Bucket Lists Are for The Young

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Mountain bike ride down Bolivia’s no-rails Road of Death.

By Mark Okrant, NH Travel Guru

We Americans love nothing more than to adopt the latest language fad. During the early 1980s, prevalent use of the word “incredible” spawned one of the most obnoxious television shows in the history of that medium.

Each week, cutie pies John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton, and Cathy Lee Crosby competed to see who could out wink and smile the others while saying, “That’s incredible,” to their ABC audience. To my dismay, the show outlasted the trite expression’s popularity.

Mark Okrant, NH Travel Guru

Over the years, we have gravitated from “incredible” toward “amazing,” “fantastic,” and—my least favorite—“unique.” I cringed each time the latest popular adjective was substituted for its more colorful cousins—like “helluva.”

At present, the expression that occupies the top of my pet peeve register is “bucket list.” We see people posting lengthy descriptions and photographs of compelling places on Facebook or Instagram. However, instead of describing these travel destinations as “beautiful,” “romantic,” “exotic,” or even “must see,” these authors seduce us to place them on our bucket lists.

Recently, a column, “Thrillist Travel,” took things a step further by listing for readers, “The 50 Most Unforgettable Things You Have to Do Abroad Before You Die.” The author’s recommendations included such activities as a free-dive on a Caribbean shipwreck, a mountain bike ride down Bolivia’s no-rails Road of Death, and hiking with lungs burning to a Bhutanese monastery. While the article went on to list numerous fascinating (notice that I did not use the word unique) activities, I have come to the following realization.

The people who write these travel pieces are YOUNG. They feel no compunction about using terms such as “bucket list” because—as I did forty years ago—they regard themselves as immortal. Fortunately, many people in their teens, twenties, and thirties are not yet concerned about what comes next as we approach the end of our time on the earth’s surface.

Perhaps, because I’m aware that, at best, I have another forty years to experience this amazing planet, my sensitivity is heightened toward people trying to decide what I must do and see before the final curtain drops.

Recently, I’ve noticed a reduction in use of this awful descriptor, for which I’m grateful. After all, why be so negative? Why not recommend travel itineraries in more positive terms? Let’s add them to our to-do lists. Or, as one who has been happily married for 47 years, I’ll just amend my honey-do list.

After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joins IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.

For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.

For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to: http://www.visitnh.gov/what-to-do/event-calendar.aspx

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