Everyone talks about travel in your 20s like it’s the prime time, right? People talk (and bloggers write) like it’s the only time travel is possible or something, you know? But let me tell you, that’s 100% not true! Instead of hostels and taking the slow transportation to save money, your 30s is the time when you can afford to stay in a nice hotel, take the hour-long flight to Santorini instead of the 6.5-hour ferry, eat street food because you want to, not because you can’t afford anything else.
Your life situation will almost certainly be different in your 30s than it was in your 20s, and so should your travels be. One of my most popular posts ever is 20 Trips to Take in Your 20s, so I thought it was high time to take it up a notch! In case you need some inspiration, here are the top 30 trips everyone should take in their 30s. Pick three, and commit to accomplishing them in the next year. Then pick three more! What’s first on your list?
1. An Event Trip
This is that concert you couldn’t afford in your 20s. This is that opera at the Sydney Opera House you were too afraid to go to on your own. This is the running of the bulls in Spain. This is tickets to Wimbledon! Whatever huge, previously unattainable thing you want to do, your 30s is the time in your life to do it.
Start here: Travel Splurges Worth the Money
2. A Hobby Trip
Are you a runner? Pick a new race anywhere in the world—my husband and I met at the Prague Marathon! Are you a Titanic enthusiast? Visit the Titanic Museum in Belfast, where it was built. Are you a bird watcher? Choose one of the best bird watching destinations in the world, and go there. Whatever formerly uncool, very niche, much-beloved hobby you have (maybe one you hid in your 20s), make it your travel inspiration in your 30s!
For my fellow runners: How to Run Anywhere in the World
3. A Nature Trip
In your 30s, you probably spend a little more time at the office—or at home—than you realize. When was the last time you went for a hike, went camping, spent the day at the beach, or went skiing in the shadow of a majestic mountain? Probably a while, right? Sounds like it’s time to book a glamping trip in the Moroccan Sahara. Or maybe a Safari in Kenya. Or an epic adventure in the Galapagos to see unique animals who don’t have to be afraid of people. Get back to nature, even if just for a short trip, and see what you’ve been missing.
My favorite way to appreciate nature: The Best Hikes in All of Hawaii
4. Gift a Trip
This is one kind of trip you probably didn’t have in your 20s-style budget. In your 30s, however, you’ve had some time to save, time to climb the occupational ladder, or maybe just time to learn how to loosen your purse strings a little. This is the perfect time to give your parents, siblings, or another important person in your life the trip they’ve always dreamed of, but never took for one reason or the other. Trust me, even if it’s not a place that’s on the top of your travel list, you’ll love seeing them enjoy it—and enjoy it with them.
Fun ideas here: How to Surprise Someone With Travel
5. A Heritage Trip
Where did you come from? Can you pin-point the country? The region? The city? Try to find out, and then go there to see what your distant relatives saw, experience their experiences, eat what they ate, and find out a little bit about your background. You might just gain an understanding about yourself and your family you never realized you were missing.
Not sure where to start? What to Know about Working with a Travel Agent
6. A Luxury Trip
You earned it! If you spent your 20s in hostels and shady Air BnBs, you really need to book a luxury hotel somewhere special. There are major deals out there, even on luxury hotel brands, so you really have no excuse! But don’t stop at the hotel room. Treat yourself to a spa day, ask the concierge to make an impossible-to-get dinner reservation for you, order room service, and if you’re feeling especially fancy, upgrade your flights to business class! Whether you use cash or cash in on credit card points, just make that luxury trip happen.
My favorites: The Ultimate Hotel Luxuries Around the World
7. A Staycation
Hear me out! Sometimes we don’t appreciate the good things that are right in front of us. And sometimes, you need an efficient vacation that won’t leave you jet lagged, or break the bank! A staycation is the perfect compromise. Treat it just like you would a trip to an exotic land: Book a hotel, make dinner reservations, plan to visit museums and famous sites you take for granted (even if they’re just famous in your town!), and remind yourself of why you live where you do. Bring a friend, take your family, or go solo!
