You’ve doubtless heard the saying “you’re only young once” more times than you can count but rather than rolling your eyes the next time you hear it take a moment to reflect on what that really means. Your twenties are one of the most formative times of your life. It’s the final bridge between being a kid and being a full-fledged adult with all of the responsibilities that come along with it. There’s no better time to figure out who you are, do some reckless and silly things, and have the experiences of a lifetime that will shape your future self. With that in mind, check out the 30 trips you should have before you turn 30.
1. Party at Mardi Gras
While it’s true that every day is a party on Bourbon Street, things get really crazy in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Grab your friends and throw caution to the wind down in Louisiana. Start with a hurricane at Pat O’Briens, grab a slice of King Cake from a local bakery, eat some delicious local gumbo, and then party until your liver begs you to stop. It’ll be the best party you’ll probably never remember in your twenties but at least you’ll have some shiny beads as a souvenir.
2. Backpack through Europe
Backpacking through Europe has become one of the quintessential rites of passage for young adults. Your twenties is the perfect time to do it while you don’t have responsibilities you’ll have later in life standing in your way. Get yourself a Eurorail train pass and ride the rails from country to country. With countless countries so close together, you can see countless sights in a short amount of time.
3. Go on an African Safari
Africa is home to exotic wildlife that most of us will never see in the wild. An African safari can change all of that. Plan a trip to Kenya and see amazing animals such as lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more in their wild and natural habitat. Namibia’s Etosha National Park also allows visitors to host their own self-guided safaris where you can track and observe the Big Five on foot, horseback, camel, or in a jeep.
4. Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
If you like to live on the edge, hop a plane to South Africa and get ready for a close encounter. Great white sharks are some of the world’s largest predatory creatures and they love to hang out in South Africa. See these amazing creatures feed in the wild and then get in the water with then if you’re brave enough get in the water with them and view them in their natural habitat with mere inches between you.
5. Visit the Home of Your Ancestors
It’s important to know where you come from and who you are and our twenties are a time for discovering this. There’s no better way to do this than by visiting the home of your ancestors. Pull out your family tree as far back as you can to find out where your story begins. If you live in the United States, your journey didn’t start there. Perhaps your family comes from the Black Forrest regions of Germany or the Normandy region of France. Figure it out and then take yourself back to where it all began for your family.
6. Hike the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath not only in the United States but in the world. Ranging from Maine to Georgia it stretches for approximately 2,190 miles of gorgeous scenic sites. As the name would suggest, the trail will allow you to become well acquainted with the Appalachian mountain range. Tackle at least part of the trail and you’ll have serious bragging rights on your friends.
7. Have an Epic Road Trip on Route 1
What’s Route 1 you might be asking yourself? Only one of the most epic road trips you can take in the United States. It runs along the Pacific coast of California and spans from San Francisco to San Diego. On average it can take about a week to drive which means you better have a great playlist made. On the way you’ll go right through countless famous Cali cities including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and more.
8. Go On a Cruise
A cruise is the perfect type of trip for a novice traveler. It takes away the stress of planning everything and with ports all over the world it isn’t hard to find the perfect cruise for you. Cruises won’t break the banks and cruise ships double as a private resort so you’ll have access to delicious restaurants, spas, entertainment, night clubs, and more while you’re on the open water and traveling to your next destination. Whether you want an Alaskan cruise, a tropical Caribbean getaway, or a tour of the Mediterranean you’re options are wide open.
9. Swim With Dolphins
Use this as your excuse to head down to the Caribbean. Dolphins, some of the smartest and friendliest mammals, love the warm water of the Carribbean. Head down to Nassau in the Bahamas and take a beach from soaking up the rays on the beach to hang out with everyone’s favorite aquatic animals.
10. Develop Your Wine Pallet in the Tuscan Wine Country
It’s no secret that twenty-somethings LOVE wine. What better way to develop your skills as a wine connoisseur than by visiting one of the world’s most famous wine regions. The Tuscan wine region in Italy is home to countless vineyards specializing in a variety of wines from reds, to whites, to blends, and more. Spend your time traveling from vineyard to vineyard in Tuscany and the surrounding areas and become an expert on Italian wine by the time you’re through.
11. Hit the Jackpot in Sin City
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas which makes it the perfect place to sow some of your wild oats in your twenties. Spend your day drinking by the pool every resort on The Strip has. Once you have a good buzz going head-in and get ready for dinner at one of the city’s fabulous restaurants and then party the night away on the famous Vegas Strip. If you’re feeling lucky try your hand at blackjack or the slot machines in one of the city’s countless casinos. The casinos are open all night so you’ll have plenty of time to strike it big while you’re there.
12. Climb to the Home of the Gods
The ancient Greeks thought that their gods lived at the top of Mt. Olympus and the area was considered a holy place. These days, any mortal can make the journey to visit the ancient home of the gods. If you’re an outdoorsy type make the trek to Olympus National Park home to climb and hike Greece’s highest mountain. Just a few hours from Athens and bordering the Aegean Sea it promises to be a once in a lifetime experience.
13. Soak Up the Rays in Hawaii
Hawaii is on just about everyone’s travel bucket list but make sure you get there in your twenties while you still look amazing in your bathing suit and have the excess energy to explore the lush vegetation and hiking trails. Hawaii has eight islands in total so there’s something there for everyone. Soak up the rays on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and take in the unique culture and history that’s unlike any you’ll find on the American mainland.
14. Eat Your Way Through the American South
You just haven’t lived until you’ve had true Southern fried chicken, gumbo, a po’ boy, shrimp and grits, pulled pork barbecue, and more. The American South often takes a lot of flak for being backwards and behind in the times but Southerners know their stuff when it comes to amazing and unique food. Plan a trip that spans through Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana to solely hit up the food centers of these states. Your waistline may not thank you but your taste buds surely will.
15. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and is located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, it makes for a view like no other. Countless species of aquatic animals and vegetation make the reef their home. Grab your snorkel gear today and get to exploring this truly unique sight.
16. Ski the Alps
Skiing can be one of the most exhilarating outdoor experiences one can have. While there are a ton of famous ski slopes in the world none are as breathtaking as the Alps mountain region. Stretching across one thousand miles in Austria, France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland you can use your skiing adventure as the perfect opportunity to visit multiple countries in one trip.
17. Visit Amsterdam’s “Coffee Shops”
While we’re not advocating for drug use here, if you want to try it while you’re still young, hop the next plane to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is one of the few places in the world where marijuana is legalized, to an extent. Visitors can visit one of the city’s numerous “coffee shops” where they can select from a variety of cannabis products to partake in.
18. Have the Ultimate View of the Northern Lights
Have the ultimate view of the Northern Lights at the Arctic Resort of Kakslauttanen in Finland. What makes this so unique? After trekking to the remote resort you’ll find yourself warm and cozy in your own private igloo with a glass roof. Here you’ll have access to the ultimate location to watch the amazing spectacle put on by the Northern Lights in your own private hideaway in the Arctic wilderness.
19. Pull an All Nighter in the City That Never Sleeps
New York City is without a doubt one of the most iconic cities in the world. It also doubles as the city that never sleeps. This melting pot never stops and is home to sights and sounds that will keep you going from dusk to dawn. Visit the Statue of Liberty or the Metropolitan Museum of Art before grabbing a slice of pizza from a street vendor and making your way to Times Square before finding the coolest nightspot.
20. Be on Two Continents at Once
Take a trip to Turkey’s second-largest city, Istanbul, and find yourself surrounded by ancient history, fabulous shopping, and gorgeous sea-side views. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia which means depending on where you are in the city you can find yourself with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Before you hit 30 you can brag to all of your friends that you visited two continents for the price of one!
21. Attend a Music Festival
Music festivals are the perfect outing with friends to soak up the sun, meet new people, and listen to your favorite musical acts. This is one to definitely do before 30 because no one wants to be labeled as the weird older person hanging out where all the young kids are. With famous festivals all over the world in prime destination cities like Coachella, Austin City Limits, and the Glasgow Music Festival, you’ll have no problem finding one that suits your personality, budget, and musical tastes.
22. Drink Your Way Through Argentina’s Wine Country
If you’re a red wine lover you need to get to Argentina like yesterday. Make plans to spend time in Mendoza, the unofficial Malbec capital of the world. It also won’t hurt that while you’re soaking in all of those red wine vibes you’ll be surrounded by some of the most gorgeous scenery in South America as you’re drinking your way through the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
23. Go on a Journey in the Jungle
If you’re feeling bold plan a trip to the Amazon rain forest. The majority of Amazonia is located in Brazil but your journey through this famous jungle could also take you through Peru, Colombia, and several other South American countries. The Amazon is home to some of the most unique and rare wildlife, vegetation, and peoples in the world.
24. See at Least One of the Seven Wonders of the World
The New 7 Wonders of the World were announced in 2007 and consist of some epic sites that should be seen at least once in your lifetime. It’s perfectly reasonable to attempt to scratch at least one of the list before you hit 30. Take your choice of: Great Wall of China, Petra, Christ the Redeemer statue, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, the Roman Colosseum, Taj Majal, and the Great Pyramid of Giza.
25. Jump off of Something in New Zealand
For the adrenaline junkie, there’s no better way to feel alive than to plummet to the ground from great heights at a rapid rate. Queenstown, New Zealand is the place you need to be. While in this breathtaking resort city you can arrange to go skydiving over the New Zealand mountains and rivers, paragliding, bungee jumping, bridge jumping, and more. Get to it while you’re heart is still strong enough to take the excitement.
26. Go on a Gondola Ride in Venice
The centuries old city of Venice is a unique marvel in the world and one that some scientists predict will one-day pull an Atlantis and sink beneath the water. While it’s true that we won’t probably see this in our lifetime, there’s no time to waste, so get to Venice ASAP. The ultimate bucket list item in Venice is the famous gondola rides. When your streets are all made of waterways, the primary mode of transportation is naturally by boat. This Italian experience delights million of visitors each year so what are you waiting for?
27. Take in Nature’s Splendor in Iceland
While not usually on people’s top 5 list of places to see, you won’t want to miss out on the natural beauty that Iceland has to offer. Not only can you see the Northern Lights here, but you can also take in some pretty spectaculars glaciers, fjords, volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs, and more. Plus, Iceland can trace its history back to the time of the Vikings. What’s cooler than that?
28. Marvel at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a massive canyon carved by the Colorado River and located primarily in the state of Arizona. The constant flow of the river have exposed more than 2 billion years of Earth’s geological history for visitor’s viewing pleasure. Take advantage of this amazing natural wonder by rafting, hiking, horseback riding the area, and more. Touring the Grand Canyon makes for the perfect trip for any nature enthusiast and adventurer.
29. Journey on the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is considered by many to be the most famous trek in South America. It is a 26 mile path that one must traverse to reach Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas” are 15th century ruins located in the heart of the jungle in Peru. It typically takes around four to five days to complete the trek and in this case, the journey and your destination are both once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
30. See the City of Lights
Paris, the City of Lights, is one of the most iconic cities in the world. While here take advantage of world-renowned French cuisine, explore the city’s rich history, get cultured at the Louvre, splurge on a designer handbag, and of course, visit the top of the Eiffel Tower. This is one to knock off your bucket list early.