TRAVELLING WEASELS

FREEDOM FROM THE RAT-RACE

10 TOP BUCKET-LIST PLACES I AM GRATEFUL I WENT TO

unusual bucket list

I was recently asked to give my thoughts on what I think makes an inspirational bucket list and to share my ideas. This list is hopefully a bit more unusual than your average travel blog's - hopefully so because I intended it so. But more on that in a bit - firstly, why was I asked to put this list together? Am I 'qualified' to write this?


Unusual Bucket List Ideas Or: Some Places I'm Grateful I Went To

Well, I've been around baby, I may not have a house or even a country that I'd call home at this point, but I did complete my (somewhat naive) goal of travelling to 50 countries before I turned 30. So I learned some things, and I'd love to share them with you as well as sprinkling in some things I wish I'd known before I started travelling:

#10 NEW YORK CITY

bucket list blog

As loathe as I am to put somewhere from the USA at the start of any list (they're always at the top of lists, good and bad, and it's not really fair on the other countries), even I cannot deny that New York City was the place that not just fuelled my wanderlust but actively added rocket fire to it. Why? Firstly, the very friendly New York locals (who upon reflection were probably just flirting with my young, naive brit arse ass). But mostly because of the diversity of New York. Ironically, perhaps, visiting NYC made me want to see the rest of the world from Japan to Italy, China and beyond. Kinda like London but more intense, New York City has neighbourhoods that are authentic versions of their originals, albeit smaller (hence Little Italy). I'm especially grateful that NYC sparked my wanderlust because I might not have been interested in travel otherwise. I travelled a lot as a kid (comparatively), and although school trips to Paris and Germany and family trips to France and Malta were magical, I also experienced two horrific trips before I'd turned 18: I was harassed in Turkey when I was 12 and quarantined in China at 17. So, if it hadn't been for New York City, I might never have had wanderlust and my 20s would have been insanely different.

#9 AUSTRALIA

inspirational bucket list

Although NYC sparked my thirst for travel, Australia was where I first started doing it - this gurl right here had never been on a flight alone before, so, go figure, her first flight abroad was to the other side of the world. Don't worry, she'll stop talking in 3rd person starting now. Australia is a beautiful, fascinating, enchanting place which still holds a very sweet place in my heart. But, and I say this as a white person who went to Australia - I do find it weird that white people are in Australia. Like the history of why they were there in the first place is f*cked up and what they did there afterwards even more so. But I just find it weird in general that white people still live there - it's too hot! Case in point Australians getting checked yearly for skin cancer - your skin is telling you you don't belong there, people. But it's more than that, time and time again in Australia I heard white people being racist and talking sh*t about aborigines or gatekeeping who gets to enter Australia now... pick up a history book, please.

#8 THE PHILIPPINES

crazy bucket list ideas

The Philippines was on my bucket list as soon as I got to Australia and read the travel blog justonewayticket.com written by my now good friend Sabrina. She wrote about how empty the beaches were in the Philippines, how crystal clear the water was and how much cheaper it was to be there than say, Australia. For two years I made it my mission to start a blog and travel to the Philippines. I did it, and although I did find those jaw dropping beaches, something else I found there really surprised me:

Now, I grew up in a divorced family - one of only three divorced family kids in my class and the only one that was a girl. All my friends growing up came from much, much wealthier families than I did so I always considered myself poor. Sure, I knew about poorer countries than the UK around the world, but it never really hit me - until I went to the Philippines and saw a kid pulling a brick along the road on a string, his only toy. It was a real slap in the face of reality for me and the first time I really started considering my privilege. I was on the other side of the world, I wasn't poor, not by a long shot. It was time to start giving back.

But what happened to me in the Philippines was so more than one naive person realising that they weren't financially poor. I started to really think what poor actually meant. Because here I was in a supposedly poor place, but I was seeing way more happiness than I did in Europe: dogs, allowed to have their babies and not getting non-consensually snipped. Mothers - not looking completely disconnected from their kids but genuinely loving them like it was the most natural thing in the world. I started to realise that a lot of what the West pushes - mainly getting money and getting away from people - probably wasn't the route to happiness.

#7 VIETNAM

bucket list blog

Another place that was on my bucket list and then surprised me with another unexpected reality slap was Vietnam. I was working with a Vietnamese tourist company that takes tourists out to the edge of Hanoi, shows them a typical Vietnamese market and then shows them how to cook a traditional meal. But my reality check started before we'd even got there - on the car ride over there. There we were, speeding along the motorway, when I saw a guy driving a motorbike with four pigs tied to the front:

why go vegan
and the pigs were alive.

My first thought was "Omg, that's so cruel" but it was immediately met with "you know it's just as cruel in the West it's just not so out in the open so you never think about it".

And then I stopped thinking about it, overwhelmed by the beauty of Vietnam and thoughts of a delicious lunch. But my day of realisations didn't stop there. We went to the market, I embarrassed myself trying to barter in Vietnamese (classic), I saw the live crabs, I saw the live geese and chickens in tiny, dirty cages, and I wasn't really feeling much. Then I saw a whole selection of pig parts - including hooves and tongues. This was more shocking for me (especially considering what I'd seen earlier on the motorway), but I'd seen these parts in Greece and Spain, I wasn't that phased. Then I looked at the next stall and saw a dead dog cut up for meat. It was like seeing a dead baby cut up for meat, I felt physically ill but I also felt the hypocrisy of it - I'd been sad about the tied up pigs not two hours before, and I felt like I loved pigs. Why was I eating them? Culture? Habit?

