Why Having a Bucket List is Actually Stupid

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Photo: Thinkstock/iStock
Photo: Thinkstock/iStock

Now that the term "bucket list" -- dream vacations to take before you kick the bucket -- has firmly rooted itself in popular culture, it's time to pioneer a better term.

Yes, the drive to see places in the face of looming mortality lights a certain fire under the seats of armchair travelers, but the whole "live like you're going to die tomorrow" idea has never worked for me. If that were the case, I would be spending the day updating my will and saying my goodbyes -- and that's depressing, not life affirming. When I travel, I'm pulled by curiosity, beauty, and the sweet promise of adventure. And I suspect I'm not the only one.

I started thinking about this recently after my three-year-old son approached me on a Thursday with a great, but logistically challenging idea. "Can we go to Australia this weekend?"

Related Link: Best Places to Go in Australia

When a kid is asking you to hop a long-haul flight on two days' notice, it's a sure sign he's ready for a bucket list. But as he's the type to ask a lot of questions, I knew I wouldn't be able to introduce the concept of a "bucket list" without veering wildly off course.

So instead, we started an adventure book.

When I imagine a bucket list, it's a hodgepodge of travel aspirations. But the visual I get with an adventure book is a story that I'm writing with my travels, chapters I'm planning ahead to, and memories that I will bring back and carry with me for a lifetime.

You Might Also Like (Especially If You're a "Bucket List" Person): 10 New World Heritage Sites That Should Be On Your Bucket List

And unlike bucket lists, which seem geared to the individuals who lug them around, adventure books can be a shared work of a family -- a place that holds the travel aspirations of everyone. Best of all, an adventure book can be a physical object to be looked through, passed around, and added to as a group of travelers-in-the-making.

Related Link: 8 Trips You Have to Take Before You Die

That's why I'm dumping out my bucket list and opening the first page of my adventure book.

Now I just need to choose the journal (right now, the list is on a single slip of paper). I'm thinking something leather and vaguely Indiana Jones-ish. Here are my top three:

Goodbye bucket list. Hello adventure book.

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Read the original story, Why I’m Ditching My Bucket List, by Christine Sarkis, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.

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