I used to love bucket lists. Now I loathe them.
The problem is that the movie The Bucket List was fantastic and a real tearjerker. I imagine it inspired thousands of people, young and old, to put pen to paper to create their own.
In fact, one of the first things we ever wrote for this travel blog was our own bucket list. It is featured right up there in our main menu and is one of our most visited pages.
When we wrote it, we chose 44 adventures and “things” that we wanted to achieve during our short lives. They didn’t have any rhyme or reason to them. And they all seemed manageable at the time.
I mean, who doesn’t have the time time to travel the width of China, volunteer with turtles and drink the local beer in over 100 countries?
These were activities that I thought would bring meaning and fulfillment to our lives. These 44 items were going to help us plan our next travel adventures as a couple.
I vowed that I would keep it updated and that we would do whatever it took to tick them off our list. We even managed to cross off 7 of them. But the others?
Here is where the problem lies.
Every time we find a cheap airfare, travel somewhere new or talk to people about travelling, I discover something that I want to add to this list. If I had kept on adding items up till now then we would have over 200 adventures to do before our time on this planet was up.
Now all I want to do is tear up our bucket list.
Sure I understand the usefulness of having a bucket list. It gives you a place to dream of all the things you want to achieve. A place to write down things that sound awesome. Like kayaking in Italy.
We still want to do all the things on our current bucket list.
But in reality, they are a list that most people use for hope that they might be able to escape their current lives.
Because what happens if you don’t tick them all off? I know that you are not going to die. Technically that is impossible if you treat a bucket list like a bucket list.
But shouldn’t our travels, and lives for that matter, be as flexible as we want them to be?
And when you are dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our
enemies bucket lists that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… our FREEDOM! (Sorry, couldn’t resist the Braveheart reference).
To be honest, that is what it feels like our bucket list is currently doing. It has taken our freedom. It is holding us back. It is making us change our travel plans so that we can pursue something we wrote down over a year ago.
Christina from Couple of Travels agreed that she hates bucket lists because they are procrastination tools.
Adventurous Kate also wrote about her problem with bucket lists. She argued that “if your deadline is death – you’re not making it a priority”.
She even challenged her readers to create a realistic list of 5 – 10 totally achievable travel adventures and tick at least one of them off in 2 years.
This is the sort of movement I can agree with.
So, I am tearing up our bucket list.
But what will you use to inspire our travel plans?
By having a bucket list we are actually turning down perfectly amazing places that we could visit. We are limiting ourselves to only doing those activities or visiting those countries where our list sends us.
As Matt from LandLopers stated, “as one expands their personal travel boundaries, more travel destinations will suddenly become more appealing”.
We agree wholeheartedly.
We have changed a lot over the last 3 years of travelling. We still love stepping outside our comfort zones and doing travel adventures. But we don’t want to be broke-ass budget travellers all the time. I even quit my job to pursue our travel blogging dreams.
Our priorities continue to change and we are adapting with them.
So, instead of having a piece of paper, or in this case a blog page, dictating that we need to do something in the next 50 years or so, we are just going to live each day as it comes.
We will still prioritize where we want to travel in the next 12 months. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.
So my question to you is…
Can I tear up your bucket list?
Philippines Couples Vacation
The Philippines is one of the least explored countries in Southeast Asia. While tourism has picked up over the last few years, it is still mostly a backpacker’s destination. That said, one recent trend has been the increase of couples, especially honeymooners, who come to the country in search of romantic, unspoiled beaches.
While standard honeymoon vacation packages offer a visit to the country’s main tourist spots, Palawan and Boracay, there are so much more you can see if you dare go off the grid for a short while. This is especially true now, with Boracay island being closed for at least 6 months for rehabilitation.
Boracay’s closure shows exactly why responsible tourism is so important, to preserve nature and keep the place clean and safe. Over-development is a huge risk in 3rd world countries which are rapidly becoming tourist magnets, and it’s clear this is already starting to happen in the Philippines. Luckily, there are so many other beautiful islands to which the mainstream tourists didn’t come to yet. This might be your last chance to enjoy those places before they are lost forever in the hands of modernization and commercialization.
Palawan’s hidden secrets
No one in his right mind would tell you to not visit Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. There is, however, ways to make your trip more special and help you avoid the crowds. The 2 most popular locations in Palawan are El Nido and Coron, both offering some of the most spectacular small islands and hidden lagoons you will ever see. The problem is there are literally hordes of tourists taking the island-hopping tours each day, so you never get to really enjoy those places to yourself.
One solution, if you can afford it, would be to hire a private speedboat. You can leave at your own time, and since the boat is faster than the sailboats used for regular tours you can easily reach all the nice places before the organized tours gets there. This option is more relevant for families and larger groups, since you can split the cost of the speedboat between all of you. Couples might find renting a boat each day to be too costly though.
The alternative to that would be to go to the islands and beaches which are still off the tourist radar instead. In El Nido, a perfect solution would be to stay at the Qi Palawan resort and take their tours when you feel like it. This romantic boutique resort is owned by foreigners and standards are very high, it’s a perfect place for couples who want a romantic and private setting for their vacation. The resort is located about an hour’s drive from El Nido town and facing the other side of the bay, so it’s ideal for going on alternative tours.
