The holiday bucket list. Everyone's got one. And making sure you get every last destination and experience ticked off before kicking said bucket is undoubtedly (understatement alert) a challenge. But that's what your travel guardian angels are here for (hint: that's us) and we're going to let you in on a little secret... fail to prepare, prepare to fail. That Benjamin Franklin had a point, you know - organisation is the key to success. So at the risk of sounding like a nagging parent - get those diaries out and start planning, we won't tell you twice.
After much debate, a little argy bargy and very nearly fisticuffs at dawn, we've compiled five of our favourite do before you die experiences, so consider this your official guide to lifetime success: completing your holiday bucket list.
1. The Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is universally accepted as the bucket list experience to end all bucket list experiences. The best time to go is between December and March but should be booked at least six months in advance so if seeing the Northern Lights is on your holiday bucket list (it's right at the top of mine) then now is the perfect time to be booking for this winter. As nature's very own light show, if you aren't rendered utterly awe-struck by the rays of green, blue, yellow and even pink as they dance across the sky then, well, there's no hope for you. And whether you fancy staying in a luxury igloo in Finland, a treehouse in Swedish Lapland or a snow hotel in Northern Norway, we'll help you find the perfect hotel to be the cherry on top of your bucket list adventure.
2. Cherry Blossom in Japan
Japan's landscape is beautiful as it is but during the Spring when pink and white cherry blossom abounds, shrouding fields, mountains and parks across the country, it is truly like stepping into another world. It gets better (surely not?), the brand spanking new Aman Tokyo is already an Original Travel favourite. To see the cherry blossom you need to book at least a year in advance so while you may have missed the boat for 2016, it's never too early to start planning where the holiday bucket list is concerned! While the cherry blossom steals the headlines, I would argue Japan in its entirety is bucket list-worthy, from the food to the scenery to the seamless ability to blend ultra-advanced technology with traditional heritage.
3. Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda
Coming face to face with a band of gorillas in the forests of Rwanda is one of life's most memorable experiences; it is a huge privilege to see these majestic (and sadly endangered) beasties in the wild. Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans is home to 480 gorillas and visitors must trek through the jungle to spend just a precious hour amongst them, observing their behaviour and learning about the efforts that go into ensuring their survival. A truly magical experience and worth every bead of sweat you will doubtless lose during the trek. Permits to access the parks and reserves get snapped up quickly and take some time to process so you'll need to book at least six months in advance.
4. Timkat Festival, Ethiopia
Culture vultures, step this way and put a reminder in the diary to book this August (or right now!) because coming in at number one on the culture charts is the Festival of Timkat in Ethiopia. Taking place in January, It is a wonderfully vibrant, joyous festival typified by religious processions, music and dancing. Join an expert-led tour in January 2016 with our own Amelia of Simoon Travel fame to get under the skin of this magnificent event.
5. The Galapagos Archipelago
From blue footed boobies to giant tortoises, encountering the wildlife on the Galapagos archipelago is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Historic isolation means the animals have no fear of man so, unlike pretty much anywhere else on the planet, you can get up close and personal. The Galapagos is a year-round destination but the best luxury boats can book up quickly so to avoid disappointment it's worth booking a year in advance.