january bucket list, January Bucket List

January Bucket List

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Welcome, fellow wanderers, to a new year brimming with promise and ripe for adventure! January, in all its frost-kissed glory, brings with it a fresh start. This is the perfect opportunity to craft a thrilling travel bucket list. 

Here, we’ll explore an array of enchanting destinations that are at their best in January. Also, we will highlight some not-to-be-missed experiences that are sure to be the first entries on your 2024 travel bucket list.

Go on a Ski or Snowboard Trip

First on our January bucket list is an adrenaline-fueled ski or snowboard trip. Imagine waking up to a pristine white landscape, the morning sun glinting off the freshly fallen snow. You pull on your gear, strap on your skis or board, and head out to the mountain’s edge. 

Whether you’re carving your first tracks or a seasoned pro, there’s no experience quite like a ski or snowboard trip in January.

Since I am a Colorado local, this is something that is very close to my heart. This is one of my favorite activities in January!

Below are my favorite mountains in Colorado:

  • Keystone
  • Breckenridge
  • Vail
  • Copper
january bucket list, January Bucket List
My best friend and I ready to hit the slopes in Colorado.

Find Cheap Prices on a Cruise

Next on our January bucket list is finding unbeatable deals on luxurious cruises. January is traditionally seen as a “off-season” in the cruise industry. This means that it’s a fantastic time to snag some great prices. 

Where are the best places to cruise in January?

You can set sail to some snowy European destinations, bask in the Caribbean’s or Asia’s warm winter sun, or explore the cultural richness of the Mediterranean. Keep reading for the Antarctica treasures later! 

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of indulging in the luxury of a cruise ship, with its delectable dining options, world-class entertainment, and stunning sea views, January could be your perfect opportunity. 

Remember, a little research and flexibility with your dates can lead to significant savings—happy cruising!

january bucket list, January Bucket List
The Bucket List Mermaid going on a cruise.

See Penguin Chicks in Antarctica

January is the perfect time to tick off a visit to the pristine wilderness of Antarctica on your bucket list. 

As the Antarctic summer hits its stride, January offers milder temperatures, making it ideal for exploration. This is peak season and you can expect 20 hours of sunlight a day!

Since it is warmer, there is a greater chance to see caving glaciers. You can also participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking and hiking.

But the real highlight of a January visit is the opportunity to witness colonies of penguins caring for their newly hatched chicks. You might even spot the emperor and Adélie penguins, where Antarctica is their only habitat. 

It’s a heartwarming sight as you watch the diligent parents nurturing their young ones, teaching them to navigate the icy terrain, and protecting them from predators. 

This precious experience of nature’s cycle of life is made even more jaw-dropping against the dramatic backdrop of Antarctica’s icy, stark beauty.

Find Some Magic in the Theme Parks in Florida

Growing up, my family loved to visit Florida for its theme parks. We would always choose January due to its lower temperatures and fewer crowds. Less crowds equals shorter lines and lower temperatures mean less sweating and wanting to die in those lines. 

First on our list is the timeless classic, Walt Disney World, where the warmth of the January sun complements the enchantment of Cinderella’s Castle, thrill-packed rides, and beloved characters. There are even several Disney Parks to choose from.

Keep in mind that from January 3-7th 2024, there is a marathon. So I would avoid this time unless you are participating. And if that’s you—more power to you! 

Not far from there, you’ll find the spellbinding world of Universal Studios. This is home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter among other exciting attractions. 

Want to know which rides are the best? I rode them all so you would know which ones need to go on the bucket list! Check out the full ride guide for Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios!

If you’re an animal lover, be sure not to miss SeaWorld. This is where aquatic shows and marine life exhibits meet adrenaline-fuelled rollercoasters. This is home to my favorite roller coaster: the Manta. 

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Visiting Disneyworld in Florida in the beginning of January to avoid crowds.

Visit the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

Next up on our January bucket list is the mesmerizing Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in China. This whimsical winter wonderland kicks off in early January and offers a spectacle like no other. 

This isn’t some lame array of sculptures. It is an entire cityscape crafted entirely from snow and ice, illuminated in a kaleidoscope of colors.

And the ice sculptures are not the only things that will amaze you! They also have winter sports, dog-sledding, snowball fights, winter swimming, cultural stays, and more incredible winter activities. Translation: you will not be bored checking this off of your bucket list!

This incredibly unique festival transcends the ordinary, transforming the frosty January weather into a canvas for spellbinding artistry. It’s an experience that captures the essence of winter’s beauty and the spirit of adventure.

