10 Bucket List Dreams You Can Make Happen

woman in nature

Bucket lists are often unrealistic, but they don’t have to be. Take your pie-in-the-sky dreams and make them do-able.

10 Bucket List Dreams You Can Make Happen for Pennies

Bucket lists might have started out as the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” But they’ve evolved into so much more. Now bucket lists are thought of as life-affirming goals. They’re the things you want to experience, at any age, because they’ll bring you joy or satisfaction.

These days even teenagers make bucket lists, and adults make separate bucket lists of things they want to achieve by specific ages, such as a list for their forties, fifties, and beyond. While it’s never too early to write a bucket list, it’s never too late either. It’s simply a way of listing things that are your personal goals or desired experiences and focusing on how you might make them happen.

“Creating a bucket list can be viewed as another way of setting life goals for yourself,” psychotherapist Karen Balumbu-Bennet, LCS, PMH-C told Today.com. “Research shows that people who are intentional about writing down goals are more likely to reach them. A bucket list can help you stay goal-oriented and excited to engage in new adventures.”

One common mistake people make writing bucket lists, though, is filling them up with things that are almost certainly unattainable. Will you ever really be able to kiss your favorite movie star? Or walk on the moon? The things on a bucket list should be things you can actually make happen.

That doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams, just make them a bit more realistic. To that end, we’ve made a list of some pie-in-the-sky things that people might add to a bucket list. . . and then given some suggestions of how you can get a similar sense of satisfaction with experiences that are more do-able. There’s no harm in dreaming big or aiming high, but smaller (and less expensive!) experiences can also be fulfilling and life-changing.

Learn how to make your goals–any goals–come true!

1. Bucket list dream: Take flying lessons

Realistic list dream: In this age of technology, online flight simulators give you the feel of piloting an aircraft all on your own. Google “free online flight simulators” and try a variety of free programs until you find your favorite.

2. Bucket list dream: Learn to cook in Paris

Realistic list dream: Sure, the French have set the bar for cooking excellence, but you don’t actually have to be in France to learn their techniques. Remember Julie and Julia, the movie about the woman who decided to make every recipe in Julia Child’s classic French cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking? She did it all from her tiny New York apartment. Borrow the cookbook and the movie from your local library, and start making classic French dishes like beef bourguignon.

Does Medicare cover international travel? Find out here.

3. Bucket list dream: Go back to school for an undergraduate or advanced degree

Realistic list dream: Many state colleges and universities allow students 65 and older to audit classes for free. Take enough classes and you’ll have the equivalent of that degree, without the tuition bills. If there’s no university near you, no worries! Today you can sample courses from universities worldwide through online sites like Coursera and edX, and many are free! You may also find low-cost learning opportunities at your local community center and library.

4. Bucket list dream: Become a great artist

Realistic list dream: Whether you become truly great may not be completely in your control, but creating art and improving your skills are both reachable goals. All art-making requires is a commitment to setting aside the time. Maybe every Thursday you’ll take a sketch pad to the local art museum or salvage soda can pull-tops to create abstract sculpture. And it’s never too late to up your skills. Look on YouTube for free painting tutorials, or sign up for an evening mosaics class through your town’s adult ed program.

5. Bucket list dream: Visit your dream destination overseas

Realistic list dream: It’s no secret that traveling abroad is crazy expensive and beyond the reach of many. Modern technology offers the next-best thing: bringing travel destinations to you. Always wanted to go to Amsterdam? Check out Google’s Arts and Culture site to virtually climb the stairs of Anne Frank’s house, wander the galleries of the Van Gogh museum, and take in the magnificence of the historic Royal Palace. Can’t afford that African safari? Get up close to nature for free with Mpalalive.org’s watering hole webcam (featuring three bathing elephants at the time of this writing). Or order in some Chinese food to enjoy as you “hike” the Great Wall of China from your couch. Get creative – if you can think of it, you can probably find it online!

Dreaming of travel? Here’s some tips for traveling on the cheap.

6. Bucket list dream: Be a star

Realistic list dream: You might not be able to sell out Madison Square Garden, but you may be able to sing at your church or even a local restaurant. Even easier—and lots of fun—is visiting a karaoke bar with friends and choosing your favorite songs to entertain the room! Or if acting is more your style, audition for a role in your community theater.

7. Bucket list dream: Hike the Appalachian Trail

Realistic list dream: Conquering the 2,000-plus mile-long trail takes a lot of gear, a lot of confidence, and a whole lot of time. Months, in fact. It’s a huge commitment, especially if you’ve never done anything like it before. Rather than plunking down thousands of dollars for gear and venturing into the unknown, you could get a taste of the trail with day trips, overnight hikes, or multi-day adventures. Companies like Blue Ridge Hiking and REI offer short, guided hiking excursions where they provide the gear, the food, and, importantly, the expertise. For extra fun, be sure to read Bill Bryson’s classic fish-out-of-water account, A Walk in the Woods.

8. Bucket list dream: Publish a best-selling novel

Realistic list dream: Okay, first you have to write the book. But we’re living in an age where it’s easy to self-publish a digital book online. Or, if it’s a large readership you want, try starting a blog or posting on social media like Facebook. If the technology is too challenging, ask a young relative or neighbor to help you.

9. Bucket list dream: Visit space, maybe walk on the moon (or Mars)

Realistic list dream: We’re all going to be earthbound for the foreseeable future, but you can put at least a part of yourself in space by naming a star. Many companies offer to name and register stars for people, and the certificates are nice gifts. No, it’s not official. Only the International Astronomical Union can do that. But it’s still fun.

10. Bucket list dream: Get a tattoo

Realistic list dream: A real tattoo might not break the bank, but maybe you’re not ready for that level of commitment – or pain. A temporary tattoo is the way to go! You’ll find options on Etsy for making your own custom tattoo in a variety of fonts. What will you choose? Your favorite football team? An inspirational quote? Maybe just the classic “Mom”?

Is a new Medicare plan on your bucket list?

Make sure to keep yourself healthy so you can check off all your bucket list goals. Many Medicare Advantage plans cover gym memberships that can help get you ready for that hiking trip, as well as vision and hearing coverage so you’ll get the most out of every bucket list-worthy experience. Find the plan that’s right for you at Clearmatch Medicare.

Additional resources

Is finding the right Medicare plan for you on your bucket list? We can help. Call us today!

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Lynn Cicchelli is a writer with over 20 years' worth of experience creating healthy lifestyle content for both print and digital publications. Originally from New York, Lynn currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, stepson, and dog Indiana.


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