Since the movie "The Bucket List" came out, more and more people have made the reference before lifting off in Crystal Lake, said Mark Kennedy, owner of Silver Lining Balloons.
Standing in a basket below a hot air balloon 10,000 feet above the earth gazing on the fall colors below or watching the sunrise has become a common must-do.
“You hear it more often,” Kennedy said of the bucket list reference.
Like the characters portrayed by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the 2007 film, everyone has a list of goals or things they would like to experience before dying. Crossing some items off the list might take weeks or years of planning, training and commitment. For others, a financial plan might be required.
Recently, the Northwest Herald selected five experiences that many people might have penned on their lists and talked to the experts about what it takes to run that ink line through each item.
Up, up and away
Those who want to take a balloon trip should book early, especially in the fall, because “everyone wants to get the fall colors,” Kennedy said.
He recommends people take sunrise flights. Hot air balloon rides are weather dependent; it can’t be raining, and it can’t be too windy.
“I always say the mornings are a little prettier,” Kennedy said.
On his hourlong trips, Kennedy travels with up to four passengers wherever the wind takes them.
“A lot of people see it as an adventure, and it’s kind of a dream of theirs since they’ve been kids,” Kennedy said. “It’s really pretty.”
While flying over McHenry County, people are able to see wetlands, and often people are surprised by the number of trees in the county.
The cost of a trip through Silver Lining Balloons, one of several such companies operating in the area, is $220 per person.
Running a marathon
Rob Price, 50, of Trout Valley has run in three marathons, most recently in this year’s Chicago Marathon, where he posted a time of three hours, 39 minutes and 40 seconds.
Price recommends that anyone who wants to train to run a marathon should start off slowly, with low-impact training.
Prospective marathoners should run recreationally for about a year and check with their doctors before starting a training program, Price said.
Preparing from “scratch” to run a marathon could take a year to 18 months before a runner is ready, but it depends on the individual, Price said.
“Just finishing it is a great accomplishment for anyone who tries – and really rewarding,” Price said.
People should make sure that they have comfortable, supportive shoes, Price added. At the start of training, walk or jog for as long as possible, such as 30 minutes. Then the next day, try to stretch it out a little longer.
“It’s like stretching the rubber band each time,” Price said. “Pretty soon the 30-minute run turns into an hour and into two hours.”
Running with a group or a partner can help keep a person motivated, Price said.
“Once it becomes a routine, you look forward to it, then it becomes a lifestyle for a lot of people,” Price said.
As runners train for a marathon, competing in a 5K, then a 10K, then a half marathon is beneficial, Price said.
“They get a taste for it, [and] that could work into their training,” Price said.
A person needs a well-balanced, healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables, pastas and grains, Price said. Runners also should make sure to get adequate sleep every night to make sure they have enough time to rest and recover during training.
“You really have to take care [of your body],” Price said.
Visiting exotic locales
Traveling to a distant location is another common bucket-list item.
Neelie Kruse, owner of Cary Travel Express, often hears from clients that going on a trip to Paris is an item on the bucket list.
Kruse said considerable cost savings can be found by traveling to a desired destination during an off-peak season, which varies from destination to destination. To help save money on the flight, travelers can fly on weekdays rather than the weekend. Flying on weekdays typically is cheaper, Kruse said.
Also, travel agents can help a person secure travel packages that include airfare, taxes, hotels, some meals and drinks as well as sightseeing tours. Packages shave the costs of buying each item separately, Kruse said.
Booking early is key. Kruse plans to go to Tahiti in February and Australia and New Zealand in 2014.
For someone who is going somewhere exotic, a trip should be planned for six months to a year in advance, Kruse said.
“It gives us time to get the best deal,” she said.
Also, it allows travelers to build anticipation and excitement for a trip, Kruse said.
For vacations that require long flights halfway around the world, Kruse recommends planning to stay at least two weeks.
“You need to maximize as much time as you can,” Kruse said.
Making the leap
Laura Morris is the manager for Skydive Midwest in Sturtevant, Wis. Most of the company’s business comes from Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.
During this skydive season, 8,000 people made their first jump with the company, and for 75 percent of them, it was on their bucket list, Morris said.
Many clients are in their 70s, 80 or 90s.
“It’s something they want to do before they die,” she said.
Most people will book a flight a week ahead of time, Morris said. She recommends a person’s first skydive be a tandem dive.
“It’s the most exciting 60 seconds of their life,” Morris said. “Most people are expecting a roller-coaster feeling, but it’s different.”
If people have any kind of neck problems, knee problems or back problems, they should consult a doctor before making a jump, Morris said.
The cost of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane from 14,500 feet is $209 through Skydive Midwest, Morris said.
When choosing a skydive location, pick a scenic location and set aside an entire day, because it’s not a quick process, Morris advised. Clients must go through an orientation class to learn about the equipment and what to expect.
Also, if it’s something people want to try, they shouldn’t wait until they have a friend or family member who will join them, Morris added. They should just go for it.
“You can’t do anything like it,” Morris said. “Skydiving is a very free feeling.”
Airplanes without engines
Larry Krengel is the president of Sky Soaring in Hampshire, where the club takes people up for gliding trips.
“There’s a thrill in flying without an engine,” Krengel said.
A one-time outing is $125 for a day membership and one trip. More long-term memberships also are available.
After climbing into the glider with a pilot, a motorized airplane pulls the glider aloft. They reach up to 3,000 feet, the tow rope is detached, and the glider begins to sail freely. The length of flight depends on the conditions.
Those who want to operate a glider on their own need to take instructional courses toward earning a license. Depending on how frequently they attend courses, student gliders can do their first solo flight in one to six months.
“After that, it’s so amazing,” Krengel said. “You can’t get the grin off your face.”
That will put the person on track to earning a license. It’s not unusual for someone who starts flying in April to have a license by September, Krengel said.
Club dues are $800 a year for someone who wants to fly regularly.