Top Retirement Bucket List Ideas

What are your retirement dreams? Have you started creating your retirement bucket list? It doesn't matter how old you are--it is never too early or too late to start dreaming.

Top Retirement Bucket List Ideas

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Everyone has dreams of what they could do if they had more time, money and freedom. Sight-seeing, climbing a mountain or learning to speak French are just a few examples of what might be on some retirees’ bucket lists. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Retirement can be a time where you prefer having more enjoyable experiences over accumulating more material goods. According to a report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 44 percent of retirees surveyed said they are spending their time in retirement pursuing hobbies. 1^Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies “A Precarious Existence: How Today’s Retirees Are Financially Faring in Retirement” December 2018

There are many activities and hobbies out there that can challenge you and expand your horizons. You can go on a hot-air balloon ride and find it’s a fun and peaceful experience. You can devote more time to the arts and audition for the local community theatre. If you’re an animal lover, you can apply to become a foster parent to a shelter pet in need.

With more time on your hands in retirement, there are many great ways to step outside of your comfort zone and enjoy new experiences.


Traveling tops many retirement bucket lists. Whether you’re interested in a cross-country RV trip, an Alaskan cruise or jetting off to Europe, early planning and saving are key to checking off this popular bucket list wish.

According to AARP, almost half of bucket list trips fall into the international travel category, but there are plenty of bucket list-worthy destinations in the U.S., such as national parks, big cities like New York or Chicago, or even a lifelong dream to visit Disney.  

Still, while getting away from it all is nice, AARP’s 2017 Travel Trends report cites that spending time with family and friends is a top motivator for Baby Boomers who travel. Want to travel on a budget? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Travel during the time between peak-season and off-season (also known as the shoulder season) to get discounts and beat the crowds.
  • Research public transportation when visiting a big city to save on rental car costs.
  • Look into inexpensive lodging options if you’re splurging on international travel to extend your stay as long as you can to make your airfare dollars stretch. 2^U.S. News & World Report, "15 Ways to Travel in Retirement on a Fixed Budget," 2017 

Start a Business

Have you always had dreams of starting your own business and being your own boss? If so, add that to your retirement bucket list! First, research business ideas you can start with little or no capital. LinkedIn, the professional networking website, is a great source to spark your entrepreneurial spirit. Some examples of low-capital businesses include dog walking, real estate staging, consulting, landscaping or event planning. 3^LinkedIn, “Top 40 Small Business You Can Start with Little or No Capital,” 2015. Once you have your business idea, you will need to create a business plan. Some tips for writing a successful business plan include: 

  • Create a vision
  • Research the market thoroughly
  • Know your audience

Worried that starting a business later in life isn’t feasible? Many entrepreneurs don’t even think about launching a business until they are older and have been in the workforce for a number of years. For example, Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, sold paper cups and milkshake mixers until he was 52. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, sold books and home goods door-to-door until she was 45. At 31, J.K. Rowling was a single mom on welfare, and now she is the widely known author of “Harry Potter” series. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until age 65, and the list goes on. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.


Volunteering is good for the soul and a great way to give back to your community after you retire. Whether you’re passionate about animals, children with special needs, homelessness or want to pursue mission trips through your church, there are countless volunteer opportunities available throughout the country and around the world. Get involved by exploring charitable organizations, such as United Way, Make a Wish America, Peace Corps or other local volunteer or nonprofit organizations in your community.   

Enjoy Time with Grandchildren

Spending time with grandchildren and watching them grow up is a special gift—for both of you. They will cherish memories they have with you for the rest of their lives. Organize schedules and school vacations so you can visit them or they can take a trip to see you. Maybe even plan a special vacation for a large group of family members or just take the grandkids. Make sure to plan ahead to help ensure that you have made all the necessary preparations for making happy memories. 

Learn Something New

Have you always wanted to learn something new but never had the time? The retirement bucket list ideas are endless when it comes to learning. This fresh chapter is a great opportunity to finally learn a different language, take a cooking class, play an instrument or become an expert on wine. Check out a local college for class ideas, learn a new language on your own or through resources like Rosetta Stone or take workshops at a local winery or restaurant to expand your knowledge on the finer things in life.    

Tips to make your retirement bucket list a reality:

  • Determine your lifestyle – setting expectations for your overall lifestyle can help you create a budget and save for the things that matter most to you in retirement.
  • Financial planning – having a plan to cover living expenses and health care costs will be important to determine what discretionary funds you have for your bucket list. Look for retirement income options that provide principal protection for your nest egg.
  • Create a budget for your retirement – living within a budget and factoring in your bucket list plans can help ensure you’re not overspending and not stressing about finances in retirement.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Early planning is key for saving money and achieving your retirement goalsTalk to your financial professional to start planning your bucket list today.



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