Your 20s are supposed to be many things. Maybe you’re supposed to ~find yourself~ after four years of college. Maybe you’re hoping to meet the love of your life. Or maybe you’re supposed to work your way up the corporate ladder. Well, if all those things are true, then I’ve definitely failed at my 20s thus far. But I think to think that those things aren’t what my 20s are about. My 20s have been about growing and learning. I’ve learned so much about myself, so much about people, and so much about our world. A lot of that has been due to my travels, and so I’ve created this list of 20 trips to take in your 20s, to inspire other young adults to get out of their comfort zone and learn. I haven’t completed everything on this list yet, but it’s my goal to, as I believe all of the below have helped or will help me grow.
1. A ROAD TRIP
Whether it’s California HW1 from SF to LA, a round-trip of the USA National Parks, or the adventure of a lifetime on Iceland’s Ring Road, a road-trip is a must for your 20s. Few things are more freeing than the open road. You can pull over whenever you want, each day is different from the last, and you walk away from it learning more about yourself and the world. Get a friend or two onboard to make for one epic bonding trip.
2. A CITY BREAK
Have you always been obsessed with NYC? Do you dream of flashing lights in Tokyo? Is nothing more posh to you than the idea of high tea in London? There are so many huge cities, and each one is so unique. But one thing they all have in common is fast pace, tons to do, and a totally different way of life than even medium-sized cities. A long weekend or even a whole week trip to a large city is a great trip to take in your 20s.
3. A HIKING TRIP
Between grade school, college and university, and our first jobs, many of us 20-year-olds spend a lot of time indoors. That’s why a hiking trip is in important trip to take in your 20s. Reconnect with nature. Breathe some fresh air. Get some blood pumping. Whether it’s your local national park, like Yosemite, or a far-away dream hike, like the Inca Trail, choose one, grab a buddy, and GO. Human beings were never meant to be indoors as much as we are now days.
4. AN ANCESTRAL TRIP
Do you know where your parents are from? Do you know where their parents are from? What about even further back? Whether it is exploring the neighborhood your dad called home, or going back several generations, an ancestral trip to trace back your roots is a great trip to take in your 20s. It will help you get to know your parents better and understand the people and places that impacted who you are today. Try to make it a family affair by getting a sibling, parent, or cousin to come too. I finally went to Eritrea, where my parents are from, for the first time this year.
5. A SOLO TRIP
I’ve traveled partially solo several times, like arriving to a destination a night or two before my travel partner, or traveling alone for a day. But it wasn’t until 2019 when I took my first fully solo trip! I went to Italy for five weeks and honestly became a little too addicted to making all the decisions myself! Deciding on restaurants and running behind schedule was so much less stressful when it was all on me.
6. A TRIP IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
What would a tourist or visitor do in your home city? Is there a destination nearby? Feel like you live in the middle of nowhere? Just head to the closest touristy place near you. During your 20s, get to really know your area instead of always looking to getaway. I’ve grown up around San Francisco and know it well, but I never spent the night there until recently taking a four-day staycation there.
7. A TREAT-YOSELF TRIP
I’m always trying to make my buck go further. But I need to remind myself that some things are worth saving up for. In your 20s make sure to take some time to save up for a splurge trip, even if it is just a weekend or long weekend somewhere nearby. Be bougie. Don’t wait until you’re retired to treat yourself. Tomorrow is never promised.
8. STUDYING ABROAD
This will change you. College in America is marketed as the “time to find yourself,” and studying abroad is becoming more and more of that cliche university experience. Maybe break out of the mold and study somewhere besides Europe, like in Asia or Latin America. But regardless, one of the best trips to take in your early 20s is a few-month stunt as a student abroad.
9. A TRIP UNDER THE SEA
Did you know over 70% of the earth’s surface is water? I feel like most of us rarely see it. In your 20s, take a trip to help you appreciate our great seas and oceans. Snorkel (or get PADI certified and scuba dive!) somewhere with cool life under the sea. You don’t have to be in the Galapagos or the Great Barrier Reef. It can be at your nearest coastline.
