24 Places to Visit Before You’re 30

Being 30 is strange. It kind of feels just like being 29, but it’s not. You’re a real adult, and you can’t pretend otherwise. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of your 20s – this is your last chance to be young, free and have the cash available to spend on yourself.

Here are the 24 trips I’d recommend you try before you hit the big 3-0. I’ve done 15 of them so far, and it’s now too late for me to reach the 24, so go, 20-something year old, go where I didn’t…

1. Travel through South East Asia

Bagan, Burma

Backpacking in South East Asia either alone or with friends is the first trip for so many travellers, and for good reason. It’s easy to travel around, there are many other travellers along the route just like you, and you’ll usually know someone who’s done it before. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are the usual suspects, do it!

2. InterRail Europe

InterRailing Europe

Europe is incredible, and totally underrated, especially by us Brits (Brexit much?). There’s so much to see and do in every country, and there are many schemes set up to help the budget-minded stay for cheap. Get yourself an Interrail ticket and explore!

3. Hike Patagonia

Hike Patagonia

Trekking Patagonia, through Argentina and Chile, has to be a top life goal for many a traveller. The scenery and terrain just look incredible. Yes, this is one of those trips I haven’t done, but dream of. Apparently, it’s here that you can really find yourself on those mountains and learn just how vast and incredible this world is.

4. Trek America

Yosemite National Park

The USA has some of the most incredible scenery you could hope to see. The National Parks are home to some unbelievable views and the drives through are stunning. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon, and Washington, or up the Half Dome in Yosemite Park or even Rainbow Point in Bryce Park, Utah.

5. Day of the Dead Festival, Mexico

Day of the Dead, Mexico

We’re all going to die, some day, so why not celebrate the fact instead of mourn it? Mexico’s Day of the Dead is one of the most intriguing and fascinating festivals there is, with graveside parties, specially made bread and parades through the street all night. People get dressed up, and spend the 1st November singing in the cemeteries with Mariachi bands to keep the rhythm.

6. Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

New Orleans is awesome. You might as well go the whole hog and visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras, when you get to party in the streets, watch the huge floats go by and try to grab the beads they toss at the crowd.

7. Ski somewhere awesome

Skiing on your gap year

The freedom of skiing cannot be emulated. I didn’t learn to ski until I was 23 and now I love it. That feeling as you cruise down, casual AF, the views laid out before you and knowing there’ll be a nice warm drink at the bottom of the mountain… it can’t be beat, I swear.

8. Explore India

Varanasi, India

India is all the things you’ve heard it is, guaranteed. You need a strong attitude and an even stronger stomach to make it through your visit.

The Dhavri Slum in India is one of the biggest in the world. I toured with a company who provides tours not to ogle at the residents, but to educate the droves of people who come to look. In fact, you’re not even allowed to take photos.

It’s trips like this that can also give you perspective, and can help you to realise just how damn lucky you are.

9. Newquay with your mates

Newquay, Cornwall

I went to Newquay in Cornwall, UK three years running when I was a teenager. In fact one of my friends met her now husband at Sunnyside Holiday Camp – one of the dirtiest summer camps around – a quick Google tells me it’s now shut down.

A road trip in the UK with your long time friends from school feels kind of like those ‘coming of age’ American movies we’re bombarded with. Yet, this time, you get to be the star.

10. Island hop in Greece

Santorini, Greece

Admittedly my first experiences of Greece were when I went to Kos and Kavos with friends on two super chavvy holidays. I don’t think we even left the main strip. Now I know you can do all kinds of things – Sail Weeks, trips to artsy places like Hydra, or tours round Mykonos and Santorini.

11. Get snappy at the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

These are the salt flats that everyone takes those weird perspective photos on. Rent a four-wheel drive, or join a tour, and go explore and play. Then show off your clever and hilarious photos on social media for the world to see.

12. Visit Disney and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida


Leave it too late to do this and you’ll have to take your kids with you – boring! Go now and you can do exactly what you want, go on the rides you like, and have a ridiculous amount of fun without a child pulling at your sleeve.

13. Party in Amsterdam

Amsterdam at night

A crazy weekend in Amsterdam is an awesome thing to do while you’re still young, free and ready to try new experiences. You can get there easily on the Eurostar, or get a cheap flight over. And once you’re there, you know Amsterdam allows things other countries don’t, right?

Have fuuun!

14. Drink at Oktoberfest


My week at Oktoberfest in Munich is one of my favourites. Beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wearing drindls, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

15. Go for a once in a lifetime experience

Olympics fireworks

Whether you want to go to a World Cup, an Olympics, SXSW, the World Series or Burning Man, you should do it. You could probably only ever afford to do them once in a lifetime, but if you really want to, it’s worth treating yourself.

16. Hike the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

Granted, this is another one I haven’t actually done, but I’d love to. My ‘things to do before I’m 30’ opportunity is over a year out of date, but you can still travel at my age, don’t worry.

Hike Machu Picchu and you’ll get to follow the 15th Century path of the Inca Trail, enjoying the incredible views into the valley. It’ll be life changing.

17. Drink wine in Cape Town

Cape Town vineyards

Cape Town is one of the coolest and most surprising cities I’ve visited. Of course I knew about South Africa’s wine heritage, but I never knew how interesting and open the country would be.

Their disturbing racial history (and, unfortunately, present) is just one of the aspects that makes the country fascinating. People also visit for the art, the food and the adventure sports too – just a few of the reasons why Cape Town, and South Africa, is well worth a visit.

