What goes on a Bucket List

For some, the items on their bucket list may be a wish list of fantasies, such as winning the lottery. Others reflect on their personal values and goals and list important life milestones and experiences they want to have before we die.

In our research, we found six common themes of items listed on a bucket list as shown below.


  • ‘‘Go to Japan’’ 
  • ‘‘Backpack through Europe’’
  • ‘‘Go to Hawaii’’ 
  • ‘‘Visit Australia’’ 
  • ‘‘Cycle in italy and France’’ 
  • ‘‘See Niagara Falls’’ 
  • ‘‘Visit presidential libraries’’ 
  • "See Anne Frank House & Corrie ten Boom Museum’’ 
  • ‘‘Travel to see the pyramids’’ 
  • ‘‘Drive across the country’’

Accomplish a personal goal

  •  ‘‘Fly on a private plane’’ 
  • ‘‘Become a tycoon’’ 
  • ‘‘Be a backup singer for the Indigo Girls’’ 
  • ‘‘Meet fathers side of the family’’ 
  • ‘‘I want to drive a Porsche car’’ 
  • ‘‘Finish writing my book’’ 
  • "I like to be able to swim in spite of age but first I need to know how to swim"
  • ‘‘Pass my 1964 Sting Ray to my daughter’’ 
  • ‘‘Visit my country of birth’’ 
  • ‘‘Run a marathon’’

Achieve specific life milestones

  • ‘‘Marry my boyfriend’’ 
  • ‘‘Take entire family on a trip overseas’’ 
  • ‘‘Grandkids graduate’’ 
  • ‘‘Reach our 60th wedding anniversary’’ 
  • ‘‘See kids get marred and have kids’’ 
  • "Reconnect with some old friends’’ 
  • ‘‘See my grandchild in Iowa’’ 
  • ‘‘See my oldest son have children’’ 
  • ‘‘Open a gallery’’ 
  • ‘‘Become a grandmother’’ 


  • ‘‘Spend time with family’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend more time with family not in my area’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend time with kids’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend time with grandchildren’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend time with beloved pets’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend time with old friends’’ 
  • ‘‘Spend time with all of my children together at the same time’’ 
  • ‘‘Bring my seven siblings together and spend time’’


  • ‘‘Be financially stable’’ 
  • ‘‘Have enough money where it is not stressful’’ 
  • ‘‘Debt free by 45 years of age’’ 
  • Have ‘‘all debts paid off’’
  • ‘‘Pay off bills’’ 
  • ‘‘Retire comfortably’’ 
  • ‘‘Be Financially At Peace’’ 
  • ‘‘Give all my savings to my ex-wife and kids’’ 
  • ‘‘Save enough money for kids college’’ 
  • ‘‘Pay the mortgage off’


  • ‘‘Swim with the sharks’’ 
  • ‘‘Tackle a grizzly’’ 
  • ‘‘Go on a zipline’’ 
  • ‘‘Fly a P51 Mustang’’ 
  • ‘‘Surf 20 foot wave’’ 
  • ‘‘Skydive and survive’’ 
  • ‘‘Do bungee jumping’’ 
  • ‘‘Dive off a bridge’’ 
  • "Go deep sea fishing’’ 
  • ‘‘Swim with humpback whales’’