More here: How to Love Your Staycation
8. A One-on-One Trip
If your 20s were all about finding yourself, your 30s are about connecting with others. This can be achieved in many different ways, but I believe the best way is one-on-one. Maybe you and your spouse need some alone time together to reconnect. Maybe you and the parent you didn’t relate to as a child need an opportunity to learn how to be friends. Maybe you had kids early, and your oldest is ready to see a little more of the country or the world with you. Maybe your best friend is getting divorced and needs some time away from it all with someone they can trust. Whatever the reason, a one-on-one trip could be just the right thing.
Save some heartache: What to Know about Your Travel Buddy
9. An Island Getaway
There’s nothing better than an island, hot or cold. Islands are generally secluded, there’s only so far to go, there are only so many things to do, and whether you’re visiting Iceland or Tahiti, there’s something inherently slower about life on an island—in a good way! Every island is unique, even within the same island chain, so there’s an island out there for you, no matter your travel preferences. Trust me, you need an island getaway for happiness, mental well-being, and a reminder to slow yourself down!
Looking for something special? How to Choose the Right Hawaiian Island for You
10. A Foodie Trip
Love coffee? You need to visit some coffee farms! Are you a key lime pie enthusiast? Head to the Florida Keys! Always wanted to try French pastries in France? Now’s your chance. Want to taste real Thai food in Thailand? What are you waiting for? I know several people who want to eat their way through Italy. I, myself, had a dream of going to afternoon tea at the Savoy in London—so my husband made sure we got to do it! Whatever your foodie dreams, make them a reality.
Can’t find someone to go with you? How to Enjoy Dining Solo
11. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
No, really. Do something you thought you’d never want to do, and see how you like it. I’ll be the first to say I hate the cold, but seeing snow-covered mountains in person, hiking in the snow, bundling up to see the Northern Lights—it’s kind of magical! Do something a little uncomfortable in your 30s. Maybe it’s skydiving, scuba diving, or not at all diving-related. The point is to do that thing you were afraid of. Do that thing you never thought you could. You’re in your 30s: You know what you like, you know what’s comfortable. Challenge yourself in a new way now.
Need some ideas? 6 Solo Travel Experiences Everyone Needs to Have
12. A Trip You Didn’t Pick
Some of my favorite trips are the ones I didn’t even have on my radar! When my friend Andrea wanted to go to Turkey, I tagged along even though it had never been on my “to travel” list. When Steve wanted to go to the Baltics, my first thought was “Didn’t that used to be Russia? Are we allowed to go there?” But that trip remains one of my favorites ever! My younger brother wanted to go to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to visit the Titanic Museum there. I had no idea I would love Belfast and its people until I went myself! Find a new destination by asking a friend or family member where they want to go. Then, go! No complaints, all open mind.
One of my most popular posts: The World’s Most Underrated Travel Destinations
13. Explore a New-to-you Country
Even the most adventurous travelers have “that place” where they go back to again and again, and that’s perfectly fine! (My husband’s and mine is Hawaii.) However, when you find yourself booking the same vacation multiple times, that’s the perfect moment to remind yourself try somewhere new. Maybe you need someone to tell you that you need to branch out (I’m here to do that for you!), or maybe you need someone to give you permission to go somewhere new (I’m here to do that for you, too!). Either way, make sure you visit a new country in your 30s. You might just find it’s a new favorite!
Also helpful: 5 Things You Need to Know for International Travel
14. A Road Trip
Okay, so, personally, road trips are not my favorite. But some destinations are worth it. The Road to Hana can only be done… On the road! The best way to explore the Florida Keys is by car. California’s Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Load up your family, or simply yourself, grab your favorite car snacks, and plan to hit up every local coffee shop you come across on the journey. Make that road trip happen!
More here: Tips for the Ultimate Road Trip
15. A Tropical Vacation
Island breezes, limitless sunshine, sandy beaches, scenic hikes, adventures on land and sea… What could be better?! A tropical trip, whether to an island or a coast, is the dream for most people, right. But when was the last time you went somewhere like that? My husband and I visit an island for our anniversary each year, because we want one trip where there’s only so far to go and only so much to see. It helps us relax and reset while we get our vitamin D and vitamin “sea.” Where’s your next tropical trip?
