Woaaaaaah, the ripe old age of 21 is a goal for many. And despite being from the United Kingdom, reaching 21 was always going to be monumental for me. Despite the fact nothing really changed.
It’s the age where I really started to feel like an adult. I had graduated university, moved back home and finally got a full time job. To out all that knowledge I had learned at university to good use… LOL.
I suggest getting a move on these quickly. When you are in your first years of sixth form or university you will have a lot of free time, including 6 weeks or more each summer so you may as well make use of that time wisely. Don’t sit around waiting for things to happen to you — start doing things.
Travel can play a huge role in growing up and learning to be independent and confident. Adventure is a means of self-discovery; as we learn about the world and experience different ways of living in it, we grow more in tune with how our own skills and passions play a role. There are so many incredible bucket list adventures you can do, including driving Route 69 in America, road tripping around Iceland, backpacking in Bali and sofa-surfing in Australia.
And while life doesn’t end when you pass 21, you will certainly look back on your teenage years and early 20’s with lots of memories if you manage to pack a few of these once-in-a-lifetime trips before you have to sweat the bigger stuff. I am now 26 years years old, and I really made my teens and 20’s matter, taking trips to Thailand, Australia, Italy, France, Cambodia, Bali, and many more… I’d better get booking those trips!
Think of it as stacking the deck in your favor. You are basically checking off things now so that your late 20’s are awesome by default.
Pulling together a bucket list of ideas might seem a little lame, but it’s something that you’ll look back on and always be glad you did. So here’s 21 trips you should do before you turn 21….
1. Drive California’s Route
One of the best things you can do in your 20’s is head to the big USA. State Route 1 is a major north-south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S. state of California. At a total of just over 656 miles, it is the longest state route in California.
Check out my guides to the USA
2. Road trip around Iceland
This Nordic island nation isn’t far from the UK, but packs in astonishing natural phenomena and take-your-breath-away landscapes. Contemporary cuisine, Lord of the Rings-esque lands, stargazing, endless hours of daylight and geothermal springs. It’s hard to narrow it down. And make sure you take a pit stop at The Blue Lagoon like I did above…..
Check out my guides to Iceland
3. Exploring Bali
Highland panoramas, scenic waterfalls, open blue skies, golden sunsets and awesome sunrises across the coastline. There’s a reason why people say that Bali stirs the soul. Explore temples and palaces, go river rafting, sign up to a surf school, volunteer at an orangutan sanctuary, take a yoga class in the mountains and party all night. Best of all, it’s cheap – so you’ll be able to live like a king on a fortnight’s trip here. And if you’re looking for adventure, you can go river rafting!
Check out my guides to Bali
4. Island hopping in Greece
If you’ve never made it to Greece, then schedule in some time to discover its lesser-known islands by boat. Make a two week long itinerary fir Greece and visit Santorini, Crete, Mykonos and Rhodes and and discover little-known gems Astypalea and Tinos.
Check out my guides to island hopping in Greece
5. Visit The Great Wall of China
Discover why the Great Wall of China is one of the greatest wonders of the world. Tick off a visit to this awe-inspiring piece of ancient architecture steeped with history on this ultimate tour through China with Cosmos. This tour also showcases other remarkable landmarks in China including the Yu Yuan Gardens in Shanghai and the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an with walking tours and sightseeing opportunities to see the architecture at its finest.
6. Volunteer your skills where they’re needed
We can learn a lot about ourselves when we’re serving others. Your 20s are the perfect time to volunteer abroad, whether it’s in a country you’re passionate about or to put a skill to good use. Learn how travelling can (and maybe should?) be a two-way street.
7. Backpack through Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is one of the most accessible regions for the novice traveller – thanks to its mix of volcanoes, rainforests, rice fields, beaches and coral reefs. Some popular stops include Chiang Mai in Thailand, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Laos, Hanoi in Vietnam. Explore thousand-year-old Hindu ruins, rave on the beach, attend a Buddhist ceremony at dawn and hike through the jungle looking for wildlife. The possibilities are endless.
8. Take a trip with your best friends
I would 100% recommend taking a trip with your best friends every year. Some of my most memorable trips have been with my best friend Katie, as we travelled the world together. Despite having a boyfriend for the past six years, I make it a priority to plan trips with friends every year.
