Whilst you definitely don’t have to be young to travel, there’s no doubt that it’s easier to pack up and go when you’re not yet tied down by a house and pesky kids. Other perks include a (mostly) fully functioning body and a plethora of like-minded people of a similar age to meet on your travels. Whilst 30 is by no means old, I’m already struggling to stay out past midnight so I thought I’d set out the fantasy trips I want to take before real life and my body betray me.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is an incredible place but the hike up there is just as special. Whilst there are loads of different options for differing levels of physical fitness, nothing can beat trekking the full Inca Trail. The 4 day trek leads through beautiful jungle with breathtaking, mountainous scenery that can’t be beaten. If you’re lucky, you might even meet a few llamas on the way.
Glastonbury Festival, UK (Complete)
Glastonbury is the mother of all British festivals and is seriously something to behold. I’m not a stranger to festival life but I can confidentially say that you will never see anything quite like Glastonbury. From some of the biggest artists in the world, to all night raves in giant mechanical spiders, you can never see it all in one trip (as though you needed an excuse to go back).
Scuba Dive at the Great Barrier Reef
For some reason, 10 year old me was obsessed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist. 11 years later and I’m a barely functioning adult who is scared of fish. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to realise my childhood dream of diving at the Great Barrier Reef though. Preferably soon before stupid humans destroy it for good.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Complete)
Amsterdam is a city that has a bit of everything. It’s interesting history rules in the day and is showcased in a wide variety of museums and architecture, including Anne Frank’s House. At night, however, it makes room for a unique and buzzing night life. Forget the sleazy, dark images that Amsterdam stereotypically conjures. Those places do exist, let’s not lie, but the alternative reality is an infectious vibrancy you can’t help but enjoy.
California Road Trip, USA
What does driving through California offer? Sun, check. Sand, check. Several friends in a mustang, check. What more could you want? Amazing scenery? One of the best cities in the world? (San Fransisco, not LA. Let’s not be silly here.) Incredible food? OK, well Cali has all of that too. It’s literally the girls/guys holiday dream.
Uluru is one of the most famous and weirdly beautiful rocks in the world. Imagine watching the sunrise over it from your tent in the middle of the outback. Well you don’t have to imagine. You can go and do that. Just make sure you brush up on your spider knowledge to avoid any sticky situations.
Learn to Ski or Snowboard (Complete)
Never skied or snowboarded before? Now is the time to learn, before the thought of hurling yourself off a mountain with some wood attached to your feet becomes a little too silly. Whether you chose to go in Europe, America, Japan or New Zealand, the scenery, combined with the lifestyle will make you want to go back again and again! (OK so I’ve said that this is complete but the amount of falls I’ve taken would suggest otherwise).
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Whether you’d rather float around the bay on a traditional junk boat or embark on one of the many party cruises that operate in the area, Halong Bay is a sight not to be missed. With over 1600 islands to explore, kayak, swim or snorkel your way through this amazing natural wonder.
Holi Festival, India
There are so many Holi Festival copies around the world now but none come close to the original. The spirit and hospitality of the local people really make this festival special, as well as the opportunity to really dive into another, vastly different culture.
New York City, USA (Complete)
I may be biased because New York City completely owns my heart everyone needs to experience the City That Never Sleeps as a young adult. Preferably multiple times as the city just keeps getting better after you tick off the landmarks and start to throw yourself into the NYC lifestyle. From secret cocktail bars hidden in hot dog shops, to pop-up audience participation theatre, to parks on unused rail way lines, this city is the best place to be young in the world.
Stay with Locals (Complete)
My recent trip that surprised me the most was a visit to Baltimore to stay with some friends at their university. I had no previous interest in going to Baltimore and had heard some pretty bad things about the place, but I had the absolute best time. From pumpkin picking to college halloween house parties, I had the complete stereotypical American college experience, and I definitely wouldn’t have got that on my own! Whether you visit friends, or try and meet locals, having a guide in the know really makes a huge difference to a trip.
Carnival in Rio, Brazil
Who wouldn’t want to go to the biggest party in the world?! Carnival is the most colourful, loud, crazy places in the world, perfect for a group of friends who want to experience something really unique. I better get working on my costume now!
Explore Your Own Country (Complete)
Often we can get distracted by far away, exotic places and forget about the wonders that lie on your doorstep. It’s only since I moved half way across the world that I realised there are so many parts of Britain I’ve never seen that are just as beautiful as the places I travel miles to see. Save some much needed pennies by taking a local holiday every once in a while.
Visit a Tropical Island Paradise (Complete)
Why should Pacific Islands be reserved for honeymoons? Other than, you know, the price, the remote location and the entire tourism industry that’s set up for couples? Nah. For those lucky enough to be based within easy flying distance of paradise, a girls trip full of sun, sea and cocktails could be more affordable than you think!
