For travel blogger Annette White, a bucket list isn’t just a collection of far-fetched ideas — it’s an ever-evolving blueprint for an adventurous life journey.
White’s earnest quest to collect experiences began nearly a decade ago, when the Petaluma-based restaurateur and author faced off against her anxiety. Fear had long played a role in shaping her decisions, as she struggled with panic attacks and frequent hospital visits, she said.
“There was a pretty personal defining moment when I looked in the mirror and realized I wasn’t the woman that I could be or wanted to be. On that day, I made myself a promise to not let fear make my decision for me,” said White, 47. “I promised to start living my bucket list.”
A self-professed list fanatic, she’d already compiled a small to-do list on her computer, chronicling a few of her aspirations: go to a new restaurant, learn to surf and other “little things” she’d dreamed of doing. To hold herself accountable, she launched a blog to record her adventures with friends and family as she learned to manage her anxiety. She was formerly a blogger for the Argus-Courier.
As she began to explore new experiences, her focus shifted to travel blogging. Though she’d taken trips to Mexico and Italy, she had long been frightened by flying or being out of her element in another country, and wanted to expand her horizons.
“I always had a desire to wander. I knew what I wanted to in the future, but I didn’t know how to,” she said. “I had so many ideas related to that, but it wasn’t until I promised myself to start looking at every decision I made and asking myself ‘Am I saying no to this opportunity because my fear is speaking?’ I vowed to turn my ‘no’ into a ‘yes,’ and that’s when the traveling started happening.”
Seven years and 43 countries later, her blog has more than 250,000 monthly readers, her social media accounts have tens of thousands of followers, and tourism boards and companies like Viking Cruises, Sandals Resorts and Ryanair sponsor her trips to far-flung locations. Her travels have led her to feed swimming pigs in the Bahamas, sled with dogs in Montana and spend the night in the desert in Jordan.
This year, she released “Bucket List Adventures: 10 Incredible Journeys to Experience Before You Die,” highlighting her own personal journey and sharing advice about crafting a bucket list, like developing categories for adventures and getting started right away.
“I wanted to share my experiences,” she said. “I wanted to share my fears in hopes that people could work through their own in order to live their dreams, whatever that may be.”
For White, who owns and manages Petaluma’s Sugo Trattoria with her husband, curating adventures for the book was a daunting feat, as she attempted to choose from hundreds of her own experiences around the globe.
“That was really difficult, I knew there were some that were super close to my heart,” she said. “I had to pick 10 from hundreds, and it was difficult because I wanted to make some of them a little more adventurous and I wanted to make some that not so adventurous people wanted to do, like going to a yoga retreat. I wanted the book to have something for everyone — I didn’t want it to be all skydiving or climbing Mount Everest.”