Ideas for Your Retirement Bucket List

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No matter how much you enjoyed your career, there’s nothing quite like retirement. It’s calm, quiet and you finally have the open schedule you’ve always wanted. You have the chance to enjoy everything you worked so hard for, so why do you feel like something is missing?

Retiring from a job that occupied 40 hours of your week leaves you with many empty hours to fill. Even as you adjust and pick up the hobbies you never used to have the time for, you might find yourself wanting something more. 

If that’s the case, it’s time to make a retirement bucket list. Even if you haven’t retired yet, it’s never too early to start planning how you’re going to enjoy yourself when you’re free from the nine to five grind. 

So, start thinking. What have you always wanted to do? Retirement is your opportunity to cross all of the items off of your bucket list. We’re going to explore some of the most popular ideas for your retirement bucket list, whether you’re looking for an adventure or you want to relax in luxury. 

We’ve done extensive research to ensure we’re providing you with the best suggestions. After looking at popularity metrics, reviews and travel articles, we can confidently say that whatever your interests, we have probably found at least one recommendation that you’re sure to love. 

Things To Consider When Creating A Bucket List

We’re all beholden to budget and time constraints, but even taking that into account, it can be overwhelming to look at the possibilities the future holds. How do you make up your mind when anything is possible? Six months from now, you could be sitting in a restaurant on the other side of the world, teaching your grandchildren to fish on a beautiful autumn afternoon or reclining at a resort with cucumber slices over your eyes. 

The first thing to consider is the dreams you’ve had but never accomplished. Instead of focusing on regret, think about how you can turn them into a reality. Now is your chance to do so.

If you’re still short on inspiration after that, open up your computer or smartphone and start searching. Books, magazines, movies, documentaries and pages upon pages of information from blogs about other people’s bucket lists are all available at your fingertips. 

At the same time, be realistic. If you have pets you don’t want to board for an extended period or grandchildren you babysit regularly, long trips might not be for you. Keep your budget in mind too. You’re probably living on a fixed income now, which does limit your options somewhat. Finally, consider your health. If you have arthritis in your knees, mountain climbing isn’t going to be fun for you. A scenic train ride through the mountains, on the other hand, might be just what you’re looking for. 

Retirement Bucket List Ideas

If you’re a recent retiree struggling to adjust, you’re not alone. According to a 2013 study, retiring increases your odds of having a mental or physical health condition. For example, retiring increases the probability of someone suffering from depression by an astounding 40 percent. It can even change your view of your health for the worse.  

Now, you might be thinking that all of that is part of growing older. Sometimes that’s true. We subject our bodies to a lot of wear and tear, and that catches up with us. In other instances, people begin to feel worse after they retire because they have lost their purpose, routine, and workplace friends.

You dedicated the past several decades of your life to your work. Whether your career was your passion or just something you did to pay the bills, it left its mark on you. Significant life changes don’t have to be negative to be stressful, which you’re likely already familiar with after new jobs, moves and having children. 

Losing sleep when you have a newborn ought to be considered a universal constant, along with death and taxes. Experiencing unhappiness or discomfort after retiring, however, isn’t guaranteed to happen. 

Taking advantage of your newfound free time to plan and execute the items on your bucket list can help ease the transition from working to retirement. Everyone has different interests, which can make deciding on retirement bucket list ideas a challenge. Fortunately, it’s the kind of challenge that’s exciting rather than frustrating. 

Bucket List Ideas for Adventurers

If you’re someone who enjoys having adventures, these ideas are for you. Adventure tourism has been rising in popularity over the last few years, bolstered by scientific studies into the benefits it offers. You don’t have to participate in extreme sports to see good results either. Even what some researchers are calling “slow adventures” can improve your overall sense of well-being.  

  • Looking to see more of the world? Go on safari in Africa.
  • If you’re passionate about the ocean, consider going scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • For those interested in history and architecture, visit Machu Picchu.
  • Learning how to fly is an exciting challenge for those brave enough to try it.
  • If you’re looking for a way to stay fit while having fun, try learning a new water sport. You’d be surprised how many there are that you might not have heard of. Aqua jogging, finswimming, synchronized swimming, water polo—there are tons of options.
  • While some people look at retirement as a way to reconnect with their friends and family, others see it as a chance to regain or build independence. Vacationing alone can be an incredibly freeing experience, and doing so will likely get you outside of your comfort zone. 
  • If you’ve always loved cars, scheduling a chance to drive a race car can be a lot of fun. How many people can say they’ve had the opportunity to drive 200 miles an hour? You can still live your life in the fast lane after retirement.
  • For retirees who have always been big fans of comic books or those who want to connect with grandchildren passionate about various forms of media, dressing up and attending a Comic-Con can be a lot of fun. 