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Now I’m not a big beer drinker but a whole festival that is basically just a huge party sounds like my kind of event. Plus I can make up for my lack of beer drinking by wearing cute outfits and eating my weight in pretzels. What’s not to love?
Drive the South Island of New Zealand (Complete)
The South Island of New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world and is also a mecca for adrenaline junkies. Whilst I have little to no interest in bungy jumping (don’t worry dad), NZ’s South Island offers everything from helicopter hikes on glaciers to multi-day treks around Milford Sound to endless breath taking views. What’s not to love?!
See the Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is one of the big bucket list cliches, but for good reason. The natural light show is awe-inspiring and unique enough to warrant the trek into the freezing, Nordic wilderness required to see them. Just be sure to wrap up warm and cross your fingers that nature decides you’re worthy of it’s greatest show.
Songkran in Thailand
Instead of the standard fireworks, the people of Thailand and other areas of SE Asia ring in their New Year in mid-April with a giant, nationwide water fight. Arm yourself with water guns and bombs as you won’t be able to walk down the street without getting soaking wet so you may as well return fire.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, USA
In the UK, Mardi Gras is better known as Shrove Tuesday and we celebrate by eating pancakes…if we remember. In New Orleans, they celebrate with a huge carnival complete with crazy costumes, dancing and events late into the night. I know which I would prefer.
Backpack Through South East Asia
Backpacking in South East Asia is the perfect budget option for when you’re young and broke but still want to get out and see the world. From guided tours to teaching abroad, there are so many different programs that cater to young people, it’s almost impossible to not have the best time and make friends for life.
Las Vegas, USA (Complete)
Vegas is one of the most extravagant, insane places on Earth and it has to be seen to be believed. It’s definitely no natural beauty but it’s a wonder non-the-less. Grab some friends and hit the strip complete with a giant frozen daiquiri in both hands. It’ll be an experience to remember.
Live Abroad (Complete)
There is no better way to really get a feel for a place than by living there. Really submerse yourself in the culture, get to know the locals and earn some money while you’re doing it! With loads of working holiday visas available for young people and little tying you down to one place, your 20s is the perfect time to take the plunge!
Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal
The walk to the bottom of Everest is a physical challenge in itself but there’s no better way to explore Nepal. Trek through remote villages and incredible countryside before facing the largest mountain on Earth. I wouldn’t recommend going much further.
Go on an African Safari
Whether you can afford to stay at the Giraffe Manor, or a trusty tent is more your style, you can’t deny that seeing the Big 5 in the wild is an incredible experience. Grab your camera and jump in a Jeep for one of the most breathtaking drives of your life.
Grand Canyon, USA (Complete)
It doesn’t matter whether you join the crowds of tourists on the South Rim shuttle bus, make the long drive and hike to the more peaceful North Rim, or take a helicopter into the canyon itself, you just need to see the Grand Canyon. You just do. Some claim there are other canyons and National Parks scattered around Utah and Arizona that trump their more famous neighbour, and whilst these places are also well worth a (much less crowded) visit…it’s the Grand Canyon. You need to see it. I will not explain myself further.
Island Hop in Greece
The Greek Islands have everything you could possibly want. Romantic vistas, architecture made for Instagram and gorgeous weather are just some of the highlights awaiting you. For those who enjoy a good drink, some of world’s best clubbing islands, such as Ios, are only a boat ride away from picture-perfect Santorini. Whatever you fancy though, the islands of Greece are the perfect place to waste away a week of your 20s.
Volunteer at a Wildlife Sanctuary (Complete)
Nothing changes your perception of wildlife tourism quite like volunteering at a sanctuary. Learning about the majestic creatures and their history of abuse at Elephant Nature park in Chiang Mai really made me realise the true implication of activities that lots of tourists take for granted. (Don’t ride elephants folks!). There are numerous opportunities all over the world from turtle conservation in Madagascar to protecting orangutans in Borneo so you can give back in the way that best suits you.
Ride a Camel in the Sahara Desert
What better way to see the desert than on the back of a camel?! Take scenery like no other, in temperatures like no, on an animal no other. Whether you go on a day trip from Marrakesh or on a multi-day trek, this is a truly unique experience to not be missed.
InterRail Through Europe (Complete)
I thought about including a beautiful picture from Budapest or Paris but often pretty pictures don’t tell the full story. The truth about InterRailing involves carrying a lot of bags through a lot of train stations and sitting on a lot of trains for more hours than you care to think about. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Budget trips are often necessary in your 20s but the experience really brings you closer to your friends and makes you really appreciate the amazing things you get to see.
Orlando, USA (Complete)
Release your inner child in Orlando before you’re old enough that people keep asking where your children are. Whether you’re a roller coater fiend or looking for a bit of magic, Orlando is the perfect place to escape the real world and really get immersed in the perfect fantasy land.
How many of these trips have you taken? What’s on your pre-30 list? Let me know in the comments!