20 places I want to visit before turning 40 (International and Domestic)

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As I turn 30 next month, I think about what I want to achieve in the next 10 years. Traveling the US and the world ranks high on my list.

I know I can’t shut up about my upcoming trip to London and Paris next month to celebrate my birthday, and we haven’t even finished planning completely and I’m already wondering where we are going to go for 2020. Cecilio not saying much is kind of a hint for me to focus on the present 😉

Still, I can’t help but wonder where. I guess I regret passing up all the opportunities to travel when I was younger, such as to an 8th grade trip to Washington D.C., a 23-day Europe excursion during the summer in high school, and all of the places I could’ve gone to with Cecilio. Well, he was just starting off in his career and I was finishing school, so we didn’t have as much time or money…but we made the most of going to San Francisco as much as we could, and we always had (and still do!) have a blast. I could always go on and on about my love for San Francisco. If I grew up in the Bay and have visited at least a hundred times since moving away, I should at least have a handful of blog posts about the city…right?

I would love to be able to visit a lot more places before I turn 40. I just wonder if it’s a bit unrealistic to actually visit 20 places before then. I’m also a little worried because Cecilio and I do want to have children in the next few years and that might delay things. But I have seen my family members, cousins, other bloggers, etc. be able to travel and vacation with (and without) their children. If you want it that bad, you will find a way. Plus, you get to widen your childrens’ horizons and enrich their lives, making them more well-rounded and empathetic.

Without further ado, here are 2 travel bucket lists, one for international destinations and one for around the US:

travel bucket list, travel bucket list before 40, 40 years old bucket list


  1. Japan:
    Japan has always been at the top of the places I wanted to visit in my bucket list (along with Italy, which I have been able to visit in 2013). I used to like anime and I read some manga. I’m a Sanrio fan. I loved learning about the history in 7th grade humanities class. I love the culture and the juxtaposition between the modern, high-tech society with ancient roots accented. Oh, and I freaking love Japanese food: sushi, sashimi, ramen, onigiri, etc. I think more than likely Cecilio and I are going to go there next year (Japan or Thailand), I’m just a little hesitant because it is very expensive. Especially with Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics. But if we were to go next year, it would probably be in October. That would give us a lot of time to save every nickel and dime.
  2. Amsterdam:
    Okay…I have to admit, reading and watching The Fault in Our Stars made me want to visit Amsterdam. I really identified with the main character, Hazel, because of our health issues. But Amsterdam is beautiful. I would love to walk or cycle around the streets and go on the canal. And see all of the tulips! For our trip next month, we tried to squeeze in a day trip to Amsterdam, but we felt like one day is not enough to experience it fully. So we will go another time!
  3. Amalfi Coast, Italy:
    Isn’t it romantic! To have a hotel overlooking the beautiful blue waters and to be able to rent a boat for the day and swim in the waters. Then to stroll around Positano with a gelato in your hand…that is my dream. I have been to Florence and Rome, but I will definitely work towards visiting Amalfi Coast one of these years in August or September to be able to swim!
  4. Kenya:
    It’s a myth that all of Africa is corrupt and stricken with poverty. There are countries worth visiting, and for me, Kenya is one of them. I would want to stay in Nairobi (it is a bustling city), visit the National Safari Park and see all of the animals up close. Then I would end the itinerary with Mombasa and Diani Beach (which has been voted as Africa’s leading beach destination 5 times).
  5. Israel:
    As a Christian, Israel is a sacred destination. I want to walk where Jesus walked in Jerusalem and visit Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, and Garden Tomb. I want to pray in the Wailing Wall, and swim and do a mud spa treatment in the Dead Sea. Let’s not forget Tel Aviv too! Tel Aviv is full of art, culture, delicious food and nightlife.
  6. Australia:
    I follow a few bloggers from Australia and in some ways, they are similar to the British. I am digging the beach scene in Australia, especially in Sydney (Bondi Beach, anyone?) Cecilio also has a childhood friend who is now a university professor in Canberra, so we would totally visit him there. I also have a 2nd cousin who lives in Brisbane. So we could go to those three cities along with Melbourne and Alice Springs.
  7. Thailand:
    My mom was a flight attendant in the 80’s and lived in Bangkok for a few years. I actually started looking at flights from SF to Bangkok, then Phuket to SF and the tickets are insanely affordable. I’ve seen 4 and 5 star hotels that were under $100/night! I love Thai food and would enjoy the street food scene. And of course, having a hotel in Bangkok with a pool is pretty important to me. Same with Phuket (can you tell that I’m a water baby?)
  8. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:
    Cecilio and I already went to Playa del Carmen for our honeymoon, and now it would be nice to visit the opposite side of Mexico and compare the two. We actually were considering Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon at first too. Although Playa del Carmen wins in terms of their beaches, Puerto Vallarta has some pretty impressive bodies of water such as the Banderas Bay. They also have lush terrain and hiking trails.
  9. Santorini, Greece:
    Again, like the Amalfi Coast, Santorini is up on a hill overlooking their spectacular beaches. And it is oozing with romance. My idea of a good time is swimming in the water, strolling on the pebbles, and devouring Greek food with a glass or 2 of wine.
  10. Berlin, Germany:
    Germany has never been on my radar until recently. I would absolutely LOVE to go to the Christmas markets and window shop while sipping some mulled wine. There’s just something about festive and cheerful about celebrating Christmas, and the markets (all over Europe, not just in Germany) take it to a whole new level. It would be a different experience. Berlin also has a lot of art galleries, and Cecilio and I would be fascinated to visit the Berlin Wall.


