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The World’s Top Bucket-List Destination

Our Select Traveler readers are well traveled, so if I asked you as a travel planner what you think the world’s top bucket-list travel destination is, what would you answer? Would you guess Italy or the Holy Land or, maybe, a Polynesian paradise like Tahiti?

The correct answer, by a margin of almost two to one, is the United States. According to travel research authored by the firm Destination Analysts using a worldwide sampling of more than 11,000 active travelers, the United States is identified by 33.5% of all global travelers as among their top bucket-list destinations. Mentions for Spain, France and Italy all follow, with percentages of 17.8, 17.1 and 15.2, respectively.

I think that is cool. What that says to me is that one in every three international travelers from countries or markets as wide-ranging as Brazil, Japan and the United Kingdom are choosing America for their bucket list trips. Many of them have already been here and plan to return.

Just like when we traveled to Europe for the first time, most take their first trip here to the best-known places. As we might have done London, Paris or Rome on our first trip, these travelers usually start with New York or California or Disney World in Florida. But, also like us, once they do that first trip, they begin thinking about a return trip where they want to get beyond gateways to explore areas like the South or the Grand Canyon or even the great expanse of Route 66.

The world is very big, but it’s also very small. When you take your group overseas this year to Peru or Portugal, remember another group much like yours is coming here from China or Australia to do a bucket list trip of their own. They’re finding their way to the honky-tonks of Nashville or to the barren beauty of the Badlands.