Our travelling bucket lists

Last updated 11:47 01/06/2012

Months ago, as LP and I started to contemplate our honeymoon, there was a stubborn obstacle in our way.

See, I'm in the United States on an extension of my student visa, which is tied to having a job. I work freelance, which is okay, but it can become a grey area in the eyes of officials when coming and going from the country.

I also want to fast-track my application for residency, and when it gets submitted I won't be able to leave the country for months without resetting the whole thing.

When people ask after our plans it is not a very romantic answer. But our honeymoon compromise to each other is to set aside a month or two in the American summer of 2013 and take a big holiday.

This holiday will be part honeymoon, part unofficial celebration of me being a resident of the USA and the last chance we might have for a while to take the sort of long, winding holiday commonly planned by students.

TOKYOIt has made for some enjoyable fantasy. We started with a few potential destinations, but options have now exploded to cover much of the globe.

It's created another issue: we can't take all of these trips simultaneously.

It came to me that our list of mooted holidays was resembling a combination of LP's and my travel bucket lists: the places we'd love to get to before we die.

The top of our list is Europe.

LP studied in England as a fancy-free 20-year-old and made several long trips through the continent and is eager to get back. I have never been. Much of my travelling energy has been devoted to America. Well, I went to Europe when I was three, but as everyone who asks me if I've ever been tells me, this doesn't count. 

PositanoBetween the New Zealanders we know abroad, and people LP and I know already in Europe, there's a golden run of friends to see spanning England, Wales, Norway, France, Germany and Switzerland. We could fill that in with destinations across Italy, Spain and Portugal, and I think we'd have a good and busy couple of months.

Past this, our list gets scratchy and less defined, informed by loose perceptions of a place garnered from secondhand stories and popular culture.

Japan: I've seen enough panoramic film footage of the Tokyo cityscape to build up an expectation that it's a burst of neon and concrete and life and strange culture on par with a New York and Las Vegas. I've romanticised its national oddities through screenings of Lost in Translation and weird Japanese game shows and had conversations with several people who have lived there to know that there is actually something unusual and interesting about the national way. I have it on good authority that outside the main cities, there's a beautiful country to explore.

MozambiqueIndia: LP has always had a more burning desire to visit India than I. But a pair of conversations about the country has piqued my interest; both were with people who loved their time there, and each noted a fascination with the psychology of dealing with, and the atmosphere created by, the sheer volume of people you are always surrounded by. It sounded... electric?

Cuba: My desire to get to Cuba is pressing largely because some day soon America will inevitably relax trade and travel restrictions with the country. From that point, I imagine foreign money will flood in and development will recommence in the country, new vehicles will take over the roads, and the island will no longer be a quaint time capsule.

I like to picture myself in Cuba wearing a cool hat and loose-fitting light-coloured flannel shirts, maybe smoking a cigar. 

ThailandAfrica: The pull to Africa is powered by a notion that I can't escape: at some point in my life I should get as far out of my comfort zone and away from my home culture as I can possibly get.

Much of what I read about Africa each day is tragic: civil war, famine, pirates and the like. But, the snatches I know about the continent, its history and culture, and what friends have told me about the people and the places, put Africa always on the list of places that I'd like to go to, even as a product of the media environment we exist in I'm equally wary and nervous of the continent.

LP and I have also expounded at length about sitting on a series of beaches in Thailand, or renting an apartment in Rio De Janeiro or Buenos Aires. I enjoy being a lazy tourist, and I've often opted in my life to just go somewhere new and hang out for a couple of weeks rather than going to several countries in a shorter space of time.


It's self-evident, but strange to contemplate, just what proportion of the world you'll never get to. It's disquieting to think of just what proportion of your life you'll spend wrapped up in working weeks. The whole scale of our lives is tipped so far against exploration.

So LP and I know that taking a month or more off work is an indulgent promise to make, but we're into it.

So today, let's go crazy. You've got six weeks off and you've been setting aside the funds. You've promised yourself that you're going to head out and explore part of the world you've always wanted to.

Where are you going? Why are you going? What are you seeing? What are you avoiding? Why?

Or if you've been everywhere, where should we go?

Sometimes it is nice to have your eye on the horizon and a crazy idea in your heart. And who knows, if your ideas are really good, some may be coopted into our own travel plans next year. 

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J Smith   #1   11:59 am Jun 01 2012

Well, given that you will be living in America, with their ridiculously low levels of leave, I'd take this opportunity to go as far as possible. Europe is not that far from the US, although it is of course a fantastic tourist destination. Same with Central and South America, not that far from California.

