How to Accomplish That Big Mission On Your Bucket List

Bungee NZ

“Must be nice…”

“You’re so freaking lucky!”

“I wish I could do that, but…”

Whenever I explain to people what I’ve done or where I’ve gone, these are the responses I get.  And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve done some pretty epic things over the past few years: living like James Bond in Monaco, finding Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef, and tracking hippopotamuses down a South African river. It’s been one non-stop, horribly terrifying, utterly exhilarating adventure.

In fact, the adventure continues this week: on Wednesday I’m off to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, for Carnival!

I’m not saying all of this to impress you, but rather to impress upon you what can happen to a shy, risk-averse nerd who decides to deliberately fill his life with adventure.

I’m also going to tell you that luck has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it.  I’m not some lucky bastard.

I believe that life needs to be filled with stories and adventure, big and small. By the end of this article, you’re going to know exactly what your next adventure is going to be, how to get started down the path towards reaching it, and have a system in place to both plan AND pay for it.

This is one of the most detailed posts I’ve ever written on Nerd Fitness, and not for boring people.  I am going DESTROY every excuse you’ve ever had for not crossing that big goal off your bucket list.


Not only that, but I’m also giving away two free one-hour Skype consultations with yours truly to help you plan out your adventure!  All you have to do is follow the directions below…  

Reframe your mind


Want to know the BIGGEST difference I see between people who find happiness and have great adventures, and those who don’t?

Those that spend their days angry and miserable and stuck in a rut?  They hear a story about somebody doing something awesome, like losing a lot of weight or having an adventure of a lifetime, and the first emotion that pops in their head is ENVY – “Why does he get to do that when I can’t?” “Must be nice to be able to do that. I can’t because ________.” “My situation is different. She is so lucky.”

Those that find success and have adventures? They hear a story about somebody doing something awesome and the first emotion on their mind is INSPIRATION – “Hey, if he can do it, so can I!” “Sure, I might have kids and debt to pay down, but that is awesome and I want to do it too.”

I challenge you to remove anger, jealousy, and envy from your mind when you hear about people doing great things.  After reading Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek five years ago (a MUST read, even if you don’t ever plan on starting your own business), my world was shattered. Suddenly, that dream life I wanted but never expected to get suddenly seemed like an actual possibility…if I started making changes.

In the book, Tim describes case study after case study of people from all walks of life going on unconventional adventures:

All of whom decided, “I want adventure. I want a great story to tell.”

You don’t need to quit your job and travel the world (unless you decide that’s what you want to do), but I DO want you to start believing you have the time and resources to cross those big adventures off your bucket list.

Let me show you EXACTLY how you’re going to accomplish them.

Think epic, but be extremely detailed

bucket list

Everybody has a bucket list, right? 

According to the Rebels on the Nerd Fitness facebook page, everybody has at least one thing they want to do

Some people gave very specific answers, and others gave very vague answers.

Take fifteen minutes right now, and write down five epic adventures you’d like to have before you die.  These goals do NOT need to be expensive or even international, but they DO need to be things you’ve always dreamed of doing but haven’t done yet. Goals like: “run a marathon,” or “climb a mountain” don’t count. I want SPECIFICS:

  • I want to get scuba certified on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • I want to spend a week camping in the Grand Canyon.
  • I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
  • I want to skydive in 2013.
  • I want to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

The more specific you can get, the better.  Why is that important?  Because it takes your goal adventure from an abstract “weeee wouldn’t that be fun,” and turns it into this very concrete, specific reality that needs to happen.

And remember, this isn’t a dream – it’s a reality!

Research the time, effort, and cost

zebra crossing

Now that you’ve identified your five dream goals,  pick ONE item on the list and spend 15 minutes researching the exact cost it would take to accomplish that goal.

Set up a simple Google spreadsheet or a text document.  Also, write down any time requirements as well:

  • How long will you be going for? 3 days? A week? A month? A year?
  • Do you need to fly there? Search to get the cost of your flight (tips later on travel hacking).
  • Will you require lodging? Search Expedia for hotel prices, AirBNB for apartments, or if you’re traveling cheaply.
  • Do you need a coach? If you’re learning a skill (martial arts? dancing? a new language?), search for a teacher in that area on the Google. If there are no prices listed, write down the email address of somebody you can contact for more information.
  • Are you taking a safari/adventure/excursion? Find a similar excursion online and get the rates.

Even if you don’t find your exact tour or the exact boat you want to rent, that’s okay. What IS important is that you actually determine the cost, time, and effort associated with your plan.

Again, this exercise serves a purpose; it moves the activity from vague to VERY SPECIFICALLY CONCRETE.  You now have a dollar amount on what you need to do.

