Travel Bucket Lists Only Fun For Privileged Few?

This Travel Tuesday, let’s talk travel bucket lists. Are they a torturous reminder of all the places out of reach or the ultimate motivator? A way for Facebook to gather data or just a way to share your experiences?

Are travel bucket lists a good thing? That’s my question.

Post Update: The ideas in this post, questioning the Facebook Travel List challenge as something more harmful than good, struck a chord with other traveler writers.

Alex from graciously took the questions posed here and added her own thoughts connecting travel privilege and education in her own post.

A rather heated comment was shared below by Canadian travel writer Christine from Tapped out Travellers. She picked up on a theme we caught as well. The exclusion of countries from the Facebook Travel Challenge and what that means.

I’m going to attempt to keep track of and aggregate other travel writers and travel bloggers thoughts on the subject in this post.

My hope, to encourage dialog around our responsibility as travel writers and bloggers while at the same time, respecting the community we belong to.

And now – back to the original post!

Travel Lists Helpful & Harmful

Nomadic Matt himself gave travel bloggers a good check in 2015 publishing Travel is a Privilege, Not a Right. Recognizing the disparity between those who can and can not travel he noted:

“Nothing any website can say will magically make travel a reality for those people.” — Nomadic Matt

Nomadic Matt saw the disparity between the travel privileged and high levels of poverty around the world and took action starting FLYTE.

FLYTE: A foundation aimed at helping high schools take economically disadvantaged students on educational trips overseas.

I find Nomadic Matt’s actions honorable to the point of humbling. Most of us though, are not nearly as far along in our travel journeys as Nomadic Matt.

So how does this relate back to travel bucket lists you might ask?

Last week, I saw a bunch of people posting a Facebook travel list challenge. Even as a traveler, it felt a bit like pouring salt in the wounds of those who can not travel.

Facebook Travel List Challenge

For me, the Facebook travel list challenge is the wrong way to use a travel list. Bucket or not. Not because it’s not fun to play. For travelers it is.

I got to pat myself on the back for getting to 55. So, I promise not to judge if you skip right to the bottom of this post to get a full list of the Facebook travel list challenge rules.

Just two things to consider before you play and post.

  1. The rules start the game out, with a weird value judgement.

“Put a ✈️ by the places you have been. The average is 8 for Americans.”

Now where’s the fun in that. Starting a game by putting down the people you’re playing with. Not very sportsman like if you ask me.

  1. Globally minded travelers will and have noted, there is a lot left off the list. My count stopped at 55 not because my experiences stopped there. More accurately, two of my favorite travel destinations Burma and Cambodia, are simply not on the original list.

So back to my original question.

Are Travel Bucket Lists a Good Thing?

I would argue, it depends. It depends on where and how you wield a travel bucket list. Is it to brag publicly for external validation or internal motivation.

In defense of creating a travel bucket list, they can serve as inspiration to stay focused. If a travel bucket list serves as a way to stay motivated, then it’s a great thing! Without inspiration, saving feels like deprivation.

How to Make & Track a Travel Bucket List from Travel Channel is full of ideas that can motivate travelers, sans judgement.

So what about me?

Being a travel blogger, having a list of places we have travelled is part of the game. It’s one of the first things other travel bloggers ask. I’m still not sure how I feel about it to be honest.

I know, just how lucky I am to be able to travel the way I do. I spent the first 34 years of my life not being able to travel outside of work trips.

I couldn’t afford it.

There are a lot of changes and sacrifices that went into our ability to travel that I have and will continue to write about. I haven’t seen a list yet that aligns the sacrifices made to the number of countries visited.

What do you think? Are travel bucket lists and travel Facebook games helpful or harmful? Do you secretly fume when friends who travel, post a list flush with checks? Travel bloggers, what about you? Do you love or loath the travel list game?

Facebook Travel List Rules

Like most Facebook games, tracking the original source of the game is difficult. In general, I’m cautious of Facebook games, that require you to give personal information to Facebook. It’s a data gold mine already.

