Why I Am Kicking My Travel Bucket List

It feels like barely five minutes since I last returned from Tanzania. Yet here I am, over one year later, writing a post on why I am planning my third trip back there…

…and how this has ultimately led to my decision to kick my travel bucket list to the kerb.

This might seem like a slightly contradictory declaration considering my last post talks about everything you should tick off your Barcelona Bucket List – BUT hear me out…

…the type I am referring to here, is the kind that basically lists ALL of the things that you want to see and do before proverbially “kicking the bucket.”

Why I Am Kicking My Bucket List

As a travel blogger, I have come across countless bucket lists. Every day my social media newsfeeds are filled with endless stories about how fellow bloggers have finally ticked something off their list, or how many countries they have now visited in total (and let’s be honest…I have even been guilty of doing this myself).

I want to point out that I’m not saying bucket lists ARE a bad thing to have. Everyone has different goals and aspirations, and if a bucket list helps you strive towards those dreams, then that’s great!

But for me, it has all started to feel a little overwhelming.  

Even though my day-to-day life generally feels like one huge to-do list…when it comes to travel (something that I am just that little more obsessed with), the list has actually become never-ending.

You see, the thing is….I want to do (almost) EVERYTHING. The more blog posts I read, and the more things I see crop up on my social media accounts, the more the list grows and grows.

And the more it seems like I need multiple lifetimes to actually achieve it all. And to be quite honest (being someone who is relatively goal-driven) that thought just depresses the crap out of me.

Kicking the bucket list…

About a month ago I decided that I wanted to take a couple of weeks out of work to do some more travelling.

I’d been contemplating going back to Tanzania for some time (for those of you that are new to the blog, I spent a combined total of five months – across two trips – volunteering there during my around-the-world trip in 2014/15. It is a place that completely stole my heart, and I almost ended up living there on a more permanent basis)

But my inner monologue was saying it was time to put my experience there behind me. It was time to move on and cherish the memories for what they were.

You see, in all honesty, it’s taken me a good part of a year to get over the post-travel blues, settle back in to the rhythm of life here in the UK, and start making some “grown-up” decisions about what to do next.

So that little niggling voice kept telling me that going back to Tanzania would only resurface all of those feelings of uncertainty and sadness I had when I left, and when I also made the difficult decision to turn down a job opportunity and live there.

It was time to tick another place off my “bucket list” my inner voice said. Have new adventures. Create new memories. Move on. 

Why I Am Kicking My Bucket List

I sat there for weeks searching for flight deals on places like Bali, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Uganda, to name but a few. But no matter how many deals seemed to come up, I just couldn’t bring myself to click “book it.”

Tanzania was still lingering there in the background. It was still calling out to me.

And even though I had held back from looking at flights (knowing it would provide me with way too much temptation), one night my curiosity got the better of me.

Within minutes I had found a reasonably-priced flight. I must have sat there for a good hour pondering over it and just as I was about to close the internet browser, a feeling of spontaneity came over me and I grabbed my credit card and booked it.

So what made me decide to go back to Tanzania

In that moment, it was like a light bulb had switched on in my head.

I didn’t want to be dictated by what was on my list anymore. I wanted to live in the moment and do what felt right at the time. And at that moment, booking a flight to revisit a place I consider my second home, absolutely felt like the right thing to do.

The thought of seeing the families and children I had gotten to know in Newlands; the chance of catching up with the many friends I had made in Moshi; the idea of seeing Mount Kilimanjaro towering over the town; the prospect of possibly getting to visit the beautiful island of Zanzibar –  ALL put a HUGE smile on my face.

Why I Am Kicking My Bucket List

And then a particular quote came into my head…

“You can never visit the same place twice. Each time, it’s a different story. By the very act of coming back, you wipe out what came before.” 

Having been to Tanzania twice already, I already know that quote to be true. Each experience was completely different, and I know the third will be too.

And surely that is what travel should be about? The experiences, the stories, the emotions that all come with each and every day you spend in a country – whether it be a new or revisited destination. It shouldn’t be about the amount of countries you have seen, or how many things you have managed to tick off your bucket list.

While I will always love the thrill of not knowing what to expect when going somewhere completely new, there is something equally as exciting about going back to the same place multiple times.

New experiences…new memories…but on a deeper level…

The second, the third, the fourth time is when you really get to connect with a country. It’s no longer about trying to cram in as many attractions and activities as possible, because you already know what to expect. It’s about enjoying the experience and getting to know a country on a much deeper level.

When you spend long enough in one country, only then can you truly get a feel for the culture, its people, and their way of life. And to me that is more important than rushing my way through a list of countries or things to see and do.

“Hakuna Matata” – it means no worries

If I don’t get to see all the countries on my list in this lifetime, then so be it. What will be will be. Or “Hakuna Matata” as the Tanzanians put it.

Instead I aim to have a better understanding of the countries I have visited, and hopefully more valuable advice to share with you as a travel blogger on those countries.

So for now, I am not going to beat myself up for not endeavouring to tick off everything on my bucket list. I’m not going to worry about how difficult it might be to say goodbye to a place I love all over again. I will deal with that when the time comes.

For now, I am going to do what feels right in the moment…and I hope you will too.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Kate
    September 26, 2016 at 12:05 am

    I completely agree with you. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the bucket list (probably because I really hate the term “kicked the bucket”). I have things I’d like to accomplish, but they’ve changed over time. I’d rather just focus on a few things now then feel like I was having to live up to an impossible dream or trying to fulfill a dream that I no longer have.

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

      I have to agree that our dreams and aspirations always shift with time! There are many places I would never have considered before but now intrigue me!