Did you know that you’re 254% more likely to follow through with your goals when they’re specific and concrete, and that 63.7% of all statistics are made up?

Since we had a lot of Machu Picchu requests on the NF thread, and that adventure was the one that started it all for me, let’s go step by step to get you from your computer chair to Machu Picchu.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

If I were to plan a trip to Machu Picchu, and was just getting started, this is how I would do it:

1) We’ll need to save up for the trip, so let’s put the trip nine months down the road – in early November.  It’s in the southern hemisphere, so that’s a perfect time to visit (it’s also the time of year that I visited and the weather was great).

2) Googling “hike Inca Trail” led me to, which looks to have a reputable and reasonably priced Inca Trail package; it includes all fees, buses, trains, meals, and guides to get to/from Machu Picchu.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.01.39 PM

3) Reading further, it looks like the Inca Trail experience leaves from Cusco. So we need to get from our home to Cusco. A 30-second search on Kayak led me to this:

Flying to Cusco

4) The trail group also recommends that we spend at least two days ahead of time in Cusco before starting the Inca Trail (to get acclimated to the altitude), which means we’ll need lodging in Cusco.  30 seconds on with a price range of $50 or less for a hotel produced:

Booking Hotel in Cusco

5) Want peace of mind? Get travel insurance through WorldNomads. A 1-week ‘explorer’ policy only costs $64.73.  Also, check with your credit card companies (especially American Express). You might already be covered with trip insurance!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.09.29 PM

6) We’ll need to spend money throughout the trip on various meals and other expenses.  A quick search and we find that we can expect to pay only 5-$10 for a nice meal at restaurant. We also want to build an emergency 20% buffer in case there are any unexpected events or our flights get delayed and we have to spend an extra day somewhere – so multiply your total by 1.2:

Trip Costs

7) A simple Google spreadsheet reveals our trip, with the emergency safety buffer built in, will cost roughly $2,100.

Not bad for the adventure of lifetime that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, but still a good chunk of change.  What’s next?

Time to plan and prioritize.

Rearrange your priorities, start planning

Steve Alpacca

“Sounds great Steve, but I don’t have the time and I can’t afford that trip.”

That is the excuse I get from 95% of people when I ask them “you just told me about something you want to do, why aren’t you doing it?”

My response to that is always “liar, liar, pants on fire.”   I then set their pants on fire (I’m a man of my word).

Here’s why those two excuses are bogus:

When you say “I don’t have time for _____” or “I can’t afford ______,” what you’re REALLY saying is: “_____________ is not a priority in my life right now.”

If this trip is TRULY a priority for you, then you need to prioritize it in your life.  It’s not what you SAY is a priority, but rather what you DO that’s a priority.

If you “can’t afford” a trip, then you have two options:

  • Stop spending money on crap you don’t really need. Be absolutely RUTHLESS with this.
  • Find a way to make extra money on the side.

I’ve found that a good combination of the two works out great.  It’s time to audit your financials. 

I track ALL of my financials through, so I can tell how much is spent each month on food, entertainment, eating out, bars, on Amazon, etc.

It’s amazing how many people who “can’t afford to do [awesome activity or trip]” gladly spend:

  • $150 a month on Cable TV.
  • Drink $5 lattes from Starbucks each morning.
  • Go out to a $10 lunch each day and grab takeout food on the way home.
  • Buy new clothes/shoes that they don’t really need.

It’s not that these people don’t have money, it’s that every one of these things above is a priority over travel or adventure.

Cut out the crap you don’t need.  Back when I quit my job to run Nerd Fitness full time, I had roughly $4,000 in the bank and no backup plan. I prioritized living a life on my terms over everything else, so I cut a LOT of things out of my life for over two years. I stopped buying video games, I stopped going out to lunch and dinner, I stopped going out to bars, and I stopped going to movies.

Yep, I chose to stop doing some things that I enjoyed or ‘would have been nice.’

I was okay with that – because going on these adventures was more important to me than those things above.  When I traveled I still made my own meals, slept in cheap hostels, and never watched TV. I saved my money so that I could spend it on adventurous excursions.

What’s important to you?  If it’s this adventure, I bet you can find a way to save up a few bucks each day to make it a reality.

Let me show you exactly how I would do it.

Break your goal into small steps

Wall of China

Let’s look back at our Machu Picchu example: We need to save $2,100 bucks between now and November.  That gives us roughly nine months to set that money aside.  Of course, if that’s too soon, you can set the trip for 12, 18 months out and start saving. There’s always a way!

Step 1: Since this big number might seem daunting, the first step should be to break it down into smaller pieces.  For our example, we need to save roughly $233 dollars a month.