Also this: 5 Trips for Positive Vibes
16. A Wellness Trip
I don’t mean an hour at your local spa. I mean a trip that’s fully focused on recharging yourself. Don’t just visit the spa. Stay at a spa hotel. Do the yoga you never have time to do. Go on a whole yoga retreat if you feel like it! Go to Italy for a food tour, and take a cooking class if that’s the kind of thing that makes you happy. Go to Iceland to visit every hot spring! Visit Sedona and see what it’s all about. However you’ve always wanted to spend your “self care” time, find a place where you can do that, and go.
Need ideas? How to Practice Self-care on Travel
17. A Truly Romantic Trip
This may not be for everyone. But if you’re married or have a significant other, you’ll want to make this a priority at least once a decade! Whatever is romantic to you, whether that’s spending Valentine’s Day in Verona, skinny dipping in your own private plunge pool in Bali, creating your own perfume on St. Martin, or dining at the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, plan a trip to go and expereince it together!
18. A Girls’ Trip (or a Boys’ Trip)
Just like you need some exclusive time with your loved one, you also need some time with your friends, too! Take a weekend in New York City with the girls, a hunting trip to Ni’ihau with the guys, or pick a place you’ve always wanted to go and convince your friends they’ve always wanted to go there, too! It’s all about balance. Your 30s is the time to lean toward the serious side and make responsible life choices, but it’s a disservice to yourself to forget you also have a fun side! Give yourself an excuse to have a little fun.
19. A Trip You Earned Entirely on Points
You’re old enough now that you don’t need to play the “what’s the cheapest thing” game. If you haven’t already, your 30s is the time of your life when you need to start playing the points game. With the right travel credit card, you can earn enough points to fly where you want, how you want; stay where you want, when you want. While you have to stay on top of your finances (which you should be doing anyway!) to make this work correctly, the reward of travel is worth the little bit of effort to harness the cash you’re already spending on your regular life. You may as well get rewarded!
Here’s how: The Beginner’s Guide to Using Points to Travel
20. A Business Class Flight
One red-eye flight in a lay-flat seat, with a proper meal or two in your belly, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Treat yourself! Use those points you earn from either flying or using your credit card to upgrade yourself, or simply buy the seat you want outright. Sometimes the price difference isn’t so much more! Everyone flying more than six hours needs to experience a lay-flat, business class seats at least once in their life, preferably overnight so you can enjoy some sleep, too.
More worth it than you think: Hidden Benefits of Business Class
21. A Parent Payback Trip
I don’t know what your relationship with you parents is like, but like my husband says, “By the time you’re 30, it’s no longer your parents’ fault.” In my 30s, I started appreciating my parents more, even though they still didn’t understand my need to move and travel and see the world. I started seeing them as people instead of only as my parents, and I wanted to use my travel experience as a gift to them.
I’ve taken my mom to Prince Edward Island, Canada; Waco, Texas; and soon I’ll take her to St. John’s Newfoundland to see puffins and icebergs! Steve and I took my dad on trips to Gettysburg and Annapolis, and we plan to take him to Iceland when he retires. We took both my parents on an anniversary trip to Key West last year for their 40th anniversary! Where can you take your parents as friends?
Start here: How to Plan a Trip (A Step-by-step Guide)
22. A Carry-on Only Trip
No, this doesn’t mean you’re traveling like you did in your 20s; this means you’re traveling efficiently. Take it as a challenge! If you’re used to checking an oversized bag (or two), you’ll be amazed at how freeing it is not to worry about all that and just go. No waiting at baggage claim, no worrying whether or not your bag made that tight connection, none of that. Give it a try.
Read this next: The Pros and Cons of Traveling Carry-on Only
23. A Long-term Trip
Okay, I realize a month-long (or longer) trip all at once is not in the cards for everyone in their 30s. However, if you can swing it, you won’t regret doing it. If you’re between jobs, take that six weeks of vacation time you’re owed, and take a true vacation before you start the new job. My doctor did that (and went solo—her husband stayed home!) and said it was one of the best things she ever did. Maybe you can take a sabbatical. Maybe you can transfer to an international office within your company for a year or two. My husband spent two years working in France in his 30s. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
More here: How to Plan Long-term Travel in Europe
24. A Euro-trip
Everyone needs to take a Euro-trip once in their life. Most of Europe is on the Euro, borders are largely open, the train system is fantastic, and the historic cities were all created to be walkable. You can cover a lot of ground, experience many different cultures, and eat a massive variety of food for the price of just one plane ticket, y’all! You don’t have to backpack it like people in their teens and 20s do (thank goodness!), but you do have to experience Europe as an adult with an appreciation of more than just night clubs and bars. Take the Euro-trip!
