It's hard to look at BuzzFeed without being reminded of your mortality. The site spits out a seemingly never-ending bucket list of things we absolutely must do before we die: places to see, books to read, urinals to pee in. And as we all inch closer to our imminent deaths, BuzzFeed creates more and more of these articles, making it seemingly impossible to accomplish all of these things before we kick the can.
If you're as young and bored as I am, though, you might wonder: Could you pull it off? Could you actually check everything off the BuzzFeed bucket list, and if so, how long would it take? A little while ago, I set out to find out for myself. Here's how I did it:
First, I had to compile all of the lists BuzzFeed has published in its "Before You Die" format. At the time I filed this story, there were 182 lists. These ranged from appreciating the little things in life (like watching the sunset) to full-blown adventures (like going to South Africa's version of Burning Man). BuzzFeed writers also seem obsessed with food, since practically every other list is about stuffing your face with 21 amazing Aussie burgers or the ten best New Orleans po-boys or the 15 best cheese toasties in London.
Next, I cataloged each task on each of the 182 lists. There are over a thousand individual tasks.
Next, I calculated the time it would take to complete each of the tasks. This is where it all got slightly more complicated, since the time it would take to do most of these things is highly individualized. Eating fish and chips, for example—how long does that take the average person? If you were really vying for time, you could probably scarf some down in five minutes, but I'd much prefer to spend an hour savoring of a nice, greasy plate. And what if the restaurant was really busy and it took a long time for your server to bring the fish and chips to you? I settled on 30 minutes for eating fish and chips, as well as the other food-related tasks.
Other tasks required a fair amount of research, like hiking the Camino de Santiago, otherwise known as St. James' path, between Spain and France, which is less like a path and more like a pilgrimage. The trail is nearly 500 miles long. According to the trail's official website, it takes four to six weeks to complete. I decided to allot 30 days to complete the trail, even though the website also noted that you would need to hike 18 miles per day without any rest days to finish the trail in that time, which seems completely insane.
I repeated this process for every single task on Buzzfeed's lists. Again, there are over a thousand individual tasks.
Here is a time table showing a small sample of the time I allotted for certain tasks:
Some of the lists contained fast, easy tasks that be completed entirely from your couch—like this one, which requires you to look at 20 pictures of miniature pigs before you die—but for most of them, you have to travel. Some of the lists, like the Five Highest Places to Visit Before You Die, require you to jet set from the Haiku Stairs of Oahu, Hawaii to the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to the Taihang Mountains in China. In order to accomplish all of the tasks most effectively, you would need to travel the world. So I decided to calculate the travel time that it would take to work your way around the world, in an order most efficient for accomplishing each of the BuzzFeed tasks.
I decided to begin my hypothetical bucket-list journey in Boston, where I live, and work my way west through North America. I would visit 36 states in the United States and stop in Canada and Mexico along the way. Then onto the Dominican Republic to explore the three shipwrecks of Bayahibe, followed by stops at Turks and Caicos, and Belize. Some stops later, I'd spend 175 hours and ten minutes flying from country to country in Europe, stopping in Estonia to see the beech tree in Hiiumaa before taking a quick ten minute flight over to Finland to go to the Kontula indoor skatepark in Helsinki. I'd make my way over to Turkey to swim in the crystal blue mineral waters of the Pamukkale Springs in Hierapolis and then pop over to Jordan to grab a drink at the Cave Bar in Petra.
I whittled the travel time down to one-hour flights over borders, stopping in some countries for only a few minutes to visit a bakery or for a few hours to watch a sports game. In total, the round-the-world trip would take 26 days in travel time alone, and would include 108 countries.
The last thing I calculated was sleep time. I figured a person would be fairly tired after spending months on end climbing mountains, reading plays, and visiting museums every day, so I allotted the doctor-recommended eight hours per night. I really enjoy sleeping, so this is painful for me to even imagine, but when you're racing to finish an extensive bucket-list in the fastest amount possible, I suppose luxuriating in the REM cycle shouldn't be a priority. I also factored in how long it took me to calculate the trip—around 40 hours in total—and how long it would take to actually book the flights, hotels, and day-trips, which would be possibly twice that.
In conclusion—drumroll, please—I determined it would take 1,448.7 days to do everything that BuzzFeed says you need to do before you die. That's 207 weeks, or just shy of four years.
I'll repeat that some of the timing calculations were arbitrary. You could get stuck in a restaurant with poor service and it might take double the time to eat your fish and chips, or you could arrive somewhere like the Trinity Church on King George Island in Antarctica and decide it was too boring to stay the full hour. Your flights could get delayed, or you could get food poisoning at one of the restaurants and choose to bail on the next day's activities. If you got the timing wrong, you might miss the small window when all 39 Christmas markets on the list are open, or arrive at the Mendenhall Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska, to find that they have all melted.
But if you planned it just right and you had the time, money, and stamina to accomplish everything on the list, then you could definitely do it.
That said, I'm not sure why anyone would want to. There are a lot of things on that list that I, personally, have no interest in doing. Why should I visit 39 different Christmas markets across Europe? I mean, I'm sure they're beautiful and each have nice hot chocolate and giant, neon candy canes, but what's the harm in not seeing all 39 of them? Is it really worth the hours it would take to learn all 44 of these air guitar songs? Would I really be a lesser person for not having visited these 19 penis-shaped objects around the world?
I'm not saying I wouldn't do it. If someone offered me the chance to travel the world and see some of the coolest things this Earth has to offer, I'd be hard pressed to say no. Of course, I'll probably die before that happens. BuzzFeed has a handy quiz for that, too.
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