Want to know the best way to do that?  Set up a free online piggy bank.

Step 2: This next tip comes courtesy of personal finance guru Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich, which is the best book on personal finance I have EVER read. It changed how I manage my money.  Go read it. Now.

I use ING Direct (now Capital One 360) savings accounts – It’s free to set up with no minimum account requirements, you can segment your account into buckets, and you can have it auto-pull from your checking account.  Every 1st of the month, I pull money from my personal account into various savings accounts. I never see the money, so I am never tempted to spend it.  Automated finances FTW!

I set up some mock accounts specifically for this article, and added a “Machu Picchu Trip Fund”:


Step 3: After setting up the accounts, it’s time to fund them.  Because we need to save roughly $250 bucks a month for Machu Picchu, I set up an automatic transfer from my Basic Savings account into Machu Picchu.


If you can’t set aside $250 a month up front, that’s okay.  Set aside $100, or $50. EVERY BIT COUNTS.  As you find a way to cut more expenses or a way to make extra money, you can quickly put it into your savings account so there’s no temptation to spend it.

I challenge you today to set aside your first $50 towards your adventure.  Sign up for an online account and connect it to your normal account. Put $50 in a piggy bank. Bury $50 in your back yard.  Do SOMETHING with that $50 that earmarks it for “epic adventure.”

NOTE: I have zero affiliation with Capital One/ING – it’s just what I use for my online savings accounts and find it very easy to use and set up.

Extra tips and tricks

Angkor Wat

Take care of yourself!  If you are out of shape and in debt, get those things taken care of first.  Use this trip as your motivation; your reward that will reward you back.  I don’t advise that you go further into debt to take a trip: first put a solid plan in place to get yourself on solid financial footing, and then get back on the adventure train.  While you’re doing this, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some free or cheap adventures in your very own backyard.  If the Goonies can find hometown adventure, so can you!

How far out should you book my plane tickets and excursions?  According to this article, you should book domestic flights roughly 49 days in advance, and international flights roughly three months in advance.  If you are doing an excursion, do some research and find out how popular it is – the Inca Trail has limited capacity, so it can fill up quickly (so months in advance at minimum).  Other excursions, if there are lots of operators, can be booked in person once you arrive – just be ready for it to be sold out and the possibility of needing to change plans. I tend to prefer to book all of my excursions when I arrive, understanding that sometimes things are sold out. Most of the time, they’re not.

Travel hacking kicks ass – If you happen to live in the US, you can accomplish your big trips for FAR cheaper.  I won’t cover this topic too much here, as it would require another 15 minutes of reading, but I am a travel hacking fanatic (right now, I have about a million frequent flyer miles).  It’s how I spent three weeks in Peru for $1,000, how I hacked my way into the Fairmont Monte Carlo, and how I traveled 35,000 miles all over the globe for $418.  If you are looking for some more resources, check out Lucky at One Mile at a Time and the Points Guy. If you want a comprehensive resource, I got my start with Chris Guillebeau’s (recently updated) Frequent Flyer Master, which bundles up tons of info into an easy-to-understand eBook.  Looking back, this might be the best $49 I’ve ever spent.

Borrow your equipment – If you’re going on a one-week trip, there is NO need to go out and buy all new stuff.  Reach out to your friends and family and borrow for the week.  I borrowed my friend Mikey’s fantastic backpack for my trip to Peru, which saved me a few hundred bucks.  I guarantee there is somebody that you know, or someone they know that has what you need.  Save money on buying things so that you can spend that money on experiences that you’ll never forget.

“I’m confused about parts of the trip, and I need help.” Check your social network for somebody that has already DONE what you’re hoping to do and email them. Hop on a Skype call with them and have them explain where they stayed, how much they spent, what tour operator they used, and more.  Start reading my friend Nomadic Matt’s blog. Sign up for travel message boards (or even the Nerd Fitness message boards) and start posting questions – you’ll be surprised how helpful and responsive people will be.

I really don’t have the money! That doesn’t mean you still can’t have an adventure.  You can still do things incredibly cheaply.  Try for free lodging.  Travel hack your way to a free plane ticket.  Find a volunteer service and do service work overseas, raising money for your trip.  I bet your social circle would gladly donate a few bucks to help you go spend a life-changing trip helping others.  Google is your friend.

But I’m scared. Great. Then you should absolutely do it.  Hell, half the things on my list scare the crap out of me! I do them because I know it’ll make me a better person, expose me to new cultures or foods, or provide me with a new perspective on life.  If you spend your life running from anything remotely scary, uncomfortable, or challenging, you’re going to lead a verrrrry boring life.

