In our last post, we took a look at the top five travel-related Bucket List items as determined in a survey of 1,000 people by TotallyMoney.com.
The Northern Lights, a wildlife safari, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, and taking a cruise were all perfectly good choices — for baby boomers or active travelers of most any age — keeping in mind, of course, that everyone’s individual lists will be different.
A few of the second five in the Top 10 surprised me a bit — simply because they edged out others I would have expected — though they’re all understandable as highly ranked picks.
So here, with my comments and added travel info, are the five sights and activities that finished out the Bucket List Top 10:
6. See the Egyptian Pyramids. Yes, absolutely — they’re the last remaining examples of the original Seven Wonders of the World, and speculation about how these massive monuments to ancient Egyptian pharaohs were built continues to this day. But don’t be surprised to see that civilization has crept up right next to one side of the iconic Great Pyramid at Giza in the form of unsightly urban sprawl and tacky souvenir shops (Giza is a Cairo suburb). Most photographers frame their shots of the three iconic Giza pyramids to eliminate the sprawl and focus instead on the pyramids and the exotic-looking camel riders who pose on the non-commercialized side, which remains pristine desert (I know I did.) Note, however, that for a more authentic experience there are other Egyptian pyramids to the south of Cairo that are far less visited.
7. Go whale watching. Great fun when you actually see whales, which is most of the time. The best spots for whale watching in my experience are off the California coast (gray whales, humpbacks); off the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts down to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean (humpbacks); Glacier Bay in Alaska (humpbacks, grays, belugas, orcas); and Antarctica (humpbacks, minkes, fins, southern rights, blues, orcas and more). Hawaii, South Africa, and Mexico’s Baja California are other good spots. If you’re in a small boat, which is the case on most whale-watching trips, be sure to bring seasickness medication, something non-greasy to munch on, and, of course, binoculars.
8. Spend New Year’s Eve in New York. While I have spent New Year’s Eve in New York — and had a perfectly good time –I’ve never ventured to Times Square on that evening. Stuck standing in a mob of thousands for seven hours or more without a bathroom? Yeah, right.
9. Gamble in Las Vegas. This is another marginal one for me. While I did put a few quarters in a slot machine the last time I was there, which was quite some time ago — do they still take coins in slot machines? — I’ve never ventured to the blackjack tables, the roulette wheels, or the Keno parlors. But — technically speaking at least — I have gambled in Vegas, so check that one off.
10. Take an American road trip. This is a pretty easy one for Americans with cars, so I’ll up the ante (to continue the Vegas theme): drive across the U.S. from west to east coast or vice-versa. The big question then becomes: which route to take? A toughie, though the season you’re traveling in may dictate the answer.
In warm weather, the northern route beckons, making sure not to miss the best of New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont); upstate New York and parts of the Great Lakes; Chicago; South Dakota (Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Corn Palace), Wyoming (including Yellowstone), Montana (Glacier National Park) and Idaho as well as parts of the Pacific Northwest (Cascades, Seattle, Portland) and Northern California (redwoods).
The middle route is another great choice in summer: It’s hard to top the scenery in California (San Francisco to Nevada via Yosemite and Colorado (Rocky Mountains). The Midwest, where I grew up, is flat and at times tedious (think: 500 miles of Nebraska), but has its offbeat and bucolic charms, such as the green farmlands of Iowa and southern Illinois; the mighty Mississippi River; the covered bridges of south-central Indiana; and Ohio’s quirky Hocking Hills. The central Atlantic coast (New York City south to the Jersey Shore, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas) makes for a refreshing conclusion.
In winter, the southern route is the obvious choice; with sufficient time you could leave from the barrier islands of Georgia, hit the beaches and seafood shacks along the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama, drop in on New Orleans for more great food and music, then continue west to Texas’ twin gems, Austin and San Antonio, and northwest to northern New Mexico and Arizona (Grand Canyon) before arriving in Los Angeles. I would also recommend a side trip north from Arizona into Utah, which has spectacular national parks (Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef); and Las Vegas is right on the route from Utah to L.A.
The rest of the survey — which totals 20 Bucket List items in all — includes destinations and activities such as Venice, Italy; Paris’ Eiffel Tower, New England in fall color season; going to the top of New York’s Empire State Building; and India’s Taj Mahal.
I can certainly recommend all of them — both Venice and the Taj Mahal are in the top ten of my own all-time favorite sights — but even if I’ve already crossed all these items off my own list, the list just keeps getting longer. Admittedly, by now it’s become a bit unusual — some might say eccentric.
Coming Next: My Current (and probably eccentric) Top 10 Bucket List
Readers, I’d love to hear your own comments on the Top Ten Bucket List in this survey, or your own top Bucket List choices. How closely does this list resemble your own?
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