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Two women smiling at each other, standing under the red torii gate arches at Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Eight Travel Bucket List Ideas to Book ASAP

In honor of March Madness and The NCAA’s Elite 8, we made our own lineup of 8 bucket list trips that are in fact—also elite.

Kiana Cook
March 29, 2024

B-ball fans wait for this moment all season. In March, some place bets on brackets, others—like, you and me—place deposits on top-tier trips. We may be biased, but when it comes to travel, you can’t lose. So, if you’re looking to shoot your shot on a trip abroad, but need a little assist, you’ve come to the right place. Phew, got the basketball stuff out of the way—now, let’s talk travel.

Two girls holding hands, jumping mid air under a tall, red, torii gate on the waters of Lake Hakone, in Hakone, Japan.


If you’re team Japan, you’re in for the best culture shock of your life. From Tokyo to Kyoto and beyond you can expect your days to be packed visiting shrines, hopping on the bullet train, soaking in onsens, and eating your body weight in sushi. Oh, and don’t forget the sake—lot and lots of sake.

An establishing shot of Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Thailand with a vibrant orange glow during sunset.

An up-and-coming all-star, Thailand is the ultimate island paradise right now. We can just picture it, you’re sipping coconuts as you wander the floating markets, biking the streets of Bangkok and walking along ancient Buddhist temples. Oh, and did we mention there’s elephants involved?

Establishing shot on a sunny day of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany.

There’s a million reasons to go all in on Germany. It’s home to the lederhosen and a hot spot for scenic bike rides, Cinderella-esque castles, and all the brauts you could ever crave. Extra points for their pints. Prost!

A close up shot of a dinner table with a plate of lasagna, seafood pasta, an aperol spritz and a glass of white wine.

It’s a fan fave for a reason. A perfect blend of history, charm and romantic cobblestone streets. Imagine strolling through the piazza, coasting the canal in a gondola, and then ending the night with an Aperol spritz—or three.

A man standing on a red dirt trail looking out at a view of mountains and valleys

If you’re a fan of Gatorade-blue waters and historically significant, crazy-old structures then welcome to the birthplace of democracy and the original Olympics. Grab a gyro and go have your own Mamma Mia moment.

A man standing on a red dirt trail looking out at a view of mountains and valleys
Costa Rica

Definitely a first-round pick if you wanna get that adrenaline pumping. From the moment you step off the plane, you’ll hit the ground running—or shall we say, hiking, rafting and ziplining? These waterfalls and rainforests look straight out of a movie!

Establishing shot of Golden Horn Beach in Croatia on a bright, sunny day with crystal-clear, blue waters.

If there was a trophy for most diverse out of this lineup, Croatia’s got it in the bag. With Spanish-inspired architecture, to Eastern European dialects, and Mediterranean cuisine, this is the place to be. One minute you’re in a 20th century fairytale, the next you’re diving headfirst into the Adriatic Sea.

A woman in the foreground looking out over a balcony into the far right distance with Spain's La Sagrada Familia in the background

The absolute MVP for mixing old with new like sangria mixes booze with fruit. Critique famous artworks from Picasso and Dalí as you explore popular cities like Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona. Do it all after your tapas and siesta of course.

This is just the starting lineup of amazing countries you should have on your bucket list. There’s also Vietnam, Switzerland, South Korea—you get it. No matter what, you can’t go wrong with any of these because with travel, anywhere you go is a win. Sports!

About the Author

Kiana is a San Diego-born creative working at EF Ultimate Break. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in advertising, Kiana lived in Japan for 2 years where she explored her passion for traveling, writing, and learning her culture. While there, she studied the language, interviewed local artisans, traveled to neighboring islands, and even summitted Mt. Fuji three times. To this day, she still forgets which side of the street to drive on.

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