Long story short: it’s your responsibility as a Nerd Fitness Rebel to do sh** that scares you!

Take the leap. And let me help!


Life is so damn short, so stop waiting.  

The perfect moment doesn’t exist.

The time will never be right.

Eventually never happens.

Tomorrow never comes.

Once your plans are solidified, mark your calendar, let your work know you’ll need the time off, and put down a deposit before you can talk yourself out of it.  Suddenly your perspective will shift from “should I do this?” to “okay I’m doing this, what else do I need to do to prepare?”

I’m giving away two 1-hour sessions with me on Skype to help you plan your adventure, no strings attached.  We’ll hop on Skype and you’ll tell me what you want to do and where you want to go. Then I’ll help you plan the details, connect you with people who have done what you want to do, and help you put a plan in place to actually make it happen.

Why am I doing this? I just want to help more people get to say “holy crap, I can’t believe that just happened…I will never forget this.”

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment that tells me where you want to go and what you want to do there.


If you are generic and vague, you’re disqualified because you didn’t pay attention!

Comments must be submitted by February 10th at 11:59pm. I’ll pick one winner at random, and one winner because they have a have a fun adventure I’d like to help with.

So, I ask you: Where do you want to go, and what do you want to do when you get there?


PS – Congrats to Nomadic Matt for putting out his book tomorrow (Tuesday): How to Travel the World for $50 a Day!  Thanks to Matt, I’m going to give away 5 copies of his book to people that leave comments. Simply leave a comment by Feb 10th at 11:59pm FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE and you’ll be in the drawing!


All photos from my epic quest.  

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322 thoughts on “How to Accomplish That Big Mission On Your Bucket List

  1. Hiking through New Zealand. Most beautiful pictures. Wanted to go since college. Will go before I turn 40.

  2. I would love to be able to go to the Sunshine Coast and participate in the tough mudder there in August. It is the day after my birthday, so a great birthday present and a nice little getaway.
    The other thing is that we want to go to Melbourne around Christmas time so the kids can spend christmas with family and also take them to the zoo and the museum, and all the other things that we don’t have access to in Cairns.

    I am going to start trying to plan for my sunshine coast trip now – very excited.

  3. I’m deaf. I’m going to travel the world achieving conversational fluency in multiple languages while writing my PhD dissertation.

    This isn’t as audacious as it sounds, and I’m already on my way to making it happen. Let’s break it down one thing at a time.

