skills. You don't have to own a crazy-expensive DSLR camera (if you do, great!), but whatever kind of lens you're working with, take it to the next level. Look out for patterns and colors. Be thoughtful about your composition. Wake up early to catch that gorgeous morning light.
Depending on where you live in the world, flamingos may seem everyday and rhinoceros might seem basic. Whatever creatures you haven't laid eyes on, make a point to see them in their natural habitat. Visit the Falkland Islands and meet the rockhopper penguins. Travel to the Galapagos and say hello to a blue-footed booby.
As Plato put it (or maybe it was John Watson), we are all fighting a hard battle. Give yourself a break and do it up right for once. Save up for months and splurge a little so you can afford that five-star hotel room that costs nearly a month's rent. And when you're there, treat yourself to a proper experience. Order room service. Get a massage at the spa. Read the newspaper in the lobby. Enjoy every passing moment—you deserve it.
The time may have passed for some of us, but if you're still feeling young and restless, free up a few weeks on your calendar and backpack through Europe. Brimming with cultural destinations packed closely together, the continent is the perfect playground for both beginner and advanced travelers. Pack light and hop on trains, planes, and automobiles. Stay in hostels and cheap B&Bs. Meet fellow travelers. Get into trouble. It's a trip you'll never stop talking about.
Whether you take a cooking class on vacation or learn an old family recipe from your host mother, learning to cook international cuisine is a travel experience that will keep the journey alive well after you've arrived back at home. Pay attention to the small details of how cooking in a different country varies from yours. Use ingredients you can't find at home. Notice how—and when—different dishes are served. You could live a lifetime in another country and still not learn it all, so start by mastering one recipe like a local.
Guidebooks are great, but there's a reason tourists are willing to pay big bucks to hop a double-decker bus tour in London or wander Chichen Itza with a Mayan descendant: Tour guides know their stuff. Take a historical tour, especially if you're visiting a city or region you know little about, or only have a short amount of time to cover a lot of ground. You'll usually learn the basics, as well as little-known facts.
The Earth has five oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, and the Southern Ocean. How many have you swam in? Two? Three? You've got a lifetime to check them all off, so start planning your next coastal getaway.
There's no better way to live like a local than to speak like one. Before your next international trip, polish up your language skills with a class or a book on tape. When you land in new territory, don't be bashful. Approach a local and ask for directions in broken French or Swedish or Mandarin. Resist the urge to revert to English, even if the natives you meet can do a perfect American impression. If you'll be in a foreign country for an extended period of time, set up a language exchange and meet for coffee with someone who wants to practice their English—you should each speak only in the language you're trying to learn.
There are few times you'll experience a greater sense of wonder than while you're wandering through the world's ancient ruins. Seeing the attention to detail that went into centuries-old columns and learning about the trials that went into hoisting limestone bricks high in the sky without modern technology is absolutely mind-boggling.
One of the best parts of travel is the journey—especially if you're with your nearest and dearest. Some time during your time here, plan a road trip with friends and just let life happen. Don't make too many plans beyond your final destination. Tee up an infectiously cheerful soundtrack. Pull into the most rural rest stop you can find. Visit the small-town attractions. Stay at a quirky B&B. Ask for insider recommendations. Enjoy the trip—it'll be over before you know it.
Shop a few travel essentials for these trips below.
What else would you add to this list? Share with us below!