Travel Bucket List 2019
A totally self-indulgent look at where I’d love to go in 2019. No way I’ll get to all of them, but it’s good fun at least.
Every time I think about my travel bucket list, I get sweaty palms! It’s a bit like my list of books that I want to read – every time I tick an item off it, I add another three or four onto it. I’ve often thought of it as a good problem to have but recently, I stopped thinking of it as a problem at all. To navigate through life with an ardent curiosity and thirst for adventure is such a pleasure, and an infinitely more attractive proposition than a life of apathy and passivity.
Having said that, passivity when it comes to picking travel destinations wouldn’t entirely be the end of the world – because I just want to go everywhere. I’ve managed to talk myself into keeping this list to eight places that I would absolutely love to go to next year. There is zero chance that I’ll get to all of them in 2019, and a good chance that I end up in places that aren’t on this list, but that’s the beauty of travel. There are maybe a few obvious choices in here, but also some others that might be small surprises. Regardless, I’ve tried to go into why each place is on the list and these are the interesting bits. So here you go – my 2019 travel bucket list – enjoy!
Toronto and eastern Canada
Okay, so I know this one is happening for sure. It’s booked (mostly), and is actually part of our mini ‘career break’ travel plans, after our Eastern Europe trip. We are flying into Toronto on 13th January and flying home on 13th February, and in that time we also have plans to visit Niagara, Quebec city, Ottawa and more.
I actually have some family members who live in Toronto, so have always wanted to go over to visit them and see the city. The multiculturalism really appeals to me, and by all accounts, it just seems like a cool, metropolitan but easy-going city. Oh, and it has poutine. I cannot wait to get stuck into some poutine!
Grainne has always really wanted to visit Toronto – for no discernable reason – but sometimes a city or country calls for you and you just have to answer. She also loves cold-weather destinations, so I think Toronto in January has that boxed for us. In all honesty, Canada was just a no-brainer for us at this point in our lives, and I’m super excited that we’ll be kicking off our 2019 travel plans with it.
Another one that is definitely happening – although this one hasn’t been booked, and it’s a bit later in the year. Two good friends of ours are tying the knot in Prague in late August, so we’ll be joining them, and hopefully making a bit of a trip of it.
We went to Prague in the summer of 2015 and really enjoyed ourselves, so it will be nice to be going back. To be honest, I just love central European destinations with loads of history and culture. Not to mention the really important stuff – excellent beer and coffee, for very reasonable prices. We visited the Staropramen brewery in 2015, skipped the tour, went straight to the bar and just spent the day there. It was brilliant, so maybe we’ll do the same thing this time around. Just maybe not on the same day as the wedding.
Costa Rica has been on my radar for a little while now. To be more (or less) precise, I could definitely be talked into any sort of Central American tropical destination, but Costa Rica stands out to me from any limited research that I’ve done so far.
I want to live in a hut on the beach for a week or two. I want to sip pina coladas (I don’t even like pina coladas) while swinging in a hammock and reading a book. I want to zipline through a rainforest. I want to jump off waterfalls and go white water rafting on rivers that seem a bit annoyed but not too angry. I want to swim in tropical pools and listen to mad tropical animal noises – the real kind, rather than the ones on spotify. This sort of tropical paradise holiday is just one that I’ve never really done before, and it’s sounding really, really appealing to me right now.
Other than maybe another European city break, something like this will probably be the next holiday that I book. If you know of any undiscovered Central American paradise destinations where I can get my adrenaline fix, please do reach out.
Albania and Macedonia
I feel like I owe a debt to Albania and Macedonia. Both countries were originally included in our Eastern Europe travel plans, but the farther on in our travels we got, it became more and more apparent that we would probably have to leave them out of this trip and put them back on the list for another time. It made me sad, but it had to happen. I’m grouping them in together here, not because they’re incredibly similar, but because I will definitely visit both on one trip – I had plans in place to do so already, so I know it’s not too difficult.
I actually had an incredible-sounding Albania itinerary planned out with the help of Choose Balkans. It included UNESCO world heritage sites, national parks, ferry rides and ‘one of the best hikes in Europe’ from Theth to Valbona. I was so excited for this, and am equally excited about the prospect of going back another time to pick this up. As far as Macedonia goes, you don’t have to look much further than Ohrid Lake and Matka Canyon to see why I’m dying to go there too. Oh, and the crazy amount of statues they built in the capital Skopje that seems to cause a lot of confusion! Macedonia is also the only country that made up former Yugoslavia that we didn’t visit on our recent trip, so I definitely owe them one as a country.