10. A TOTALLY UNPLANNED TRIP
In your 20s, break away from the crowd and be spontaneous. Travel the old fashioned way, before websites and “must see attractions” laid out a clear tourist path. Especially these days with Instagram, everyone wants to do the same trips everyone else seems to be doing. Raise the stakes by using a country generator website or having a friend write down places and picking your destination out of a hat.
11. A VOLUNTEERING TRIP
This is something I really want to do, actually. In your 20s, have a global outlook and give back to the world instead of just focusing on what the world can give to you. This can be for as short as 1 or 2 weeks, but it will allow you to travel in a totally different way than as just a tourist.
12. A RELAXING BEACH GETAWAY
Whether it’s in Cancun or Cabo, or in Thailand, take a trip where you have no itinerary. Make it a real vacation where the goal is to relax. Definitely do high-energy go-go-go trips in your 20s, but also take some time to relax and slow time down.
13. A TRIP WITH YOUR PARENT(S)
No siblings, just you and your parent. We live with them every day until we are 18, but then we go and create our own lives. Keep in touch and keep growing the relationship with the people who raised you by including them in your travels. Choose a destination totally different than your childhood vacations, or take a trip down memory lane and recreate a family memory. Either way, take some trips with your parents in your 20s. Don’t wait until they are old to realize your time with them is limited.
14. A CULINARY TRIP
Don’t just eat instant Ramen and take-out in your 20s. Enjoy food and appreciate its role in a culture. Maybe you sign up for cooking courses, or maybe you just eat your way through a foodie destination like Lima, Taipei, Bologna, or New Orleans. When I visited NYC, I planned my entire trip around food spots I had been saving from Instagram the past years. And it was the best way to see New York. It took me everywhere from Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan to Jersey to Harlem.
15. A REUNION TRIP
Whether it be your BFFs from high school, your housemates from college, or even just all of your cousins, get the whole gang together. Your 20s are all about meeting new people, but don’t lose ties with your old tribe. Traveling together is a great way to learn new sides of each other, but make sure everyone is on the same page about the trip to avoid drama.
16. A BACKPACKING TRIP
Maybe it’s Europe, maybe Southeast Asia, maybe Latin America. Take two to three weeks to hop around from place to place with nothing but a carry-on sized bag, staying at hostels, eating cheap, and living life to the fullest. Your 20s are all about learning, whether that be about yourself or about the world, and a backpacking trip is a great way to do both.
17. SEE A WONDER OF THE WORLD
Chances are, there’s one near you. Whether you chose the new seven wonders or the old seven wonders, get cultured and visit at least one of these in your 20s. It will give you an appreciation of how diverse civilizations around the world were and are, and it will remind you that history is not as Eurocentric as Western schooling would have it seem.
18. A MUSICAL TRIP
We all love music. In our 20s is when we really hone in on what our musical tastes are, so what better trip to take in your 20s than one surrounding music. You could visit a top music destination like Nashville or Austin, or attend a festival like Outside Lands, Coachella, or Tomorrowland.
19. A LEAP OF FAITH TRIP
Literally, jump. In your 20s, push yourself. Not just mentally or emotionally, but physically too. Try zip lining in Costa Rica or the Santa Cruz Mountains. Sound too easy for you? How about bungee jumping in New Zealand or Switzerland? Not wild enough? Go skydiving somewhere. Whatever your comfort level, do something crazy.
20. A TRIP YOU THINK YOU’D HATE
Have zero interest in a certain continent? Research it a bit and I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile within a few clicks. Have a fear of one part of the world? Find one country there or near there that you feel comfortable enough visiting and book a trip. Maybe you’re bored by your own home country or region. Find the most popular thing there and give it a try. In your 20s, go outside of your comfort zone and challenge your own assumptions about what you think you know.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Did you like my 20 trips to take in your 20s? I haven’t done all these yet, but my goal is to. Have you done most of these things? Is there anything you think I missed? Let me know below!