    1) I’m deaf. I’m 26 now, but lost most of my hearing as a toddler; you’d have to whistle louder than a jet engine to get me to turn around. I picked up lipreading on my own and have been oral (speaking) all my life — my parents didn’t realize their daughter was deaf until right before kindergarten when my mom realized I wouldn’t let her whisper to me (because I couldn’t see her face). I started hanging out at my university’s audiology department when I began grad school, and eventually decided to investigate cochlear implants — so I’m getting evaluated for candidacy as part of the Stage 2 clinical trials for a hybrid procedure at the end of this month. If I’m a surgical candidate, decide to take the plunge, and the procedure works, I’ll be able to really hear consonants for the first time — and I’ll have a 6-18 month window of auditory plasticity as my brain learns how to hear language sounds — and I’m determined to maximize that plasticity window to lay the foundation for as many language sounds as possible.
    2) I’m going to travel the world — already doing it. Frequent flyer miles, conference speaking gigs, travel-heavy jobs, piggybacking trips… since graduating from college in 2007, I’ve been to Taiwan, South Africa, China, the Philippines, Australia, Qatar, France, Thailand, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, and all across the USA (and I’m probably missing some countries on this list). I’m not rich (as a grad student, I’m barely a few thousand dollars above the federal poverty line) — but I am persistent and creative. Oh — and I’m basically location-independent when I want to be. I’ve been installing infrastructure, acclimating my committee, and planning my data collection with geographic flexibility in mind since I set foot on campus in 2011. Sometimes I choose to not be location-independent for a set time (for instance, the semester I danced with the university’s modern company); sometimes I design for more flexibility (I’m writing this comment from a cozy airbnb place in Columbus after a 4-hour road trip). The point is that I get to be wherever I want to be.3) achieving conversational fluency in multiple languages. German, Mandarin, and ASL (American Sign Language) are my targets in that sequential order — and I’m not starting from scratch. I’ve been around those languages for 2, 5, and 18 years respectively, and stand somewhere between advanced-beginner and low-intermediate for conversation (my reading skill is higher) in all three thanks to books, newspapers, tapes, very patient friends, and a lot of mime during the rare occasions I’ve been surrounded by native speakers. Not being able to discriminate consonants makes it really hard to pick up a language through conversations or traditional group classes that assume everyone can hear the teacher — I can make all the sounds in German and Mandarin that aren’t present in English (my native language) only because I spent weeks coding them blindly into muscle memory for my throat, lips, and tongue (like I said… very patient friends). I have my own language-learning strategies, all hacked for deafness; I’ve identified in-country language schools and teachers I want to work with, and I’m piecing together a preparation program for each language that will take advantage of (not just work around) my surgical and academic schedule — for instance, driving from Indiana to Iowa for frequent surgery follow-up sessions will let me stop by the Goethe Institut in Chicago along the way, and a major conference in my field is in Spain in 2014 — so it’d be easier for me to fly there from Switzerland than the USA anyway. Basically, the missing parts are (1) consonants! and (2) extended periods of immersion — one will (hopefully) happen through the surgery, the other through the travel plan.4) while writing my PhD dissertation. And finishing and graduating, mind you. I know this could easily be a recipe for endless distraction — did I mention I have ADHD too? — so I’m working with a coach to build good disciplines and habits for my dissertation work now, even before I defend my proposal. I was a location-independent remote worker for the majority of the time between undergrad and grad school (2007-2011) and found that I was more productive on the road — probably because the travel gave my brain the stimulation and balance that kept it from burning out through hyperfocus on WORKWORKWORK. I’ve already empirically determined that 4 hours a day, 5 days a week is the maximum sustainable schedule for deep research productivity — at least for me. More than that and I spiral into burnout. Half that, and I still get tons done. Instead of saying I’ll do Nothing But Dissertation, letting work expand to fit the time available, and ending up fiddling halfheartedly for 8-12 miserable hours a day, I’ll get 2-4 laser-focused, well-scaffolded hours in — knock out a few key highly-prioritized tasks — set up for the next day, take care of administrivia… and do all this as efficiently as possible because then I’ll be off into the big, big world to have adventures. I get some of my best research thoughts when I’m doing something else, anyhow — making coq au vin, stretching backstage, and the classic inspirational shower.There you go. Just your average deaf geek polyglot globetrotter woman. Steve, I’d love to talk with you about this for three reasons. The first is swapping world-travel trips and stories. The second is about getting consistent about working out on the road when I’m away from the dance studio, because exercise is a vital part of my ADHD management routine — I can road-test ideas on this summer’s trip to Zambia, where I guarantee you there won’t be dance studios around. And the third is the chance to hear the Nerd Fitness business backstory (I know you’ve given bajillions of interviews; I have specific questions past that) because I’m slowly building up the courage (and content) for a tiny business of my own that’s related to this whole adventure.Whoa, that was long. All righty. Happy to take questions, comments, encouragements, advice — but my “have fun on the internet!” time is up for the day and it’s time for me to switch gears into my Daily Grad School Reading Fun Time (tonight’s feature: poststructuralist theories) and then wind down with a stretch/mobility session before bed.

  4. Oi. That text was formatted in easier-to-read chunks, but the “post” button apparently ate that. I’ll see if I can work up a more readable version the next time I have Internet Happy Fun Time.

  5. I’ve been to 36/50 states and want to take a cross country road trip that encompasses as many of the rest of them as possible, as inexpensively as possible (because I think it would be more fun that way). It involves the South and West mostly, plus a couple small ones here and there. And North Dakota, heh. Ideally it would be a trip based on small town sights and parks + a couple major highlights I’m missing (Las Vegas, New Orleans, Grand Canyon, Fargo? :).

  6.      I’m going to go to Japan in 2014 before my freshman year of college! To get there, I’m going to save every penny I can, work even harder to earn more money, and use Steve’s and my own travel hacking tips to get the best prices I can. Also, I’ll be sure to be speaking fluent Japanese by the time I get there! ^_^

  7. Sweden is gorgeous! Say “hej” to Stockholm for me. 😉  She’s a beautiful city with beautiful people.

  8. If you’re somewhere close to Logan, UT. I’ll be at Soft Answer Self Defense Thursday night.

  9. I want to go to Germany to visit my friends who are stationed there for the Airforce. While there I would like to branch out and visit as many nearby museums, possibly go on hikes in the wilderness, and maybe even stop by Switzerland/France if I have time. It would also be nice to spend a night or two in Frankfurt to check out the night life as well

  10. I just did my second half marathon this January.
    I want to complete a full marathon in January 2015 but that only leads on to my true goal..

    I have estimated the cost to be around 1.25 lakh Rupees…that’s 2272$…that’s a saving of about 75$ per month.
    However I have some knee issues that I am a little concerned about. Don’t want to banjax my knee at 23.
    Also I am trying to figure out how to combine strength training with running since I relly love both of them and I want to be really awesome at both(not too much to ask, is it?)