18. Costa Rica

Cosra Rica surfing

Wildlife that can only be found here, epic forests and the fascinating local culture makes Costa Rica top of animal and earth lovers’ lists.

19. Ex pat in Australia

Sydney Harbour

Oh Australia, so much to see and do, us Brits can’t resist spending a year or two there, can we?

There’s a reason thousands of under-30s get their Working Holiday Visa and head off Down Under – it’s got the familiarity of England, but the sun, the sand and the hot surfers. A year in Australia is a great way to experience a new culture and make some money at the same time. I know a lot of people who say that their year in Oz was the most fun they’veever had.

20. Travel the Amazon in a boat

Boating up the Amazon River

I mean, can you imagine the adventures you’ll have? And the stories you’ll gather to tell everyone back home who’ve just been wasting their money on the weekend?

Spend just a few peaceful days on this incredible stretch of water in Brazil and you’ll probably see more wildlife than you’ve ever seen in your lifetime. It’ll be a trip to remember.

21. Visit Jerusalem


The epicentre of so many religions, and fought over every single day – Jerusalem has to be one of the most interesting places in the world to visit, right?

In order to see Jerusalem for what it is, and not as a particular political or religious party will lead you to believe, you’ll need to take a few tours here. Gather the facts and then decide what to think.

22. New York

New York

The first time I went to New York I think I cried. I mean, it was 2002 and I was knee deep in wanting to be Carrie Bradshaw off Sex and the City. There’s just something so exciting about the Big Apple that needs to be experienced.

Tag NYC on to a big USA adventure, or just go for a long weekend when you’re feeling flash. Either way, go!

23. Explore Japan

Mount Fuji

Japan is without a doubt one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. You can ski, explore the future in Tokyo, the past in Kyoto, the beaches of Okinawa and also hang out with the monkeys in Nagano. There’s just so much to do here. And do not get me started on the food, or the robots.

24. Volunteering in the Third World


If you’re lucky enough to even think about doing some of the things on this list, I’d recommend you give back with a volunteering placement. You can find projects all over the world, from Costa Rica to Thailand, to India, the UK and beyond.

Check out these top gap year travel experiences


7 Days Southern Voyager

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7 days

Slalom through the South Island on a 7-day tour like never before. 7 days in our luxury vehicle soaking up...

Kyrgyzstan Overland

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15 days

Join this expedition to venture off the tourist trail through Kyrgyzstan and take in the stunning scenery in one of...

South Island Heli Tour

from £3075

7 days

Welcome to New Zealand’s Ultimate Heli Ski Tour! Over 7 days we will heli 3 different mountain ranges and head...

Vietnam – 14 Day Tour

from £955

14 - 365 days

Immerse yourself in all that Vietnam has to offer. Complete the Dong Flexi Tour in 2weeks, or hop off, spending...

Southern Light – South Island

from £1188

9 - 10 days

If your visiting the South islands and want a shorter trip that ensures you will enjoy New Zealand’s finest natural...

Cambodian Adventure

from £539

9 - 9 days

The Angkor Wat temples are so incredible that Cambodia put them on their national flag. Stare into the eyes of...

Oktoberfest Party Train from London

from £450

3 days

Spend time downing steins of beer, singing on table tops and befriending old German men!  Stoke's Oktoberfest Party Train will...

Mamma Mia

from £1300

13 days

Visit Florence, Venice, Rome, Cinque Terre, Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi coast and lots more with this 13 day tour for the...

Eastern Trail

from £539

8 - 8 days

Laze in the sun, travel back in time, and explore bustling cosmopolitan capitals of this undiscovered side of Eastern Europe.

Gorillas & Gameparks

from £695

19 days

See awesome wildlife including Mountain Gorillas in their natural environment or if you want an adrenaline rush, try quad biking...


Panama Experience

from £679

Costa Rica, Panama

From San José, hit the beach and mountain retreats on your way to the locks of the world-famous Panama Canal...

Photography Series: Crossing the Antarctic Circle

from £8330

If you make it to Antarctica, where few have ventured before, you’ll most certainly want the incredible photos to prove...

Great Ocean Road West–Melbourne to Adelaide

from £349


This might be a quick trip along the Great Ocean Road—but you’ll never feel rushed. Geared towards budget-conscious travellers looking...

Buenos Aires to Santiago via Ushuaia

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Venture deep into the frozen heart of Patagonia on an adventure through South America’s most spectacular scenery. Discover the pulsating...

London to Sofia by Rail

Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Roman...

This 3-week tour will leave you wondering why you waited to explore Europe's Eastern rails less travelled in the first...

Sabah Discovery

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Plunge into a realm full of verdant forests, rambling rivers and endangered wildlife on a trip through Sabah, Borneo’s jungle...

Eastern Europe, Croatia & the Balkans

from £2549

Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Re...

This epic cross-European adventure offers an intriguing combination of Central Europe's castles and romantic squares with the Balkans' own historic...

Discover Tasmania

from £2295


On any given drive throughout Australia’s rugged outback, the land slowly shifts from flourishing forests to rugged mountains as you...

Machu Picchu and the Amazon

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Introduce yourself to the best of Peru’s natural wonders and local culture on a 10-day adventure. Get in touch with...

Cape Town & Kruger Encompassed

South Africa

Savvy travellers know that a genuine African wildlife safari experience need not be all sweat and struggle. We built this...

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