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The Benefits of Having a Bucket List

Making a travel bucket list — even if it’s not realistic to visit all the places on the list — invokes a sense of hope, gives people something to look forward to and even inspires them to get into better shape, according to a new study by the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S.

Two out of every five Americans over the age of 50 say they have a travel bucket list, and nearly 70 percent of them expect to visit the next destination on the list, according the AARP Travel Bucket List Survey. While they hope to visit 80 percent of the places on the list, most people consider it a success to hit just 65 percent of them.

“You get a sense of accomplishment and contentment when you finally get to experience something you have wanted to do for a long time,” one survey respondent said.

Simply making a list has positive benefits: It gives people something to look forward to, inspires them to make the most the most of their lives and experience new things and convinces them, as one respondent said, that “my dreams can really happen.”

Traveling is one of the top aspirational activities of people 50 years and up. Most no longer have children at home, and they often have more money and time to travel than when they were younger. Around two-thirds say they’ll travel with a significant other or spouse; 18 percent say their next trip will be solo.

They are saving money for their bucket list trips and even getting in better shape to prepare for the rigors of travel, the survey found. More than one-third of those surveyed say they’ve already started saving money for their next bucket list trip, and half of baby boomers say they’re taking steps to improve their health so they can enjoy their travels more.

But at the same time, money can be a limiting factor. Forty-five percent of those surveyed say that money holds them back from visiting more of their bucket list destinations.

Boomers have an average of eight places on their bucket lists. (Compare that to less-traveled gen Xers, who average 12 places, and millennials, who average 15.)

The most common bucket list destinations are Hawaii, Alaska, California and Arizona in the United States and Australia, Italy, Ireland/U.K. and France internationally.

Which destinations are on your bucket list?

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