My 5 Favorite Bucket-List Vacations for the Professional

My 5 Favorite Bucket-List Vacations for the Professional

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I know how important your precious vacation time off from work is to you. With a limited amount of time off each year, you can’t afford for your vacation to be anything less than what you expect.

So how do you make sure that your vacation meets your expectations?

Get crystal clear on what you want out of your vacation.

I’m not talking about the basics – like “I just want sunshine, a pool, and good food!” Those are the features of the vacation, and while they are critical to your vacation planning, focusing only on them is where I see a lot of people go wrong.

It’s not about the features. It’s about the feeling. That’s the bigger picture here.

All of those features will contribute to how you feel on your vacation, but if you aren’t crystal clear on the reason for your vacation in the first place, you risk coming home disappointed. A good indicator of the goal of your vacation is the opposite of how you’re feeling right now.

For example, if you’re currently feeling exhausted from your demanding career, you probably need a relaxing vacation that’s going to give you a chance to recharge. A bad idea would be going on a whirlwind trip of Europe if you need some rest.

If you’re bored with your mundane routine every day, then your vacation should have you going somewhere big and epic and doing things you’ve never done before. A bad idea would be holing up in an AirBnB in a quaint village.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a list of my 5 favorite bucket-list destinations for the corporate professional who wants to get out there and see as much of the world as possible.

If you’re looking for an epic adventure where you can feel like you’re really livin’…New Zealand

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Known for some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet and for being the playground for adrenaline seekers, you won’t want to leave the land of the Kiwis. With countless picturesque landscapes, you will constantly be taking amazing photos of mountains, valleys, glaciers, beaches, lakes, and villages.

You can get your blood pumping in Queenstown in the country where bungee jumping was invented. With countless adrenaline activities to choose from, you can go on a thrilling jet boat ride, take a vertical canyon swing or go all in and bungee jump off of a cable car in the middle of a gorge. Adventurers will find fulfillment by tramping through the natural wonders of the country on one of the renowned Great Walks or taking it up a notch and heli-hiking a glacier.

A universal must-do is making the journey to Milford Sound. I’ve never heard anyone (even locals) say that it wasn’t worth the trip. It’s one of those places that remained undiscovered to humans for so long. You can really feel the full force of nature and feel how small you are in our world when you’re there. You can see the fjord by taking a cruise or a helicopter flight. We took a cruise and got a “glacial facial” from some pretty mighty waterfalls. I let myself get completely soaked and cold (which is against my beliefs) and it was one of those epic travel moments that make you feel so alive!

If you’re in need of a relaxing vacation where you can recharge…French Polynesia

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A string of 118 islands and atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, this is a beach lover’s dream come true and might be one of the most relaxing vacations you ever take. On Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mo’orea, or any of the islands, you will have pristine beaches, turquoise lagoons, and prime beach lounging. If naps, sunshine, or the spa are your style of relaxation, you’ll have everything you need to come back to work feeling truly refreshed.

Spend your mornings leisurely waking up in your overwater bungalow, spend your afternoons getting lost in that book you haven’t had the chance to read while lounging on the beach, and spend your nights staring at the most amazing view of the Milky Way off of your bungalow porch.

If you’re wanting a romantic vacation to feel close with your significant other…Portugal

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With beautiful landscapes, abundant sunshine, and an old world charm, Portugal is the perfect destination for romance. From the pastel-colored buildings to the historic tram inching along the cobblestone streets, it doesn’t get more picturesque than the capital city of Lisbon. You can take in the Age of Exploration history as you leisure through the city and relax at a café while enjoying one (or more) of the country’s famous custard tarts.

Heading to the north part of the country to Porto and the Douro Valley, you can sample port on a leisurely wine tour while you take in the picturesque landscapes around you. Heading to the southern coast of the country, you will be in awe at the beauty of the stunning Algarve beaches and hilltop castles fiercely overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Be prepared to witness one of the best sunsets of your life for just one of the unforgettable and romantic moments you’ll share together.

If you’re wanting to go on a vacation to get away from the noise and get back to nature…Costa Rica

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One of the leading countries in sustainable tourism, Costa Rica thrives on its ability to enjoy and preserve its abundance of natural life. From volcanoes and beaches to cloudforest and rainforest, this is the destination to choose to get back into nature. The active traveler can take a zipline canopy tour in the cloudforest or go hiking in the bottom of the rainforest. For relaxation, you can soak in natural hot springs or play in the warm ocean.

Wherever you go, you will learn to constantly keep your eyes and ears open for a variety of wildlife, from birds and monkeys in the trees, to frogs and coatis on the ground. Natural is also what you will find with the food and drink, and you will fall in love with the fresh fruits, vegetables, and home-grown coffee.

Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are very proud and passionate about the natural environment and get very excited to show and teach visitors about their unique land. Their friendliness is the icing on the cake for a trip to Costa Rica.

If you’re wanting a vacation where you can let loose and live it up…Aruba

With some of the best nightlife in the Caribbean, there’s a variety of options for you to let your guard down and live it up in Aruba. With warm, blue ocean, pure white sand beaches, and sunshine, you can have the postcard definition of a vacation. Located mostly outside of the hurricane belt and with some of the warmest temperatures in the winter, Aruba is the perfect year-round destination if you’re in need of that beachside buzz.

If you’re looking for a more casual experience, you can find beachside barbecues, seaside bars, and daily happy hours to keep you content for hours upon hours with amazing beach views. If you’re looking to get dressed up for a thrilling night out, cocktail parties, all-night dance clubs, and lively casinos will keep you entertained, mingling, and dancing until the sun comes up.

Get Help with Choosing your Vacation Destination

As a travel advisor, I love helping my clients choose where they go on vacation, so if these 5 bucket-list destinations aren’t what you’re looking for, and you are still feeling clueless about where you should go on vacation this year, I’ve got a couple of free resources to help you narrow it down.

Take this Quiz for an Instant Recommendation

If you have absolutely no idea where you should go on vacation, or you are looking for some new inspiration, you can get an instant personalized recommendation by taking my Where Should You Go On Vacation Next? quiz. Even though it’s just a quiz, if there ever was a quiz that truly asked you the right questions about your next vacation, this is it! With 30 unique countries as a possibility for the result, I have tried my best to cover the wide range of possibilities in the world.

Get Personalized 1-on-1 Support

If you’re looking for more detailed and personalized help, I offer 1-on-1 destination matching as part of my free consultation. When you sign up for a free consultation, you start by filling out a questionnaire to tell me the basics about your vacation. Your answers help me do some initial filtering of destinations. Then I follow up with you via e-mail with some more personalized questions to get a better feel for what you’re looking for before recommending some options to you. It’s a super convenient back and forth 1-on-1 process that you’re gonna love as much as I do because I’ll be saving you some brainpower.

Angela from Wild Hair Travels is a travel advisor who specializes in planning personalized, independent vacations to Europe, Central America and the Caribbean, and New Zealand. She is a proud Texan, geographer, and map-maker who loves helping the busy female professional take consistent and epic vacations every year.