They say your 20s are the best years for travelling (check out my 20 cities to visit in your 20s list): backpacking through Europe, full moon parties on Thailand’s idyllic islands, hostel pub crawls with strangers-turned-BFFs—what’s not to love? However, your 30s can be an even better decade for travelling. Think about it: you have more cash to spare, more refined tastes (or a better idea of what you like) and the ability to appreciate a destination beyond its best Irish pub (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Travel in your 30s is a time when you can afford to splurge a little, soak up the luxury and venture off the well-beaten path. Sure, you’ve swapped all-night benders for daytime exploring, but, just think, you’ll never have to have endure another 18-person bed dorm ever again. Here’s a little inspiration to kickstart what may very well be your best travel decade yet.
30 travel experiences to have in your 30s
1. Unless you’re a former boy/girl scout, camping can be a bit of a trial — go glamping instead. Try Mile End Glamping in Margaret River if you’re into intergalactic-looking space domes, or St Jeromes – The Hotel in Melbourne if urban rooftop camping is more your style.
2. The Louvre? Tick. The National Gallery in London? Been there, done that. Avoid the crowds and visit lesser known galleries such as Sammlung Boros in Berlin, a former bunker turned contemporary art gallery, and Walter De Maria’s New York Earth Room.
3. The Galápagos Islands, located off the mainland of Ecuador, served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and is a double World Heritage site (both land and sea are protected). This stunning archipelago has managed to retain its air of exoticism and mystery, making it an intriguing destination for adventure seekers and David Attenborough fans alike.
4. Chances are if you’ve been to or are travelling to Japan, the main cities of Tokyo and Kyoto will be on your itinerary (as they should be). For an experience off the well-trodden traveller’s path, head to Japan’s rural art island in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima Island, and check in to the architecturally impressive Benesse House while you’re at it.
5. Camp inside the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, in Vietnam. It was opened to the public in 2013 and can only be accessed through a tour. Apparently, fewer people have seen the inside of Hang Son Doong than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest.
6. You’ve probably worked out your vintage by now: red or white? Chardonnays or sauvignon blancs? Fortify (get it?) your viticulture education by renting a car (or vespa) and touring the globally renowned vineyards and cellar doors of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
7. Bora Bora in French Polynesia and the Maldives meet every prerequisite for romance, so it’s no surprise that both destinations top many couples’ ‘honeymoon destination‘ lists. However, these idyllic islands aren’t just solely reserved for loved-up honeymooners—you don’t have to be a newlywed to appreciate paradise.
8. Myanmar has become a red-hot tourist destination in recent years and it will only get busier as infrastructure steadily improves to accommodate the steady stream of incoming tourists into the country. For the classic Myanmar experience, take in the magic of the temples of Bagan in a hot-air balloon from above.
9. You’ve probably developed a finer culinary palate as you’ve gotten older or, at the very least, you’re no longer living on 2-minute noodles every night. Cross off a Michelin-star restaurant in the city you’re travelling to, or book a meal at a fancy restaurant which requires a reservation months in advance. Top picks: Momofuku Ko in New York, Noma in Copenhagen, Astrid y Gastón in Lima and Attica in Melbourne.
10. Watch the ‘Greatest show on Earth’: the annual Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration in Tanzania.
11. Are you reserving your first cruise for when you hit retirement age? You might want to reconsider and take a cruise through the mesmerising fjords of Norway pronto — you won’t want to leave this until after you turn 65, that’s for sure.
13. Sometimes you need a holiday to recover from your holiday. Why not make ‘rest and relaxation’ the focal point of your holiday and head to a mediation or spiritual retreat? Hit up hot spots: Bali, Thailand and India.
14. Take off on a classic road trip through the United States of America. Rather than taking the iconic Route 66, drive through the classic deep south passing Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.
16. Hire a car and drive the Ring Road around Iceland. Be prepared for jaw-dropping scenery around every corner.
17. Take the rare opportunity to swim with whales, the majestic mammals of the ocean. Swim with Blue whales and Sperm whales in Sri Lanka, or with Humpback whales in Tahiti and Tonga.
18. Join the pilgrimage of trekkers and hike the revered Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, which is often heralded as the holy grail of trekking. The highest point of the trek is the Thorung Pass at 5416 metres above sea level.
19. It’s no secret that New Zealand is an ideal place for a road trip; however, it also boasts a fantastic network of cycling tracks, so why not take in the breathtaking scenery from two wheels instead?
20. By the time you reach the end of your 20s, you’ll probably know Western Europe like the back of your hand. Dedicate your 30s to visiting the less frequented, but equally spectacular, countries of Eastern Europe, such as the Baltic countries.
21. Stay in an igloo? Don’t mind if I do. Try the Arctic Resort Kakslauttanen in Finland.
22. Tick off a fancy European ski resort, such as Chamonix, Zermatt or St. Moritz. Can’t ski? No worries, it’s just as fun spending your days curled up by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate in your hands.
23. We’ve all heard of La Tomatina, Oktoberfest and Carnivale. Head to lesser known festivals such as the Kurama Fire Festival or the Naked Man Festival, both in Japan, or the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea.
24. Don your khakis and go on an African safari. Make sure to tick off the Big 5!
25. For a not-so-typical travel experience, go on a group tour to North Korea and get a glimpse of what life is like in this isolated nation.
26. More related to time rather than age, travel to places such as The Great Barrier Reef, Venice and the Amazon Rainforest, which are in danger of disappearing completely.
27. For a spiritual experience, stay overnight in a temple and pray with monks in Koyasan, Japan.
28. There’s something romantic about train travel, don’t you think? Take the ultimate epic train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok or vice-versa. Alternatively, extend the train trip and travel on the Trans-Mongolian, which runs between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia.
29. It’s all about ecotourism and sustainable lodging nowadays, and many tourism operators are doing their bit for the planet and supporting local communities. Stay at the 4 Rivers Floating Eco Lodge in Cambodia, or for something even more lavish, treat yo’self to a stay at the Song Saa Private Island Resort, also in Cambodia, which advocates sustainable luxury, conservation and community development.
30. It doesn’t matter how old you are, Disneyland is always a good idea.
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