Bucket Lists Are Out, Love-It Lists Are In

2021 Bucket List

Written by Patty Hodapp on

Patty Hodapp is a nationally renowned journalist reporting from the intersection of fitness and adventure. She writes for Outside magazine, Travel Channel, and VICE among other publications. She's based in Vail, Colorado, and when she's not fly fishing, snowboarding, or trail running, you can find her writing abroad or planning her next trip. Get in touch or read her latest work on her website.

2021 Bucket List

Ditch the bucket list (for now) and craft your love-it list. A smart, values-based approach to satisfying your travel itch when you can’t hit the road.

Are your dream trips on hold right now? If you’re anything like us, you spend Saturdays drooling over maps and searching Google’s blackhole—practices that drive any traveler crazy in short order when they can’t actually go traveling. The good news? There is a way to get your fix without boarding a plane. And, it just might make your next international trip more meaningful, too. The key: Ditch your bucket list and create a love-it list.

Bucket lists—though fun to have—can cause anxiety because resources, time (and sadly, pandemics!) cramp your style, and leave you wistful and wanderlusty. When travel is impossible, it’s time to get more creative in feeding your worldly pursuits. In addition to armchair travel through an epic reading list, we’ve got you covered with the best way to find freedom in your own backyard. So long: bucket list, hello: love-it list.

What’s a Love-it List? Hint: It’s About Intention

Inspired by Jay Walljasper, long-time editor of Utne Reader magazine and jetsetter extraordinaire, a love-it list creates satisfying experiences based on the values you love most about globetrotting, like cultural connection or adventuring solo in nature or tasting foreign cuisine.

Instead of chasing an (often frustratingly unattainable) destination checklist, craft a collection of meaningful, accessible moments you can start pursuing today. At minimum, you’ll temper your travel thirst. At best, you’ll find more purpose in everyday life. Good deal, eh? You can’t lose.

Two Steps to Build Your Love-It List

1. Identify Your Wanderlusty Values & Intentions

First, write down five to seven things you love most about travel. (Think: not places to visit, but rather how you feel when you experience these places.) These will be different for everyone—the love-it list’s beauty is that it’s unique to you. Struggling? Look at your bucket list and ask yourself what your intention is behind each trip.

Examples of Core Travel Intentions:

I want to feel …

at one with nature.

satiated on artisanal foods.

steeped in history.

relaxed with inner peace.

thrilled by adventure.

connected to other cultures.

challenged physically.

Get creative!

2. Translate Your Core Intentions to Fresh, Accessible Experiences

Though international travel is a no-go for now, you can certainly feel as though you’re traveling at, or near, your home. Figure out a compromise of activities that invoke the same value-based travel feelings. Write it down. Do it. Cross things off. Add to it. Repeat. It’s that simple.

For example, let’s say you’re dying to hike Machu Picchu in Peru for the physical challenge, freedom from the urban jungle, and connection with nature. Pursue those core feelings through your love-it list by hiking an untapped local trailand pairing it with epic stargazing at a remote location nearby.

Another example: Your bucket list item might be to take a restaurant tour through Abu Dhabi because you enjoy trying foods you’ve never tasted before. So your love-it list item might be “research and cook Emerati cuisine this weekend”.

Love-It List Recap

The love-it list is about what lights you up. And you don’t need to fly across the world to activate that in your life. Trust us: chasing what you can have (and being grateful for it) is better than brooding about what you can’t.

A Demo Love-It List To Inspire You


Dying To: Sip cappuccino and people watch on an Italian piazza

Core Intention: To connect with community and culture

Love-it List: Grab a cup of hot cocoa, find a local park bench, and observe passersby. What you see in your own town may just surprise—and tickle—you in the same ways. Go deeper by making it a research project. Print a map of your city, circle each local park, and visit one per week. Take notes, record your findings, and write creatively about cultural differences you experience.


Dying To: Walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan

Core Intention: Freedom and simplicity of carrying all you need in your pack

Love-it List: Look up local backpacking trails in your state park system and vow to take a minimum 3-5 night adventure where it’s just you, single track, and mother nature. Take it one step further and KonMari (the Japanese art of tidying up) everything in your home with your packing cubes so you can shed excess stuff and live life more simply. More intentionally.


Dying To: Visit an ashram in India

Core Intention: To cultivate a mindfulness practice and deeper connection with self

Love-It List: Climb to the highest, quietest point near you, post up next to a tree, and breathe mindfully for 10 cycles. (As Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, say in your mind, “I am breathing in”, on the inhale; “I am breathing out” on the exhale.) Repeat daily for a week and see how you feel. Add a subscription to a digital yoga platform, like YogaGlo, to infuse your life with more mind-body connection and inner peace, right where you are.

Looking to roadtrip with your pup as part of your Love-It List? (It’s easier than you think!) Check out these resources for traveling with your furry friend.

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

3 Fun Solo Travel Memoirs to Inspire Your Next Big Trip

6 Ways to Cook Your Way Around the World

Best Stargazing Tips