Lisbon is a city that’s been calling my name for a while now, and I just haven’t gotten around to visiting. I can’t even pinpoint what it was that really put it on my radar in the first place, but every time I see a picture of the little Lisbon tram making its way up the cobblestone streets, it does something to me. It’s little charming things like this that really bring a city to life for me, and so often a small thing like this can be a starting point for the beauty of a city to unfold around you. I haven’t heard a bad word said about Lisbon from anybody who has visited, so my curiosity and desire to visit has only been affirmed.
I have visited both Spain and Portugal, but not loads of either country. Maybe because they’re tucked away down in a little corner of Europe by themselves. But I’m really looking forward to exploring more of these two beautiful countries – Seville is another city that’s on my radar. Maybe I could do Lisbon, Porto & Seville at some point. Watch this space, amigos.
No matter how many times I visit, Slovenia just won’t go away for me. And I am totally okay with that. Having visited twice within the last eighteen months, including for our honeymoon and our one-year anniversary, Slovenia remains an incredibly special place for Grainne and I. No travel bucket list of mine will be complete without Slovenia on it!
I could go on and on about how much I love Slovenia but I’ve done that in other articles, so won’t bother doing so again here. But there is loads that I still want to do and re-do when it comes to Slovenia.
Lake Bohinj just absolutely charmed the pants off me on our recent visit, so I’d love to get back there and take a few extra days to swim and kayak and feel at peace with the world. And I’d never say no to a return trip to Bled or Ljubljana either. But even though I’ve been twice and it’s a relatively small country, there’s still loads that I haven’t done. A lot of people stop by Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle on their first stop, but I’ve yet to do either. I also really want to squeeze in a visit to Maribor, and maybe other smaller towns in the east of the country. Finally, I’m dying to get back to see the lakes in the winter time. I’ve seen pictures and it looks like the perfect winter wonderland. And from experience, the real thing looks and feels like just as much of a fairytale as pictures of the country do – if not more.
I get that Africa is a big place. And I get that I’ve been terribly bland and loose about wanting to visit ‘Africa.’ But the reason is that I don’t want to be exact in choosing where I want to visit. What I really want to do is go on an amazing African safari, maybe see some waterfalls, eat some good food. Meet some nice people.
Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania – I’m not fussed. I’m sure all of these countries are distinct and unique in their own way. But if you offered me a safari trip to any of these countries – or others – I’d bite your hand off immediately. The idea of living a very simple life for a few days, immersing yourself in nature and going out to see some incredible animals in their natural environment sounds so appealing to me.
The truth is that I need to do a bit more research into this one – spend a bit of time reading about each destination and what it offers. But the other side of that truth is that there are a couple of big trips that will likely happen before this one – and I’m certainly not in a position to be planning more than one big trip right now. Dreaming – sure – but planning will have to wait for another day. If you have any tips for fuelling my African safari dreams, please do get in touch!
This one kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it? I’m all about visiting places and immersing myself in culture, history and nature. But I am an absolute sucker for any and all adrenaline activities – including the old reliable theme parks. And although the magic that Disney feeds you is an incredibly different magic than an old European city will offer up – it’s still magic all the same.
I visited Orlando in 2013 with a big group of friends and loved every minute of it. We did all of the usual theme parks – the Disney and Universal ones, as well as Busch Gardens. We also spent a day at Discovery Cove, swimming with dolphins and snorkelling with other exotic sea creatures. I’ve been dying to go back ever since, and over five years later, I still haven’t been able to make that happen. But I’m working on it, and will continue to work on it until I make it happen. And then maybe I’ll start working on it again. I really want to go with Grainne too. She isn’t as mad about rollercoasters as I am, but I loved the experience and magic of the whole holiday, and I’d love to share that with my wife.
It’s a totally different holiday than any other that I’ve been on, or want to go on – and chances are you’re so tired after it that you need a holiday to get over your holiday. But the truth is it will always be there or thereabouts, and there’ll come a time when I just need my fix and everything else will have to make do with being put to the bottom of the list for a little while.
Because I can never stick to my own rules, I’m going to give honorable mentions to both Norway and New Zealand for being stubborn and just refusing to drop off my radar. I won’t be venturing to either of these countries anytime soon, but the sheer natural beauty of both countries means that as soon as the chance to go realistically presents itself, I’ll be packing my bags.
What do you think then? Like I say, I’m sure this will change a lot over the next twelve months, and if I manage to get myself to three or more of these places, I’ll be delighted. Bonus points to anybody who is able to guess the places that aren’t on this list that I’ll end up going to! What special places are on your 2019 travel bucket list and why??