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5 Steps to an Epic Long Distance Relationship Bucket List

Lisa McKay | Updated: October 11, 2023

Creating a long distance relationship bucket list for couples to focus on their future is one of the best things they can do.

Why? Because it forces you to look at what you want to strive for and achieve, TOGETHER!

It sows seeds of hope, curiosity, and anticipation. While also helping you:

  • Focus and plan
  • Push or discipline yourself
  • Face fears or stretch towards joy, and
  • Remember that life is short

So, grab a blank piece of paper and let’s walk through my 5-step process to creating an awesome long distance bucket list.

how to create a long distance relationship bucket list for couples pinterest image

Step 1: Make a dream-list

When we brainstorm we take everything in our heads and we get it down on paper, right?

Take 10 to 15 minutes and daydream about all the things you’d like to do when you’re together.

Remove all limits. Don’t filter, second-guess yourself, or edit for feasibility. Just write them all down as fast as they come to you.

You could write down “do the grocery shopping together” followed by “go to a U2 concert” followed by “go see glaciers in Alaska”.

That’s fine.

This is a total brainstorming session, so let your mind wander and go wild. Think about everyday things you’re longing to do together, big life experiences you’d love to do together, and everything in between.

Step 2: Dig deeper

You’ll get a lot of cool stuff down on paper during those first ten minutes of “dreamstorming” but you shouldn’t stop there.

Your bucket list will be even more valuable if you spend some more time reflecting and thinking, so take 10 more minutes and answer these questions:

  1. If you knew you would die in one year, what would you make sure you experienced or accomplished in that time?
  2. What have you always wanted to do or experience but have not done yet?
  3. What do you really want to see in person (places you particularly want to go, performers you would love to see, etc?)
  4. What would you do with yourself if you had no constraints on your time and plenty of money?
  5. What would you really love to achieve or accomplish? After you write down the answers that first come to mind around this question, think specifically about:
    • Relationships (significant other, family, friends, community)
    • Health (fitness, sports)
    • Professional (career, work, & finances)
    • Personal development (personal improvement, education, spiritual)
    • Hobbies (creativity, entertainment, adventure)
    • Belongings (things you’d like to own)
    • Travel
    • Read/watch
    • Other experiences

Step 3: Make your long distance relationship bucket list

Now it’s time to make your official bucket list. Look at your initial brainstorming list and your answers to the questions in step 2.

Using these, select items to add to your long distance relationship bucket list.

Be a bit more selective as you do this. Before you write something down on your bucket list, ask yourself if this is something that really belongs there.

For example, I wrote down “see the Coliseum” on my brainstorming list. When I think about it, however, it’s not something I’m all that passionate about. I wouldn’t turn down a free ticket to Rome, sure, but I’m really much more interested in another item I wrote down on my brainstorming list: “Spend three weeks traveling through Italy exploring their food, wine, and gelato in small towns.” So in the end, I left Coliseum off my bucket list and wrote down the item related to three weeks of chasing pizza, pasta, ice cream, and wine through the countryside (YUM!).

It’s your bucket list, so you can do whatever you want here, but my advice is to be specific and a bit selective at this stage. Your bucket list is a working, living document, so you can always add stuff later (in fact, you should!). But start by focusing on the stuff that you really want to achieve or that makes you most excited. 

Step 4: Organize your bucket list

Now that you have a long distance bucket list full of things that you want to do or experience in life, it’s time to organize and prioritize. So:

  1. After you’ve made your bucket list, look it over. Then put a star beside your three most important.  These are the ones you really, really want to accomplish. If you could only pick three things to achieve from your bucket list, these would be the ones.
  2. Now look over your list again. Then put your items into one of three categories:
    • Easy to do
    • Some planning or money required
    • Significant planning or money required

Easy to do 

In this section, write down all the things that you could do pretty easily during a visit or after you close the distance.

Things like going the grocery shopping (if that was on your list), having a movie night together on the couch, cooking an elaborate meal together, getting nak… I mean… kissing.

These are the things you can do from your home base and that don’t cost a great deal of money.

Some planning or money required 

In this section, write down all the things you could conceivably do, but that need some planning, some travel, and some money to accomplish.

For example, if you live in South Carolina then “go to Charleston for the night and stay somewhere romantic for a night” might go into this category (whereas if you live in Australia and happened to have this item on your list, it would definitely belong in the third category).

Do you want to see big-name performers or a famous musical, visit another nearby city, go to a nearby amusement park, design a personal treasure hunt for your significant other, or eat at an expensive restaurant? Stuff like that probably goes here.

Significant money or planning required 

This is the section for those mega-dreams or mega-experiences. The sort of stuff that takes a lot of planning or money. The sort of things you would love to do but are not entirely sure you can even make happen.

Like what?

Well, seeing glaciers in Alaska (unless you are lucky enough to already live in Anchorage, that is). Riding a gondola in Italy. Taking a train through Russia. Buying a house together. Getting a puppy or having a baby (trust me, getting a puppy is a big commitment, and don’t get one if you’re planning on having a baby in the next year because despite what television advertisers would have us believe, puppies and babies do not generally mix well.) Moving overseas. Closing the distance.

If these categories don’t really work for you, make up new ones! The point here is to organize them in a way that will help you plan as you look forward to next month, next year, etc.

If this way of organizing your bucket list doesn’t work for you, figure out what does. The point is to figure out a way to take your whole long (maybe overwhelming) bucket list and organize it in ways that inspire and assist you in actually doing the things on the list. Then make sure you then transfer your action items into your daily planner, your calendar, your to-do list or however you keep track of whatever you need to do in life.

Step 5: Start planning!

Look at your organized list. Do you have items in all three categories?

Now think about the next time you’ll be together.

Start planning now to do some of the things on your “easy” list. And start thinking about whether you could manage something from one of the other two lists.

A Long Distance Relationship Bucket List Example:

Seeing other long distance couples’ bucket lists and how they’re organized can help this all come together better.

So, here’s how I might break it down. We currently live in Port Vila, Vanuatu, so I’ve got all the tropical island action I could want at the moment. Some of my other bucket list goals are:

My 3-month and 1-month lists related to these goals might look like this:

Things to do in the next three months:

This month:

It’s Time to Create Your Own Bucket List!

There you have it—a bucket list, and a plan for action.

Revisit this every three months to plan out new goals, tick things off, and add to your list. A good bucket list will continue to grow over time, just like you, and you can use it in so many different ways to help you understand yourself, prioritize, set goals, and shape the sort of life you want to be living.

Do you want double the fun?

Send this post to your significant other and ask them to do this exercise, too. After they’ve had a chance to do it, send each other 5 things you listed in each of the three categories, and answer these questions:

  1. Did anything surprise you about doing this exercise?
  2. Did anything on your partner’s list surprise you?
  3. What’s something simple in Category 1 that you really love doing?
  4. What’s something in Category 3 (significant time and money required) that you’re not sure you’ll ever get the chance to do?
  5. What is something on your list you didn’t send to each other?

Lisa McKay author image for bio
Lisa McKay is an award-winning author and psychologist. She is also the founder of Modern Love Long Distance, now a part of Lasting The Distance. Drawing upon her own extensive experience with long distance relationships, Lisa helps couples navigate LDR pitfalls and forge meaningful, enduring connections across the miles.
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