For Coron, the same trick applies. The northern part of the island is much less developed but the beaches and scenery there is just as breathtaking. Near the area called San Jose there is a small pier called decalachao, from which you can go diving with sea cows, one of the most unique diving experiences the Philippines has to offer. Alternatively, you can also stay at the eastern side of the island, where more traditional island hopping tours are offered.
Siargao island – the next Boracay
If you ask any Filipino where the next big tourist spot will be, the answer is always Siargao. And it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy and the island is now fully booked for months in advance due to Boracay’s imminent closure. This has caught Siargao’s hotel industry by surprise, as this place is still relatively undeveloped and is now full of tourists looking for a place to sleep at.
What used to be one of the best hidden secrets and an ultimate backpacker destination is now quickly turning into a crowded tourist mecca. Now might be your last chance of going there and enjoying some peace and quiet before this happens. If you do go there, make sure you check for availability and book your stay in advance. luckily, there are plenty of places offering homestays, dormitory and Airbnb style accommodation, so finding room on a budget is still relatively quite easy.
The main area in Siargao is called General Luna, and it stretches out all the way into Cloud Nine beach. That beach also has quite a few hotels right next to it, since it is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world and is the original reason why Siargao picked up traction among tourists.
The best way to enjoy Siargao is by renting a motorbike and going on adventures yourself. The organized tours are cheap and quite fun, but you can easily get to all the cool places even without them. When you explore by yourself you get a chance to be on your own itinerary and stop anytime you see something interesting. And believe us, there is plenty to see in Siargao – hidden white sand beaches, thick jungles and stunning landscape all around.
If you feel brave, take the boat trip to Bucas Grande. It’s a grueling 3 hours sail in each direction, but once you get there you’ll understand it was worth the trouble. Sohoton cove is considered one of the most beautiful and unique lagoons in the country, rivaled only by the majestic scenes of Palawan. Right next to the lagoon there’s also the jellyfish sanctuary, where you can swim with stunning stingless jellyfish. Overall the area makes for a great location for a full day tour, filled with fun and unique attractions.
Malapascua – more than just diving
For people who really want to go off the beaten path, there aren’t many better places to visit than Malapascua – a small island right off the northern shores of Cebu island. The fact it takes 5-6 hours to get to the island (van/bus then a ferry) is actually a plus, as it keeps it remote enough that you can enjoy the ultimate island getaway adventure.
Malapascua is mostly famous for its amazing dive sites and a very well-developed diving scene in general. It’s one of the few places in the world where you are almost 100% guaranteed to see thresher sharks in the wild every day. What few people realize though, is that the island also has quite a few really nice boutique resorts. Developed by the island’s fledgling European community, these resorts offer a fantastic solution for couples who want to stay at a nice, small resort but still enjoy excellent amenities.
Overall, Malapascua is one of the best places to go to if you want that unspoiled island vacation, but also care about a comfortable stay. Thanks to the fact this island is so close to Cebu, it can easily be combined with other, equally beautiful locations nearby. Moalboal is a very popular diving town in its own right, and also home to the famous Kawasan Falls. Bohol is a popular tourist island nearby, closely resembling the beach party mentality of Boracay. Lastly, if you truly want to go off the grid, then take a trip to the exotic Camotes islands, a stunning location where even electricity and running water are considered luxury.
Don’t be afraid of exploring on your own
While the advice above is certainly enough to help you create an exciting trip, a big part of the fun is exploring the unknown by yourself. A big part of a vacation in the Philippines is its free spirited and adventurous nature. To fully enjoy what this country has to offer, you have to let go and learn how to go with the flow.
Luckily, the locals are extremely friendly and helpful and they all speak English. Start talking to people around you and soon you will be able to find a ton of exciting new things to do everywhere you go. Make friends with other travelers and book tours together – you’ll get to learn from their insights and it will also help you cut back on the costs.
The Philippines, with the exception of Mindanao island and some parts of Manila, is a very safe place. Don’t be too afraid to mingle or explore just because you feel you might get hurt. The worst you might encounter is petty crimes such as pickpocketing or small tourist scams, especially since couples are rarely targeted. These can be easily avoided by staying alert and using basic common sense. There’s no reason you won’t be able to discover everything this country has to offer and have the perfect holiday with your loved one.
Plan Your Easter Break Away From the Crowds
During the Easter break, many families flock to the seaside and towns with moderate climate to catch a few rays of sunshine. Booking a hotel might be challenging if you choose a popular destination, but the good news is that you can choose a remote location close to the beach and arrange your perfect, relaxing Easter break away from the crowd of tourists. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started.
1. AirBnB And Cottages
To avoid families and crowds, you might want to stay at a country inn, AirBnB accommodation, or rent a cottage. You will get more privacy, and don’t have to queue at the reception every morning or eat your breakfast with hundreds of people. You might get a private pool and garden, and stay close to the best hiking trails. Make the most out of your host’s local knowledge and ask them for a list of less known attractions to visit in the area.
