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Bucket Lists Are A Little Bogus – Try A “Before List”

First Things First—I Don’t Really Have Much Against Bucket Lists

But don’t bucket lists kind of start to defeat the whole foundation of good list-making and progress point-checking mantras set up by countless list ninjas over the past like…centuries? The age-old advice is to keep breaking your long-term goals down into shorter-term goals to truly achieve them, so a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” seems a bit contrary, right? So with this in mind, a couple of years ago I finally did my “Before…” list. 

For me, it was a “40 before 40 list.”

The 40 things that I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40 years old. But for you it may be your “30 before 30”, 20 before 20” or so on.

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Make Your List, But Don’t Be Too Rigid

Small victories are important to jump-starting enthusiasm and progress, so I put some quick and easy things on there along with the tougher goals.

I also included more like 50 things on the list, as there’s a chance that my tastes might change over the course of the years and I don’t want to feel forced to do something just because it’s on my list. I may be a little retentive like that, and once I set my mind to something it’s sometimes hard for me to be comfortable adjusting. So the extras are helpful and keep it flexible.

My list definitely includes a lot of things that would technically be on my bucket list (if I had one…), but it also contains a lot of simple, fun, and unique things that I’ve just always wanted to do.

Jason The Nomad Experiment Aran Islands Ireland
IrelandCheck.

My Bucket List Turned Before List

I had just turned 36 when I made this list, so the possibility of chunking off 40 things in 4 years was a bit daunting. Oh, and I had only ever been to 2 countries outside of the US at this point! Even more daunting was the fact that the first two years showed a pretty slow start, only checking off less than a half dozen things per year. But things have been picking up recently. More on that later.

Here’s what came off my bucket list and made it on my “before…” list. Maybe it will open your mind to some ideas for things you might want to put on your list!

Travel List

  1. Ireland/Scotland — Sample Whiskey at a distillery
  2. London — Float down the Thames River
  3. Drive coast to coast in the US
  4. Arizona — Swim in Havasu Falls
  5. 1-month sebatical
  6. Mexico — Do a shot of Tequila or Mezcal in Mexico
  7. Yosemite — See El Capitan in person
  8. Florida — Visit the Everglades
  9. Key West — Have a sex on the beach…
  10. Virgin Islands — Work from a beach
  11. Washington — Visit Seattle (Space Needle?)
  12. Paris — Top of Eiffel Tower
  13. Dangle my feet off of a cliff at the Grand Canyon
  14. Hike to Crater Lake in Oregon
  15. States visited total to 40

Non-Travel List

  1. Get lifeguard certified
  2. Speak a second language conversationally
  3. Take nephew(s) on hostel trip
  4. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  5. Bet $50 on black
  6. Foster a puppy or kitten for a week
  7. Help build Habitat house
  8. Hitchhike
  9. Dumpster Dive
  10. Crowd surf
  11. Sport pink, blue, purple, or orange hair
  12. Parachute or Skydive or Bungee Jump
  13. Drive a dune buggy or trophy truck
  14. Cliff Dive
  15. Whitewater kayak or raft
  16. Swim with dolphins or rays or sharks
  17. Complete half-marathon either road or trail
  18. Attend Cleveland Browns home game
  19. Attend Cleveland Indians home game
  20. Cut down a Christmas tree from mountains
  21. See a Broadway show… on Broadway
  22. Host a progressive dinner party or the like
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon or blimp
  24. Complete a 60+ mile cycling trip
  25. 25. Weigh in at 150lbs
  26. Complete photo books of my years in Charlotte, NC
  27. Whale watch from a coast
  28. Sleep overnight on a beach
  29. Buy some stocks
  30. Learn to surf
  31. Become handgun proficient
  32. See Rocky Horror Picture Show at Midnight Showing
  33. Minimum 2-day guy trip with Joshua and Timothy
  34. Learn 5 songs on the guitar

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There My List Hangs, Mocking Me Daily

Once you’ve figured out your shortlist, the next thing I think you should do is to give your list permission to be kind of an a**hole. I did this by posting the list right on my office door so that I literally look at my progress, or lack thereof, on a daily basis.

