The complete bucket list from home guide: 7 ways to live out your dreams when you’re too ill to travel

The movie The Bucket List inspired a lot of people. It’s about two old guys who, facing terminal illness, decide to do everything they always dreamed of before the end of their lives. 

Nowadays, there are bucket list clubs all around the world. These clubs are focused on travel. Travel is to the bucket list as peanut butter is to jelly. 

But what if you aren’t able to jet around the world ticking off boxes of once-in-a-lifetime experiences? What do you do? 

Here are some ways to fulfill your bucket list without ever taking a step outside your front door:

  1. Do that thing you’ve always wanted. Think of a dream you’ve had your whole life. If you’re not coming up with anything, think back to childhood. For example, when I was a kid I wanted to write books like the ones I loved. In the rush of adult life, that was set aside. Think of ways you can make one of your lifetime fantasies come true—whether it’s drawing comic art, learning how to play a mean game of chess, or becoming an expert in some area that lights you up.

  2. Make life your bucket list. At the end of our lives, we discover that what really matters isn’t the big stuff. It’s taking pleasure in life as it unfolds—watching a sunset, reading a good book, being with those we love. So pay attention. Shut off your distractions for some of each day. You may be surprised and pleased by everything you notice. Remember, you can never get these moments back. And you never know when it will all be over.

  3. Travel remotely. The brain is an amazing organ. It doesn’t know the difference between doing something and imagining that you’re doing it. That’s why athletes practice in their minds as part of their training. So if travel is on your bucket list, go ahead and do it. But instead of boarding an actual plane, go to your destination of choice in your mind. Check out photos and guides online or in books. When you have a good picture, close your eyes and go there. Take in every detail, using all your senses. If you’re ziplining through the forest, feel the breeze on your face, smell the pine trees, and sense the excitement in your chest. You can do this as many times as you want with as many destinations as you choose.

  4. There’s a saying: try one thing that scares you every day. That’s tough for those of us who are already dealing with scary and difficult stuff. But if you think about it, one of the advantages of being ill is that we don’t have as much to lose as most people. So, every day, choose something that you know you’d do if you weren’t too scared to try it. Here are some suggestions:

    1. If you’re able, pick up an instrument, or sing along with an app like Smule
    2. Learn a language. 
    3. Get in touch with an old friend just to see how they’re doing—even if it’s been many years since you last spoke. 
    4. Shop online for an outfit you’d never wear because someone might tell you it’s not appropriate for your age, disability, etc.. You don’t even have to buy it, just pretend, or set up a Pinterest page with all kinds of fun items.
    5. Become an activist for a cause you believe in—even if this just means raising awareness on social media about it. 
    6. Learn about people who are different than you. For example, read about black history if you’re white, check out life as a Mormon if you’re an atheist, watch a documentary about people living in a culture alien to your own, etc. 
    7. All this is just as gutsy as skydiving, if not more so.

  5. Channel your inner superhero. Who hasn’t wished they had super powers like those Marvel characters? Well, you do have them. Okay, maybe you can’t scale a wall or make bullets ping off your chest. But if you’re dealing with chronic pain, illness or anything like it, you’ve developed some seriously badass abilities. Here are some examples to get you started:

    1. Invisibility. In a wheelchair? Use a walker? Otherwise seem sick or slow? Then chances are you know what it’s like to be treated as if you’re not there. It’s amazing the powers you gain when you’re unseen.
    2. X-ray vision. When you live outside everyday society, you develop observational skills others don’t have. You’re a fly on the wall, taking in the world from your own unique perspective. You can see past people’s masks and often understand what they’re going through better than they do.
    3. Super strength. You’ve been to hell and back. Mastered the art of dealing with heartless insurance companies, gaslighting doctors, and other evil forces. Ka-pow!
    4. Superhuman patience. You’ve had to wait in more ERs and doctor’s offices than any normal person. You’ve been in bed for days, weeks, months or years—sometimes unable to do anything or than stare at the ceiling. Most folks can’t even imagine this.
    5. Jedi level wisdom. You’ve learned the hard way that you can’t take anything for granted. You know what it feels like to have your body turn on you. And you’re all too aware of how fragile life is. As Yoda says, “luminous beings are we…not this crude matter.”

  6. Contemplate life’s deep questions. Okay I know I said the big stuff isn’t what matters. But that doesn’t apply to the big questions. At the end of your life, do you want to be left wondering what it was all about? Here are a few ways you can work with this:

    1. Start a journal where you ask one question a week and write your thoughts each day for an hour. It’s not so much about answering the question as exploring it. The question might be “why are we here?” “What’s this all about?” “What’s the most important thing in life?” 
    2. If you have an artistic bent, try drawing or painting – or even needle-pointing —something to represent these larger questions about life.
    3. Read books to inspire you. Here are a few suggestions, but you can turn to whatever book speaks to you:
      1. Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
      2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
      3. The Holy Bible  
      4. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
      5. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
      6. Be Still and Get Going by Alan Lew
      7. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki 


  1. Follow an obsession. No, I don’t mean stalk a crush you have. I mean let yourself go nuts about something that has no practical use in your life. Love history? Learn everything about your favorite historical period. Love birds and birding? Fill your backyard with feeders, and watch away. You get the idea. Once you’ve done it once, you may find you have a bucket list of many more to check off.


So, there you have it. You can prep for the day you kick the bucket without having to spend money or time on travel. You may be homebound, or dealing with pain, or whatever else makes it impossible to go anywhere. But that doesn’t matter. 

You’re doing something that will make a difference to your life right now. You’ll have few regrets when the end does arrive. A bucket list is so much more than travel.

Got more ideas? Feel free to leave them in the comments field below.


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