Skydiving, round-the-world cruises, climbing Mount Everest, and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef – standard bucket list ideas are high-adrenaline, high-cost experiences. You’d better have a big budget and a strong constitution.
However, bucket lists shouldn’t always be about the most extravagant holidays and crazy extreme sports. The point of bucket list ideas, after all, is to tick off those important, memorable life experiences before you die. Why should you have to travel to the other side of the world for experiences that make you feel as though you’re really living?
Simple bucket list ideas
Maybe you are among those who think the beauty of life is in the little things. Here are some simple bucket list ideas that won’t cost the earth, and won’t require any globetrotting.
1. Perform a small act of kindness
This bucket list idea could be a philosophy to follow on a daily basis. Many people just strive to include small acts of kindness into every day of their lives. It doesn’t have to be a life-saving heroic act. Whether you offer your umbrella to a fellow pedestrian, or do regular volunteer work for a local charity, doing something good for someone else is its own reward.
2. Watch the sunrise or sunset
Watching the sunrise costs nothing except maybe a few hours of sleep. Taking the time to sit and watch the sun with no other distractions can be a remarkable experience, helping you reflect on the world we live in. It’s not as extravagant as some other bucket list ideas, but it can be just as profound.
3. Learn to cook your favourite food
Eating a tasty, hearty meal is one of life’s simple pleasures, perhaps matched only by cooking it yourself from scratch. Investing some time and effort into perfecting your favourite recipe will be well-worth the delicious results.
4. Paint a picture
Creativity is a great form of therapy that can make you feel happier and less stressed. Learning to paint is a fulfilling pastime and you’ll be able to express your thoughts and feelings in a visual way, creating beautiful pictures that you can display in your home or pass on to friends and family.
5. Stargaze and learn about the universe
On a clear night, wrap up warm and watch the night sky, or invest in a telescope to get a closer look at those stars and planets millions of miles away. This is a great bucket list idea that can help you reflect on the immensity of the world we live in and your place in it.
Travel bucket list ideas
For one reason or another, classic jetsetter bucket list ideas may not be for you. Perhaps you’re on a budget, or maybe your health means you need to stay close to home. But that’s no reason to put your dreams on hold. Here are a few bucket list ideas that commonly make people’s lists, but are fairly reasonable in price – or cost nothing at all.
1. Go hiking in the Lake District
The Lake District is world-famous for its beauty. Its mountains, lakes and woods inspired poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. The area is famed for its glorious natural views, and there are hikes and walks for all abilities.
Bed and breakfast rooms start from around £80 if you use a price comparison website and book in advance.
2. Visit Stonehenge
If you live in the UK it’s easy to forget that you are on the doorstep of some of the world’s most precious and famous landmarks. You can bet that visiting Stonehenge is on plenty of bucket lists around the world, but you’ll have the advantage of not having to fork out for expensive flights to the other side of the globe.
Ticket entry to Stonehenge costs £15.50 and hotels within 10 miles can start from around £65 a night if you use a price comparison website. This means that you and a loved one could tick something off your bucket list for just under £100.
3. Visit Cheddar Gorge
The Grand Canyon often makes an appearance on bucket lists, but airfare and accommodation can soon add up. Although the Canyon is unique in its size and beauty, you can still marvel at nature’s wonders without long-distance travel.
You can visit Cheddar Gorge in Somerset for as little as the cost of a parking ticket, but there’s also rock climbing, cave tours and cliff top walks for the adventurous. Accommodation near Cheddar starts from as little as £60 per night, depending on the season and availability.
Creative bucket list ideas
Perhaps you’ve always been keen to pursue a creative hobby, whether that is completing a DIY project or putting your life story into words. Being creative has less to do with creating a masterpiece than letting go, pushing boundaries and expressing yourself. Here are a few creative bucket list ideas that could help you tap into your creative potential and help you express and learn a few things about yourself.
1. Learn a musical instrument
Learning a musical instrument is a common creative bucket list idea that features on many peoples’ list. The internet is awash with plenty of free guitar tutorials, teach-yourself guides and guitar tabs to help you learn on your own. Or you could pick up a beginner’s guitar book for around £10.
With a second-hand guitar from sites like eBay and Gumtree and some practice and dedication, you could learn to play your favourite tune.
2. Write a novel
Writing a book can seem daunting – the average novel comes in at around 100,000 words and can take years to complete. However, writing also costs nothing, provided you have a pen and paper or a computer.
You could invest in writing classes or courses too, but with plenty of internet communities of aspiring writers offering help and feedback, penning your masterpiece doesn’t have to deem impossible, as long as you set your mind to it.
3. Learn to paint and draw
Like learning a musical instrument or another language, painting takes time and practice. You can get kitted out with acrylic paints, canvases and other basic art supplies for under £50, depending on how many different materials and techniques you want to explore. There are hundreds, even thousands, of art tutorials online, most of them for free.
4. Write down your life story for future generations
Many of us wish we knew more about our family tree. Do your part by noting down some of the significant moments in your life and keep it safe for your descendants to find. It could even turn into a full-scale autobiography, or you could add newspaper clippings and photographs as a kind of personal time capsule.
Cheap bucket list ideas
Some of the best things in life are free they say. Here are a few bucket list ideas that are affordable - or cost nothing at all.
1. Plant a tree or grow your own food
Gardening makes for a great bucket list idea; it’s good for your body and mind, and brings you closer to nature. If you’ve got a patch of soil that’s looking bare, or a windowsill that could do with some greenery, nurturing a plant from seed to full bloom feels great and learning to grow vegetables can provide fresh fare for some tasty meals.
2. Learn another language
The age of the app means that you have no excuse not to learn a language, as long as you’ve got a smartphone or tablet.
There are some excellent free language learning apps, such as Duolingo, that allows you to learn and practise a foreign language from the comfort of your sofa.
3. Learn to meditate
Apart from being an effective way of unwinding and relaxing, meditation can improve concentration, increases happiness and makes you more self-aware. Some researchers even claim that meditation can improve your physical health. At the very least, it’s a calm, peaceful way to spend your free time, making it an ideal bucket list idea.
4. Write down your funeral wishes
This bucket list idea may not be as fun as others on this list, but it is important and often rewarding in its own way. Making a note of your funeral wishes means that your loved ones will know exactly what you would have wanted when the time comes. It means less stress and uncertainty for them, and peace of mind for you. Plus, taking the time to think about how you want to be remembered can help remind you of what’s truly important in life.
Read our practical financial bucket list to help you plan ahead.