Today marks my 30th birthday, and a common question I’ve been asked is how I’m spending it. Perhaps I’m skydiving. Perhaps I’ve flown to Bali. Perhaps I’m hanging out with animals in the wild.
But for all the adventure I’ve sought over the past 30 years, today I have a bottle of wine, and a hard-drive full of photos; today I plan to reflect (and write this).
Thinking back to my 10 year old self’s daydreams, I had wanted to be a world traveler even then. Albeit, my inspiration for wanting to visit Africa was The Lion King, the Middle East, Aladdin, China, Mulan … you get the picture!
If I’m being perfectly honest I wanted to grow up to be The Little Mermaid, but even Ariel had an insatiable desire to be part of foreign worlds.
Most people have a list of things they want to accomplish before they hit their 30s, and if you’re one of those people, I would like to share my list. I can personally vouch for each item being worthy, having now completed all 30.
Travel Bucketlist: 30 Things to Do Before You’re 30
#1 Travel Solo
As I’m sure you can imagine, telling my family and friends that I was off on a solo travel adventure was met with considerable concern.
A bright-eyed but relatively naive 18-year-old, I was fresh out of high school, and a number of relatives who believed the trip was irresponsible launched a full-scale campaign to stop me.
Fortunately, such efforts were in vain, and my parents really got behind me, encouraging and supporting my goals for a solo adventure. And it was the best learning experience / adventure of my life.
I traveled solo from 2007 – 2012, through Europe, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. Not only does travelling alone completely push you out of your comfort zone, challenging your insecurities and helping you overcome your fears, it forces you to interact with those who you wouldn’t normally interact with.
It gives you the opportunity to grow into the person you want to be.
#2 Fall in Love Abroad
If you’re already married, shift your focus to falling in love with your partner all over again!
Photo: I’m Australian, he’s American, and we met in Africa at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro. This photo taken at Uluru after we became engaged.
#3 Try New Food
One of the best things about traveling is trying exotic flavors and foreign food. You might think you know your favorite cuisines, but you haven’t truly tasted something until it’s been ordered from the country of it’s birth.
That means ordering pizza, pasta, and gelato in Italy, or Okonomiyaki in Japan (above).
You don’t have to go as far as eating Balut (a Philippine delicacy which consists of breaking open an egg to eat a developing bird embryo … I’m happy to admit that I chickened out … it’s usually duck, so no pun intended!), but avoid eating in tourist restaurants and ordering food you’re used to.
#4 Learn to Speak Another Language
Learning a language is a sign of respect for both the locals and their culture. And, it’s impressive!
Sadly, I haven’t retained my language skills, but at one point in time I was able to hold a conversation in Japanese, and Spanish.
#5 Make Friends With Foreigners
Travel is all about getting to know a different culture, and different mindsets to enrich your own way of seeing things.
#6 Go Camping
Not glamping, camping. As in legitimate, set-up-your-tent-yourself-and-suffer-through-the-mozzies camping.
#7 Learn a New Skill
Travel is a fantastic opportunity to develop new skills which you may not have the opportunity to learn at home. So why not enroll in a class of some type.
Photo: Washoku Home Cooking in Japan. I was told that I could become a professional sushi chef if I wanted a career change … but I’m sure they say that to everyone!
#8 Learn About Politics
Open yourself to different opinions, mindsets, and points of view. Engage in constructive debate, and listen to what other people have to say.
You’ll come home with more well-rounded knowledge and, hopefully, will get to know your own opinions better.
Photo: Discussing the Faroe Islands grind with Sea Shepherd protesters. If you’re bored and have the time, the comments section of that post is heated.
#9 Travel With Your Parents
Because they’re awesome human beings! Despite recieveing much criticism within our extended family at the time, mum and dad were the ones who really encouraged me to travel.
#10 Take a Cross Country Roadtrip
#11 Visit All 7 Continents
Stepping foot on Antarctica was a huge milestone; we had finally made it to all 7 continents! It was, incidentally, also Valentines day, and our 4th wedding anniversary!
Visiting Antarctica isn’t exactly the most inexpensive place to visit, so you might think it’s off limits to young travelers. But your 20’s might just be one of the best and easiest times to visit; you’re at the height of your physical ability and can truly make the most out of such an incredible destination.
+ it’s something incredibly unique that not everyone in their 20’s can say they’ve achieved. We took an expedition cruise with Chimu Adventures and it was incredible.
#12 Go Backpacking
You see the world in a different way when you travel without any money, and live out of a backpack! Backpacking is an adventure in itself! I backpacked across Europe from age 18 – 23.
#13 Stay in a Hotel You Can’t Afford
The Presidential Suite at the Boscolo Venezia – our status with Marriott saw this incredible upgrade – it pays to be part of rewards / loyalty programs!!
