If I’ve learned anything about traveling it’s that no matter how many places you visit the list of places you want to see grows twice as fast. My travel bucket list is constantly growing and changing. I am unbelievably fortunate to have been able to check off so many cool buckets list ideas in the last 5 years, I thought it was time to finally update this list.
In our house, we are big on speaking things into existence. So here I am laying out all my travel adventure dreams for you all to see. I quickly realized how personal this list felt to me and became intensely curious about what others had on their own lists. So you’ll find this to be the first of a travel bucket list series featuring interviews with some familiar faces and also first-time travelers.
Top Countries to Visit
If you’re from the east coast of the United States chances are high you know of someone who has visited Costa Rica and for good reason. This has been a destination on my radar since I found out it’s home to some of the best zip lining in the world. The list of things to do in Costa Rica is seemingly endless and I think that’s what excites me most. With the right itinerary spending time in the mountains, jungle and on the beach is totally possible even in a short stay.
The idea of visiting Jordan was not even on my mind until we met a group of fellow travelers in Egypt who could not stop talking about their time there. They were on the tail end of an around-the-world trip and told everyone who would listen that there was no place they felt more safe or welcome than in Jordan. The landscape is extremely diverse from one end of the country to the other. You can experience a night of camping in the red sands of Wadi Rum and a dip in the Dead Sea. Of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The Middle East is a region we are incredibly interested in exploring but as LGBT travelers we have some concerns. However, Jordan is one of the few countries in the region where homosexuality is legal.
“They were on the tail end of an around the world trip and told everyone who would listen that there was no place they felt more safe or welcome than in Jordan.”
In my heart, I know that visiting India will be one of those trips that shape me as a traveler and as a human. India is known to overflow a person’s senses in a way previously not thought possible. Its crowded, hectic, difficult to predict and completely magical. Without leaving the country you can wander the busy streets of Delhi, climb the mountains in the north and enjoy the beaches in Goa. Indian food alone is probably reason enough to make the trip, I can practically taste the different curries and buttery naan just thinking about it. There is also so much rich history. Many of the stories are told through the architecture of the temples, mosques, ruins, and monuments spanning the whole country. The list of best places to visit in India feels never-ending, each city seems to offer something unique and new. India travel is notoriously challenging but I’m thinking Meg and I finally have the travel chops to really enjoy the chaos so it’s officially added to my list.
My absolute biggest travel regret is opting out of the last-minute trip to Cartagena. I was still a super new traveler and heading to Colombia with less than 4 hours of planning was more than I was ready for. Flash forward 4 years and I am kicking myself hard. When traveling to Colombia narrowing down what cities you want to visit might be the toughest part. Flights to the Colombian cities of Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota are relatively inexpensive with direct options from much of the east coast. Bogata has a thriving street art scene with guided tours available. Make sure you look for a piece done by our favorite Peruvian artist, Entes. Cartagena is a brightly colored colonial city on the coast known for its sunsets. Medellin has undergone a 20-year transformation becoming a South American tech hub surrounded by the Andes. Medellin also has cafes popping up all over starting to take advantage of the incredible coffee.
Social Media, more specifically Instagram started my wanderlusty feels for Turkey. Mediterranean food is my favorite in the entire world. If I spent every second eating I couple probably still leave happy. Luckily there are tons of other amazing things like spending a night in a cave hotel and riding in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia that sound amazing The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is also considered one of the best in the world and Meg is sure she needs a lantern. The architecture is also really beautiful and different than many places I’ve experienced before. Visiting Turkey is definitely more of a when then an if in the Cale house.
Sri Lanka travel keeps popping up every time we discuss our long-term travel plans. Often referred to as “India Light” because it is a significantly easier travel destination with some of the same vibes. The crowds are smaller, the traffic is lighter and the transportation is more reliable, plus there is a ton of English spoken here. Don’t be fooled by the word “light” though, Sri Lanka can absolutely hold its own. This tropical paradise has both secluded quiet shorelines and lush thick mountains. One of the best ways to get around is the scenic train that goes completely across the country. The food is often spicy with a lot of seafood and coconut milk. It is worth noting that like many parts of Asia, homosexuality is illegal, so do your homework and make the choices right for you. I’ll leave the link to Meg’s thoughts on the topic here.
Portugal is a hot destination right now considered by many to be the IT destination of 2021. What’s awesome about Portugal is that it’s a totally budget-friendly destination. You can experience Western Europe for more like Eastern Europe prices. The vibrant colors, stunning beaches, and of course the tasty pastel de Natas all sound amazing. The beaches are considered some of the best in Europe and a good place to go if you want to learn to surf. Without too much effort you’ll fall in love with the architecture, especially the castles. Last but not least the city of Porto is home to Livraria Lello, the beautiful library that inspired the Hogwarts Library. If you’ve read our Kissimmee, Florida guide you’ll know about Meg’s love of Harry Potter.
Travel in Africa is tricky, it can just get so darn expensive so fast and as a gender non-conforming person I certainly have extra things to consider. South Africa ultimately tops my list in part because it is considered the most LGBT-friendly country in Africa. That is certainly not the only reason it was added to this list. South Africa is the perfect spot for an adrenaline junkie. Going on a safari to see some of the world’s most beautiful animals in their natural habitat just seems so incredible. I’d love to see the penguins at Boulders Beach in Cape Town. Make a visit to some smaller towns during a road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town and sip some of the world’s best wine in the Robertson Valley.
My passionate curiosity about exploring Sweden stems from the deep sense of belonging I felt when in Helsinki. I want to spend so much more time exploring the Nordic cities especially Stockholm. Traveling in this region of the world will certainly strain your budget a bit more than other places on the list. Of course, that comes with beautiful accommodation options, impeccable public transit, and gorgeous outdoor public parks. I am so inspired by everything about Scandinavian design and style it actually makes me want to shop. The winters are known to be cold and dark but the summer days are long and bright. The goal is to spend a day picnicking and swimming in the lakes. Plus I’ve heard practically the whole city turns out to celebrate Stockholm Pride!
Last but not least we have a trip to Nepal. There is nothing that sits higher on my bucket list than making it to Everest Base Camp. The idea of completing such a mentally and physically difficult challenge with my wife makes my heart flutter. The trip always starts in Kathmandu and making time to explore the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites has to be a must. The country is very ethnically and religiously diverse providing visitors with the opportunity for an incredibly rich cultural experience. Once you’re on the trail you’ll be visiting small villages and staying in teahouses. The Nepalese food is strongly influenced by Chinese and India flavors but with many more vegetarian options. Nepal also happens to have some of the most progressive LGBTQ policies in the world. Dear Universe, I have a bad hip and need to make this happen sooner rather than later! Help ya girl out!