  1. New Orleans:
    Cecilio and I have been wanting to go to New Orleans for years, but we’ve both been putting it off due to time and money constraints. NOLA has Southern charm mixed with French and Creole cultures. The food scenes can’t be beat: I’m dreaming of gumbo, jambalaya and beignets!
  2. Boston:
    Boston has been a dream of mine for a while, especially after visiting NYC twice. I would love to visit more of the East Coast. Boston is educational and has the Freedom Trail, which is a 2.5 mile route that has 16 sites related to US History. Plus, it’s stunning in the fall with the bright orange, brown and red leaves.
  3. Orlando:
    Three words: Walt Disney World. Being from the West Coast, I have already visited Disneyland a bunch of times and am familiar with Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It would be a dream to see Cinderella’s castle in Magic Kingdom, ride in a safari and meet Pocahontas in Animal Kingdom, and explore the different worlds in EPCOT. I’m not really keen on Hollywood Studios, there’s a lot of Star Wars experiences and I know Cecilio would love that.
  4. Yellowstone National Park:
    Cecilio and I are trying to get into hiking, and Yellowstone has various trails suited for hikers of different skill levels. Plus, we won’t say no to a dip in one of the hot springs!
  5. Kauai:
    I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 3 other islands in Hawaii: Big Island, Oahu (where Honolulu is), and Maui. If/when Cecilio and I go back we are most likely going to go to Honolulu since he’s never been there. But Kauai would be a different experience. The beaches are spectacular, it’s more remote and nature-oriented but not as secluded as Molokai or Lanai, and utterly romantic. Plus, it would be great to visit Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
  6. Portland:
    Here’s another destination Cecilio and I have been wanting to go to but have been putting off. Portland is 9 hours away from us, driving distance. The food and coffee scenes are pretty neat, and they have beautiful hikes nearby. The Japanese Garden is a must-see!
  7. Seattle:
    The only reason I’ve been to Seattle 3 times was through the SeaTac airport and drive with my family for 2 hours to visit relatives in Vancouver. However, last time we were there and came back, we had some downtime before our flight back. My mom, her friend and my sister ate at a sit-down restaurant while Cecilio and I explored Pike Place and found the original Starbucks. But I would want to see Seattle for more than just those: it’d be great to go into the Space Needle or the Chihuly Glass exhibit. Oh and if we ever hit the jackpot, we could even eat at Canlis.
  8. Santa Fe:
    Santa Fe has an amazing art scene: one of my former art professors says that it’s 2nd best after NYC. I love the Spanish-style architecture too. They also have a lot of spa resorts so it would be relaxing to visit for a 3-day weekend.
  9. Green Bay:
    I’m not a Packers fan (but my Mikwaukeean stepdad and his family is), but I would love to visit Lambeau Stadium, where they play. Nobody does tailgates better than Wisconsinites: I was there in 2016 and my stepdad’s cousin hosted a party full of food to watch the Wisconsin vs. Minnesota football game (I remember how Wisconsin won too and how everyone went wild!)
  10. Washington DC:
    I can’t believe I haven’t visited Washington DC. Though I am not happy with who is leading our country at all, I still want to visit the White House and the Capitol.

There are A LOT more in my bucket list, but here are my absolute top 20 destinations.

What’s in your travel bucket list?

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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