I have celebrated my faux 29th birthday again and again…and again. When I officially entered my mid-thirties, it was time to just embrace it. 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 East Africa
A bucket list trip I’ve already taken twice in my 30s, going on an African safari in Tanzania and Kenya 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 in Tanzania and at boutique luxury camps in Kenya.
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. Dive 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 blends 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 in Bordeaux.
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. But now that we’ve been to the Bahamas twice, we’re so glad we opted 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 glaciers and volcanoes, 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?
9. Chase the Northern Lights in Lapland
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.
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I’m in my 30s too, and although I have no bucket list to speak of, I do want to go to Antarctica. I didn’t know you could camp out there though. I wonder what its effect will be on the “locals”? Based on this list, I also want to explore Lapland, see the northern lights, and of course set foot in Rapa Nui. Maybe I should write about my own bucket list…LOL
I’m 40 now and did a lot of great travels in the last decade…..and planning on to do somd more 😉
You are still so young – and these bucket lists will only get longer. I am heading to Maob at the end of the month. That part of Utah is one of my fave places on the planet. We’ll be staying at the Sunflower Hill Inn – a place I love. Good luck getting through this list.
There are two that stand out for me in this list.
Swimming with the pigs in those gorgeous clear waters!
And the Ring Road trip in Iceland. I would love to see both of these even though It won´t be in my 30´s ; )
Sarah Harkness says
I have already done the Bahamas, glamping in Moab (not all it has cracked up to be unless you spend the extra money for a large tent), and explored Alaska. Norway is on my list this year for Northern Lights, and I have always wanted to do a safari. I guess that isn’t bad for someone who is still 28!
Matthew Hirtes says
I’m in my 40s now. But would still love to visit some of these places. Thanks for the recommendations.
Catherine Sweeney says
Let me tell you about life beyond the 30s! It’s awesome. 🙂 And actually, still feels like 30 for me. Love these bucket list trips, although I might be able to skip swimming with the pigs. But Bordeaux? That’s right up my alley.
I love the idea of swimming with pigs in the Bahamas! Easter Island is my ultimate bucket list destination, I am fascinated by the whole mystery. I had the most amazing time on safari in Tanzania
Ahh your pictures of the Maldives definitely makes it look like paradise! I’d love to go there, and checking out the Northern Lights is on my bucket list too. I’m not sure about camping in Antarctica though – much as I like penguins, I hate both the cold and camping, so perhaps not. 🙂
OMG I literally want to do all of those but swimming with PIGS?! My favourite animal ever – gonna have to go immediately 😉
I love this. Definitely makes me look forward to my 30s that are right around the corner. A few of these were already on my list like the Northern Lights but there are a couple more I am going to have to add. Thanks for sharing.
Suzan Hall says
Great list! I would love to visit these places in my 30’s as I am traveler and it really excites me.People sometimes think that traveling is something you have to do when you’re young. It’s not. Currently I am exploring San Francisco tours and trust SF is one of the best place to visit in your 30’s.
I’ve got horseback riding in Iceland on my bucketlist, never thought about doing that on Easter Island as well! Also, the Maldives and swimming with pigs are definite items on my list.
Easter Island is on my bucket list. I figured I’d get to it when I do South America but there’s so much to do in S. America, I’m not sure I want to spend the time to get there and back.
Nat Deduck says
This is probably the most epic bucket list I’ve seen! You’re right, most of those items are on our list! Alaska, Antarctica, Maldives and Iceland have been on our list for ages!
As somebody past her 30s, I say that it’s never too late to chase luxurious adventures. That being said, I’m more into drinking wine than camping in Antarctica. Hopefully I’ll make it to Bordeaux the next time that I’m in France.
Marcus and Mel says
Some great ideas for trips. We are going to Iceland for Mel’s birthday next month and can’t wait. We’ve got some really interesting hotels booked, unfortunately the Hotel Ranga was unavailable for our dates.
An article like this just supports my ongoing saying – the more you travel, the more you realise you still have to see. So many wonderful places here. Would love to get to the Maldives and I’m hoping to get to Alaska this year. Lots of inspiration here.
Anne Klien ( MeAnne) says
The bordeaux is definitely high on my list wine good food hopefully this summer. And eastern island to explore
It’s true that age and experience does clarify you travel style and many other things so I’m OK embracing it. You picked 10 fabulous trips here wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could tick these (or even some of them) off in the next 5 years.
Joan Torres says
That’s an amazing travel bucket list! It’s sad to say that i haven’t done any of those adventures, but I’m not 30 yet so, I still have a lot of time! Love the swimming pig. Is this a real thing in the Bahamas?
Catarina Leonardo says
Excellent tips that you got here!! I am in my 30 and i want to try all of this. Swimming with pigs it would be amazing!!!
These are great! I’ll be 30 next year so need a whole new bucketlist to celebrate the coming of age :D! I’ve crossed offthe Tanzania safari, and will be camping in Antarctica next week eeeek! So excited for that one!!
Great list there! I’ve done some of them, but would love to go to Antarctica, swim with pigs in the Bahamas and see the Northern Lights.
Andrea Crain says
I’m in my late 20’s. Your bucket list is great, I’ve covered just one from this list. 😛 Last year I went to Maldives with my special one. Glamping in Moab is already on my list but, I have never heard of camping in Antarctica, would love to do that. African Safari in Tanzania also sounds great, full of adventure. Thanks 🙂
Jennifer Dombrowski says
Glad to hear you’re already working on some adventures from this list and got some inspiration for your own bucket list!
While I am in my late 30s, I never did create a “Bucket List” for this decade. Aside from visiting Machu Piccu and watching the World Cup in Brazil, I have really been slacking on my International destination bucket list this decade. Glad you created this as it has now gotten me to think about how I want to live my 40s soon! Going to start off by planning an epic trip for my Big 4-0 and go from there!
Jennifer Dombrowski says
Glad we could give you some ideas, Ray! Where are you thinking about for your big birthday trip?
Bob Miller says
Will be 31 this year and it’s a shame I haven’t done as much traveling as I would have liked. Been postponing my whole life and now with the kids here, it seems I won’t be doing much traveling as I had initially planned.
You’ve got to add swimming with sharks in Bora Bora to this list! It’s one of the best experiences ever. Great list though, making a million plans for the year right now haha.