Bucket List Ideas for Nature Lovers

Retirement is the perfect time to spend some time outside if you’re a nature lover. One of the best things about nature-themed bucket list ideas is that they can take up as much time as you’d like them to, and there are options for budgets of all sizes. 

  • If your love of nature is matched only by your love of wine, consider going on a wine tour in Napa Valley, California. 
  • Feeling adventurous and interested in seeing some of the most amazing geologic features the United States has to offer? Go whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon.
  • For those who have been fascinated by natural history for years, following Charles Darwin’s footsteps through the Galapagos can be a fantastic journey filled with incredible sights. 
  • Passionate about astronomy or simply looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while? Sleep under the stars, far from light pollution and the sounds of traffic.
  • It’s never too late to learn something new, so add to your repertoire of skills by learning how to camp cook.
  • If cooking isn’t your favorite activity, you could also learn to navigate through the world with a map or compass and then apply your skills on a hike.
  • Riding in a hot air balloon is one of the best ways to take in the scenery in style and comfort. 
  • Finally, go looking for the Northern Lights. They’re beautiful, and seeing them is a humbling experience that will stay with you for years.  

Bucket List Ideas for a Luxurious Retirement

You’ve worked hard your entire life. Now, it’s time to enjoy things a little. These luxurious bucket list ideas are ideal for retirees looking to add a bit of glamour to their new lifestyle. You don’t have to be incredibly wealthy to enjoy a bit of luxury either. Some of the items on this list will work for tight budgets just as well as large ones. 

  • Are you a fan of music? See an opera at the Met in New York City.
  • If you’re looking to travel in style, stay in one of Bora Bora’s incredible overwater bungalows.
  • For those looking to feel like a high roller, go all-out gambling in Las Vegas.
  • Having your portrait painted is peak luxury and will result in a conversation piece for your home.
  • Attending a black-tie gala is a great chance to experience luxury and excellent hors d’oeuvres. If you don’t have a reason or the budget to participate in one, turn your next backyard barbeque or neighborhood block party into a thriftier version.  
  • Consider starting a fine art collection.
  • If fine art isn’t your style, consider becoming a patron of a local arts organization to support up-and-coming artists in your community.

Bucket List Ideas for Retirees with Grandkids

If you have grandchildren, they’re probably the center of your world. Retirement is your chance to spend time with them and be there for important developmental milestones. You probably don’t consider watching what passes as cartoons these days with a three-year-old to be bucket list-worthy, no matter how much you love your grandkids. Being there when they start walking, talking and learning about the world around them is a different matter entirely. 

  • Take each grandkid on an individual vacation so you can get to know them each personally. 
  • Volunteer at your grandchild’s school. You’ll have the chance to support not just your grandchildren but children from all over your community. 
  • Take your grandkids to local live events like music in the park or a play you’ll all enjoy.
  • From the comfort of your own home, you can teach your grandchildren treasured family recipes and then enjoy the results of your work. Who doesn’t love food?
  • If you and your grandchildren like to spend time outside, consider taking them camping.
  • Finally, volunteer with your grandkids and teach them the importance of giving back.

The Value of a Retirement Bucket List

You might still have questions about retirement bucket lists. For example, what is the most common thing on a bucket list? According to a survey of single people done by, the most common item on bucket lists is falling in love. That’s followed by going on a wine tour of Napa Valley, changing someone’s life for the better, hitting a goal weight and going on safari. As you might guess from the results of this survey, bucket lists are highly personal and vary from person to person. 

You may also be asking if bucket lists are a good idea. They are. Bucket lists are unequivocally a good idea. People thrive on novel experiences, and having a bucket list lets you plan and achieve your goals. 

That raises another question. What is the difference between goals and a bucket list? Well, that depends. Some people say there isn’t a difference between a bucket list and goals. Others view goals as more formal and professional, while a bucket list is more fun. According to another definition, a bucket list is what you want, and goals are what you’re left with after your dreams meet your reality. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what the difference will be. 

We hope this exploration of retirement bucket list ideas has been helpful. If you haven’t retired yet, this has hopefully sparked even more excitement than you were already feeling about the prospect. If you’re a current retiree working your way through planning or accomplishing a bucket list, we hope this article has inspired you. 

Whatever your retirement bucket list looks like, the important thing is that it makes you happy. Retirement should be about enjoying yourself and celebrating how hard you’ve worked to make it to where you are. We’ve listed some of the most popular bucket list ideas across a few different categories. Still, there are innumerable options out there if you’re not seeing anything that stands out to you. It’s worth doing the research to find ideas you love.

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