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, or doing travel influencer things.
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.
Read: 6 tips to stay safe while traveling solo.
#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.
Read: Maintaining a Long Distance Relationship
#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.
Read: The Most Adventurous Eating and Drinking Experiences in the World
#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.
Read: How to Make New Friends Wherever You Go
#6 Go Camping
Not glamping, camping. As in legitimate, set-up-your-tent-yourself-and-suffer-through-the-mozzies camping.
Read: How to Deal with Emergencies While 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.
Read: Traveling to Antarctica on an Expedition Cruise
#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.
Read: How to Plan a Budget Trip to Europe
#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.
Read: The Bus Hostel Reykjavik. Iceland’s Best Hostel.
#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.
Read: How to Be an Ethical Volunteer
#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.
Read: The top 5 reasons to live abroad
#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!
Read: Things to Consider When Booking a RTW Ticket
#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.
Read: How Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Changed My Perspective on Life
#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!
Read: 5 ways to escape the crowds in 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.”
Read: I Quit My Life of Full Time Travel to Buy a House and My Previously Sold Stuff
#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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Great post! Love reading your post.Thanks for providing tips regarding age.Thanks for the post.Keep sharing.
Thankyou Velma! So glad you enjoyed the post :)
Fabulous list! You are so amazing and have done so many things, helped so many people. Have a great birthday, and I can’t wait to see where the next 10 years take you.
Thanks Rhonda! Looking forward with excitement to what the next decade might bring!
Happy birthday ???
Thankyou so much! :)
I remember thinking when I was about 8 that if I was not married by the time I was 21, then I would be so “over the hill”. 30 was positively “ancient!”
LOL you’re so right!!
Happy birthday, let the adventures continue! Always remember age is just a number:)
Thanks Cathy! Absolutely – I’m not overly phased by the number – I’ve heard that your 30’s are more fabulous anyway! :D
I always thought Mulan was Japanese ??
Learn something new every day :D
Happy birthday!!! Lots of Africa 2010 in there!!!
Thanks! It was an epic trip!!!
Thankyou so much!!
Happy Birthday! Great goals and how lucky you were able to follow your dream and do everything you set out to do. Can’t wait to see your list of “40”!
Thankyou Linda!! Working on that 40 before 40 currently :D
❤️❤️❤️ fantastic article which has motivated me to get up today ❤️❤️❤️
So glad you enjoyed it Linzi! Thanks for your comment XX
Happy Birthday. Wishing you loads of travel adventures. Love following you.
Wish you many more happy returns of the day. Happy birthday. Keep Inspiring.
Thankyou so much!! :)
Wish u very Happy birthday….
Happy Birthday! Wow! 30 seems so young to me now!
Thanks so much Tami! Life is flying by so fast I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and another 30 would have flown by!
Happy birthday, Meg!
Happy Birthday Megan. Have a good day.
Thanks Cindy! :)
Happy birthday, Megan! I swear your 30s are even better than your twenties- you know who you are and other’s opinions matter less. Have a great decade- what will your goals for 40 be?
Thankyou! I have heard that the 30s are even more fabulous, so looking forward! Working on the goals for the next 10 years now :) Stay tuned on that one!
Happy Birthday megan
Happy Birthday Megan!
Love this!! ?? over half way there! ?? bring on the next 10 years :) :)
You’ve got so much amazing adventure ahead of you I’m sure of it!
Happy 30th, Megan! Xx
Thanks Fleur! X
Thankyou! Was fun putting together :)
It is worth your effort to share ! , Good luck wish all the best !
Thankyou Khalid :)
Happy Birthday! And great article!
Thankyou so much Carina!
Awesome article, to be honest with you i’m in my late thirties and i have finished my master’s degree and traveled to USA, but only after i was thirty. :)
Thankyou! Congrats on your masters, that’s a huge achievement!
Just wow! Such a wonderful list and so happy that you have already accomplished it..: )
Before turning 40 I wish I could also write some stuff like this. Wonderful post.
Thankyou so much Snehal :) You can absolutely seek adventure like the above too :)
One of the top blogs that I’ve read recently ! …and you’re still soooo young with so much more to look forward to and cross of your lists & subsequently inspire …..yes 30 is young!!
Thankyou Lia, that’s so kind of you to say :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the post – yes, I’m looking forward to what might be in store over the next decade!
Interesting list of 30. (Not sure I would include traveling with my parents among them, but…)
Happy birthday. And, start working on your 40 by 40!
Thanks Roy! Working on the 40 before 40 as we speak :D!