I did find it notable, that none of the seven countries listed are part of the Trump administration travel ban. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

My feelings on that however, is an entirely different post. If you know the source please feel free to share in the comment section. Might be fun to debunk my budding conspiracy theory with Facebook games.

These are the rules of the Facebook Travel List verbatim. My only alteration was to remove the previous poster’s planes for privacy.

Traveling is something everyone should do to understand different cultures and perspectives. If you are the average American and have only been to 8 places on this list, plan a trip this year. Go and see how others live and broaden your horizons a bit. You won’t regret it!

Put a ✈️ by the places you have been. The average is 8 for Americans.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Amsterdam
  • Argentina
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire
  • Brazil
  • BVI
  • California
  • Canada
  • Capri
  • Castaway Island
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Curaçao
  • Czech Republic
  • Delaware
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Dubai
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • England
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Florida
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti.
  • Hawaii
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • India
  • Indiana
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Kenya
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mexico
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Morocco
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • New Zealand
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Norway
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pakistan
  • Panamá
  • Pennsylvania
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • Rock of Gibraltar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Scotland
  • South Africa
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • St Martin
  • St Thomas
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tahiti
  • Tanzania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Thailand
  • The Netherlands
  • Turkey
  • Turks and Caicos
  • USVI
  • Utah
  • Venezuela
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wales
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Now, copy and paste into your status! Remove the previous poster’s planes and away you Go!



  1. Gosh, what a joke to make a list only centered on US Americans and include all the STATES of the US! Where are the provinces of Canada or Mexico (just to start with). For me that list wouldn’t work either as I have been to countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Taiwan, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Monaco, and a few others omitted from the list.
    I usually despise the term ‘bucket list’ and hardly ever use it, although we could often include it in headlines for our blog post – we frequently visit places ‘off the beaten path’. I also often wonder how average travel bloggers justify their bragging lists from the environmental point of view. I see, on front pages of blogs, statement like “28 countries, 4 continents in 1 year”. What about the carbon pollution caused by all your cheap flights from one continent to the other?
    My next question: have you really experienced any of these 28 countries? What have you learned about local customs and do you know how the locals live day in day out? Or were you only there for the cheap cost of living and so that you could tick another destination off your list?
    For most part travel blogs seem to be rather very shallow – the less we look behind the scenes the easier it is to ‘sell the dream’ and place affiliate links for hotels the locals could never afford.


    1. Hi Juergen. I have to apologize. I rarely check the Spam folder on my WordPress comments. It’s not usually a pleasant experience. Today, I’m glad I did. THIS comment was in my Spam folder. I’m not sure if the words Iran and Afghanistan or the hashtag caused the filter to segment this comment. That in an of itself considering the topic is alarming. However, since I have seen this, I wanted to take a moment and apologize for the delay and give you a proper reply.
      The narrow nature of the list itself was my reason for creating this post. I was shocked by it. Even more shocked that few people “playing the game” on facebook noted the distinct lack of diverse locations on the list. Over 60% of international travel for Americans is to Mexico and Canada. So perhaps this stat alone explains the absence of concern over the list.
      I agree with the concern around carbon pollution. I do know from reading tourism board mission statements that many places in the world, Iceland for example, struggle with how to balance the need for FDI, tourism revenue, and conservationism. Consider Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008 and the eruption in 2010 against Icelandairs hub and spoke model and the boom to tourism and revenue that drove. I don’t know enough to be honest from a personal level to weight impacts vs gains.
      As travelers, do you have suggestions that we should consider to be more mindful? Our personal efforts are there. We focus on road trips and longer duration travel. We’ve shifted to booking apartments or locally owned hotels whenever possible. That way our revenue goes into small business not large conglomerates with headquarters outside the country we are visiting. Our methods, though are admittedly not expertly researched. I see you focus on overland travel. Do you have advice or rules of the road so to speak that you would feel comfortable sharing when it comes to carbon pollution and travel?
      How do you consciously differentiate your blog from other travel blogs that are in your opinion shallow? My efforts are again, not an that of an expert but they are there. We actively acknowledge the sacrifices we make in our lives to prioritize travel. Perhaps we should do more and here I would welcome your opinion as well.


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