Bucket List Ideas: 51 Things to Do Before You Die

I wish I had a bucket list of things to do once in a lifetime when I finished high school. It would have saved me time and money. But after doing some research (and going through some of these things to do once in a lifetime), I came up with these bucket list ideas of things to do before you die.

Life is meant to be lived as you see fit, not as everyone else wants you to live it. I talk about this in all my personal development posts, and I hope you will choose wisely.

That’s why I want to make it clear from the beginning that all these things you have to try at least once in your lifetime are suggestions, but please DO adapt them to your condition, desires and wants.

Remember that if you’re happy, everyone is happy.

Do you know how many times your heartbeat beats during your lifetime?

Your heart beats 100,000 times in one day. So, during an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. Let’s make all those heartbeats count and use them to do these important things to do before you die.

Without trying to make this post longer than it should be, I want to tell you these bucket list ideas of 51 things you have to try at least once in your lifetime. These are mostly travel-related experiences (because that’s what I know best), but they also have a deeper emotional meaning.

And as a full disclosure, I tried all of these. It’s not just a list I came up randomly, but something I have experienced myself. And each one of these experiences changed me for the better.

I’m all about inner journeys and experiencing feelings.

Read the entire bucket list of things to do once in your lifetime, and you’ll surely end up with a life worth living.

51 Things You Have to Try at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Obviously, I can only start with the one that got me started on this travel blog in the first place. Can you guess what it is? The rest of the things are in no particular order, so make sure you read until the end!

1. Travel solo

Travelling solo is one of the best things I have done for my soul and personal development, and I believe this can also work for others.

Travelling alone was the first step I (accidentally) took to start my self-improvement journey, and it’s the first thing I recommend to anyone I meet.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you must be sick of hearing this story, but it’s real, and travelling is a remarkable tool to help with the journey of personal development. How about a solo trip to Europe?

And if you don’t know where to go, start small. Or just go big if you can. Get a pen and paper and write down your top places to see before you die. Write those places you’ve heard of on social media or seen in movies. If you’re not going now, when will you?

2. Ride in a hot air balloon

Being up in the air, hearing nothing more than your own breath and a weird silence all around you, makes you realize how much you belong to this world.

Cappadocia is a fascinating area that is also famous for its hot air balloons rising at sunrise (so grateful I’ve been able to experience a ride in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey), but there are other places in this world where you can experience the silence of the air.

3. Go snorkelling

I used to be somehow afraid of drowning, but the fear was mostly in my head. To be completely honest, I still don’t know how to swim properly. I mostly mimic a frog when I move my limbs in the water.

But after overcoming all fears (or, better said, jumping in the water before knowing how to put on the snorkelling kit), it all tends to fly away, and you get mesmerised by the aquatic vegetation and life.

The light changes, the temperature changes, and the distances and angles change. The entire world changes, although it is just as it was before you got your head in the water. Make sure you go out with others and that someone is watching you (especially if you can’t swim that well).

And if you want to truly have an epic snorkelling experience, you need to swim between the two tectonic plates separating North America and Europe. It’s in Iceland.

It’s not going to be cheap, but you’ll literally be snorkelling between two continents. Who else can brag about that?

4. Go on an international road trip

Go on a road trip at least once in your lifetime.

Go with your best friends, with your partner, or with your kids. Establish a route, make some plans but let your journey be flexible so you can embrace the unexpected and go.

I had no idea the satisfaction and confidence boost I would get from driving from Romania all the way to Tallinn and back (I call it the Baltic road trip), or from Romania to the North Cape in Norway. That was the most fabulous road trip so far, and I can’t wait for the next one.

I’m an expert in planning trips in Europe, so if you’re planning your first visit, check out this 3-week European trip itinerary.

5. Visit a World Wonder

I’m not going to choose one and say, “Go see this thing”, because it’s stupid. It’s a matter of location, budget and personal aspirations that will make you choose to visit the pyramids, the Taj Mahal or Petra in Jordan.

The point is to go and see with your own eyes something that everyone raves about and experience it first, not through what others are saying about it.

6. Go Backpacking

There’s no other thing you can do than to try to live out of a backpack to realise how few things you actually need on a day-to-day basis. This is the first step to minimalism if you ask me.

Also, backpacking is necessary if you want to travel cheaply anywhere.

7. Drive in a foreign country

Driving is one of the great ways to see most countries in Europe and not only. Make sure you are at least two in the car, and the cost will be worth the experience. Check out the cheapest countries in Europe, if you don’t know where to start.

Driving in Jordan was a terrifying thought (at first) that turned out to be the best way to see that beautiful land. But then I got so used to this sense of new places that I’ve driven all over Europe, both my car and rental cars.

8. Live abroad and embrace a different culture

This is how it all started for me.

