12 Things That Aren't on Your Bucket List—But Should Be

Updated 05/06/19
bucket list ideas—we the people
We the People

When you hear the term  the usual suspects spring to mind—, breathtaking , dinner at one of the world's top —but we think it's time you hit the reset button. While these are all , your checklist could do with a few more meaningful and eye-opening activities. It's time to turn your standard list into an extraordinary one. Besides, it's the experiences that will make you the happiest.

If you haven't written your list yet (or if it needs a major revision), take a scroll through our suggestions before you put pen to paper. From  to starting a garden or discovering your ancestral past, these 12 things to put on your  sit firmly outside the norm. So grab your notepad and start writing yours down because we guarantee you'll want to add these bucket list ideas.

Vacation Somewhere by Yourself

Solo Vacation
Fashion Me Now

We all love to  with our family or a group of friends, but there's so much to gain from . Embarking on a solo expedition is incredibly liberating and rewarding. You have the freedom to be yourself and to set the daily agenda without the distraction of fellow travelers. You can throw your watch away, think on your feet, trust your instincts, and go with the flow. Without a rigid travel timetable, you can ditch the plans, and go off the beaten track to explore the world at your own pace, and you just never know what places you'll discover or people you'll meet—.

Add this to your list of  before you die.

Rick Smolan Inside Tracks $24

Show Random Acts of Kindness to Strangers

random acts of kindness
Christian Vierig /Getty Images

We all lead busy lives with barely enough time for ourselves, let alone others, but trust us when we tell you that there's more to gain from being nice to others than not. In fact, showing random acts of kindness to those around you has a lot of positive side effects. Not only does it make us happier, but it also has a fountain of youth effect and gives us healthier hearts.

According to , PhD, the feel-good factor of being kind triggers a biochemical reaction and elevates our levels of in the brain "so we get a natural high, or what's known as the 'helper's high.'" This emotional warmth we feel also slows the aging process thanks to the oxytocin we produce as a result. "This reduces the levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and thus slows aging at its source," Hamilton explains.

So buy a stranger a cup of  every now and then, pay someone a compliment, or even  for your new neighbor. It feels good, and it's good for you too.

Piero Ferrucci The Power of Kindness $25

Grow Your Own Garden

Mimi Thorisson

There's something deeply rewarding about  with vegetables from your own garden. It's such a simple, honest, and humble feeling to watch your vegetables grow from seedlings into a nutritious bed of goodness for your entire family to enjoy. If you live in the city and space isn't on your side, buy some pots and start a herb garden or a vertical garden.  has become a popular global trend, with many cities swapping rooftops for garden beds. Look up community gardens in your local area that you can join.

Gardening is a lot of fun, and it can save you cash on groceries, too. Put this on your bucket list today.

Barbara Pleasant Starter Vegetable Gardens $16

Live in Another Country for a Year

Living Abroad

There's only so much you can do when you , and much of it ends up being the main tourist attractions and regular  hot spots. But if you truly want to know a place (and yourself), then pack up your things and  for a year or two. Ditch the self-help books and become an expat. The university of life will teach you everything—confidence, resilience, compassion, and freedom from fear. 

Rosanne Knorr The Grown-Up's Guide to Running Away From Home $12

Donate Your Time to Charity

Woman with a dog

So many of us throw money at a cause or offload our old unwanted things at the local thrift store, but take it one step further and donate the one thing that really costs you: your time. There is nothing more valuable, and if you can impart some of your precious time to some of the charities that need it most, you'll feel that "helper's high" we spoke about earlier. And more importantly, you'll make a big difference in someone else's life. So sign up to lend a hand at the local soup kitchen, teach underprivileged children at a nearby school, or offer your services at a local animal shelter.

As Bob Hope said, "If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble." 

Nick Cooney How to Be Great at Doing Good $17

Befriend Someone With a Different Background

Timur Emek /Getty Images

How much do you know about the various cultures around the world (or even within your own country)? We live on a planet with such a diverse population, and it's time we all learned a little more about each other. Make it your purpose in life to befriend other people who aren't from the same heritage or background as you. Through learning about how other people live, from their upbringing to their traditions and ceremonies, we can all develop a deeper understanding of how the world works (and why), which will ultimately foster more compassion for others.

Now that is a beautiful thing.

Peter J. Richerson Not By Genes Alone $25

Learn Something New

Cooking pasta
Half Baked Harvest

This could be anything new, such as an  or learning to code, but why not challenge yourself and learn something that really pushes you out of your comfort zone? Try surfing, buy a skateboard (with a helmet, please), sign up for classes, take a sommelier course, learn about photography, discover calligraphy, or establish some new life skills. You might meet The One or start a . The possibilities are endless.

James P. Dewan Prep School $14

Get to Know Your Home Country

Venice Canals

Most people dream of embarking on foreign adventures, but what about exploring your own backyard? It's often the case that tourists see more of your hometown than you do, so it's time to change that statistic. Don't overlook the magic of your surroundings, don't take your home for granted, and don't be afraid to go beyond the familiar to uncover the treasures of the land where you live. You will forge a deeper emotional and spiritual connection to your own home, too.

Jamie Jensen Road Trip USA $7

Start Journaling

Because I'm Addicted

The positive impact of journaling on your health and happiness are well-known. I started  years ago, and this process has dramatically improved my emotional and physical health. Oprah has been a  since she was 15, and she attributes much of her success to journaling. "It's astonishing to be able to track your own evolution—who I was, who I'm still becoming," she said. Our memory fades as we age, so by writing down our struggles and triumphs, we can look back, reflect, and understand our lives a little better.

Meera Lee Patel Start Where You Are $10

Discover Your Ancestral Past

Mother and Daughter

Have you ever done your family tree? Traced your heritage line back to where it all began? I hadn't ever really thought about it seriously until I asked our associate social media editor, Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, who told me about her lifelong dream to research her family's ancestry. "I would love to research my family's path, where they came from originally, and how they got here, and then take the same trip they did," she said. "I would love to go to those places and follow in their footsteps so I can connect with my heritage and understand all the things that happened before me." Start with 23andme and follow the path to discover where you came from.

Alison Light Common People $7

Boost Your Financial Fitness


Women have a tendency to lack confidence when it comes to money. In fact, there's  that women are behind on their finances because they feel uncomfortable talking about . Well, in the age of the mompreneur and , it's time we turned our fears into fortitude and took charge of our  once and for all. 

Suze Orman Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook $15

Make Sustainability a Part of Your Life

Local Shopping

We all know the word "sustainability," but how much do we understand the importance of it? It's so much more than just a buzzword; it's about making lifestyle changes to ensure we are being mindful of the environment and protecting our planet for future generations. It's as simple as choosing to travel with an eco state-of-mind, choosing  that are eco-conscious instead of contributing to landfills, and choosing  over disposable plastic bottles. There are so many ways you can reduce your waste and conserve energy, so start by making  to make sustainability a part of your life.

William McDonough The Upcycle $13

Be inspired by these 12 things to put on your bucket list and start thinking about what meaningful experiences you hope to have this year.

This post was originally published on January 5, 2017, and has since been updated.

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