Whoever coined the phrase "youth is wasted on the young" certainly didn't have modern young people in mind. Today's 20-somethings have embraced travel, adventure, and exploration to the fullest. Not only do they seek out new cultures and places to experience, they wander the world with a fearless spirit that should be admired and encouraged. After all, if your goal is to see and do everything that our world has to offer, you had better get started at a young age.
With that in mind, these are the top trips you should take before you turn 30.
Take an Epic Road Trip With Friends
Traveling by car remains one of the best and most satisfying ways to travel, especially if you load up the vehicle with great friends. There is nothing quite like hitting the road with no particular schedule or even destination in mind. A great road trip can lead to unexpected adventures, wondrous discoveries, and memories that last a lifetime.
There are outstanding road trip options that can be found just about anywhere on the planet, but there are definitely standouts to keep in mind. For instance, driving Route 66 across the U.S. is still a wonderful experience, as is driving the Atlantic Road in Norway and the Ring Road in Iceland. So gather up some travel companions, rent a car, and get driving. You never know what is around the next turn.
Go Mountain Biking in the Andes
The Andes Mountains in South America make for some of the best hiking, trekking, and backpacking on Earth. But for a completely different way of experiencing those rugged peaks, consider going on a mountain biking trip instead. Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador all have great mountain biking trails to explore, whether that's for just a day trip or a full-blown bikepacking expedition. The most epic ride of them all, however, is the legendary Andes Trail, which runs for more than 6,875 miles from Quito, Ecuador to Ushuaia, Argentina. Riding that entire route will certainly bolster any adventure resume.
Learn to Cook in Tuscany
There are numerous destinations around the world where the food makes it one of the top reasons for going. Few can compare to the culinary delights that are found in Tuscany, though, where the pasta, bread, and sauces are divine. It doesn't hurt that the wine is especially outstanding too. Of course, once you've indulged in these wonderful dining experiences, your tastebuds might have a hard time recovering once you've returned home. To make reentry back into normal life a little easier, why not take a cooking class while visiting this picturesque corner of Italy? Not only will you be able to make Tuscan-inspired meals in your own kitchen, you'll leave friends and family highly impressed with your newfound skills.
One of the first destinations for true adventure travelers, Nepal remains a must-visit for anyone looking for both a physical and spiritual journey. A trek through the Himalaya offers plenty of stunning scenery, along with visits to quaint mountain villages and remote Buddhist temples and monasteries. The result is a unique blend of culture and outdoor adventure that is hard to find anywhere else on Earth.
The two classic Himalayan hikes are the route to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit, although there are plenty of others to explore, too. Any of these treks will test your legs and lungs while opening your eyes and mind to this wonderful, unique, and utterly enthralling part of the world.
Sleep Under the Stars in the Sahara
There is nothing quite like spending the night outside without a tent. The warm nights and clear skies in the Sahara Desert make this an especially amazing experience, as millions of stars are on display overhead. If you get the chance to visit Egypt or Morocco—two places that should be on any traveler's bucket list anyway—see if you can book a desert camping excursion. With no other humans around for miles in every direction, you'll be amazed at just how peaceful and quiet the Sahara can be after nightfall.
Make a Journey on Horseback
Whether you've never been on a horse before or are an expert rider, traveling on horseback is a unique way to explore a destination. This mode of transportation offers insight into how people got around before motorized vehicles, creating a more intense connection with your surroundings in the process. You'll also come to appreciate the bond between the rider and their horse, all while sharpening your skills in the saddle.
The options for horse-borne adventures are surprisingly broad and range from wrangling cattle on a family-friendly dude ranch to wandering through remote corners of Mongolia. Some trips last just for a day or two, while others can be as long as a week or more. When it's over, you'll have stories to share for years to come and an experience that most other travelers only dream about.
Visit a Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico
There are a lot of great reasons to visit Puerto Rico, including great food, a rich and fascinating history, and outstanding nightlife. But you'll also find a number of active adventures to enjoy, too, including paying a visit to the country's famous bioluminescent bays.
Hop into a kayak just before sunset and paddle into Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande, or La Parguera for the chance to witness one of nature's most mesmerizing phenomenon. Each of those locations is home to millions of tiny microorganisms that produce a bioluminescence that makes the water light up with a blue glow. The effect is nothing short of magical.
Visit the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda
While the traditional African safari gets much of the attention when it comes to travel, there are other experiences on the continent that shouldn't be missed as well. One of them is trekking into the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda, where visitors get the chance to interact in an ethical way with the resident mountain gorillas.
The hike can be a physically demanding one and requires a bit of patience, but those who embark on the trek are usually rewarded with one of the most intense and unique wildlife encounters in the world. The great primates that live in the mountain jungle have been brought back from the edge of extinction—in part because of tourism—and seeing them in their natural habitat is a true bucket list adventure.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding in Japan
While the European Alps and American West are great for skiers and snowboarders, those craving deep powder should set their sights on northern Japan. Not only will you find hundreds of resorts to choose from, most get more than 600 inches of snow on an annual basis, making northern Japan one of the most consistent regions for snowfall in the entire world. Many of the resorts are designed to blend seamlessly into nature, providing skiers with an experience that feels a lot like the backcountry. And at the end of a long day on the slopes, travelers can indulge in a wide variety of sake and warm up in one of the natural hot springs found throughout the area.
Taking the plunge in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and South Pacific all have their charms, but for one of the most unusual aquatic experiences, head to the Dead Sea along the border of Jordan and Israel. At more than 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. It also happens to be one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, meaning that when you wade in, you'll find yourself effortlessly floating on the surface. It's even possible to recline as if you're sitting in a chair, without having to worry about sinking beneath the surface. The mud found on the shore is also known to have positive benefits for the skin, making a Dead Sea mud bath a truly therapeutic experience.
Travel is often about pushing your personal boundaries and getting outside of your comfort zone. There is no better way to do just that than to take a big trip completely by yourself. Whether you're backpacking across Europe on your own or joining an organized trip where you don't know anyone else, you'll be forced to make friends, connect with others, and learn to fend for yourself. That can be a truly frightening concept until you've actually done it. Once you've learned to embrace solo travel, you'll always know that you can do it again, opening up a world of possibilities.
Live and Work Abroad
For those of us who love to travel, the hardest part is often returning home after an all-too-brief visit to a foreign land. Living and working abroad can alleviate that feeling, giving you the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a place. Depending on where you choose to put down roots, you may also find that it is easier and more affordable to travel to other nearby countries as well. For instance, if you base yourself in Switzerland, weekend trips to other parts of Europe can be made simply by hopping aboard a train.
As we get older, family commitments, career demands, and other priorities can make living abroad a lot more challenging. If this happens to be an item on your bucket list, then seize the opportunity while you can and embrace the possibilities. You just might find that the life of an expat may be exactly what you want and need. If not, you'll have experienced something that most people never dare to even try. That alone makes it worth doing.