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patricia schultzEleven years ago, a book called “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” became a runaway bestseller, inspiring millions of travelers to create their own must-visit lists. With the 1,200-page tome now in its second edition, we sat down with the author, Patricia Schultz, to talk about the difficulty of narrowing the world down to 1,000 places and to find out what’s still on her own bucket list.

IndependentTraveler.com: Have you visited every place in the book?
Patricia Schultz: No, I haven’t. If I was part of a typical travel guide team — let’s say Lonely Planet or Fodor’s — the answer would likely be different. But these “1,000 Places” books are written in the voice of one traveler … and there are only so many hours in my years!

IT: Were there any destinations or experiences you wanted to include but couldn’t? Why did you leave them out?
PS: With the “1,000 Places” revision (released in late 2011), I attempted to keep all my favorites from the original 2003 book while adding hundreds of new places I had discovered since then. That meant a complete reorganization, merging many places into a single entry at times to accommodate new information and destinations — 28 new countries! All while keeping the count at 1,000. But it’s laughable, really, to think that one could ever sit back and feel that no stone went unturned! That’s what keeps every traveler going. The intoxicating promise of something new and wonderful around the bend.

IT: How long would it realistically take to see everything in the book? (And how much money?)
PS: I’m afraid there is no easy answer for that. The book was not meant to be followed from cover to cover. I hope travelers discerningly pick and choose from this list of my favorites to add to their own wish lists. Does everyone want to see the fjords of Norway? The wine region of Chile? What if it is great art that inspires you — would you spend your time and money on an African safari? Time is short, [and] one needs to follow one’s own interests. What are the things and places that call you? Travel is a very personal thing.

Bucket List Travel Guide

IT: Some travelers may feel intimidated by the size of the book (or the size of the world!). Do you have any advice to help people feel inspired instead of overwhelmed?
PS: Most of us have “short lists.” Was there a film or book that inspired you? Has your family’s ancestry always fascinated you? Is ancient history your thing? Food? It is useless if you choose a destination simply because a friend has talked you into it or because you found a cheap flight. Follow your heart. Me? I wanted to go everywhere! So it was all good.

IT: The book has spawned a genre of sorts in travel — I can’t count how many lists I’ve seen of “places to visit before you’re 30” or “destinations to take your family before your kids grow up.” Did you have any sense of how influential the book would be when you were writing it?
PS: No! I just kept writing away, trying to make sense of this vast and magnificent world and its wonders large and small. My eye was on the book deadline (I was given one year to write it but in fact it took eight), not future sales. I wanted to do the job as best I could, and hoped that I would sell enough copies to make my publisher happy and to pay off my credit card debt. I fulfilled both those goals! We have over 25 translations around the world, and it spawned a sister title, “1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada Before You Die.”

IT: What’s still on your own bucket list?
PS: There are many countries I have not yet visited … Fiji, Romania, Uganda, among others. And although I have visited massive countries like China, Russia and India, I don’t pretend to know them well. Then there are those perennial loves I could return to time and again — Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Rio. I could go on. My bucket list has a bucket list!

How to Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Want to win your own copy of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”? Leave a comment below and tell us what’s at the top of your own travel wish list! Leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. ET on July 27, 2014. We’ll pick one winner at random. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. Congratulations to Jeanette A., who has won the book! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.

Check out more travel interviews!

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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35 Responses to “1,000 Places to See Before You Die? Don’t Take It Literally, Author Says”

  1. Dorinda says:

    Galapagos Islands

  2. Oswald Perez says:

    The top of my wish list for now is to finish traveling through Europe. I started in October 2012 with Paris and London. I want to visit as many cities as possible between Reykjavik and Moscow. This time I would start in Amsterdam as that was the third leg of the trip, until it was found out it couldn’t be done given our airline’s flight schedule. In time, I will set foot back in South America and then visit Africa, Asia and Australia.

  3. Kate says:

    Thailand and Vietnam are at the top of my list!
    I have travelled extensively in Europe and a little
    In North Africa. I long to see Asia!

  4. Mike says:

    Iceland. Someday.

  5. Steve says:

    Antarctica for me. Sea-kayaking between icebergs. Seeing (and smelling) vast penguin colonies. Being approached by seals and other creatures that are unafraid of humans. The vast open spaces. The untainted night sky. The magnificent sounds of the natural world.

  6. Sher says:

    The TOP of my travel wish list?! It is difficult to pick a number one, but maybe Belize to dive the barrier reef there, float the rivers, see the canopy, sail and enjoy the country.

