So, the title of this post scares me a little bit because it underscores a fact that I’m slowly coming to grips with: my 30th birthday isn’t as far off as it used to be (I turned 25 two weeks ago). But, my new-found insecurity about my age isn’t what prompted me to write this blog post. I had no plans of blogging about this particular topic tonight, but I read a post on The Huffington Post this evening on the same topic, and I felt that I needed to present my own version because I disagreed with some of the items on the other list. I’m not going to say which of the 30 things I disagreed with because I feel that blogging and travel is very personal and that there are no “wrong answers” with it. However, I did agree with some of the items on the list and repeated them on my own.
Also, as I’ve already stated, I’m not 30 and won’t be for another 5 years. So, my list is based not only on my previous travel experiences, but also on my travel bucket list and what I feel are things that are important to experience in life through travel.
(Note: This list is in no particular order).
(Note #2: This list is written from the perspective of a North American, so some of my items may not be as feasible distance-wise if you reside somewhere else in the world.)
1. Marvel at something.
I may or may not have paraphrased this line from Eat, Pray, Love, but that’s not the point . Whether it’s naturally occurring or man made, I think one of the most important travel experiences to have before you turn 30 is to view something that leaves you in complete and utter awe. Something that sums up how amazing the world we live in is and how we, as small human beings, fit into it.
My experience with #1 occurred when I was on a cruise from Baltimore to the Caribbean. I’ve traveled this route twice. And let me tell you, nothing — absolutely nothing — makes you feel as small and as in awe as standing on the deck of a ship with nothing but miles and miles of deep ocean surrounding you.
2. Take a Cruise on the Ocean.
Jumping off my last item, I urge you to take a cruise. Forget about the Cruising stereotypes — the kids, the pools, the food, etc. Embrace the uniqueness of cruising. Embrace the water. And if you can, splurge for a balcony cabin. Sit on that balcony, watch the water, and think.
3. Travel somewhere or do something on your travels that scares you.
This doesn’t have to be dangerous and in fact please don’t do something that endangers your health and safety. But do do something that takes courage — something you think you might not be able to do.
4. Walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.
Go somewhere, whether it is across town, across the state, across the country, or across the world and walk where your ancestors walked. See what they saw, think about how they might have felt. I’m a true believer in the power of history — particular personal history and how families are shaped across generations.
5. Travel by train somewhere.
In 2011, I traveled from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. on the Capitol Limited route of Amtrak. Traveling by train is truly unique, just like traveling by ship is an experience in and of itself. On a train, as discussed in this recent New York Times article,
you see terrain and sights that you otherwise never would by car. Train tracks often cut through swaths of land that are relatively untouched.
6.Visit the ocean closest to you (and try to visit one not so close).
Oceans. Challenge yourself to see two of them. At least see one. So far, I’ve only seen the Atlantic. The Pacific is next on my list. I’m exceedingly jealous of my Dad who has also seen the Indian Ocean.
7. Plan/Participate in a Vacation with as many friends as possible.
When I graduated from high school, I was lucky to have a group of friends to spend a week with in Florida. The trip was certainly an experience that I will never forget, for many reasons. But, it wasn’t just a trip. It was a lesson in friendship.
8. Embrace your inner child.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you have outgrown Disney World, Disney Land, Harry Potter, or Universal Studios. Travel to these glorious places. Participate in them wholeheartedly.
9. Go somewhere that requires a passport.
As Americans, we are lucky that we live in such a large country. 50 states provide us with multitudes of experiences. But, I encourage you to travel to foreign shores. At least travel to the countries that are your nearest neighbors.
10. Go where the city lights don’t shine.
Gazing at the stars can be one of the most powerful experiences of your life. Looking up at the night sky is literally looking at the past. To view the heavens, make it a priority to go somewhere where light pollution is at a minimum. Darkness illuminates all on its own.
11. Travel solo (for fun, not business).
Have the courage and the confidence to travel somewhere by yourself, even if it’s only a short road trip.
12. Embrace local culture on at least one trip.
When we travel we often become hung up in the “tourism” culture of our destination. On a least one trip, regardless of where you travel to, do as the locals do. Avoid chain restaurants and name brand hotels. Stay at the local inn or Bed & Breakfast, eat at the family owned restaurants.
13.Visit a battlefield.
Whether you travel within the United States to a battlefield of the American Revolution or the Civil War, or you pay your respects at another site of one of the world’s wars, you should visit a battlefield. Understand the sacrifices that the youth of other generations have made, regardless of who they fought for and who won. Understand how blessed you are for the life you have. Recognize the wars still fought today and the youth still making sacrifices.
14. Become a tourist in your hometown.
Find things to do where you live that allow you to “travel in your own backyard.”
15. Go somewhere where your language is not the native language.
Challenge yourself. Can you make your way in a city or country where you know very little of the language?
16. Take a Road Trip.
Don’t just drive from Point A to Point B and back again. Map it out. Make an itinerary. Stay no more than 2 nights in one place.
17. Go somewhere spur of the moment.
You don’t always need to have a plan. Whether that means booking a 5 day cruise the day before it leaves or driving to the nearest beach in the middle of the night, be spontaneous. My dream: grabbing my passport out of the drawer, driving to the airport, and flying to Europe on a whim.
18. Take a trip for a selfish and specific reason.
Favorite author speaking/signing autographs in NYC? Want to be a member of the studio audience for a tv show? Want to attend a protest at the Supreme Court? Sometimes you just need to make the trip.
19. Go where the water is bluer than blue.
Visit a tropical locale. The Caribbean is highly suggested. I dream of Fiji, the Maldives, and Bora Bora.
Off the coast of Little San Salvador Island, Bahamas
20. Sleep outside.
Even if it is in your backyard.
21. Take a trip to relax and only relax.
Go to the beach, go on a spiritual journey, go to the wilderness. Go somewhere that sightseeing is not your priority. Read, listen to music. Relax.
22. Visit someone far away.
As teenagers, we can’t wait to get away. In our twenties, we lament the fact that we’ve drifted apart. Plan a trip purely for purpose of visiting someone you don’t see on a regular basis, because seeing someone in person is always better than a phone call, text message, or email.
23. Plan a dream vacation even if you never take it.
Figure out the place you would like to go most. If you are lucky enough to go, plan a new dream vacation. Keep dreaming, keep planning.
24. Go Somewhere only for its cuisine.
Want Southern BBQ? A French croissant? Go somewhere purely for its famous food.
25. Learn something.
Learn how to cook authentic Mexican. Learn Japanese calligraphy. Learn how to meditate with a Buddhist guru.
26. Give back.
Travel endows us with amazing and memorable experiences. Even if you are traveling for fun, find at least one trip where you can give back to the community you are visiting.
27. Let loose.
Go somewhere that involves fun, fun, and more fun.
28. Visit the haunt of a fictional character.
Like to read? Go to the site of your favorite book. Visit King’s Cross Station and get in touch with Harry Potter, or travel Route 66 like the Joad family. Not a reader but a movie or TV buff? Go to NYC and see Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.
29. Splurge on a fabulous experience.
Even if you are traveling on a budget, take the opportunity at least once to experience a little glamor. Have high tea at the Plaza Hotel. Get a movie star makeover. Go to the 5 star restaurant.
Our modern lives are dominated by technology today and the need to be constantly connected. Go somewhere that doesn’t have 24/7 Wi-Fi and cell phone service.
So, what travel experiences do you think you should have before you turn 30?