    An hour long skype session with you will be really helpful to accelerate my goals!

  11. I feel kind of guilty for wanting another adventure. I am one lucky girl: I live in Switzerland and can (and do) hike in the Alps. I have traveled extensively in Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Croatia, England, Scotland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Spain). I have also gone on many other amazing adventures….Camping safari in Africa with a hot air balloon ride, Angkor wat in Cambodia, Bangkok, Egypt, several ocean kayaking trips in several different oceans just to name a few. Overall, I think I’ve been to around 24 different countries. I’ve certainly had more than my share.I’d like to still kayak around the Galapagos Islands and I’d like to hike in Nepal along the Annapurna Circuit. There is a school near Kathmandu where I have sponsored a student (several of my collegues have been there). I want to spend some time as a volunteer there before or after my trek. I dream a lot about it, and now, after your article, I realize I need to make it happen. Thank You!

  12. I highly recommend it, having been to Stockholm (awesome) and Malmo (very cute smaller city, right across the water from Copenhagen, which you should also visit!).

  13. And as for other future goals, I have a friend working in Malaysia until the end of 2013, so my second big trip this year will be to visit him towards the end of the year. That should give me plenty of time to save about $1500 for airfare, as that will be my biggest expense. Otherwise, I will be staying for free (at my friend’s and via Couchsurfing for Thailand and Indonesia if I can make it to both of those), traveling by super cheap bus/train and eating on the street, so my cost of living per day should actually be cheaper than where I currently live.

    Luckily, being a freelancer means I can take as long of a trip as I want, and keep earning money as I travel =D

  14. I am going to Carnivale in Venice February 2015 to celebrate my 5 year wedding anniversary.  Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Steve: This is really the push I needed.

    I’m going to hike the Grand Canyon in March 2014. I’ll hike down the first day, stay overnight at the Phantom Ranch, and go back up the next day. Note that I didn’t say I “want” to go – I’m going. And that’s final.

    I’ve already done the research. It’ll cost $1000-1200, so I’m setting up an account right now to save $100 a month.

    I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve done any hiking… It’s been many years. And the Grand Canyon is no walk in the park. It’s the perfect motivation for me to get up and moving and to actually work towards a goal for once, instead of just letting the days pass by. I’m really excited about this!

  16. So, lets be specific.

    I’m a 22yo wanna-be self-taught gymnast.Its been a year that i started making plans on an epic trip related to my training.I came up with two options so far. One is to go to Israel take classes under the tutelage of Ido Portal for about a month (got
    contacts that could host me for a few days at least), learn about his method, and make great improvements in every movement-related aspect i can imagine.The other is to go to Latvia for the third World Street Workout championship, meet guys like the Barstarzz, and many many others, which is also awesome, since I love the freestyle of it.Both trip options should happen in between
    july/august this year but i can’t decide which one i go for. I have most of the money I need already saved or coming,
    but it scares the hell outta me and I fear suffering from Paralysis by Analysis
    and doing nothing at all… Also, on both cases, i’d like the trip back to be
    by ship, crossing the atlantic ocean on the way back home in a freighter boat.Another thing that came upon my mind was to do BOTH! not at the same time, but perhaps i may postpone the trip to Israel to something between november/february, but i’m not sure if i’d be able to raise the money or keep up with college while traveling that much.Help needed.

  17. You have definitely inspired me and my wife.  We actually followed your travel hacking tips and took a (virtually) free babymoon to San Diego last year.  Not super adventurous, but for a couple about to have their first baby, it was perfect.

    After reading this article, I started planning out some road trips we can easily do with a baby.  I’ve always wanted to visit all 50 states and all 58 national parks.  I’ve got a good way to go to finishing this list, but South Carolina is the last state on the eastern seaboard I’ve never visited, so this summer, we are roadtripping there and we’re visiting Congaree National Park in SC.  Two birds, one stone.

    My big travel goal… the one I will do some day – is to walk on Antarctica.  Not just take an Antarctic cruise – I actually want to stand on the continent.

  18. I want to travel to America and drive the route 66 (I’ll need to take someone that can drive as I don’t have a licence!) and I want to spend a week on a cow boy ranch.

    I want to run the Great Wall of China Marathon

    I want to do the Mongal Rally that my mum did a couple of years ago (although she broke her leg when she went. I DO NOT want to do that!

  19.  I want to go to Transylvania to visit the gothic castles, the old rustic towns and do some parkour in the forest.

  20. Crazy, I was seriously just looking at the Great Wall of China Marathon this morning putting together the costs and everything! Weird! LOL

  21.  Okay *deep breath*  I NEVER share stuff like this, especially with the Internet Peoples (love y’all) but this is one time in my life that I truly cannot afford to be shy.  I’m writing for help with something that, literally, I only get one shot at.