  7. Nancy says:

    London and all the surrounding English countryside that has provided the backdrop for so many of my favorite authors like Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. I have traveled quite a bit, but even blogged about the fact that I haven’t really seen London outside of the airport!

  8. Valerie says:

    New Zealand!

  9. Tayla Peti says:

    The top of my wishlist would be to travel to Paris. It has been my dream since I was a kid to travel to Paris. I always wanted to go to the Eifel Tower and have a bread stick sword fight with my bestfriend.

  10. Thomas Loven says:

    The fairy tale city of Bruges, Belgium is my happy place when I need to mentally escape the monotony of everyday life. :)

  11. jaqy says:

    I would like to explore all the countries that touch the Adriatic Sea and trek & train all over Australia!

  12. Trish says:

    Would love to visit our exchange student in Argentina!

  13. Max says:


    Dilemma of my life, I want to visit many places now but my friends are not ready as they do not want to spare much time and money, and later there will be family responsibilities. Its very difficult to find correct company at correct time :D

    • Jason P says:

      Max- if your heart is telling you to go somewhere, GO! Go “with” yourself. Life is too short to have regrets. That first trip alone is the most challenging, and then it gets easier and easier, and eventually invigorating to travel alone. Just GO!

  14. Johnny J. says:

    Well, at the VERY TOP of my travel wish list is:

    See planet Earth from Orbit!

    But if I have to keep it realistic and within economic reach, I will have to change that to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Petra in Jordan.

  15. Carol says:

    I am going to North Western Germany to see my grandmother and grandfather’s homes, school, and church. I will also visit the graveyards where their families are buried. I wanted to find my family so I Facebook messaged everyone on the town’s page. The deli/butcher got back in touch with me, and the cafe owner knew my cousin. He sent me a family tree and I am going to visit them, the North Sea, Berlin and maybe Bavaria September 2015.

  16. Payton says:

    I plan on returning to my dream city of Kyoto, Japan. There is just so much to see! With its mixture between modern and ancient Japan, it’s easy to get lost in their beautiful culture and architecture.

    I also would love to hitch-hike/ride around the entire island of Iceland and see the wonders that are there. The fjords of Norway, and all of New Zealand too.

  17. Jason P says:

    I would love to go to an exotic island like Bali or the Maldives. I want that feeling of being a million miles away from anything.

  18. Jen says:

    Bolivia – specifically the salt flats where heaven and earth merge!

  19. Dave says:


  20. Betty says:

    As an avid traveler, I still want to visit Easter Island, Libya, and other (as my family says) wicki-wacky places. have always enjoyed off the beaten track (not inundated by tourists) countries and places…..

  21. Christy says:

    Tiptop on my bucket list, a return visit to Antarctica. I’ve already been on the peninsula, but whoa, I have a serious case of the Polar Virus!

    BTW, love the line by Patricia Schultz “My bucket list has a bucket list”!!!

  22. Therese says:

    At the very top of my list is a tie for the exotic and mysterious lands of India and Indonesia as well as the relaxing and romantic exploration of any islands in the South Pacific.

  23. Karen says:

    I would love to take a Mediterranean cruise, namely to visit Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Dreams…. You gotta love em!!!!

  24. Mike says:

    Machu Pichu and Cappadocia. These two are high on my bucket list.

  25. Joy says:

    I want to see several places in Greece, but at the top of that list is Santorini!!

  26. Wayne Johnson says:

    Angor Wat and Machu Pichu.

  27. shelly says:

    I have traveled to many places, near and far, but still dream about traveling to Machu Pichu. That is now at the top of my bucket list.

  28. Jeanette A. says:

    I would spend my days travelling the world if I had the money to do so. Current bucket list trip is to explore New Zealand!

  29. Josie says:

    A Jewish Tour of Spain; would like to see the land my ancestors were exiled from.

  30. John D says:

    I like to visit Spain and trace my roots

  31. Meg Schneider says:

    I would love to go to Ahmedabad, India to visit a dear friend! He has been an amazing friend and it would be great to meet his family!


  32. Lesley says:


  33. Linda McMeekan says:


  34. Roque says:

    The list is OK and most of the places are worth to list. But if you asked me, the list contains way to overrated US places, which are not worth seeing at all. Especially the mentioned cities like Houston, Dallas, Philly, most places of Florida, golf courses etc. are simply uninteresting. Same way UK, too many places, which are nice but not special. There are so many places in Africa, Europe, Middle East which are much more interesting.
    Many nice choices in Asia, but again some places (Malaysia) are overrated.
    To my mind a list of the world should have a balanced choice from an independent point of view.

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