Growing up, I had an old fashioned globe sitting in my bedroom. Every night before bed, my dad would hold the globe for me while I spun it around. With my eyes closed, I would touch the globe to make it stop spinning. Wherever my finger landed, that was the place my dad wanted me to dream of that night. Two decades later, I have not stopped dreaming of all the places I hope to visit one day. I am a dreamer, but I also love to look back on the visual memories I have already created. I curated a list of some of my favorite travel experiences to inspire your bucket list travel ideas for 2020.
Bucket List Travel Ideas for 2020
I would also like to preface this post by saying this list is by no means comprehensive. In reality, I could list 100 of my top bucket list travel ideas for 2020. Nevertheless, here are a few amazing experiences in no special order.
Visit Bali, Indonesia
When I started writing, many of my bucket list travel ideas for 2020 were in Bali, Indonesia. So, to address that, I consolidated everything to one giant bucket list travel idea: visit Bali. I unexpectedly had the chance to visit Bali with We Are Travel Girls (read my interview here!). To say that I had the most incredible time experiencing the magic of Bali is a major understatement. Beaches, waterfalls, temples, and rice terraces are only a few of the many bucket list experiences Bali has to offer.
Celebrate the Lantern Festivals in Thailand
One of the best places to travel to in November is Thailand! November is the month in which Thailand celebrates its annual festival of Loi Krathong. Loi Krathong involves the release of thousands of floating candles as offerings to river spirits. It is also an opportunity to let go of misfortunes and sins and make wishes for the new year. In Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand, you can experience the overlap of Loi Krathong with Yi Peng. Yi Peng differs from Loi Krathong in that the lanterns are released into the night sky.
Even though Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are usually held in November, the exact dates vary each year. Festival celebrations always take place on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. When I visited, the date was November 3 with a single mass lantern release. This year, in 2020, you can experience the mass release of the lanterns on both October 31 and November 1.
Fly in a Helicopter Over Boston
Flying in a helicopter is absolutely exhilarating! I was a little nervous going aboard, but nothing compares to the weightlessness of flying in such a small aircraft. The close-up aerial views of Boston are also extremely impressive. You don’t necessarily need to check off this bucket list idea in Boston, though. If you do want to fly over Boston, I recommend booking your experience through Blue Hill Helicopters. We flew around the entire city and surrounding suburbs, including over Fenway Park and Tom Brady/Gisele Bündchen’s home.
See the Northern Lights in Iceland
Seeing the Northern Lights was fairly high on my personal bucket list for a very long time. When flights to Iceland started to fall within my budget, I jumped on the opportunity. The very first time I visited Iceland was in mid-April. The Lights are only visible between October and April, but in April the daylight hours are already significantly longer. Around midnight, after waiting two hours for the sun to finally set, I saw the lights outside of Reykjavik. The visual memory is one I will absolutely cherish forever.
Stay in a Glass Igloo in Finland
Yes, I got to see the Northern Lights again! Even though Finnish Lapland is freezing in the winter, it’s the ultimate time to visit to see the Northern Lights. Moreover, Finnish Lapland has several unique accommodation options, including the chance to stay in a glass igloo. A glass igloo is essentially an igloo-shaped dome with a bed. It’s an awesome way to experience the great Finnish outdoors without the harsh temperatures. The most famous and seemingly luxurious igloos are not necessarily the “best” ones to stay in.
The igloo I ultimately chose was absolutely perfect. The igloo not only offered personalized touches, like sparkling wine and chocolate, but it included a bathroom! It’s rare to find a glass igloo with an attached bathroom, even if you spend an absorbent amount of money. Make sure to do your research carefully unless you don’t mind trekking through the snow at night.
Ride a Camel in the Sahara Desert
The easiest way to ride a camel in the Sahara Desert is to travel to Morocco. Many tour operators offer multi-day trips to the Sahara desert, including transportation, accommodation, and food. Although most blogs recommend 4-day tours, I opted for a 3-day, 2-night tour in the interest of time. I also strayed from the traditional roundtrip tour (i.e. roundtrip from Marrakech). Instead, I did a tour that originated in Marrakech and concluded in Fez. Looking back on my experience, I would definitely do the same itinerary again. Keep in mind that riding a camel is not the most comfortable experience…but it’s so worth it!
