I have celebrated my faux 29th birthday again and again…and again. I officially enter my mid-thirties in a few days and it’s time to embrace it. I mean, what’s really so terrible about being 35? If you’re like me with your 20s undeniably in the rear view mirror, you probably have more money in your bank account, a better sense of who you are, and more importantly, you’ve discovered your travel style. I know I have, so I’ve put together a list of 10 bucket list trips to take in your 30s for adventurers who love a little bit of luxury at the end of the day:
1. Go on an African Safari in Tanzania
A bucket list trip I’ve already taken in my 30s, going on an African safari in Tanzania tops the list of most amazing trips I’ve ever been on. Aside from spotting all of Africa’s Big Five, we watched a pack of hyenas hunt, zebras and wildebeest as they migrated on the Serengeti Plains and giraffes crane their necks just for a drink. We combined adventure with luxury by sleeping in tented camps and 1000 year old baobab trees all while traveling by private plane on a SkySafari.
2. Camp in Antarctica
The seventh continent has been on our bucket list for a while and we WILL make it there in our 30s. Not all Antarctica cruises are created equal though. When we go to Antarctica we not only want to step foot on the continent, we want to camp on it. It would be the highlight of my 30s to wake up to a curious penguin checking me out while cocooned in my sleeping bag. Quark Expeditions, the leader in Polar travel, offers the option to camp on the continent and when we go, we’ll be going with them. (Unless I get that job at the Penguin Post Office.)
3. Glamping in Moab
I like the fancy form of roughing it. Tim likes a bona fide camping experience. Glamping is a great compromise to make both of us happy – he’s out in nature and I still get to be squeaky clean every day. Moab Under Canvas sits right at the edge of Arches National Park, allowing you to commune with nature’s bizarrely beautiful formations and sleep under the stars. We’d love to spend a few days glamping and wetting our appetite for adventure while white water rafting the Colorado River, hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Park and hot air ballooning over Moab.
4. Snorkel in the Maldives
It be cliched to say, but the Maldives truly are paradise on Earth. The 1100 islands that make up the Maldives are home to some of the largest coral atolls on Earth. Swimming right off your over water villa is like diving right in to a life-sized aquarium. The over water villas with private plunge pools, underwater restaurant where you can dine on aphrodisiacs like lobster, couples massages and pristine white sand beaches at Anantara Kihavah Villas make for a sexy holiday best shared with your special someone.
5. Explore the Alaskan Wilderness
Alaska. The last frontier full of untamed, untouched wilderness. We think it’s the perfect adventure for a thirtysomething; after all it’s been an adventure destination since the times of Captain Cook. With only 20% of Alaska accessible by roads, we think Un-Cruise Adventures is the way to go. Massive floating resorts, er cruise ships, aren’t our thing. But a small expedition style ship that can navigate small inlets and passages and hosts an itinerary full of adventure activities from kayaking to hiking and even SUP is right up our alley. And we’d just be tickled pink to get up-close with Alaska’s brown bears!
6. Go Wine Tasting in Bordeaux
We retired from the club scene years ago and moved on to the art of eating well and enjoying the finer things in life, like wine. Meandering through the lush vineyards of Bordeaux, sipping some of the most highly coveted wine blend in the world, blending our own wine and taking a cooking lesson to prepare the perfect meal to pair with the wine are just some adult ways to have fun.
7. Swim with the Bahamas’ Swimming Pigs
Once upon a time we planned to honeymoon at the brand new Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. That was 13 years ago now and it never happened. And now if we were to plan a trip to the Bahamas, we’d opt for the lesser known islands to seek out pristine beaches and exotic nature. The Exumas, where you can call ultra-exclusive luxury resorts home at the end of an adventure filled day, make us go googly-eyed. And you can swim with the Bahamas’ famous swimming pigs!
8. Drive the Ring Road in Iceland
Iceland is a great destination to go to no matter your age and we’ve seen the twenty-somethings hitch hiking, surviving off of nothing more than the $2 gas station hot dogs and pitching a tent wherever the wind took them that day. But in your 30s you can splurge on amazing experiences like a helicopter flight over the Holuhraun eruption, luxury accommodations like the stunning Hotel Ranga and feast on Iceland’s fantastic cuisine. Honestly, after a day of hard core adventures like trekking to the summit of a glacier, wouldn’t you prefer to soothe your tired muscles in a hot tub under the stars before indulging in lobster bisque and filet of lamb?
Northern Lights tourism is still a relatively new trend, though the Northern Lights themselves are not. The Aurora Borealis, and its southern counterpart the Aurora Australis, have been dancing in the Polar Night for at least as long as the Earth is old. Over the last two or three years as the sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle, spectacular photos of green, red, purple and sometimes even blue curtains have intrigued people enough to travel to the far north in teeth-chattering temperatures for a chance to witness the phenomena in person. Taylor made holidays to Lapland combine Northern Lights tours with other adventure activities from dog sledding to sleeping in an ice hotel. It truly is a trip of a lifetime, albeit an expensive one, and worth the splurge.
10. Explore Easter Island on Horseback
I’ve wanted to visit the remote speck of an island in the middle of the Pacific, known as Easter Island, since I saw Matt Lauer report from there in his Where In the World is Matt Lauer series on the Today Show. Though only a few flights each week carry adventurous tourists to Easter Island, it’s certainly not an undiscovered place. But some of Easter Island’s most spectacular Moais (the weird statues) are accessible only by trail and best explored on horseback. It’s even possible to arrange multi-day horseback excursions around Easter Island, which sounds like the perfect adventure to me.