2. Take Your RV With You
To stay flexible and escape the crowd whenever you want, you might want to arrange a caravanning trip. You will save money on accommodation, and get closer to the nature. Make sure that you check out the best hidden camping sites in the country, and plan your route, so you can do your shopping en route, instead of trying to find a superstore that is open in the city on Easter Monday. Also be sure to get a Caravan insurance repairs and service in Melbourne to avoid unpleasant surprises during the trip.
3. Visit the Blue Mountains
If you love walking, you can find a hidden trail of the Blue Mountains and enjoy the sunshine and mild temperatures. You can book a log cabin if you take your SUV or 4×4 with you, and stay on top of the world. Whenever you feel like, you can also visit Sydney for a day trip or to do some shopping.
4. Camping on Fraser Island
The largest sand island in the world offers great camping sites, and you can enjoy a quiet beach holiday close to the nature. You need to make sure that you take or hire a 4×4 vehicle, as you can only get around the island using this type of transport. Fraser Island is about six hours from Brisbane, and you will need to take a barge to get to it. A perfect remote location for couples who need privacy and peace.
5. Eco Tourism at Daintree Rainforest
This World Heritage site allows you access to the endangered Great Barrier Reef. There are limited Eco lodges available nearby, so you have to book early. While this location is popular in Australia, there are some underrated accommodation options for you to choose from.
If you would like to rejuvenate this Easter and avoid the crowds, you might want to find a location that is less known to the general public. From forest huts to remote cottages close to the beach, there are several quality inns and Eco lodges to choose from when you want to spend a few quiet days alone.
How to Spend Some Quality End-of-the-Year Downtime on your Holidays
While it may be tempting to fill your schedule with funtivities on your upcoming holiday, there’s nothing wrong with spending time with yourself and enjoying some downtime. It provides a great opportunity to do those things that you wouldn’t’t ordinarily get the chance to do.
To help you unwind and get ready for the year ahead, here are five tips on how to spend your downtime on an end-of-the-year holiday.
Many people take stock of the past 12 months at end of the year. When New Year is around the corner, you have a great chance to reflect on 2017 and consider what you’ve learned and what you would like to improve upon. List the five accomplishments that you feel the happiest about and note any behavioural patterns that resulted in your success. It would also be wise to list five failures; and note behavioural patterns in those cases, too, to contribute to a better 2018. Buy a goal-setting journal and make some new goals or re-evaluate your old ones.
Your vacation downtime is also a great time to find those who will helped you succeed in 2018. Whether you are seeking new friends, a romantic relationship, mentors, employees, or business partners, this is the ideal time to do it. Keep your eyes and ears open. You may find some of these people on your holiday or you could find them by researching online.
The beginning of the year provides a great chance to start afresh. Whether in business or in your personal life, you have the opportunity to reposition yourself. Carry out an in-depth assessment of both your personal life and business activities, such as your finances and any marketing materials you may have. Make sure that your social media profiles represent you and your brand in a positive and truthful manner and that all of the information is up to date. Further, check to see that the image you are projecting aligns with your goals and values and that the message you are giving is compelling and clear.
There’s no shortage of entertainment available in your downtime, thanks to the internet. You can catch up on anything you’ve been meaning to watch via online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Studios. Whether you prefer movies or to binge-watch some of the more recent shows, such as Stranger Things, there are literally thousands of choices available. For those who love nothing more than getting lost in a good book, the likes of Kindle and iBooks make reading an easy choice, with a seemingly endless range of titles available. It used to be that you would pack one or two books in your suitcase- now you have access to thousands.
Find New Ways to Unwind
Sometimes, we feel an urge for more active entertainment than books or series. While it may be a bit much to pack your video games console, there are online versions of classic video games, such as Command & Conquer and NBA Live. There is also no shortage of games available at online casinos. Sites such as Oddschecker provide a brief summary of some of the more popular bookmakers offering games, whether it is video slots or classic card games. Thanks to free bet and no deposit offers, you can try some no-commitment-necessary action at various online providers, to find new hangouts for your gaming in the new year.
Get back in touch
A vacation offers a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with those whom you haven’t managed to speak to in a while. Offer them an e-card or holiday wish to let them know that you’re thinking about them. You could even play the role of organiser for a reunion. Create an event on Facebook and get everyone on board. You don’t have to go crazy with a huge party; you can limit it to those whom you wish to spend some quality time with. Even if they can’t accommodate you into their busy schedule, they’ll be happy that you kept them in mind.
Of course, nothing says downtime like good old-fashioned rest and relaxation. The first quarter of the year can be the most hectic and so you will want to recharge and regenerate. That way, you will feel positive, strong, and raring to go, to achieve your goals for 2018. Whether it’s sipping a pina colada by the pool or relaxing with a good book while tanning yourself on the beach, there should always be opportunities to relax on your holiday.
We hope that these tips will help to make your 2018 a spectacularly successful year.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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