And I believe it can have a significant impact on anyone looking to start an inner journey to cultivate self-confidence and empathy. I lived in Turkey during Ramadan in 2015. I then volunteered in Austria for almost a year. It was a truly enlightening experience.

As a digital nomad, I love visiting a new place for a month and getting acquainted with the local lifestyle. So far, I’ve stayed for more than a month in Morocco, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and New York.

I do believe it’s important to choose a country with more cultural differences, to try to be friends with locals, and to understand the way they live life.

9. Learn another language

Language is not only a means of communication but also a way of thinking and understanding life.

Different languages have untranslatable concepts and phrases that can aid your journey through life.

I struggled to learn German for years, and even after living in Austria, I could only say a few sentences. But sometimes you learn the bare minimum in a short time when that’s the only way to communicate (I was forced to learn some Turkish (when I lived in Turkey) because there weren’t so many people speaking English).

10. Take an intercontinental flight

I have to be honest and say that this will be uncomfortable unless you are flying business.

Besides the fact that you will learn to sleep in a tiny space, you will experience the feeling of being alone in the middle of nowhere and, at the same time, together with hundreds of other people, all feeling the same.

11. Stay at a luxury hotel

As a true advocate of frugality, living a sustainable and vegan lifestyle, I see no point in paying extra for a bed to spend the night.

But at least once in your lifetime, treat yourself, if you have the means, and experience the softest bed linen, huge bathroom and best service. It gives you something to look up to or at least to compare.

12. Go to an amusement park

What I really want to suggest is to ditch any fear you might have and get on that roller coaster (or whichever thing scares you).

I always thought I would never enjoy a visit to an amusement park until I lost my voice screaming in Tivoli, the famous amusement park in Copenhagen. Would I do it again? Any day.

13. Ride an ATV

Talking about the adrenaline rush, riding an ATV is another source of extreme feelings and can also get you to places that cars won’t.

I didn’t drive the ATV; I was only the passenger, and the driver loved to hear me screaming, but it was exciting, I guess. And fast.

14. Scale to the summit

Hike, see mountains, don’t stop until you reach the summit. The views are always worth it. And exercise is always good for your body.

Next time you hear friends planning a hike, ask to join them.

It could turn out to be one of your best memories. It happened to me when I joined a group to hike up to the highest mountain peak in Romania. I still tell that story to all my friends. If you want to travel for cheap and go hiking, then you should check out Romania.

However, if you’re really going for it, you should put hiking in Norway on your bucket list. It’s breathtaking.

15. Volunteer

If you can, give something back to the world. Give something back to the society. Give it your time and attention, your kindness and your care.

There’s no greater feeling in the world other than the feeling you get when doing good.

We call it altruism, but I think it’s the foundation of our world. Do more of that.

Work with an NGO, volunteer in less developed countries, and work with children and people in need. Teach English if you can, or just help out. Listen to them. Try to understand. Take it in.

I worked as a volunteer in Turkey and Austria. I was working with children and teenagers working as a social worker. These were two similar but also very different experiences, and I recommend them to all young adults.

16. Camp in the wilderness

Get far away from the city and camp. Spend a night in complete silence. Listen to nature. And don’t be afraid, because we’re part of the wilderness too. I did this plenty during my Baltic trip, but also in Norway.

But if a thunderstorm starts, get inside or in the car. After a Googling session while trapped near Warsaw in a camping park during a thunderstorm near a pond, getting in the car was the best option. If you don’t believe it, I have it on camera, and the vlog is on YouTube.

17. Stay at a homestay

While I used to travel mostly on a budget, homesteads are a way to save money and get to know locals and their families.

Most of the time, they are much friendlier than the staff you meet at the local 5-star hotel. Sure, there is less comfort, but you can’t put a price on human connection. I would guess this was the original Airbnb.

18. Join a cooking class

I am not a foodie, but there’s no better way of getting to know the local culture of a region than learning how to cook their food.

Try to find a local family and ask them all your questions about their culture and food. That’s what I did in India (this is me cooking Indian food), and I recommend this experience to anyone when visiting a new country. Remember that for most countries (if not all), the entire culture revolves around food.

19. Challenge your comfort zone

It’s hard to explain what the comfort zone is for each of us, but I would say that whenever you feel stuck and unsatisfied, yet too lazy or unmotivated to do something to change that feeling, then you are in a bad comfort zone.

For me, it was an office job that I quit after almost one year and a half, and all thanks to moving abroad. It was a decision that brought a lot of uncertainty into my life, but looking back, I can see I had nothing to lose.

The point is to do something you think you are afraid of doing. Travel alone or start a new job. Maybe start a business. Maybe jump out of a plane (however that sport is called). No great idea (or story) ever came from being stuck in the comfort zone.

I stand as a tangible example. My story and the entire philosophy of this blog were born when I got out of my comfort zone. Look at me; I’m still alive, right? So follow Nike’s advice and “Just do It“.