    My fiance and I have been together almost ten years.  We met at age 20 and neither of us came from a family with a lot of $.  We both wanted badly to go to college and thus began our decade of crazy teamwork.  Working multiple jobs, learning to teach subjects we love, cutting every needless expense EVER (we have never had cable in any of our homes), and just being there for each other through it all, we are approaching the end of our first chapter together.  He is about to graduate from law school next year and I will finish my second bachelor’s degree. 

    We set the date for the wedding.  Knew I would marry this guy pretty much the minute we met as he’s freakin’ awesome.  (He sat me down to watch the Star Wars trilogy for the first time right after we met.  ‘Nough said.  Shoulda married him right then lol.)

    It’s this August.  My parents are truly wonderful and have offered to help us with this special occasion.  So here’s my challenge:

    I want to take this man on the honeymoon of his DREAMS.  This guy, who has taught me to ride a bike, to play MMOs, to love Star Wars, Trek, anything with STAR in the name (turnabout’s fair play, I got him hooked on LOTR heh).  I want to make sure he has some experiences that we can look back on when the kids get here and say, “Dude.  You would not believe what your mom and I did on our honeymoon….”

    I have my heart set on Colorado.  We both love to mountain bike, hike, white water raft, anything outdoors and extreme is right up our alley.  It isn’t a far trip (we live in Arkansas) but something with that many excursions seems like it will cost a mint.  Plus, I haven’t the foggiest idea where to start!  I have never been to Colorado and could really use a hand finding the best spots for these activities as well as laying out a plan to start saving for it. 

    I have six months, Steve.  And he is worth every bit of work, planning, and saving between now and then. 

    Thanks for having such a rad contest!  Good luck to everyone and I am really loving reading all the “bucket list” items.  🙂

  22. I want to visit the UAW and see the Formula 1 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, while staying in the Yas Hotel which hosts the event. The track is literally built through the hotel. How cool is that? I’d like to make a week or two out of it the trip.  

  23. I would love to go to the Strawberry Fields Festival in Leicestershire, UK during August of this year. I’ve obsessed about going since it came about in 2010, but I’ve always been scared to go alone.. and I wouldn’t exactly call my friends the adventurous type. The idea is so overwhelming to me. I’ve hardly ever traveled out of the South. I’m currently brainstorming a way to make this happen using your tips without being ostracized by my family for being selfish. Fingers crossed!

  24. You’re gonna teach me some Irish Dancing at Anni, right?  I can teach you the Lambada!

  25. Since July, I’ve lost 85 lbs. I’m just 40 lbs away from being at a healthy weight and for the first time ever, that seems TOTALLY doable! In just under a year, I’d like to travel to New Zealand for three weeks and “hike the trail to Mordor,” aka plan a hiking/camping trip where I can visit some of the stunning locations used in the LotR films and eventually cast the ring into Mount Doom (jks! heehee). When I was younger and packing on the pounds, I did outdoors trips to Alaska and Montana with Outward Bound and I feel like I owe it to myself to experience a new adventure now that I’ll actually BE IN SHAPE! It’s not safe to do that kind of thing alone, and my parents want to go with me- I’m lucky to be blessed with geeky parental units! They’re both in their 60s, but they’re adventurous and this would be our first family trip since high school! They’ve hiked the Inca trail and rafted/camped/hiked through the Grand Canyon so they’re not slouches, but they are getting older so I have to find a way to do the trip so that I can be challenged but also so that I know it will be safe and enjoyable for them. I just started releasing all the private journal entires I’ve been keeping of my quest for health at I’m releasing all the archived entries daily till I catch up to the current ones, but I do have my “Before” and “Progress” photos up along with milestone goals for the rest of my journey! Your site has been so motivational and inspirational to me! Thanks for all you do!

  26. Funny thing is that this post makes me want to really pursue what I am planning on doing this summer.  

    I am planning on saving some money ($2000 min, Hoping to save $4000) and taking a road trip and taking time off of working.  The first leg of the trip will be with some friends and we will go to Niagara Falls, Boston, NYC, Philly, and Washington D.C. Which I am hoping to only pay $500 for that leg. Mostly due to some of the sights my friends want to see. This will be the last two weeks for June.

    Than after the July 4th weekend, I hope to travel down to Texas and follow the coast line through Florida and head north after that.  This leg is still in up in the air. A few places I already have friends that I can stay with, so that will keep cost down.  I have also hosted a few couch surfers and couch surfed once,I am also hoping to hike on part of the Appalachian Trail.  But this leg is still in the planning stage and I am still trying to figure out what I I really want to do on this leg of the trip.  This part will probably last a little over a month.  

