Don’t talk to me about Bucket Lists

Bucket List

One thing that never fails to wind me up is when someone mentions their bucket list. When they tell you that ‘it’s on my bucket list‘ and expect some sort of respect or even congratulations. We both absolutely hate the expression for a number of reasons which I will attempt to explain without ranting or raving too much.

What is a Bucket List?

The general consensus is that the term was created for the 2007 film ‘The Bucket List‘ where Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two terminally ill guys who draw up a wish list of things to do before they die. So a list to do before they ‘kick the bucket’. Nice idea for a film and actually quite a decent funny movie.

The actual phrase came from Justin Zackhams screenplay for the movie that he wrote a year earlier. He came up with a list that he called ‘Justins list of things to do before I kick the bucket‘ which soon shortened to ‘Justins Bucket List‘ which eventually turned into the films final title.

Interestingly, if you search for ‘Bucket List‘ on Google you get 103 million results. That’s more than double what you get if you search for David Beckham, Tom Cruise and Beyonce combined! One hundred and three million and the phrase was only made-up ten years ago.

What’s wrong with having a Bucket List?

Nothing at all if you are in Jack or Morgans situation but for most people it is really just a wishlist of places that they want to visit. Why can’t they just call it their wishlist? They’re not on the verge of kicking the bucket so it seems ridiculous to use the phrase.

So what sort of things are on the ‘list’?

By their very nature items are added to these ‘lists’ based on secondhand stories or information. You hear a story about someones amazing holiday, or watch a travel documentary, or even read a book and decide that you would love to visit that location. Not a problem. That’s how everyone has ever decided to go anywhere. Watch an episode of Friends and stick New York on the list. Listen to Dave from next door talking about his skiing trip and put St Moritz on the list. Read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and ……… well you know what I mean.

And you end up with a list of places that you would like to go to, or wish to go to. That list could potentially be called a ‘Want-to-go list‘ I suppose or perhaps a ‘Hope-to-see list‘ or even a ‘Wish list‘. I might even consider a ‘One-day-I’d-like-to-go-to list‘ although it’s a bit of a mouthful. What you will notice though is the lack of buckets!

Bucket List

Is it actually a list?

No. It isn’t a list at all in most cases. The majority of people who mention that ‘it’s on my bucket list‘ do not have any such list or any such bucket. It appears to be just another way of saying that they would like to go there someday. So why not just say ‘I would like to go there someday‘ instead of mentioning a fictitious list that implies you are suffering from some sort of terminal affliction.

Another side-affect of the bucket list is that the users of the term often use it in conversation to counter a travel story from someone else. Countless times we have heard a story being told by a person that has been on a trip and the listener combating the travel tale with ‘oh it’s on my bucket list‘ as if that is like doing the trip themselves almost. Interesting.

Don’t talk to me about Bucket Lists

So please try not to use the term ‘Bucket List‘ and think of something that doesn’t imply you are on your last legs. It sounds so negative and depressing too, there must be a more uplifting positive description surely?

Rant over, apologies for going red in the face and shouting a little but I’m calming down a bit now. I don’t actually mind you calling it your BL and it doesn’t really make me crazy but there really must be a better way.

What do you think?

Bucket List


  1. I don’t like the term bucket but I do have a subconscious list of places i want to see sometime and despite travelling more and seeing more places the list is getting longer. Not all those places on the list are exotic places some are closer to home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also dislike the term and refuse to use it. I have a mental list of ‘places I’d like to go’ and ‘places I’d like to go back to’ but neither are written down and neither have anything to do with buckets!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Slow blog news day then Jon? You need to calm down a bit mate. Perhaps write a list of things that make you feel relaxed for when a bucket list rant is about to descend. Still, couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I call it my lust list. Or sometimes my lotto win wish lust. I did have one trip that was on a bucket list, not because I’ve any terminal obvious’ but because life itself is terminal. If I had suddenly encountered an ailment that prevented me doing the Gibb River Road and Mitchell Plateau I would have indeed felt cheated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some ‘Bucket lists’ contain ‘things to do’ that are so extreme they would never get done anyway. For some it’s a genuine ‘wish list’, for others it’s list of things that they would like to do but don’t have the time, money or drive to do. Call it what it is!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m still very much the binge blog reader here! I could also add to this rant. I don’t like the phrase at all, to me it just means unconsidered ambition. A bucket is used to clean a classic Ford Fiesta! As displayed by your travels, a bit more planning and thought than just saying “it’s on my bucket list” is likely required!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I couldn’t agree more with everything you write here about the Bucket List, Jonno! I like Wish List much better, and, I do think that once people create such a list, they should try to achieve these things, instead of just dreaming about it. Like a grocery list, things ought to get marked off it to make it a list.

    I don’t have any such lists, but I have a few destinations in mind I’d like to go one day. And, I will. Unless I kick the bucket before that. 🙂 My husband and my lives revolve around the moment and the place we are in. Once we come up with a plan, like purchase a camper van, we do so. Once we come up with the next plan, taking it to South America, we start researching. That’s how we roll. Don’t dream, but do! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am definitely guilty of overusing this phrase! A good post with a different perspective, i’ve never thought about before. I may have to come up with a new name! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, absolutely agree, I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I remember watching the film ‘The Bucket List’ and thoroughly enjoying it so in my mind the term bucket list is firmly associated with the fact that someone is terminally ill. I often have to bite my tongue when people use the term and refrain from commenting, “Oh, I didn’t know you are dying”.
    Personally, even when I was in a position that could possibly have lead to my death I didn’t have a bucket list, I always thought it was sad that there should be a need for one. I have loved every minute of my live, I have always done things I enjoyed doing and avoided getting trapped into a life that failed to fulfil. When people asked what was on my bucket list I could never think of anything and quite honestly, the majority of people, if they are terminally ill would not be in a position to do most of the things that are common bucket list items, eg travel. How would one be able to travel while having ongoing treatment, goodness, who would even insure you? And if you live in a country where you have to pay huge sums towards your medical bills I doubt that you could afford to travel.
    I had best stop now or I will have written an entire blog post as a comment, but this was a great post. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you agree Jill. We really detest the whole bucket list thing, always winds us up. We have places we would like to visit and things we would like to do but there isn’t a list and none of it refers to the time we have left on earth. Crazy social media driven expression I think.

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave us a comment, it always makes our day.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.