Go Hunting for the Northern Lights

Our next adventure takes us on a hunt for the ethereal and illusive Northern Lights. This is a spectacle that should undoubtedly earn a spot on your bucket list. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, these shimmering waves of color light up the winter night sky in a dance that’s as mystical as it is mesmerizing. 

This means that January is the perfect situation to give you extended hours of darkness and often clear, crisp nights.

Where to Go to See the Northern Lights

Your hunt could take you to the remote reaches of Tromsø, Norway, where the aurora borealis turns the polar night into a magical light show. 

Or perhaps you’ll find yourself in Kiruna, Sweden‘s northernmost town in Lapland. Here, you can combine your aurora hunting with a visit to the world-famous Icehotel 11 miles away in Jukkasjärvi.

Don’t overlook Iceland’s Reykjavik or Canada’s Yukon Territory, where the lights are noticeable as early as August.

So don your warmest attire, gear up your camera, and let the Northern Lights illuminate your January with a glow that’s nothing short of magical!

Below I will link northern lights hunting tours in the most popular locations. If you are very set on seeing the lights, going with a guide will increase your chances drastically.

Feel the Cooler Temperatures in Northern India

As we continue our January travel bucket list, we venture into the vibrant and captivating region of Northern India

Take this from my personal experience. I went to India in July and constantly felt like I was in a convention oven. I would shower and be sweaty again within the hour. Cold water literally made me cry. Although it was still one of my most incredible trips, I wish somebody would have told me to come in January instead. Plus, you also avoid the monsoons.

This weather makes it easier to visit iconic sites like the Taj Mahal in Agra, the grand palaces of Jaipur, or the spiritual epicenter of Varanasi without the excessive sweat! 

The Himalayan region is also particularly stunning in January. The snow-capped peaks are a sight to behold and offer thrilling experiences like snowboarding and skiing.

Furthermore, the winter season brings with it an array of festivals such as Lohri and Makar Sankranti. This provides an immersive way to experience the local culture, music, and cuisine.

Indeed, January’s quieter ambiance and pleasant temperatures make it an excellent time to explore Northern India, making it a must-add to your travel bucket list!

When I went to India, I went on the tour below with G Adventures. I thought it was the perfect taster into India and loved going into Nepal after.

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Posing in front of the Taj Mahal in India.

Vacation to Zermatt, Switzerland

Add a thrilling Swiss adventure to your January bucket list with a vacation to Zermatt, Switzerland. 

Nestled at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a winter wonderland that promises an unforgettable journey. January blankets the town in a thick layer of snow, transforming it into a skier’s paradise. 

If you prefer a calmer pace, try your hand at cross-country skiing or take a relaxing snowshoe hike through the silent, snow-laden forests. 

The fun in Zermatt isn’t limited to the skiers and snowboarders. Ice skating and curling are popular activities, and what could be better than a moonlit ride on a horse-drawn sleigh? 

For an extra special experience, take the cable car up to the highest cable car station in EuropeThe Klein Matterhorn. The Alpine panorama will leave you breathless!

Zermatt also offers a vibrant après-ski scene, with cozy mountain huts and high-end restaurants serving delicious Swiss cuisine.

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Jumping for joy in the Swiss Alps.

Participate in Various Outdoor Activities in Patagonia

Rounding out our January bucket list is the epic outdoor paradise of Patagonia. This expansive region, straddling the border of Argentina and Chile, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a wealth of exhilarating activities to kickstart your year. 

Take a trek through the jagged peaks of Torres del Paine National Park. You will find azure lakes, massive glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife await. 

Or perhaps you’ll opt for a climb up for a view of Mount Fitz Roy in El Calafate. This is a challenge that rewards with stunning panoramic views of jagged mountains.

For water lovers, kayaking along the Serrano River offers a unique perspective on the region’s icy glaciers and craggy mountains.

You could also opt in for some glacier hiking on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.

And let’s not forget the thrill of white-water rafting in the Futaleufú River. This river is recognized worldwide for its challenging rapids and clear, azure waters. 

Patagonia’s beautiful coastline also offers opportunities for wildlife spotting. In the Valdes Peninsula, you could encounter sea lions, Magellanic penguins, and even dolphins. 

This is peak season, so you might have to book early to avoid disappointment.

Skip the Snow and Lay on a Beach in the Bahamas

For those who prefer sun and sand over snow and ice, the Bahamas is the perfect January getaway and a worthy addition to your travel bucket list. 

Swap your winter boots for flip-flops and head to this tropical paradise where the weather is warm, the beaches are stunning, and the waters are crystal clear. 