A plush multi level suite, with Venice right outside our door, and the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted!
#14 Stay in a Hostel
First of all, if you stay in hotels you can’t afford all the time, you’ll find yourself in a lot of debt, but also, this definitely spoils you.
Stay in a hostel at least once to experience basic accommodation. There’s a real sense of comradery among travelers in hostels, and the social atmosphere will contribute to some of the moment memorable moments of your trip.
#15 Volunteer for a Cause You Believe In
Not just as a one-off, either—make it a regular thing. But also make sure you’re volunteering ethically.
Above: Volunteering in Kenya in 2010 – we visited local schools, donated goods, and spent time with the children.
#16 Live Abroad
“If only for the hot foreign strangers.”!!
The world beyond our borders is home to millions of other people, who all lead very different lives. Though have you ever wondered what it would be like to live among them? To experience a change of culture and scenery, live abroad at least once in your life.
I’ve lived for extended periods of time in the USA and the UK, and studied abroad in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Moving into a new country can be a rich and rewarding experience.
#17 Book a RTW Ticket
The Panama – Buenos Aires leg of our 2016 RTW with Star Alliance. This trip took in 11 countries over 6 continents, 13 flights, and 35,000 miles … and it was truly epic!
#18 Take the Risk with Adventure Sports
Picture: Skydiving over the Swiss Alps.
I could probably easily create an adventure traveler’s ’30 before 30′ just for the adreanline junkie. Over the past 30 years I’ve:
➡ Bungee jumped in Costa Rica
➡ Mountain biked down Bolivia’s ‘Death Road’ (notorious for being the most dangerous road in the world)
➡ Gone white water rafting in Iceland
➡ Rappelled down the side of a 17 story building in LaPaz
➡ Gone head first on a board down one of the world’s largest sand dunes
➡ Camped on a glacier in Antarctica
There’s also been cliff diving, horse riding, abseiling down waterfalls, taking quad bikes around Easter Island, and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon.
The world is full of incredible opportunities for adventure, and adrenaline sports are a great way to see a destination from new heights (literally), and give you an intense buzz that makes you truly feel alive.
Don’t forget to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy, just in case!
#19 Go on a Cruise
Photo: Our Celebrity Cruise departing Sydney for New Zealand.
Because you shouldn’t need to take a vacation after every vacation!
#20 Take a Safari in Africa
Hakuna Matatta. I fulfilled my 10 year-old self’s dream of discovering the location that inspired The Lion King.
Photo: 2010 in Tanzania. I had just left Springlands Hotel for this Safari, where I had met a handsome American stranger … see #2!
#21 Attend a Major World Event
I was one of 5,000 Rover Scouts (aged 18 – 26) to descend upon Rowellan camp in Kenya for World Scout Moot 2010 in Kenya.
For the duration of the camp, we were split up into smaller camps of 50 for two weeks. During the day we would complete volunteer projects like building bus stations and visiting local schools, and each evening we were given raw food and told to figure out dinner as a group.
This was more of a challenge than you might think, and on that first night we all went hungry. You can read about the story in this post I wrote for the Zipcar blog.
#22 Conquer a Mountain
I often write about what travel has taught me, and how travel has changed my perspective on life. However a lot of my transformation happened on Kilimanjaro.
#23 Cross a Wonder of the World off Your Bucketlist
Why stop at one though!
Photo: Hagia Sophia in Istanbul; chosen as a wonder of the ancient world because of its quintessential Byzantine architectural style.
#24 Take a Multi-day Trek
Even if it’s only for the exercise!
#25 Go to Venice
Because it’s Venice!
#26 Quit the Job You Hate to Travel
“Walking away from your job without a backup plan is one of the scariest things you can do, but your 20s will likely be the last decade in your life where you have the flexibility to get away with it and the least amount to lose.”
#27 Fly Business Class
Granted, the one time we flew long haul business class was an upgrade on our Star Alliance RTW, for a 3 hour leg from Vienna to Barcelona.
I didn’t care that it was a mid morning flight – I was putting that chair down into a bed!!
We were incredibly fortunate on that RTW, as I was also invited to fly in the cockpit for the leg from Venice to Vienna (above photo).
#28 Stop Living For Social Media
Seriously, stop living for social media. People these days seem so caught up in capturing the perfect shot, and creating the perfect image of a lifestyle for social media, that they end up not actually living / experiencing it.
Take time to live in the moment and disconnect sometimes.
#29 Make Memories You’ll Never Forget
While this post has been an opportunity for me to look back over the past 30 years of adventure, the only thing you should really worry about is making memories you’ll never forget.
#30 Make A List of 40 Before 40
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