Category Archives: Bucket List

From Bucket List to Been There Done That #2: Backpacking

A non-athletic, for sale non-competitive, order not-rich person’s guide to replacing excuses with plans.

Backpacking in Buenos Aires

Backpacking in Buenos Aires

Imagine that someone says to you, “I just got back from a 5-week backpacking trip in South America.”
Is your reply the following?
“I could never do that.”

Before you say never, look at what you’re saying never to:
I never want to travel with a flexible schedule that lets me pack up and be ready to go in minutes.
I never want to take a month-long or longer vacation by using the funds that would have only lasted for a few weeks in wheeled-luggage-friendly tourist places and saving a ton by moving off the beaten path to stretch my budget for a much longer trip.

What other excuses are popping into your head?

I don’t like to carry a backpack.
You’re thinking of the cheap backpack you filled with textbooks in university, and then wore on one shoulder to look cool. I know – my shoulders are still sore from looking so cool. Get a good pack, adjust it to fit you and don’t over-pack (I’m still learning how to do this.) Practice carrying it. The weight should be on your hips, not pulling on your shoulders. It’s actually more comfortable than trying to manhandle a suitcase. Plus you get to keep all the tips. If you carry it without complaining, you can tip yourself double.

I can’t fit everything.
I hear you. Packing is the hardest part. Think layers and double-duty pieces when planning your wardrobe. If you’ll be anywhere near a decent-sized city you’ll be able to replenish instead of lugging 5 weeks of contact lens solution from the start. If I didn’t have a Kindle it would be much harder – I NEED to have books with me. Many places have a book swap. Leave the paperback you finished and take something new.

I can’t walk far with a backpack.
The only time you need to carry the full pack is when you’re moving from one “base of operations” to the next. For day trips and overnighters you can carry a smaller bag. So really, you’re only carrying the full pack from a hostel or hotel to a bus station. Of course, this only works if you don’t start buying food, souvenirs and clothes for unexpected weather so that you have to use your big and small packs to fit everything, and then wear one on your front and one on your back like I did. Oops.

Backpacking is for 20-somethings.
Using your age as an excuse not to do things is a slippery slope. Don’t go there. Backpacking really is doable. Cram your stuff in, try to carry it, offload some stuff, re-adjust it and you’re good.
Have fun!

From Bucket List to Been There, Done That # 1: Travel

A non-athletic, non-competitive, not-rich person’s guide to replacing excuses with plans.

El Bosque Tallado (Carved Forest) in El Bolson, Argentina

El Bosque Tallado (Carved Forest) in El Bolson, Argentina

I’m not a fan of the “bucket list.” I don’t have a bucket list. Once I find something I really want to do, I’ll find a way to do it. For example, I just got back from spending 5 weeks backpacking in South America.
If you’re thinking You’re SO lucky… I wish I could go on a trip like that… I have to tell you something: It wasn’t luck. And you CAN take a trip like that.
No one gave me plane tickets, an itinerary, or a “get out of work free” card. I decided I wanted to go, saved the money, bought the plane ticket, made the plan, told my clients, set my email to Out of Office, and left.
What excuses are you telling yourself right now?
I can’t take 5 weeks off of work – my boss would never let me!
Is that really true? Have you tried? Most places won’t offer that much time off, but if you’re valuable and you can plan your time off in advance to be during a low time or over the Christmas holidays, and you volunteer to cover everyone else during peak vacation times, then maybe you can work something out. Since I’m a freelancer, I have many clientS, not just one boss. That means I had to tell MANY people I would be gone for 5 weeks. None of them freaked out.
I can’t travel with kids.
I met a couple in a hostel in Argentina who were traveling around the world for a year with their two boys – one pre-teen and one young teen. Would your kids learn more in school or on a trip? I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve seen people do it. There’s a way. Do it FOR your kids!
I don’t have the money.
This is where we get to the crux of the situation. Resource allocation. If you really, truly want to travel, you have to scale back on other things. I’ve used duct tape to hem pants that didn’t fit right, my 10-year old car is showing signs of rust, and I rarely go out to eat. Prioritize. Put a little bit away every month. It’s not easy to save up a big chunk of cash, but it is doable.
The only potentially valid excuse I can think of is medical, and even then, there’s often a work-around. At the recent Banff Film Festival I saw “The Gimp Monkeys” about three climbers who were each missing one limb. They climbed El Capitan in Yosemite. It took them 5 days, but they did it. One of them said, “The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms any day.” Watch it! And then throw out that bucket list. Instead, list your excuses and work on crossing those off. If you do that, you won’t need a bucket list.
What earth-bound travel plans have you been putting off?