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers
    September 27, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I totally agree and anyway plans are there to be changed! I am such a huge fan of Africa too

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Thank you! Let me know if you ever find yourself in Tanzania!

  • Reply
    Vyjay
    September 28, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Travel is such a beautiful experience, that reducing it to a list is actually transforming it into a mundane To-Do list.
    We hate these to=-do lists of office, don’t we! 🙂 I too would go back to a destination again and again. Some places act like a magnet on you and you are drawn to them, not once, but again and again.

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

      You took the words right out of my mouth Vyjay!

  • Reply
    Karen
    October 5, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Total agreement. Whilst it’s important to seek out somewhere new, it’s equally important to really discover a country you have feelings for, (a form of love I think!) and you can’t really do that in one trip

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:26 am

      I agree! So much so that I have now taken the plunge and decided to live here! Crazy how things change!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    October 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Hi! I understand what you say, and I’m not a big fan of bucket lists either. I mean, I have goals, I have kind of a “list” of places I really REALLY want to go, but I’m not keeping an actual list, I’m not ticking off something everytime I do something… to be honest I think having a bucket list is kind of a pressure, like “OMG I have so many things left to do” or “OMG I went to Australia but I didn’t skydive, it was on my list!”
    I don’t like pressure 😀

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Haha I am exactly the same. More of a “go with the flow!” kinda girl! It takes the fun out of travelling if you always put pressure on yourself to tick off every possible thing!

  • Reply
    Steff
    November 15, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Absolute Agreement with you! Goodness, you’re SO RIGHT! Go for it, we should always follow our heart and where it takes us and if that’s Tanzania for you, we should never let someone tell us otherwise.
    As I’m going to fly back to Moshi in February, do yu have any recommendations to go ? We’ll do Mt. Meru and then we have 2 more days in town.

    Thanks a lot!

    Stefanie

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      November 18, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Steff! Thanks for your comment! I’ll be posting an article on all the awesome things to do in and around Moshi soon so be sure to check back in! Do you need any help arranging your Meru trek? If so let me know as I can put you in touch with a friend 🙂 they’ll be happy to help!

      • Reply
        Steff
        November 18, 2016 at 10:29 pm

        Hey!
        Oh that sounds great! I’ll check your website again For sure!
        We already have a guide for our mt Meru trek, it’s a friend from our first trek to Kilimanjaro. Thank you for the offer though! Can I get back to you if I have some unanswered questions after you publish your new blog about Moshi?
        🙂

  • Reply
    Kristine
    November 22, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I totally agree with you. Once you turn your travels into a list, everything you see and do will just become chores and everything you haven’t done will haunt your mind and stress you out until you go ahead and do it. If your heart is in Tanzania, if Tanzania is your happy place, you’ll know what to do 😉

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for your kind comment Kristine! Going back actually turned out to be a game-changer! I am now living here for the foreseeable! Funny how life has so many twists and turns.

  • Reply
    Anna
    November 22, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I’ve never been to Tanzania, but I can totally relate to the light bulb moment. It’s a fantastic feeling to find a place that you’re so drawn to, so enjoy! As for bucket lists, I don’t know why anyone would take them seriously – aren’t they just mere suggestions?

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I like your view that bucket lists are more like suggestions! And I hope you get to visit one day! I actually decided to take the plunge and live here for a while. So let me know if you ever fancy visiting!

  • Reply
    Joe
    November 22, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Good for you Nikki! In many ways I envy you for finding that one place that lights a fire in you every time you think of it that you simply can’t resist being lured back to it.

    Tanzania is a special place to me too, as you know, and whilst I have also been there twice and have recently confirmed I will also be going back in 2018, it’s essentially tied in with the fact I have this project on the go near Moshi with the School I work at in London. I’m still raring to see so many other places – Iceland, Peru and Mongolia are all confirmed for next year, and I’m properly stoked for all of them – that I guess, for me, the bucket list remains. For now.

    Have a great time on your third visit there 🙂

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for the kind comment Joe! It’s a shame we missed each other on your last visit! I have actually decided to live here for a little while so there is a good chance I’ll be around in 2018 on your next visit! Do let me know if you’d like to meet up!

  • Reply
    Cruise Writer
    November 23, 2016 at 12:28 am

    Some places are so great that they are always worth another visit. And it’s so true that every time is different from the previous. My “bucket”list is more like a 50-gallon drum.

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Haha love that “50 gallon drum” – thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Abhinav Singh
    November 23, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I do have a bucket list of places I want to see, such as Antarctica, Galapagos Island, Kashmir, Machu Pichu etc but I am in no hurry. I know with some planning and saving I will do it one day. I also believe in immersive travel rather than just hop from one destination to another.

    • Reply
      Nikki Godwin
      April 11, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Thanks Abhinav. Yes there are still many places I would love to see, but like you I am in no hurry! Patience is a virtue as they say 🙂

  • Reply
    Carmy
    November 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Girl I feel you!!! I have a bucket list but at one point, I started to feel like I was only going through the motions of visiting places and doing things just for the sake of crossing it off my list. It wasn’t organic or too enjoyable. I started to narrow down my bucket list now to focus more on how I FEEL and creating memories instead of “seeing big ben.”

  • Reply
    Julie Cao
    November 25, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I understand what you feel and your urge to return to Tanzania. I used to have a bucket list for every new place I have visited, then I found myself could not keep it up, so just like you, I kicked it off and started deep traveling, It is there I found myself developing a deep connection with the culture and the place. Travel is never about numbers, it is the experience that matters. Have fun in Tanzania, and I believe you will enjoy your trip more since you love there so much!

  • Reply
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