20. Do one thing that scares you

What do you fear? It’s time to address that fear. Conquer it. There’s an immense sense of power on the other side. But don’t do anything stupid. Please!

Maybe this is another way of saying to get out of your comfort zone, but I am talking more about fears. Some people are afraid of water, while others are afraid of heights.

My fear was to submerge underwater completely. Again, here I am, alive and well.

21. Travel to a lesser-known destination

Paris has seen most of us and has less and less excitement to offer each time a new tourist steps out of a plane.

Set for yourself a new goal to discover a new culture and people of a smaller country or a faraway region.

Go where others think it’s dangerous and discover that social media has been lying to you.

See the real world, not just the touristic setups.

Sure, if you’re travelling in Europe for the first time, by all means, do this 3-week Europe itinerary! But for your second trip, consider less popular locations, such as Romania or Bulgaria.

After visiting all European countries, I have made a shortlist of the most overrated and understated places in Europe.

22. Try yoga

Too often, we dismiss certain things before we understand what those things are, and I believe this applies to yoga way too often.

Try yoga. It’s good for the body and for your soul. If you stick with it, you stand a better chance to age gracefully while being flexible, which is the number one thing that will lead to a longer life.

Shut up and try it.

23. Help a stranger

The better world we envision is built on the actions we take today and the examples we give to the future generation.

If you see someone who needs help, help them. Buy their lunch, hold their hand, and help them carry their stuff.

Be kind. Don’t ask for anything in return. Don’t forget to smile.

24. Spend a day without technology

I know you love your Netflix. But let’s try something else, at least once.

You know that spending too much time looking at a screen is bad for you, but still, you do it.

I do it, too.

But try to spend a day without technology at least once in your lifetime. Who knows what grand idea will pop into your head?

25. Listen to someone’s story

Too often, we fight over talking time when we are in conversations. Those aren’t conversations but rather two monologues held at the same time.

As simple as it seems, keep your mouth shut and listen.

Listen to the older people you meet on your journeys. Listen to their stories, and be genuinely interested.

The best heritage we have is our power to tell stories, but we need to listen before we can pass it along.

26. Get a job that you love

What’s the point of having a job that you hate?

Quit it and get a new one.

Expand your career opportunities, meet new people, tell them what you love doing and be open to whatever comes your way. Sometimes, things happen in a way that you least expect.

While being a digital nomad isn’t a job in itself, I always aspired to have this lifestyle, even before it was called “digital nomad”. This might not be for you, but there must be something else that’s been on your mind for a while. It’s time to dive into it. You’re not getting any younger.

27. Get lost

I mean physically lost. If you’re a control freak (like I am), this will sound like complete madness, but trust me.

There’s no better (and faster) way to develop social and orientation skills.

As a child, I was secretly dreaming of getting lost in a new city, just to see if I was able to find my way back. It must have been my intuition telling me to start developing my social skills.

28. Live your life as you want to live

Another point that sounds easy but is hard to do.

Learn to say “No” and spend more time doing what you like. Spend time with people you like. There’s no secret; it’s just the small, everyday decisions.

Decide how you like to live and put yourself first. That will make you happier, and you will be kinder to those around you.

29. Invest money

You either spend your life hoping you have more money, or you try to invest some and learn how this whole investing thing works.

I’m not saying that money will solve your problems, but it’s one component of our lives.

Try your luck, or however you call it. You might discover you are an investment genius. If you are, please consider my blog for your next donation. Thank you!

30. Watch a sunrise with someone you love

I find sunrises and sunsets to be magical moments, and we are blessed to be able to witness them every day, no matter where we are in this big world.

If you have a loved one to share this magical moment, then you are truly a happy person. And by loved one, I don’t necessarily mean your partner. It can be a family member or your best friend.

31. Tell your parents how much you love them

Some love their parents, and some have a love-and-hate relationship with them. No matter what may be the case, tell them you love them (because you know that deep down, you do love them).

Tell them before it’s too late.

32. Attend a live music concert

Music is food for our souls. We don’t all listen to the same kind of music, but what we all have in common is that we love music.

Attending a live music show is the next level and gets you together with other people who love that same music as much as you do.

33. Have a savings account

Try to save some money from your monthly income.

You never know when a pandemic will strike, and you might lose your job or contract.

This is a hard one, I know, especially if you’re always planning your next trip to Europe.

But there is a way! I use Revolut and have set up a small savings account.

I set it up to automatically take $5 from my account every month. I don’t have to worry about it. I often forget about it. And before you know it, there you have $500 to spend for a new adventure.

34. Learn an art

Try to learn how to play an instrument, sing or paint. Perhaps try to create something using your bare hands. I must admit I love singing, and it truly makes my life better.

Who knows what talents you keep locked inside of you?