I also went so far as to take a picture of the list and put it as my locked screen and background screen image on my phone so that I literally see it dozens of times a day when I’m traveling. Now that prick just won’t leave me alone.

Let The World Know About Your List!

Maybe a little simpler would be to just let your friends and family know what your plans are. Once they know, you’ll likely be able to get them to help you achieve some of their common goals. I took friends to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show (there are midnight showings all the time in most major US cities, year-round), had a friend train me on handguns, and went with my girlfriend at the time to the mountains to get a Christmas tree. 

It’s really fun to open others’ eyes to list and goal setting if they’re not the type, and they’re always thrilled to take part in helping me achieve my goals.

The beginner traveler's guide to going nomad book by Jason A. Robinson

Tough Love, Tips & Strategies To Help You Finally Kick-Start Your Travel Life…Or Go Full Nomad!

Been wondering how the hell all those digital nomads, location independent travelers, and remote workers, travel “full-time?” Maybe you’ve thought about living that life one day, but you’re really not sure where to start.

Beyond giving you the stepping stones to dive into short-term domestic and international travel, this book will show you how long-term travelers extend those tools, maximize their budgets, and turn weeks into months…or even years…of traveling the world indefinitely.

Start Thinking Ahead; Your Next Decade Will Be Here Before You Know It

So what I’m realizing recently, now that I have under two years to accomplish about 20 more things, is that I’m catching some steam. Trips are being planned to chalk off 3-4 things in a couple of weeks, like visiting the Everglades, Key West, swimming with dolphins or rays, and skydiving or bungee jumping are all planned for one fell swoop here soon.

And with the inevitable end of this list, I’ll have a whole 10 years to accomplish the next one! The ideas have been flowing and I’ve already started to compile my 50 Before 50, and it’s gonna be a doozie!

Chicken buses anyone? Ever walked on stilts? Slack line over an ocean? With more of a sight on world travel, the sky is the limit on how unique they can be, including climbing a live volcano, ziplining through a rainforest, or working on a cruise ship.

You’re Never Too Young, Or Old, To Start

Don’t think that you’re ever too old to get started on this, nor that any of your friends or family are too young or old. This can be a great inspiration later in life to “do all the things you’ve never done”. It’s also an opportunity to teach our youth how to open their minds and plan ahead, especially if they’ve never had the opportunity to travel or experience much of the world outside of their hometown.

Personally, I didn’t really understand that world travel was possible, in the way that I now understand it, until I was about 28 years old, which some might consider a late start.

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Write That List, Then Employ Friends And Family And Get It Done!

By the way. I use QUIP for drafting pretty much all of my content for the site, but I also use it for things like my 40 before 40. It’s great to just have a quick idea and be able to pop it into a living document or even to give your friends and family access to it to keep up on your progress!

Have fun!
—Jason

Travel Planning Tips

Figure out where you are going & how are you getting there…
I suggest using at least 2 to 3 different travel search sites. Start with Skyscanner or Orbitz or Booking …or whatever aggregator site you prefer. Then when you see what airlines to use, check their respective sites for better deals or rewards flights.

Figure out where you’re going to stay…
If you’re interested in hostels, search Hostelworld or Hostelling International. For longer-term or more private digs, look at Airbnb, VRBO, or you can look for hotel rooms in the links from the search engines listed above. 

Get comprehensive travel insurance, or in the least, travel medical insurance if internationally…
Especially with Covid not going anywhere, get covered. Start with an insurance aggregator like Insure My Trip, or with SafetyWing, World Nomads, or another. Then decide what is important to you; trip cancellation, baggage coverage, medical, or all of the above. And get a yearly evacuation plan, since you’ll have to get home after your emergency! 

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