I love this post! Where was the picture for #28 taken? It’s so lush and green.
Thanks Pam! #28 is in Olympic National Park in Washington State – love it there!
I wondered if that was in the Pacific NW. Olympic National Park is an absolutely gorgeous place.
A couple of years ago, I was taken there on a surprise trip (as in a “Pack an overnight bag and don’t ask questions; trust me, it’ll be fun” kind of trip. And it WAS lots of fun.)
Good guess! What an awesome surprise!!
BTW, I’d like to thank you for your blog. :D Since discovering it here this morning (and Happy Birthday!) I’ve read at least 15-20 of your posts, added more items to my must-see list for next week’s trip to Barcelona, and forwarded your link about Flexiroam X to a college professor who had been asking for help avoiding roaming charges when she teaches abroad this summer. You have been incredibly informative and helpful and I’m honored to be able to thank you directly for everything that you share online!
Thankyou so much, your message has made my day! So glad you’re enjoying the blog :) Started out as a hobby, but has well and truly become my baby :D
Hippy Bathday and many happy roads to travel.
Thankyou Don! :)
Happy birthday Megan! Have a fantastic day!
Thanks Brian! I had a wonderful birthday :)
Happy milestone birthday, Megan! You’ve done a ton for 90, let alone 30 ?
Nice job by your parents encouraging you to see the world too. I was fortunate that my dad did the same.
Great tip to unplug sometimes. One of my favorite parts about traveling on non-work trips is having a break from social media, and just enjoying the moment.
Thankyou Alex! It’s been a wild couple of decades :D!!
Awesome to hear that your parents encouraged you to travel too. I truly believe that travel is the best gift a parent could ever give :)
And absolutely on disconnecting – I’ve come to value it more and more these days!
Super list Meg! Making friends with folks from foreign countries is fun. Learning of new cultures, and seeing life from a different perspective fascinates me. I make friends all over the globe; makes traveling fun!
Thankyou Ryan!! Absolutely – I’ve found that making friends is the highlight of every single trip – even if you only spend a day, I always vividly remember the people I share an experience with :)
Happy Birthday! ? Good list and even better reflection!
Thanks Lori! So glad you enjoyed the post :)
Happy Birthday, Megan. Good list and definitely helps me on next trip. #15 and #18 point is very inspiring. Thank you, Megan.
Thankyou Henry! Hope you have the chance to try your hand at international volunteering, and maybe mix in some adventure sports soon! :)
uhu and when you alredy are 30? :)
I turned 30 on April 19 :)
Much too late for me to finish the list though I think the only one I have missed is visiting all seven continents; I still have to get to Asia and Antarctica!
Oh and Happy Birthday Megan (when was it)?
I can highly recommend Antarctica, it was truly the experience of a lifetime!
Thanks Glenn! Birthday was April 19 :)
All I still need to do is 8, 9, 11, 14, 17, 20 (And I’m from Africa lol), 25, 27, 30.
Lots to look forward to then!! Starting with a safari would probably be pretty easy to organize – I can highly recommend it, the experience was incredible :)
Exactly…..it should be easy for me, and I am in South Africa hahaha I am ashamed. My bucket list for this year, watch this space
It’s always like that though – I’ve dedicated this year to traveling through Australia because it’s embarrassing telling people I haven’t seen my home country lol :D
hahaha I guess we both on a mission this year. Good luck and looking forward to seeing some good content!!
I’m past 30, but it’s still worth looking into! Thanks @mappingmegan
Absolutely Stuart – this can act as a bucketlist for any age group :) Happy travels!
This is awesome! You’ve been everywhere and have done so much! My question is, if I were to quit my 9-5 desk job that I hate in order to travel, where would the money come from to do it? I don’t blog and I don’t really have an interest in blogging. Without a job, how would one afford to travel from place to place?
Thanks Janelle! So you definitely need some form of plan in place money wise. Whether that’s putting up with your 9-5 for another year so you can save enough for 12 months away, and then find a more satisfying job upon return, or looking for some form of online gig that can sustain your travels while you’re away. Blogging is definitely not the only method of making money online, there are a huge range of jobs you can do remotely, from freelance writing, to consulting in the field you specialize in, to creating and selling digital products etc.
You can travel really cheaply if you want to, but you do need some form of cash. So the first step would be making a plan for the style of travel you want to achieve, figuring out how much money you need to make that happen, whether you’ll save and come back to your job, or try and set up a career path online, and then go from there :)
I hope that helps!