Keep reading: 8 Things You Forgot to Pack for Europe
25. Explore a New Continent
Have you been to all seven continents yet? If not, find a new one and head that direction! I was so excited for my first-ever trip to Africa. My husband had been to Kenya and Uganda before we started dating, and his experience wasn’t stellar, so he wasn’t too keen to go anywhere else in the entire continent. But I wanted to check off my sixth continent!
Luckily, we have an agreement that on alternating years, one of us gets to choose a “trip of a lifetime” location, and the other doesn’t get to veto or complain! In 2019, we went to Morocco and visited seven cities—SEVEN! Which continent are you dreaming of visiting?
26. Take a Deep Dive into Your Favorite Season
I think everyone has a favorite season. It’s the time of year when you come alive, feel most like yourself, smile the most, have the most fun. It’s your favorite. For me, it’s summer. I could live the summer girl life all year long. For others, it’s all about pumpkin spice and the colors of fall. For someone else, it’s the idealistic snow, skiing, and cozy nights that make up winter. Still others live for the new life and renewed energy that comes with spring (these are the people without allergies).
So go for it! See the tulips at Keukenhoff Gardens in April for a spring fling! Visit French Polynesia for an endless summer experience any time of year. Go to New England for the ultimate leaf peeping trip in October. Or for the snow bunnies out there, head to Switzerland for epic snowscapes, iconic mountain peaks, and the ultimate in winter sports! Take one big, seasonal trip, and embrace everything you love about your favorite season.
Some of my favorites: The Ultimate Endless Summer Bucket List
27. A Home Country Trip
This is different from a “staycation” because, depending on how big your country is, it doesn’t have to be anywhere near your hometown! Go somewhere in your own country that’s completely different from where you live. Check out a different climate, a different part of the culture, a different cuisine. There are so many options to have an adventure in your own country!
Also helpful: How to Plan a Road Trip
28. A Truly Relaxing Vacation
Anyone who knows me is laughing right now at the fact that I put this one the list! This is one I’m definitely still working on. Your 30s is kind of like “go-time” right? You have the experience, so now you’re working hard to climb the ladder to your business goals. Or your kids are coming into that super-busy, non-stop, early swimming practice, late hockey game phase of life, and you’re barely treading water.
You need a vacation! Whether you’re dreaming of laying on the beach, or laying awake at night thinking about that Alaskan cruise you always wanted to take, stop waiting and start planning. However you need to be able to relax, make it happen.
More here: 10 Trips Every Traveler Should Take
29. A Solo Trip
If you’ve made it into your 30s without even one solo trip, it’s high time! Leave your insecurities and fears behind. People less capable than you literally do this every day—trust me, I’ve met people in my travels who seem to have no business doing anything on their own! Believe me, you can do this.
You can find the time to make it happen, too. It doesn’t have to be a three-month sabbatical. It can be a long weekend, an overnight excursion, or just a day trip. You’ll be amazed at just how capable you are, and maybe just how fun you are to be around!
Get all the info on my dedicated Solo Travel Page!
30. A Dream Trip
What are you waiting for? If it’s been your dream for over a decade to stay in an overwater bungalow, book your room and do it! If all your life you’ve wanted to see real castles in Europe, go! If you’ve always wanted to see lions, elephants, and zebras up-close, take that African safari, and don’t look back.
Even if you can’t find anyone else to go with you, even if you think it needs to wait, even if you think other people will think it’s weird, make your dream part of your real life. We’re not promised tomorrow, so make your life happen today.
Keep reading: 10 Life-changing Trips
Which one will you cross off the list first?! Comment below, then take a look at my Travel Tips Page for destination ideas, travel hacks, and tips to make your travels seamless!
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