If I was you I would take the opportunity to go somewhere where, as you say, you can take the time and absorb the culture, somewhere very different from NZ/America. So I guess Africa and India? Or if you want something relaxing, a six week trip across Europe is always great. I just got back from 4 weeks there, filling in the parts of Western Europe I have missed previously, and I could go back tomorrow. Even with the 40+ hours in transit it takes to get there from here.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be great. Travel always is...

gazza   #2   12:04 pm Jun 01 2012

6 weeks and money is no issue?

Yeah, Europe would be on the list. Historical places mainly.

Also a contender would be things like an Alaskan dog sled trip.

Or a sailing trip in the Carribean (I know, kinda opposite ends of the spectrum there).

Or South American ruins? The temple runis in thailand look good too...but need to avoid the crowds for both.

L   #3   12:28 pm Jun 01 2012

India is a really interesting place and i think the impression you have of it fits my experience pretty well, though i only had a month there and saw a few states.

they say people either love it or hate it, i almost felt like i hated it while i was there, but it got under my skin and i have felt desperate to get back since i left. its not exactly a holiday, especially if you are travelling around a lot, but its an incredible experience.

Could you do that for a month then spend 2 weeks recovering on Thai beaches?

rachelli   #4   12:37 pm Jun 01 2012

I vote go somewhere exciting inside the US for your immediate honeymoon. As a couple who have always been pressed for both time and money, Ryan and I frequently take anniversary vacations in a semi-local vacation. Just a few hours away can be a mini-adventure in a pinch. And, since you now live so close to the Pacific Coastal Highway and wine country, it may be time to research a quick honeymoon jaunt inside CA.

But, if I could go anywhere, top 5 (in no necessary order) are: 1. Exploring the ruins in Mexico 2. Nature ocean cruise in Alaska 3. Italy 4. Spain (Madrid for the art and Barcelona for the beach) 5. Japan

Ryan   #5   12:39 pm Jun 01 2012

I'd love to do a tour of ancient Asian temples: Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, China and Japan. Of course I'm obsessed with Japan so it would be hard to make me leave there.

Also: temple tours in Central & South America.

I'm a bit obsessed with ancient culture rather than modern ones...

mac   #6   01:43 pm Jun 01 2012

I've lived in Japan for 18 years now and cannot recommend it enough! There really is something for everyone here..

I have travelled extensively through my work and have been to many of the places you mentioned. I found India to be too much for me - just a huge, seething mass. Italy is the only place in Europe I have been that I enjoyed - although Spain is pretty cool, too... The rest of Europe leaves me cold. The beaches in Thailand are filled with tourists behaving badly - Bali could be a better option. My wife and I have done most of the usual tourist destinations (esp. in SE Asia) and now we tend to prefer getting off the beaten track... Earlier this year we spent a week in a little fishing village on the coast of Sumatra and had a wonderful time completely away from it all - no tv, no internet, no cell-phone coverage...

Whatever floats your boat really - wold be a horrible world if we were all the same, huh?

Haven   #7   01:53 pm Jun 01 2012

I actually already have this all mapped out in my head. A week in New York, three weeks doing a Contiki from NY-Boston-Niagra-Toronto-Quebec-Montreal-Vancouver-The Rockies-Banff-Calgary then a week in Vancouver, a week in Seattle, a week in San Francisco.

That's seven weeks, sorry, I got excited. I know how much its all going to cost too and that plain terrifies me. One day, some day.

Meghan   #8   08:19 pm Jun 01 2012

Our bucket list trip is in 2014 to: Honolulu; Anchorage, Denali and Inside Passage (Alaska); Vancouver and Rockies; LA theme parks and back to Auck. Expect it'll take us around 6 weeks.

Richard   #9   12:29 am Jun 02 2012

Central America & Top of South America are some of the few remaining backpacker places which hasn't been overrun with Tourists. Nicaragua Honduras Panama Colombia - its the new SE Asia

jaynine6   #10   01:25 am Jun 02 2012

Before we head back home to NZ after 6 years of lving in the US, we are taking 4-6 weeks and making a trip to Europe. Firstly we will do London, mostly because my brother-inlaw lives there, then its on to Italy for a trip around. Its a place my husband and I have longed to visit, and its geared more towards the more of the way parts of Italy. Then we plan to visit Turkey and see Gallipoli. We both had ancestors that fought and died there and feel a pull to see this amazingly sacred place. We might then pop in a few other places, as our agenda is not fixed. I love travelling and seeing other cultures and places, it makes you appreciate life and creates a better person in yourself.

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