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Survey Reveals What’s on America’s Bucket List

What’s on your bucket list? What adventure would you like to have or what place would you like to visit? Many people like to use a bucket list—or a list of experiences or achievements that they hope to accomplish while living life to the fullest.

We wanted to find out more about how Americans feel about bucket lists, what’s on them and how many people actually have one. The results were pretty revealing.

After surveying 2,000 people, we found that 95% of them had a bucket list, 21% change their bucket list at least once a month and 66% plan on checking off an item within the next year, which proves that the bucket list isn’t just a catchphrase—it’s actually guiding the way people think about experiences and life events.

Here’s more about what we found on our bucket list survey.

How Bucket Lists Get Started

Where does the idea for a bucket list originate? Is it something that a retired couple brings up one day before the beginning of their golden years? Is a bucket list something that you start when you’re young?

Our survey reveals that a large percentage of people start their bucket list when they get to a certain age (38%). Other reasons for starting a bucket list include being influenced by some sort of media (12%), after they went on a trip (11%), illness or death in the family (8%), a recommendation from a family member or friend (5%), a change in relationship status (4%), being laid off from a job (3%) and an income change (3%). Only 4% of survey respondents said they didn’t have a bucket list.

What America’s Bucket List Looks Like

Everyone has different dreams about their lives, but what similarities do we have on our bucket list? We asked our survey to let us know a little more about what’s on their bucket lists by category.

Without a doubt, the most popular experience on someone’s bucket list had to do with travel—and 77% of our survey indicated that they had some sort of travel goal on their personal lists. Following travel, many (71%) had financial goals on their bucket list, personal development goals (71%), family goals (67%), health goals (55%), hobby goals (47%), career goals (42%), spiritual development goals (40%) and volunteer-related goals (27%).

The most desired specific experiences on people’s bucket lists were the following: skydiving, winning the lottery and having kids. And what about the least desired? Our survey said getting arrested, breaking a minor law and trying online dating.

Travel Bucket List

One thing that’s clear is that Americans are itching to check places off their sight-seeing list. But where exactly do they want to go? And how many places do they want to visit?

The average number of travel destinations on a bucket list is eight—a pretty demanding travel schedule for some.

The top countries on people’s bucket lists were Australia, Italy, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Greece, the Bahamas, Egypt and Germany. The top 20 cities that are on people’s must-see list are Honolulu, New York, Las Vegas, Anchorage, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, Austin, Boston, Denver, Atlanta, Portland, DC, Miami, Chicago, San Diego, Anaheim, Orlando and Albuquerque.

We also asked our survey if they preferred to travel to these destinations with a partner or alone. About half (52%) said they wanted to bring a spouse or significant other on a bucket list trip and only 14% said they wanted to go solo.

Financial Bucket List

When it comes to bucket list items, are people willing to put their money where the list is? From our survey, we found that the most amount of money people are willing to spend on a bucket list item was an average of $3,081—with Boomers saying they would spend $3,204 and Millennials being a little bit more frugal by saying they’d spend $2,959.

We also asked our survey participants what their top financial bucket list goals were. The top answers were to pay off debt, pay off their mortgage, retire early, save up for a child’s college tuition, give to charity and buy a home.

What is Preventing People from Checking things Off their List?

A bucket list is only just a list of things you want to accomplish—not a guarantee that it’ll happen. So, what is preventing people from checking things off their list? We wanted to find out.

Most of the participants (57%) cited finances as the reason why they haven’t checked off things from their bucket list. Beyond that, others blamed a lack of time (14%), family responsibilities (11%), age (5%), fear (5%), health (3%), no one to experience it with (3%) and laziness (2%).

Of our Baby Boomer survey participants, 34% said their age has limited their ability to try new life experiences, but 62% said they feel younger than their current age.

And because this survey was designed to get people thinking and reflecting on their lives, we wanted to ask our participants this: What age were you happiest? The average answer was 29, but Baby Boomer respondents said they were happiest at 32 while Millennials said 21 was their happiest year.

Regardless of your age, there’s no reason to limit your experiences. A bucket list can help you push yourself to take new chances, visit new places and live life to the fullest at any age. So, get out there and start checking off your list.

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