The Rise of the Bucket Lister


This month I’m a talking, highly animated head on a 60 Minutes Sports episode about the rise of Adventure Travel. Why are more and more tourists leaving the all-inclusive beach resorts to go hiking or cycling or bushwhacking? In effect, why are tourists becoming travellers? I call it the Rise of the Bucket Lister.

Here’s a preview of the episode. Warning: I’m pretty certain my two year-old daughter fell into a cauldron of Red Bull and is incapable of any form of rejuvenating sleep. My eyes tell this story accordingly.

I’ve seen this trend with the success of the Canadian Bucket List project. Bucket Listers, as I call us, are drawn to unique and memorable experiences. Beach vacations tend to blur together, but you never forget seeing a polar bear in the wild, or staying in an ice hotel, discovering an island by bicycle or crossing the country by train. Not that there’s anything wrong with a beach vacation, especially if we’re looking for relaxation and rest. I’ve always said that travel is as personal as the underwear you’re wearing (assuming you’re wearing underwear!)

Demographically, we’re at an incredible time for travel. Active boomers and empty nesters with more disposable income than any other generation in history are game for adventure. Millennials and Gen X’ers are taking advantage of low-cost airfare and helpful online tools to find great deals, information and inspiration for their own adventures. Factor in online bookings, credit cards and e-devices, and there’s never been an easier time to travel. Clumsy travellers cheques and paper airline tickets have gone the way of the dodo. A tiny USB stick can hold hundreds of albums for any road trip. Even in far-flung Albania, I could access local currency at ubiquitous ATM’s. Tour operators have become more professional, and more environmentally responsible, and the rise of volun-tourism has brings with it the opportunity for more meaningful travel.

For 60 Minutes Sports, I spoke about my recent trip to Antarctica, and how a night camping on the ice turned into a bigger adventure than anyone bargained for (thank you snowstorm!) I also explain it was the highlight of my trip. I was cold, wet and uncomfortable, but I was experiencing Antarctica as it is – a cold, wet and uncomfortable place. So while the fantastic meals and service and friendships I enjoyed on One Ocean Expedition’s ice-breaker might fade in my memories, surviving one miserable night on the forbidding seventh continent will not. I would argue there is Bucket List travel, and there are Bucket List moments, and this one was of them.

In August, I’ll be heading to Baffin Island one One Ocean’s sister ship, the Ioffe. You are welcome to join me for this Photographic Symposium, it’s going to be a Bucket List journey to be sure. As the Writer-in-Residence, I’ll be researching a new chapter for The Great Northern Canada Bucket List edition, to be published next year, and putting the final touches on my international opus, The Great Global Bucket List too. Visiting the starkness of the Arctic in a Russian-flagged expedition ice-breaker is sure to be unforgettable. Massive glaciers crashing into shark-fin mountains, abundant wildlife, the rich culture of Inuit communities, hikes on the tundra – is it any wonder that yesterday’s tourists are becoming today’s adventurers?

60 Minutes Sports airs and repeats on Showtime. My segment appears in Episode 6 of season 3, titled Backroads.

Great Canadian Bucket List