Check out my guides to backpacking in Southeast Asia
9. Trendy Berlin
Edgy, cool and creative, Berlin is one of the world’s best cities for boutique shopping, brilliantly offbeat nights out and hipster hangouts. Because it’s one of Europe’s most exciting cities.
Check out my guides to visiting Germany
10. Beautiful Islands of Croatia
Ancient walled towns, dreamy deep-blue seascapes, an unrivalled festival scene and guaranteed good weather. What’s not to love about Croatia? Visit festival and wellness island Obonjan, go fun-seeking at Sonus, take a Game of Thrones tour, go white-water rafting, stroll around the museums in Zagreb or simply spend your days enjoying cocktail after cocktail on the beach.
11. Go on an active vacation
I love going on an active vacation, whether its surfing in Bali, scuba diving in Thailand, cycling in France or hiking in Scotland. Who says you need to lie down and sunbathe for a week and not move? Go on an adventure that tests your limits and adopt healthy habits for life.
12. Nightlife in Ibiza
No surprises here – of course, the island that never sleeps had to make the cut. Even if you go to the white isle once, then you’ve ticked it off your bucket list. It’s one of the best places for under the 30s to play. Nowhere does sunset beach clubs and cocktails quite like Ibiza.
Check out my guide to visiting Ibiza.
13. Spend a weekend in NYC
New York is actually a fairly compact city, despite being one of the most popular cities in the world. And Manhattan alone can be walked in less than 30 minutes. But behind the map, are an array of magical discoveries waiting to be found. Thre are glorious cafes, bookshops, rooftop bars, shops, museums and much more.
14. New Zealand
Undoubtedly one of the most spectacular places on earth, and my favourite country on the planet. New Zealand is home to some incredibly beautiful views, lakes and glaciers. Make sure to take a decent camera, and grab those all-important Instagram shots.
Check out my blog posts from my trip to New Zealand.
15. Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale (also known in Turkish as a cotton castle) is a town in western Turkey known for the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. Ruins here include a well-preserved theatre and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km and the famous Antique Pool is stunning with submerged Roman columns, from the result of an earthquake.
READ MORE: HOW TO MAXIMISE YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE IN 2020
16. Romantic Paris
I love a weekend break to Paris, and it’s not just for the couples out there. Grab your girls, or your best friend and head to the city of love (and friendship). You can wander around the many parks and gardens, look at art in the Louvre, and soak up all the creativity of generations gone.
Check out my guides to visiting France.
17. Explore Italy
One of my favourite places, and where I am getting married in 2020 is Italy. A European country with a long Mediterranean coastline, and a country that has left a powerful mark on Western culture and cuisine. Its capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins and other cities worth a visit include Florence, Venice, and Milan.
Check out my guide to visiting Italy.
18. Hipsters in Toronto, Canada
Head to Canada’s largest city for art, food and dive bars by the dozen, oh and the best food – poutine! Here you can find a bustling food scene and boutique stays all across the city. There are plenty of reasons to discover Toronto.
19. Burning Man Festival, Nevada
Every year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s the Black Rock Desert to create ‘Black Rock City’, a temporary festival of art, hedonism and self-expression. Because it’s the most outrageous festival of all: alongside meditation and yoga there’s spanking classes, orgies, and naked foam parties. Chances are, you’ll only want to get involved when you’re young enough not to regret it.
READ MORE: 10 BUDGET-FRIENDLY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS TO VISIT IN 2019
21. InterRail Europe
And lastly but not least…. interrailing! Europe is incredible, and totally underrated, especially by us Brits (Brexit much?). There’s so much to see and do in every country, so make sure you head out and explore Europe by train at some point during your 20’s. Get yourself an Interrail ticket and explore!
If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.
Which ones have you done?! Let me know in the comments! What are your favourite trips to take before turning 30? Let me know in the comments!
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Other posts that may help you:
Ultimate Guide to one week in Bali Itinerary
Visit Lisbon: 9 Day Trips from Lisbon
How to spend 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Basel, Zurich and Lucerne
Berlin City Break: How to spend a Weekend in Berlin Germany
Italian Coastal Adventure in Positano
Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia
Beginner’s Guide to Europe Interrail Routes
Ultimate Guide to 48 Hours in Malmö
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Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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*In collaboration with Cosmos.
Sarah02/06/2020 at 12:30
I’ve only done Berlin and Ibiza and I’m 30 now. There are so many places on the list I’d love to visit though, seems like I need to get exploring haha. xo