35. Work a minimum wage job

Be the person who works with their hands or who has small tasks, and you will never again mistreat a person, regardless of their job.

I think that a lot of our issues start from a lack of understanding. We are fast at judging and slow at showing empathy.

I also think I should have listed this a bit more close to the start of this list. It works better when you’re young, so you can learn your lesson and get into more profitable ventures.

36. Holiday with your friends

Go on holiday, have the best time and share those best moments with your friends. That’s how you create life-lasting memories.

37. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness

Forgiveness is hard but is also beneficial for your soul. It’s not about accepting but about choosing to be happy even in a less unfortunate situation.

38. Write down your goals

Goals only become goals once you write them.

If it’s only in your head, then it’s called an idea.

39. Visit a therapist

We all have things we want to talk about but don’t have anyone to talk about them with. That’s until you have visited a therapist.

Try it at least once. But give it a real try, and go there with an open heart. It’s all up to you to be better and feel better.

I believe this should be a compulsory task for anyone, at least once in their lifetime. Of course, the faster you go and talk to a therapist, the better for everyone.

40. Live alone

Living alone is part of growing up, and you can’t fully get to understand yourself until you have been completely on your own.

The understanding of yourself and others always starts from within.

41. Be dirt poor

Without feeling and being poor, you can’t really understand what poor means.

And it’s not all about money. You will appreciate different kinds of things after knowing what being poor feels like.

If you have a travelling soul, you will inevitably feel poor at some point.

It’s ok; learn from it and make the best out of it. Learn from it. You’ll soon notice how your best ideas come during your hardest days! And they’ll also make a great story one day.

I once got stranded on a mountain and had to beg for 2 EUR to pay for a boat. It was much harder than it seems.

42. Be single for a while

Relationships are great, but they can be hell on Earth if you’re in the wrong one. I’m talking about all kinds of relationships.

Just be single. Spend time with yourself, by yourself. Accept yourself.

If you don’t know yourself and accept yourself, how can you expect others to do it?

43. Stand up for something

Just because everyone else shares the same opinion doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Do your research, ask questions and stand up for something that is important to you.

You might not get a lot of support, but you’re doing it because you believe in your principles, not for social fame. Who knows, it might start a whole new thing, and you could be the leader of it.

44. Keep a journal

Moments fly by daily, and without a record of the most important ones, they might be forgotten forever. And we might fall into the trap of repeating our mistakes.

Writing stuff down helps with personal evaluations, opening new perspectives on situations and finding new solutions to problems.

But most importantly, writing things down helps with your emotional side, helps cultivate your patience and acknowledges self-worth.

45. Fast for a day

Many cultures have different ways of calling fasting and different ways of doing it. But the point is that it’s a habit present in all major cultures and religions (that I know of).

That means that there must be something good about it.

You might not get to fast for a complete day from the start. But I believe this is a practice that does well for your body and soul. And that’s why you have to try it at least once.

46 Talk to a stranger on a bus or a train

I grew up scared of talking to strangers because the grownups were saying that strangers are dangerous.

But after all my travels, I have countless positive examples. And I have so many stories just because I decided not to listen to the grownups in my head and talk to people on the bus, train or plane.

47. Try to live like a minimalist

Many of us were born in the capitalist era, in which we are ruled by the economy, which never sleeps and always has to produce something for you to buy.

Owning stuff is nice, but most stuff is useless. Most things don’t do much for you other than occupy space and time, and it wastes your money.

Try to bring to a minimum all those useless purchases, if only for a month. And then shift your attention towards more meaningful things, such as family and friends.

48. Eat something you have never eaten before

Don’t be so picky with food.

Food is meant to feed the body, and as I said before, it stands at the core of many great cultures. Try to understand a new culture by also tasting their food.

49. Join a pilgrimage group

It’s not about religion or personal beliefs (although it could be), but I see great power in the human bonds you can create when sharing such a journey.

I once joined a 16-hour pilgrimage (that’s how long it took me) of non-stop walking through rain and mud, a four-peak hike, together with another few thousand people. It made me realise just how close and good-hearted people are.

50. Perform on a stage

Life is all about emotions, and there’s no better moment to feel them all than when you walk up on a stage.

But life is also about mastering your emotions, and once you get up there, you will notice how hard it is to do that. If only this experience would make you understand others who perform on stage and make you judge them less.

51. Love yourself

The hardest thing in the world is to be kind to yourself, accept yourself and love yourself.

I intentionally left this to be the last thing on the list of the things you need to try at least once in your lifetime because you have to do a lot of the above to get there. Or, at least, I did.

Start small and work your way from there. Say more often, “It’s ok” when starting to judge yourself. Most of the things we screw up are manageable and easy to fix.

Ah, and no matter how you feel, remember you are not alone. But whatever you do, don’t quit. Don’t quit on yourself.

Things you have to try at least once in your lifetime
Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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