Of course, I carried on and later that day even ate pig... But I can say without a doubt that this day was when the first seeds of veganism were firmly implanted in my brain, and I'm ever grateful for that, I just wish I'd known about it earlier.

#6 SLOVENIA

meaningful bucket list

I didn't go vegan or even vegetarian overnight (which, side note, although vegetarianism is a nice little stepping stone towards veganism, is not half vegan - all dairy cows end up as meat cows, and the dairy process - years and years of torture, then death - is arguably crueler than a one-time death). It took me two months to work out how to become a vegetarian whilst travelling full-time, and although I wasn't satisfied with being just a vegetarian and wanted to become a vegan, I was struggling with, you probably guessed it: cheese.

Enter Slovenia. And my poor friend Alberto thinking that he could convince me and my then-fiance (now-ex) to eat cheese forever more by taking us to a 'kind', 'organic', 'wonder' farm where cows were 'happy' and pigs flew through the air or whatever. I'm so grateful for him for taking us there because it was awful and it firmly convinced me to become vegan. I'll leave out the details, but if you wanna know more here is my vegan story and my (slight stretch) that travel made me vegan.

#5 LA AND LAS VEGAS

unique bucket list ideas

Moving away from veganism but still hovering around media and governments lying to the people, I go back to the USA. One of the questions I'm asked the most is "what's the most dangerous country you've been to". They normally expect me to say Egypt, Morocco, Serbia or the Philippines, but no, the country I've felt by far the most unsafe in was the States, especially LA and Las Vegas. I really understand why people from the USA are often too scared to travel, because if they think that that place is the safest place in the world - that place which doesn't provide with free health care and where guns are just everywhere... I get it. USAmericans, please don't believe everything you here from the media. Go and see the world, it's big and beautiful.

So why am I grateful I went there? Cause I value truth.

#4 ISRAEL, NO SORRY, PALESTINE

meaningful bucket list

I used to say this dumb thing about how I didn't learn about countries before I got there, how I preferred to learn about them when I was actually in them. There is no place on earth that I regret that more than Israel. I was low-key aware that there was some kind of dispute there, but I come from the West where they teach us that we should feel sorry for Jewish people after The Holocaust (fair) and how they're basically owed Palestine (not fair).


I went to Israel because I was working with a company who paid for my food and my hostels. I am grateful that I saw how different Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nazareth are - almost like three different countries - but I do feel guilty that I had an (albeit very small) hand in contributing to a Terrorist State's reputation and economy. I'm extremely grateful for the Palestinians I've met since who patiently pointed out my mistakes and showed me the above documentary. Please watch it and spread the word (#freepalestine)!

#3 EGYPT

crazy bucket list ideas

I'm grateful I went to Egypt. Those pyramids are f*cking weird and I had the trippiest dreams of my entire life sleeping near them. I'm grateful to my friend Azeem for taking me to a Saudi Gentleman's club (weirdest night of my life). But like with Israel, I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't learn more about the country before I went - in particular that 90% of women (trigger warning) are sliced there.

#2 UK

unique bucket list ideas

I used to be one of those people (read: d*cks) who think that homeless people should "just like get a job or whatever". Until I spent the night in Stansted Airport. Oh my days it was the worst, cold, uncomfortable, restless. There were homeless people sleeping there too - and that's when I got it. The next day I was so tired and cranky and stiff, and that was just one (1) night and it was in a f-ing airport, it wasn't even outside. I'm grateful I got empathy for homeless people, I just wish it had happened earlier.

#1 HUNGARY

crazy bucket list

You think I was gonna write a list of places that I'm grateful I've been to and miss out Hungary? (If you don't know me, I'm a sl*g for this fascist pit of pessimistic hell.) Say it's because it's the longest I've spent in one place since I left the UK in 2013 (you'd be right), say it's because my bae is Hungarian (you'd also be right), but it's more than that - I learnt so much about myself here, and about the world. I specifically learnt a lot about psychology, philosophy and sociology here and I am super grateful. Thanks!

Wrap Up & What I Wish I'd Known Before Travelling

Maybe you sensed a theme in this post - a) these bucket list destinations aren't really so crazy or unique, and b) it's more about what I learnt there. Don't get me wrong, I am so so grateful I got to travel to 50 beautiful places before I turned 30 (and before corona!), I just wish it didn't take me x turns of the globe to realise: it's selfish to eat meat and dairy, it's crazy to think that homeless people don't deserve more, it's disrespectful to visit countries without learning anything about them, and f*ck it's selfish to fly! If I could do it all over again I'd do it all so differently - and I will :) Once corona restrictions are lifted. We also made a video about why it might be worth documenting one's travels and making them public in a nice little two-person online travelogue like ours - enjoy :)


P.S.: Another way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply is housesitting. Trustedhousesitters.com was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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