    Hopefully than I will be back in time for my family’s annual vacation Northern Minnesota. Than a few weeks of possibly visiting a friend in Vegas or spending time with family and working odd jobs and helping my with my family’s business. 

  27. Thanks Steve, I needed this. I set some pretty big goals for myself awhile back, and accomplished them. I landed a great job and bought a condo. Then I got sued and walked away from said condo. Ever since I’ve felt stuck in my life. I feel tied down, and I’m trying to play the catch up game. Problem is, I’m putting my whole life on hold to do it. I watch my budget like a hawk, and already learned how to do what you described about cutting out unnecessary spending. I have quite a bit saved up, but I am paralyzed to do anything with it. I told my friends, that I was still another 4-7 years from being able to travel to see them. I’m obsessed with saving money and depressed.
    But thanks to this article I am ready to reprioritize. Life is to short, and I am tired of missing out. My overall goals are the same, but now I am going to make room for at least one thing that really matters to me this year. I am going to go visit a friend in Mexico that I haven’t seen for a very long time.

  28. Ah, dreams. I have so many.

    I want to be certified as a Master of Wine. This requires me to firstly complete my winemaking degree (~2 years left, on hold), and then get a number of years of industry experience in order to be eligible to enrol in the the approximately 3 year program. I say ‘approximately’ because it can take up to 10 years.

    Stumbling blocks? To finish my degree, I need at least two (probably three) trips back to Australia a year, from London (cost: ~10kAUD per year). Or I need citizenship here so I can go to a local university without the huge upfront payments. Before either of those happen, however, I need to be able to maintain concentration, focus, and alertness reliably – which is to say, overcome my disability. If and when I can do that – then I can think about getting a job, saving up, being physically and mentally able to resume study.

    2013 is about starting that process. It’s about focusing solely and purely on my fitness and physical ability, and increasing it, hauling myself up by my bootstraps, doing what the medical profession tells me is impossible, to once again stand in a place where I can dream – and then go out into the world and do better.

  29. This is a great article! My goal is to hike the Appalachian Trail. It has been a dream of mine to do this since I read the book “a walk in the woods”! I have to start off by losing some weight first, but I’m hoping to go on the trip in 2015 (when I will be financially capable of doing so)!

  30. My husband and I want to walk the perimeter of the Isle of Man. I read that you can do it in six days. I’d like to take this epic trip before I’m 30 (I’m 26). We want to fly into Dublin, hang out for a day or two, take the ferry to the Isle of Man, walk around it either camping or staying in B&B’s, take the ferry to Liverpool and see Liverpool FC play (my husband’s soccer team) and fly back.

  31. Good call! Ok, I honestly hadn’t looked… but now I have ~ I’d go to Banff National Park in Canada, since I could stay in Calgary, birthplace of my mom and I already have my dual Citizenship (which I’ve never taken advantage of!) and probably go in February (since it said November-March) for my birthday. 🙂 ~Jen

  32. My dream is to go to New Zealand to do the 12 day LOTR tour on both islands with my husband.  I want to see the places the movies were filmed and tour Hobbiton.  I love the books and the movies, so it would probably be a huge nerdy dream come true.  Granted we are working our way out of debt, so we need to focus on that.  But this little exercise has given me something to hope for and plan for.

  33. I want to go to Scotland. Loch Ness specifically, because it’s got beautiful scenery that I just want to hike all over, the history and legends are really interesting with the way they overlap each other, and it’s been on my bucket list since I was 5 years old. It is the number one thing I want to do more than anything, I just need to get a job first 😛

  34. I want to do an 18 month long around the world trip.  I’ve already been planning and booked my outgoing one-way flight to London on May 1st.  I’ll make my way through Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and wrap things up in South American while attending the World Cup 2014.  I’m still trying to figure out the best way to quit my job which scares me but I know I won’t regret it.

  35. I have always had the dream of swimming with dolphins, so my epic quest is to become Aqua (wo)Man! I would like to go to Belize for a week and go on at least 7 SCUBA dives, including one night dive. Ideally, I would do it all as un-touristy as possible, which includes not staying at fancy hotels or eating at fancy restaurants. I want to do some research and find out where the best dive spots are from people who do it for a living. Sometimes the best dives are in the middle of nowhere and have cows guarding the shore (true story!). As a present to myself, I want this trip to include my birthday, but I need some time to save, plan, etc., so I’m shooting for summer 2014. It’s a long ways out, but it will be worth it.

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