This makes it perfect for lounging on the pristine sandy beaches, snorkeling among the vibrant coral reefs, or sipping a refreshing cocktail as you watch the sunset over the ocean. 

Disclaimer: this might be too cold for some to swim in and the nights may be crisp. However, I loved it during this time because it was cheaper, less crowded, and not scorching hot. 

The Bahamas is also home to several luxury resorts where you can indulge in spa treatments, gourmet dining, and water sports. 

My personal bucket list recommendation is Atlantis. You will thank me later when indulging in this ocean paradise…just don’t forget to ride the slide that takes you through a shark tank!

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Enjoying the pristine beaches of the Bahamas in the middle of January.

Check out the Perfect Weather in Thailand

Welcome the new year with an unforgettable journey to the tropical paradise of Thailand. With its perfect blend of rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant nightlife, Thailand is a great addition to your January travel bucket list. 

Below are some of my favorite destinations in Thailand:

  • Chiang Mai
  • Phuket
  • Koh Pha Ngan
  • Krabi
  • Koh Samui
  • Phi Phi

Whichever part of Thailand you decide to explore, you’re guaranteed a memorable experience that you’ll remember long after January ends. Adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion await you in Thailand – a perfect bucket list destination to start your new year!

You can go by yourself, but I would highly recommend doing an organized tour if that appeals to you.

Thailand can be hard to navigate and having someone tell you where to go is well worth the money! I am a fan of G Adventures and Tru Travels as I have taken several of their tours. I chose to do the Island Hopper and it was a perfect Thailand experience. You can check them out below:

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Volunteering at an elephant rehabilitation center in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Experience Calving Season in Tanzania

Venture into the wild and experience the thrill of a lifetime with an African safari in Tanzania!

January is the beginning of the “green season” in Tanzania. This means that it is warm and still good for wildlife viewing.

If you are looking for wildebeests, you will want to head the southern Serengeti to see the spectacle! Because it is calving season, this means that up to 8,000 babies can be born per day! This also draws in predators, meaning you might get a front seat to the “circle of life”.

When I did my safari in Tanzania, it was one of the best trips I have ever taken! I recommend it to any traveler who has it on their bucket list! The exact tour I took is linked below for you to check out!

This is also prime time if you want to trek on Mt. Kilimanjaro with clear skies and light cloud cover. 

This unforgettable encounter with nature and wildlife is a must-have experience on your January bucket list. Adventure, wonder, and awe-inspiring beauty await you in Tanzania, making it a must-do for any avid traveler!

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Spotting a male lion on an African Safari in Tanzania.

Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

Begin the new year with a thrilling hike at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand. Often hailed as the best one-day hike in New Zealand, this trail is a hiker’s dream. It has stunning alpine scenery that includes emerald lakes, ancient lava flows, and active craters. 

With longer daylight hours and the most stable weather conditions, this gives you ample time to savor the magnificent vistas and to explore the rich geological and cultural history of the region. 

I will admit that when I went hiking this crossing, I did so in winter (see the picture below). It was one of the greatest hikes I have ever done, but I needed extra gear and safety briefings. I would still recommend this to my more experienced hikers and seasoned adventurers.

If you are not comfortable hiking in the snow and ice, January would be your time to go since it is free from snow and ice. This makes it safer and more accessible for less experienced hikers or explorers who do not want to go with a company. 

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Hiking Tongario Alpine Crossing during winter, but in January it will be less snowy.

Go on a Reindeer Sleigh Ride in Lapland

Experience the magic of winter at its peak by going on a reindeer sleigh ride in Lapland. Lapland is a region within the Arctic Circle in northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway. This offers a truly unique winter wonderland, characterized by its snow-laden forests, frozen lakes, and the miraculous Northern Lights. 

January is a prime time to visit, as the region is transformed into a captivating snowy landscape, providing ideal conditions for a reindeer sleigh ride. 

Finish your day in a cozy log cabin, sipping warm berry juice by the fire. If you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the enchanting Northern Lights dancing in the sky. 

Circle Southeast Asia

January is a fantastic time to embark on a journey through Southeast Asia, making it a worthy addition to your travel bucket list. 

On a Southeast Asia tour, you will most likely visit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

I spent a whopping 42 days in Southeast Asia when I visited, and 31 of those days was on an incredible tour! I still talk to the people I went on the tour with and we were like family by the end! Dragons forever!

The region is blessed with a tropical climate, and in January, these countries experience dry, sunny weather, making it perfect for outdoor explorations. 

Whether it’s cruising through the serene waters of Halong Bay, visiting the world-renowned Angkor Wat, or exploring the ancient town of Luang Prabang, the pleasant temperature enhances the experience!

