The Staycation Bucket List

Did you know that every US state and Canadian province and territory are represented on Not just visitors, but every state, province and territory appear on someone’s bucket list. That means that someone actually wants to come to where you live no matter how boring you think the place might be.

So here’s a quick guide on how to build a local, staycation, even, budget bucket list for your very own home state.



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Hang gliding

Hang Gliding: Fly Like Superman

Hang gliding is the perfect bucket list goal for those who’ve always wished for the super power to fly.

A hang glider is a triangular sail with an aluminum frame. This is different from a paraglider, which is more of a parachute. In a hang glider, you’re facing down and forward – like you’re flying – while in a paraglider, you’re in more of a seated position. The two are often confused, with paragliding showing up on more bucket lists, but I’d like you to consider hang gliding too.

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Bucket List Failure

Failure as Part of the Bucket List Experience

Are some of your bucket list goals pretty wild? Way outside your comfort zone, not to mention your budget, skills or abilities? And are you afraid you may try and fail at some of these goals?

Then you and I have something in common.

My bucket list is the To Do list of an adventurous, athletic, wealthy genius. I love who I see when I look at that list: Michelle on top of mountains, Michelle racing cars, Michelle learning languages and living like an expat, owning a radio station and fighting with nunchucks.

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Skydiving for the Thrill Seekers Bucket List

Skydiving was one of the first bucket list goals I crossed off, mostly because it doesn’t take a lot of time or money. It also became one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.

A lot of people said I was crazy and shook their heads, but eventually I found four coworkers willing to strap a stranger onto their back and jump out of a plane with nothing but parachute.

We drove over to Vermont Skydiving Adventures in rural West Addison, Vermont.  After training, suiting up and practicing, two of us, plus our skydiving instructors, the pilot and the videographer/photographer squished into a tiny, tiny plane.

Skydiving in PlaneI skydived with my work supervisor and, yes, I wondered if I would have a job after this adventure.]

We sat on the floor and I was jammed tight between the door, the pilot and my instructor. Aloft, I felt and heard the roaring wind.  I looked down and saw a gap in the door, giving me a bird’s eye view of the growing distance back to the ground. The adrenaline started pumping.

At 11,000 feet, we maneuvered ourselves into jumping position. The little latch on the door was let loose and it flipped up with the force of the wind, revealing a horrific distance between me and the ground. My stomach was in my throat, the sound of the air merged with the pumping of blood through my veins.

Sitting on the edge of the plane, I put my feet on the wing. We had two, brief moments left:

1)     Look at the camera and smile. I wasn’t too capable of this on my own, so my instructor moved my head toward the camera, then away from the camera and back up into position.

2)     Split-second pause….at which point a tiny voice in my head said, “Am I sane?”

Skydiving Smile for the CameraClearly, I was too shocked to look at the camera myself, so my instructor had to maneuver my head manually, producing these priceless photos.]

Then we were falling.

For the first few seconds, it was all adrenaline, fear and excitement. The wind beat hard at my body and ear drums. I forced my eyes open and realized we were flipping: “There’s the sun. Oh, there it is again!”

Gravity had a 130 MPH downward grip on us. The force of the air shoved my breath back down my windpipe.

Skydiving Fall

Eventually, the instructor signaled to extend my arms and get out of the fetus position. Then he signaled to pull the rip cord. I pulled hard and suddenly we reversed direction, going up again.

We floated and turned and swooped. This was the only time my stomach felt queasy, but I didn’t want it to stop. I wanted to savor this and stay, live up here in the clouds forever.

On the ground, our reactions ranged widely. I was excited and didn’t know what to do with all the extra energy. Joe was the best: grinning ear-to-ear, his hair blown back, he glowed/floated off the landing field.

I can vividly re-inhabit two moments: when the airplane door opened dramatically and right before I jumped and it was all before me. The adrenaline rush is still accessible and it was an experience of a lifetime.

If you haven’t gone skydiving, don’t let it linger on your bucket list. The US Parachute Association states that tandem dives, perfect for the beginner, cost between $150-$250. It’s worth a few months of brown bag lunches or skipped lattes.

But, beware: other bucket list goals may pale in comparison to the thorough adrenaline rush that skydiving provides.

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Getting Out of Debt: The Bucket List Goal to Make All Other Goals Possible

I’ve been racking up debt since college. A few years after graduation, I had over $42,000 of it, from student loans, a new car and the day-to-day reliance on credit. Over 1,500 users have “getting out of debt” as a goal, so we are a not-small tribe.