Listen to Country Music in Nashville
At most a 2-hour flight from 9 of the top 10 U.S. cities., Nashville is an easy weekend getaway. Furthermore, as the Country Music Capital of the World, Nashville is THE place to visit if you like country music. Even if you do not love country music, the Nashville scene is an experience worth checking off your bucket list. Visit Lower Broadway to bar-hop the famous honkey-tonk highway and listen to live country music by some of Nashville’s top talent.
Experience the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
I’m sure you will find the Blue Lagoon on every bucket list, but I couldn’t resist adding it to mine. The Blue Lagoon is one of my favorite things to do in Iceland. While you may not necessarily be planning a trip to Iceland this year, you may be heading to mainland Europe. If that is the case, consider booking your flight with IcelandAir. IcelandAir uniquely allows passengers to add a stop in Iceland for up to 7 days at no additional cost. 24 hours in Iceland is just enough time to get a taste of this bucket-list destination, including the Blue Lagoon.
Hike in Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai is one of the more breathtaking destinations to consider for your 2020 travels. The Hawaiian island is known as the “The Garden Isle” and for good reason. Kauai possesses lush, tropical landscapes and dramatic mountains, surrounded by the stunning Pacific Ocean. Hike in Kauai, Hawaii for an unforgettable visual adventure.
Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah is truly one of the most special places I have ever visited. If you love animals, this should be at the top of your bucket list for 2020. I wrote a separate post that explains the 10 reasons why you should visit!
Get Lost in Venice, Italy
Don’t spend money on the gondola ride tourist traps in Venice. Instead, wander the Italian city without looking at a map or phone. You will get lost, but that is the point. With an intricate canal system and confusing, narrow streets, Venice is a city maze that will intrigue any traveler. The best time to visit Venice is in April, May, September, or October.
Eat Lobster in Portland, Maine
I have to be honest. I do not personally eat lobster. Still, everyone I know loves to eat lobster. Travel to Portland, Maine to get a taste of some of the (supposedly) greatest lobster you can find. Portland, Maine is not only worth visiting for the lobster, though. The quaint waterfront city is filled with amazing craft breweries, top-rated restaurants, and boutique shops. You can also find beautiful historic lighthouses along the rocky Maine coastline. Only two hours from Boston, Portland, Maine is an easy addition to your New England trip and a must-visit for 2020.
Drink a Pint of Guinness in Dublin, Ireland
If lobster in Maine is my bucket list travel idea in the food category, a pint of Guinness in Dublin, Ireland is my top idea in the drink category. I love Guinness. There is nothing quite like the experience of sipping a pint in the heart of Dublin. I’m also convinced the beer tastes better in Ireland. In Dublin, you can visit the Guinness Storehouse as well. If you travel to Dublin and go to the Guinness Storehouse, be sure to check out the Gravity Bar.
Visit Mont Saint-Michel
A photo of Mont Saint-Michel really speaks for itself in terms of why it’s on this list. Located in Normandy, France, Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island surrounded by medieval fort walls. Behind those walls is an ancient monastery, as well as a small town where you can explore shops, taste classic French cuisine, and even stay overnight. When I visited, I stayed at La Mère Poulard in the heart of Mont Saint-Michel.
Climb a Volcano in Martinique
Martinique is a small tropical island located in the Caribbean. A bit more rugged than its popular neighbors St. Lucia and Barbados, Martinique is perhaps most famous for its volcano, Mount Pelée. In 1902, Mount Pelée set off the deadliest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Within minutes, the volcano destroyed the entire capital city of Saint Pierre. Today, the capital city is Fort-de-France, about an hour south of the now dormant Mount Pelée. Mount Pelée is a hiker’s paradise, offering steep trails and scenic views at every moment.
Support the Elephants in Thailand
My last bucket list idea (in this post! I could list so many more) is also in Thailand. If you can’t make it to Thailand to see the lanterns in November, have no fear. One of my favorite travel memories is helping elephants in Thailand. Elephant abuse is still active in Asia, but volunteer at an ethical elephant sanctuary to support the rescue and conservation efforts of these magnificent animals.
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Disclosure: I may receive a small commission should you decide to book directly through my accommodation links. Every dollar goes directly back to support Wanderlight Moments & Usher syndrome awareness.