Go Big, Spend Big: Why I'm Joining the Bucket List Travel Trend

No more city breaks and weekend escapes, it's time for the adventure of a lifetime
No more city breaks and weekend escapes, it's time for the adventure of a lifetime
Photo of Gethin Morgan
Content And Crm Executive27 September 2022
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The last few years have been tumultuous, to say the least, for any passionate international traveller. That crazy shared experience has given many people, including myself, a fresh, no holds barred attitude to making travel plans.

2022 has been the year travel returned. Cast your mind back to the first few months and we were stuck in yet another bleak cycle of variants, infection rates and border-crossing restrictions but, as winter drifted off in our rearview mirror things got progressively better. People were making their first international trips in over two years, confidence continued to grow that plans would no longer be scuppered by a new wave, and the travel industry bounced back big, so much so that many airports couldn’t even handle it.

Back in January, a CNBC report predicted that 2022 would be the year of bucket list travel, with starved travellers ready to go big and spend big to make up for lost time. It makes sense, right? Only a truly epic adventure could satisfy two years of simmering travel urges.

And while many suffered huge financial losses throughout the pandemic, there are others who saved up some spending money, be it thanks to working from home, spending less on social activities or simply having two or three years worth of holiday savings pile up into one big kitty. So why not release your frustrations and spend it all at once? That’s certainly my plan.

As an early Gen Z-er, with the looming shadows of student debt and sky-high rent prices, such exuberant expenditure has rarely entered my mind outside of purely fantastical daydreams. Not to mention that the pandemic has taken away two years in that early 20s sweet spot – boundless energy to explore, fairly minimal adult responsibility and finally some well-earned cash to spend.

I never did the whole “gap yah” in Vietnam or Australia thing, nor did I go on any remotely extravagant holidays with my family as a kid. Instead my travel map looks like one of those graphics used in WWII documentaries – yet another European city falls as Gethin steadily makes his way across the continent.

Prague is one of most beautiful European cities I’ve explored

That was all supposed to change, mind you, in early 2020, when me and my partner were bouncing off the walls with excitement at the prospect of exploring New York City, a big bucket list entry for the two of us. We were due to fly from Heathrow on the 23rd of March. When did the UK go into lockdown for the first time? Yep, that’s right, the 23rd of March.

So now I’m ready to bounce back with a vengeance. I’m sitting on the front row of the bucket list bandwagon. Solidarity with fellow travel nuts – let’s go big.

I have eased myself in with a continuation of the European campaign, a couple of small trips in late 2021 and a few more significant escapes throughout 2022, but now I’m ready to go all out. My next trip, in November, is as out-there as it gets – 10 days in Qatar.

Keen sports fans will have clocked that I’m going to the men’s football World Cup, and keen sports fans will also know that, as well as an ethical minefield, this tournament is a logistical nightmare, with eye-watering finances and a real sense of the unknown. But, as a proud Welshman seeing my team qualify for the first time in 64 years, this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. To see my tiny little nation compete in the world’s greatest football festival? That’s priceless.

I don’t see my appetite for bucket list box-ticking waning after 10 days in a desert metropolis. In fact I think this trend will continue into 2023 and beyond, not just for me but for thousands of fellow travellers all over the world.

Things might have opened up again but we’ve learnt a valuable lesson over the last few years, one that many of us had never considered in our lifetimes, that global exploration is not a given. It has never been an option for many people, but even those who can afford to see the world have now been shown that this incredible privilege can be taken away from us very easily, and very quickly.

So let’s make the most of it. If you can afford it, if you can dream it up, then let’s do it. I haven’t decided on my next adventure, but I’m fairly certain it’ll be with Culture Trip. Our Epic Trips are the exact kind of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences I’ve got a hunger for. The hardest part is choosing where to start.

Japan and South Korea are huge bucket list destinations for me, while the Costa Rica itinerary is about as wanderlusty as it gets. Georgia and the Caucasus look utterly beautiful, and culturally fascinating.

South Korea is very high on the bucket list – should I go in 2023?

I might have to keep the Middle East theme going with a trip to Jordan. There’s the ancient city of Petra, sunset cruising on the Red Sea and Arab Street food in Amman, not to mention the vast expanse of Wadi Rum, a must-visit for film fans like myself, as the filming location for several Star Wars entries, as well as Lawrence of the Arabia (1962) and Dune (2021). Perhaps a trip to Arrakis in 2023 is the perfect way to preview Dune: Part Two (2023).

Whatever 2023 holds for me, I do know that I’ll be putting travel at the forefront of my plans. No inhibitions, let’s dream big. I suppose I do need to reschedule that trip to New York at some point…

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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