After getting out of debt in 2013, I’m here to say that this is the one goal that will make many other goals possible.

Getting Out of Debt One Day at A Time

Between 2009 and 2013, when I embarked upon this epic battle with my debt, I kept a detailed budget in Excel, named “Get The [insert expletive] Out Of Debt.” It was a bold goal, an imperative.

Tracking debt was key to my success...and proof that it was not always a winning battle
Tracking debt was key to my success…and proof that it was not always a winning battle

I also moved to a less expensive apartment, got two part-time jobs in addition to my full-time job, focused on cheaper hobbies, like hiking, took on new consulting clients, sold things on Amazon, inserted reminders into my budget (“Stay strong!” “Don’t spend!”), and kept a month/year countdown to the day I’d be debt free.

Rather than clipping coupons and sacrificing every daily joy, I focused on:

–        Setting a goal and orienting every fiber of my being toward it

–        Earning more money

–        Cutting the largest expenses, like rent

–        Reminding myself constantly of my goal

Getting Out of Debt One Year at A Time

In 2009, my car loan was the smallest, so I started there.  By paying off the smallest debt first, I freed up money to apply to the next debt, all while making the absolute minimum payments on the other debts. I paid off my car in 2010.

Another method is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate, which is what I did next, by tackling my credit card before my student loans. This one took the longest and was the hardest momentum to maintain, but I did it in 2013.


By that time, my student loans were pretty small and I paid them off that spring – 10 years to the day of graduating college!

Living Debt-Free

Getting out of debt was a double-edged blessing. Not only was it a goal in and of itself, but getting out of debt allowed me to start focusing on all my other bucket list goals. In just the following year, I completed four bucket list goals!


It also taught me how to tackle the rest of my bucket list, including how to:

–        Set a goal and orient every fiber of my being toward it

–        Earn more money (or more time) rather than pinching the joy out of my pennies

–        Cut the largest expenses to free up the largest amount of money

–        Remind myself constantly of my goals

–        Celebrate the successes and build upon them

If debt is holding you back from accomplishing other bucket list goals, tackle it like your life depends on it.  On the other side of debt is freedom!

How are you working toward getting out of debt? If you didn’t have debt, what bucket list goal would you accomplish next?

Feeling Inspired?

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Prioritize Your Bucket List – The first steps to success

How do you prioritize your bucket list and make sure you actually start living your deepest dreams and goals?

If you’re like me, you have a lengthy bucket list and all of it sounds fun.  We want to skydive while traveling across Europe on our way to a meditation retreat at which we find the love of our life, right?


I took six steps toward my bucket list and the last two years of my life have been drastically different than the ones before. Give these a try and let us know how the steps work for you:

1.     Write it All Down

Everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Nothing is too big or too small for this list. Working in Excel will make the next steps much easier.

2.     Create 3 Levels

In a second column, write 1, 2 or 3 next to every item. Ones are the things you have to do in order to die happy someday.  Twos are things you’d love to look back on. Threes are things that would be cool to complete, but aren’t really gripping for you right now.

Sort the data by this column, so the Ones are at the top.


3.     Estimate the Money

In Column C, create estimates for all of your Ones.  Do quick searches on flights and hotels, or classes and books, or gear and lessons.  Use rough averages; it doesn’t have to be precise at this stage.

Not everything requires money, I understand. But even the lofty goals, like falling in love, might require a subscription.

4.     Estimate the Time

In Column D estimate the time you’ll need for each item.  If you’re very detailed, create two columns: actual days and vacation days.

Not everything has a clear timeline, I understand. This column is mostly about how much time you want to truly and utterly devote to the project.

Now, all of your Ones – the things you must do in order to die happy (some day, very distant future) –have budgets and timelines.  Let the IRL (in real life) fun start!

Prioritize Your Bucket List - Chart

5.     Commit Time and Money This Year

Ask yourself these two questions: How much money can I spend on these projects in the next year? How much time can I devote to them?

6.     Do the Bucket List

Believe it or not, the answers to those last two questions are your only limitations to dying happy at any time, at least when it comes to prioritize your bucket list.  If you have $500 to spare in the next year, get to work on the bucket list items that cost less than that.  If you only have 3 vacation days left, get to work on the projects you can accomplish in that time.

You may be surprised at how much is within your reach.  The first year I did this, I accomplished 5 things on my bucket list!

And, of course, the more time and money you devote to your bucket list, the more of your dreams and goals you can accomplish.  But you’ll find you can start somewhere in some way, and then living your dreams will become a way of life!

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