Yep. It’s one of those lists. But hear me out. This post has been written with some deep travel reflection, taking into consideration that Jules is now over the decorated 30 mark and we’ve been traveling consistently throughout our 20s and now into our 30s!
As we get older our approach to travel changes. Jules and I both did solo backpacking trips in our early twenties and we can attest that how we traveled then is vastly different than now. This article is partly tongue-in-cheek because, of course you can go to Carnival in Rio way past your thirties. In fact, I encourage you to. All of these trips can be done at any age and I highly recommend forgetting how old you are and just living it up.
“But, there is something to be said for traveling in your twenties!”
There’s a reckless abandon, an assumed invisibility that pushes you to go cliff-diving and party till dawn. In your twenties you’re much less likely to care that the hostel you’re staying at has a thick layer of dirt over everything, that your next meal is probably going to be beans and rice and your cheap beer has gone warm. Travel in your twenties isn’t just about sightseeing or checking things off your bucket list, it’s about experiences, connecting with people from all over the world and living in the moment. So if you’re under 30, go out and experience these to the fullest. And if you’re over 30, do them anyway, having more life experience under your belt brings another unique perspective to travel.
1. Carnival in Rio, Brazil
Arguably the biggest party in the world. Partying all day and night for a week calls for some young blood.
2. Full Moon & Half Moon Parties in Koh Phangan, Thailand
We just made this one before Jules hit 30. Both parties are epic and full of messy twenty-something backpackers ready for a 3 day binge.
3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
When you’re in your twenties you have the stamina to get up at 4, walk around the temples all day and then party it up in Siem Reap that night.
4. Las Vegas
Vegas is great at any age, but there’s something about experiencing Sin City for the first time as a twenty-one year old with the lights of the strip and the cha-ching of the slot machines.
5. Carnival in Veracruz, Mexico
Unlike Rio, Veracruz’s parade is pretty much anything goes. That includes jumping in line and dancing with the performers.
6. Coachella in Indio, California
Coachella in your twenties isn’t just about the music (although it’s fantastic). It’s about the epic road trip down to Indio, piling your 15 closest friends into a Palm Desert rental home, the excitement of getting ready and scheduling your day around band times. And of course the music.
7. Vang Vieng, Laos
If you’ve been to Southeast Asia you’ve heard of the infamous tubing parties. These are supposed to get pretty messy with gap year kids and other youngin’s drinking for weeks on end. You gotta be in your twenties to enjoy that.
8. The Death Road in La Paz, Bolivia
This biking trip in Bolivia may not be quite as scary as the name implies, but it still takes guts to ride down the terrifying road.
9. Machu Pichu, Peru
Another wonderful spot that can be done at any age. But in your twenties you’re much more likely to opt for the adventurous route, walking for hours along the train tracks and hiking up to the entrance. Plus you’ll still have the stamina for partying the rest of the night in Cusco.
10. Amazon Jungle
Because you’ll be young enough not to worry about all those crazy jungle diseases.
11. Tomorrowland Music Festival, Belgium
One of the world’s biggest music festivals. Get down with over 180,000 of your new best friends.
12. New York City
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do!
13. Great Ocean Road, Australia
Cruise up this historic Australian highway and have a crack at surfing some of the country’s best breaks. Your twenty-something year old body can withstand all your wipeouts.
You’d have to be in your twenties to keep up with the Spaniards who party well into the next morning. They start eating dinner at 10PM, hit up some bars by 12PM and really start partying when most people are getting up. It’s a young persons game, but plenty of Spaniards are keeping up.
15. Sacred Valley, Peru
This peaceful area not far from Machu Pichu is home to the famous Ayahausca retreats. Grab a spot between some old hippies and try the famous Amazonian hallucinogen.
16. Semuc Champey, Guatemala
These gorgeous Guatemalan pools are perfect to visit while you’re young and foolhardy enough to explore the underground cave system.
17. Venice, Italy
Not only is this romantic city perfect for young hearts, but better to go soon before it sinks!
18. Utila, Honduras
Join throngs of twenty-somethings getting their Scuba training by day and partying by night.
19. New Zealand
Explore this country with your feet kicked up on the dash of camper van, a Kiwi version of “On The Road.”
20. Ibiza, Spain
This Spanish island is all party, pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. If you’re looking for all night debauchery, then this is your place to go!
21. EDC in Las Vegas, California
Don you neon tutus and put on your beaded bracelets, you definitely can’t get away with coming to this electronic music festival past 30.
22. Bali, Indonesia
Whether you party it up in Kuta or surf at Bingin, Bali is truly young at heart.
23. New Orleans
Because no one wants to see you flash your chest for beads at 50. Well… most people!
Cuba is great at any age, but in your twenties you can join all the twenty-something locals drinking rum from the bottle at the Malecon in Havana.
25. Partying in Taganga, Colombia
This Caribbean town in Colombia may not have the nicest beaches, but there’s plenty of partying.
26. Trekking to the Lost City of Teyuan, Colombia
This three day trek requires you to cross a roaring river using a rope. We’ll leave that to the young and able-bodied.
27. San Francisco, California
The young rule this city, where you’re just as likely to meet a 21 year old college grad as a 21 year old CEO.
28. San Pedro, Guatemala
This beautiful town by Lake Atitlan is the perfect spot to post up for a few weeks and take advantage of the cheap Spanish classes and cheaper beer. There’s a young atmosphere of Spanish students and plenty of action and adventure if you’re looking for it.
29. Explore the Favelas in Rio, Brazil
Yes, Rio again, but for a completely different reason. Checking out the city’s slums, favelas, in your twenties will give you a good perspective on how the majority of the world live. Experiencing this level of poverty is humbling and will most likely give you a sense of empathy that stays with you throughout the rest of your life.
30. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Nothing will make you realize what a tiny space you take up in this world better than these epic waterfalls.