Bucket List or Garbage Can?

We’re back in Florida this winter, snowbirding from the Minnesota cold. One bucket-list item I got to do today was drive down the sands of Daytona Beach in a bright red Jeep with the roof panels taken off. That was fun!

Recently, I’ve been reading about people’s disappointments with some of their bucket list experiences. It started with THIS POST on EarlyRetirement.org, where people shared their biggest let downs.

Here are some of the most frequent bucket list experiences that people felt were more fitting for a garbage can …

Cruise Vacations – “Stopping on small islands with 4,000 other tourists isn’t relaxing”

Las Vegas – “The place is so ugly – from the cheesy Bellagio to the fake Eiffel Tower”

Disneyland / World – “Busy, noisy, expensive, and crowded to the extreme”

Machu Picchu – “Crowded with Instagrammers. Had to stand in lines everywhere to take pictures”

Lake Homes – “I’ve owned and have no desire to deal with the hassles of extra yard work and boat repairs”

River Cruising – “Just a glorified version of the old-fashioned $50/day bus tours.”

Venice – “The canals were like garbage dumps”

Learning Guitar – “Millions of 13 year olds do this, how hard can it be?”

Cancun – “Cancun has become synonymous with Spring Break and Bachelor parties. It’s no longer a laid back and relaxing getaway.”

Different strokes for different folks, of course, but most of the disappointments involve travel to crowded places.

One of the benefits of early retirement is having the flexibility to enjoy destinations when they are less busy. So far, we are finding the Atlantic coast of Florida to be quite empty, but still almost 50-degrees warmer than back home!

What bucket list let downs have you encountered?

Image Credit: Pixabay

14 thoughts on “Bucket List or Garbage Can?

  1. Interesting article Mr. Firestation and the list looks reasonable. These look like common FOMO activities so the comparison problem might be impacting people’s joy from completing. As you wrote, timing is huge and I agree FIRE helps us zig when others zag.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree that cruises belong in the garbage can. My main beef is that stop some place cool and you get just a couple hours there. One of the other passengers told me that in the good old days if you stopped at a Greek Island or where ever and wanted to stay, you could. You were allowed to catch a later ship.

    Ending on a positive note. I really liked traveling on a Eurorail pass. You can travel at your own speed. On days that you were traveling on the pass, you could enjoy extra benefits such as boat ride up the Rhine River at no extra charge because it was considered transportation. Overnight private sleeper cars with their own bathroom and shower are also very nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m actually a cruise fan. We’ve done them all over the world – Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska, and Baltic. I like the “unpack once” and see a lot of places. We’ve gotten to places we probably wouldn’t otherwise … the Pyramids, ancient Olympia, St. Petersburg, etc. It gives you a little taste of something you can spend more time at later. We haven’t done the Eurorail pass ever. Just some isolated train trips.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The trains are great for getting around from city to city in Europe. I even used them when I used to travel to Europe on business. They save travel time because you can take a train from London Center to Paris Metro. It takes a little over two hours and avoids having to get out to Heathrow and going through security. On the Paris side you end up in the city instead of at the outskirts.

        Very large seats. The overnight trains with sleeper cars are very nice too. Well worth adding to a bucket list.


  3. We did a U.S. bucket list trip across country (Washington to Virginia) in 2020. Yellowstone, Devils Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Little Big Horn, and Badlands were all amazing. Crazy Horse Monument, SD and Mammouth Cave, KY both felt like a nickel-and-dime tourist traps. Likewise, our Florida Keys to Halifax, Nova Scotia trip in 2019 was similarly beautiful, but our stops in Salem, MA (wife wanted to see the Salem Witch history), and Plymouth Rock both felt like silly crowded tourist traps.

    Guess it’s human nature to imagine these wondrous places that you hear so much about growing up. But in reality, you find out it’s just a small rock on a beach with a little roof built over it that may or may not be a real landing spot, but with gift shops everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those sound like great trips. You never can tell which stops are going to be worthwhile, can you? Road trips are particularly tricky, as the tourist sites tend to be smaller and less predictable.


  4. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I was fortunate to do many bucket list items decades ago when I was young and not as many people got off the beaten path. Places such as showing up and getting a permit to climb the Grand Teton or a campsite at Phantom Ranch, or going to the top of the Empire State Building or WTC inexpensively.

    During the summer of the first pandemic I drove back roads from Denver to Los Angeles. The crowds at Independence Pass, Capital Reef and Bryce were extreme and I drove by. I had seen them before in an empty state so I am fortunate.

    We do like cruising but smaller ships and last May did a bucket list cruise Istanbul to Venice which was great and so much better with 900 passengers instead of 4,000. We like going place to place without having to unpack.

    We now in retirement do quality experiences over quantity and spend for the upgrades.

    So many bucket list items are unique to one’s individual preferences. We don’t like Cabo but to others it is a dream. Live and let live

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that travel looks a lot different now than 20+ years ago. Every place from the Louvre to Disney now require advance ticketing & timed entrances. It helps accommodate the crowds, but takes the spontaneity out of everything.

      We haven’t done a small cruise line yet. The smallest ship we’ve been on was about 2K passengers. I like the amenities on the mega ships, but the crowds are tough.

      I have a friend who is doing a Viking small ship cruise to Antarctica right now. That looks really interesting!


  5. I agree on the travel to popular crowded locations. No Fun!
    Driving your jeep anywhere in Florida with mid 70’s temps is a blast.
    I’ve been a long time reader and live in Florida as well full time. As a fellow FIRE w/o the RE I have a couple water front rentals on the west coast that require a 20min ride through old Florida thats perfect for your jeep ride to end with scenic views and quaint lunches that I would highly suggest to you and Mrs. Firestation. PM me and meet up for lunch and a beer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds great, IronmanDad – We’ll be over in the Bradenton/Sarasota area starting on 3/1. It would be fun to meet up and hear about your Florida lifestyle.


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