As someone who loves traveling and experiencing new things, I’ve done a lot of mental “filing” of my dream destinations. It’s not that I’ll never be content if I don’t see the places on this list; quite the opposite. My love for simple, contented living applies to travel, too. I don’t need bigger, newer, better in my travels. I just love to travel. But you better believe that when someone asks me where I’d most like to go, dozens of locations come to mind. This is my attempt to boil it down to my top 10, just for fun. I’m sure this list will change over time, and I’m sure I’ll never make it to all (or even most) of these places. And that’s just fine with me.
Also, it’s worth noting that for some of these, I’ve lumped together a couple of locations into one “trip.” It may be cheating, but it’s my bucket list so I’ll do what I want. But really, these are places that I would be able to see all in one trip, so I think it’s okay to put them into one.
My Irish roots run deep. Three of my mom’s four grandparents emigrated from Ireland, and several of my dad’s relatives did as well, though we’re not sure exactly how many. I was raised to be deeply proud about my heritage, and we still have quite a bit of family near the northwest coast. I’d love to visit the homeland someday, and I hope that when I do, I have enough money to take my mom with me. It’s been a dream of hers since she was little to see our family’s beloved country.
My friend Jess (the one I visited in Seattle) studied abroad in Valencia during our senior year of college, fell in love, and moved a city called Jaen shortly after graduation. She raves about the beauty, culture, and food of southern Spain, as well as the low cost of living. You can actually buy a beer at a local bar for just 1 or 2 euros, and you get a whole plate of tapas (appetizers) with it. I’d most like to see Jaen, Cordoba (especially during the Patios Festival in May), Seville, and Granada.
Bavaria, Prague, and Budapest
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
I’ve always wanted to do a backpacking and train trip through Eastern Europe, but I’ve heard that Bavarian Germany is so beautiful that it would absolutely have to be part of this itinerary. Great beer, dark coffee, and endless pastries? Plus cobblestone streets, tiny cafes, and castles in the mountains? Count me in!
Italy and France
Cinque Terra, Italy
I would be fine never experiencing the hustle and bustle of Rome, but I’d love to see the Roman countryside, the Amalfi Coast, Florence, and Cinque Terre. Then I’d make my way to Paris for a day or two, just to get my fill of pastries, before exploring the French countryside. I’d wander the streets of small towns like Colmar and Riquewihr, and pretend I’m Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
This is like the mecca of hiking and snowboarding. Not that I have the skills necessary to stay alive while snowboarding in Patagonia, but it’s fun to imagine. I think I’d keep my feet separated and touching the ground for some hiking instead. I first discovered the beauty of this place while watching The Art of Flight on Netflix, and I can’t get it out of my mind. If you have any interest at all in beautiful destinations or even a mild interest in extreme sports, go watch this documentary right now. It’s incredible.
Zion National Park
I’m so longing to do the subway hike here. And how stunning are these red rock formations? I’ve only had a small taste of this kind of desert beauty in Colorado, and while it’s not my first pick (I’ll take water and forest first), I’d love to see more!
As you know, I love-hate all-inclusive resorts . . . but I do love a good beach getaway, as long as it has some adventure built in. It seems like Costa Rica is the perfect place to find that balance. Dan’s brother and sister-in-law have done a few trips there — staying in local hotels, taking public transportation, and exploring the jungle and the beach — and we’d love to join them on one someday.
Istanbul (both photos from my own trip)
This one is kind of cheating because I’ve already been to Istanbul, but I’d go again in a heartbeat. The food is unbelievable, the people are the friendliest in the world, and the whole city just buzzes with life. There is so much rich church and modern history stamped all over this city, and the amount of stuff there is to see and do there is endless. I’d also love to get out and see more of this gorgeous country, especially Antalya, Bodrum, Cappodocia, and Ephesus.
I’m a history nerd who loves Jesus — of course Israel is on my list. These trips are so expensive, but I would love to do one of those tours with Dr. Michael Rydelnik from Moody. I can’t imagine anything better than walking where Jesus walked, sitting where thousands listened to Him teach, and praying in the spot where He was crucified. Also, I love Middle Eastern food, so there’s that.
I don’t know that I’d really want to do a Caribbean cruise (you might be able to convince me after a couple of sleepless months with a newborn), but an Alaskan cruise up there on my list of travel priorities. You have all the luxuries of a cruise — unlimited food that someone else cooks, a bedroom that someone else cleans, hot tubs, entertainment, amazing sites — but with so much more majesty and adventure. Also, you don’t have to wear a bikini. You get to wear a hoodie. That means the overindulging that’s likely to happen each morning at breakfast won’t show later in the day at the pool. Score.