Andrew Zimmern: Shred Your Bucket List: Why ‘Must-Do’ Travel Plans Are Ruining Your Vacations

Seeing the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower before you die is a by-the-numbers concept that needs to be retired. Here, six ways to reawaken your true wanderlust.

CUMBERLAND, MD., is not what most people would call a bucket-list destination. Set on the banks of the Potomac River, it offers pleasant-enough diversions. A quaint, pedestrian-only strip of local businesses. A vintage steam engine that shuttles sightseers into the Allegheny Mountains.

But the Taj Mahal, this is not. Still, when I think ahead to when I’ll kick the proverbial bucket and the travel experiences I’ll remember most, it is a scorching summer afternoon in a mostly unremarkable town that rises to the surface—not the first time I glimpsed the magnificent mausoleum in Agra.

This memory has more to do with what I was doing than where I was. Cumberland marked the halfway point of a 350-mile solo bicycle journey from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., a slightly harebrained scheme I’d cooked up during pandemic isolation. As I rolled down the hill into town, I felt the rush of accomplishment, adventure and discovery I associate with my most rewarding travel experiences. When you have no expectations, reality has an easier time impressing you.

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