Asia’s vibrant cultures, mouth-watering cuisines, lush landscapes, and rich heritage are at their best in January, promising an unforgettable journey around this captivating corner of the world.

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Exploring temples in Cambodia on my Southeast Asia tour!

Enjoy Summer in Sydney

January is the perfect time to add Sydney, Australia to your travel bucket list, with long sunny days and balmy temperatures. With average highs of 26 degrees Celsius, it’s the height of summer, and the city is alive with a vibrant atmosphere. It is one of the hottest months of the year!

The weather also allows for a comfortable climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city. 

Australia Day happens at the end of the month, a nationwide celebration filled with community events, concerts, and fireworks that inject a distinct festive spirit into the city. 

The annual Sydney Festival also takes place throughout January, offering a rich program of events featuring various fields such as music, theatre, dance, visual arts, and more. 

For nature lovers, the summer season is ideal for exploring the nearby Blue Mountains National Park. The park’s bushwalking trails are open and allow you to witness the rich biodiversity of the region and the stunning Three Sisters rock formation.

Not to mention, the Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis events, takes place in January, drawing tennis enthusiasts from all over the world. 

Or if you are extra luxurious and seeing the city on foot isn’t enough for your bucket list, you could always see the city by helicopter!

So, brace yourself for an incredible summer adventure Down Under. It’s time to tick Sydney off your travel bucket list!

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Enjoying a view of the Sydney Opera House from the bridge.

Take Advantage of Costa Rica’s Dry Season

January marks the onset of Costa Rica’s dry season, making it a fantastic time to add this Central American gem to your travel bucket list. 

This period, also known as ‘verano’ or summer, sees less rainfall and offers ample sunshine, resulting in beautiful, clear blue skies and a lush, green landscape. 

You can set off on a canopy tour in Monteverde, catch a glimpse of the elusive quetzal bird, or simply relax on the golden sands of Manuel Antonio Beach. 

For adventure seekers, the dry conditions are perfect for white water rafting on the Pacuare River or hiking the trails in Corcovado National Park. 

So, this January, take advantage of Costa Rica’s dry season and embark on a tropical adventure like no other!

january bucket list, January Bucket List
Galloping on the beaches of Costa Rica.

Go Hiking in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park, known for its stark desert landscapes and extreme summer temperatures, transforms into an adventurer’s playground in January.

This month makes for perfect conditions to explore this natural wonder, hence it earns a spot on your January travel bucket list.

In fact, it is not recommended and even dangerous to hike at the lower elevations during the summer months. 

There’s a plethora of trails to choose from, each offering its unique perspective of the park’s diverse landscape. You can traverse the salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.

Not good enough? Try marveling at the colorful rock formations of Artist’s Palette or hike up to Zabriskie Point (Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop) for a breathtaking view of the Golden badlands. 

The milder weather also encourages wildlife to emerge, increasing the likelihood of spotting some of the park’s resident creatures like the Bighorn Sheep, Coyotes, or Roadrunners. 

Not to mention, the cooler temperatures allow for pleasant nights ideal for stargazing. With its minimal light pollution, Death Valley is a certified Dark Sky Park, making it a heavenly venue for astronomy enthusiasts to gaze at the stars.

It truly is a winter hiking destination that should not be missed! You just miss out on the…you know…death part. 

Go Explore Dubai

January is the perfect time to add Dubai to your travel bucket list. This month falls within the city’s winter season where the temperatures are comfortably cool, averaging around 75° F during the day. This weather provides the perfect break from the desert city’s usual blistering heat, making it the ideal month for outdoor explorations. 

While in Dubai, there are countless activities to indulge in. Ascend the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, to the observation deck on the 125th and 148th floor for a panoramic view of this magnificent city. 

Explore the Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping malls, which not only offers a premium shopping experience but is also home to an indoor aquarium, an ice rink, and a virtual reality park. 

Don’t miss out on the traditional side of Dubai. Wander through the Al Fahidi Historic District, take a traditional Abra boat ride across Dubai Creek, or engage in some gold and spice shopping at the city’s traditional souks. 

For adventure enthusiasts, a desert safari is a must-do. This thrilling experience includes dune bashing, sandboarding, camel rides, and a traditional Emirati dinner under the stars. 

Also, January coincides with the Dubai Shopping Festival, a month-long event known for huge discounts, citywide sales, spectacular shows, and grand raffle draws. 

So, this January, consider a trip to Dubai for an unmatched blend of luxury, tradition, and adventure. From its awe-inspiring architecture to its vibrant culture, exploring Dubai in January is a decision you won’t regret!

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