Bucket lists: If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Bucket list trips aren't just for dreamers. With a bit of planning, and luck, they can be a reality too.
January 2016 has been a super-busy month for travel bookings.
Sales are up as much as 50pc for some agents, and many are seeing a demand for upmarket holidays, too. lowcostholidays.ie, for example, says almost 40pc of its sales are for four or five-star properties (a tip - quote VIP50 to get €50 off its prices).
Though the purse strings are loosening, however, we've still got a nose for value. All-inclusive resorts are selling well, cruise and expedition enquiries are up, and Falcon and Thomson have introduced direct flights to Jamaica and Mexico (on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, no less) - where all-inclusive resorts are competitively priced.
We like our luxuries, but we learned lessons in the recession too.
Given the trends, and the woeful weather, we thought this the ideal time to compile our Ultimate Bucket List.
Finalising a Top 30 was no mean feat - Kilimanjaro, the Rocky Mountaineer train and surfing Indonesia's Mentawai Islands were just some of those that missed the cut. But we got there. I think the list is a cracker.
The world is big, and savings are small, but there are ways and means of ticking off these trips. One of the best is a honeymoon - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you should book at least 6-8 months ahead for the best deals.
Check out our tips, and let us know what you think!
Our Readers' Bucket List Tips
Our readers dream in widescreen when it comes to travel. When we asked for bucket list suggestions on Facebook, replies ranged from the Galapagos Islands to the Great Barrier Reef, from Mostar to Machu Picchu. Here are our top three picks.
Máire Ní Chonghaile, Galway: "Patagonia (pictured) - a journey to the end of the world. I also visited Iceland, and it's a magical place with all its natural beauty."
Martin Flemming: "Norway/Sweden for the northern lights! Asia for the food! Jamaica for the weather... and the rum!"
Áine Geoghegan, Abu Dhabi: "Swimming between two continents in Iceland. You can dive or snorkel in the glacial water which fills the rift between the North American and Asian continental plates. At a reasonable cost too! I just came back a few weeks ago - it's an out-of-this-world experience."
Like Independent Travel (facebook.com/IndoTravel.ie) for more!
Deals of the week...
Zighy Bay, Oman
Oman's five-star, Six Senses Zighy Bay resort overlooks a captivating ocean, and Trailfinders has return flights plus seven nights' half-board from €2,199pp including private transfers (not to mention a villa with private pool). Book by February 2 for a May/June departure. trailfinders.ie
Topflight is adding Lanzarote to its 2016 summer programme, combining premium properties with resort transfers and Aer Lingus flights. Lead-in offers include seven nights at the five-star Princess Yaiza in Playa Blanca from €929pp in May. The programme starts from March 19. topflight.ie
Transatlantic cruises can cost thousands - but they don't have to. clickandgo.com has a seven-night crossing from Southampton to New York from €1,379pp, including flights, meals, entertainment and one night pre- or post-cruise in the Big Apple. The price is based on an interior cabin on Cunard's Queen Mary 2. Call (01) 539-7777 to book.