12 Trips Everyone Should Take in Their 20s

Road trip! Spring-break shenanigans. Your first time in the big city. These types of trips are a given in your 20s, but there are some things in this world that are better weathered when you’re young, such as hostels — and hangovers. Consider this your bucket list for the experiences that will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of wanderlust.
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Backpack in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is ripe for backpackers, as it’s light on packing and the wallet. We’ve lost count of the number of transformative travel tales we’ve heard after someone experiences food stalls in Vietnam, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and a Full Moon Party on Thailand’s Koh Phangan. (Word to the wise: Skip the fiery jump rope unless you’re unfazed by singed hair.)

Camp in the Middle of Nowhere (i.e., Glacier National Park)

There’s an old saying that being outdoors is good for the soul (or something like that), but you will feel more alive gazing at the reflection of Glacier’s namesake snowcapped mountains in a serene alpine lake. There are 1,000 campsites to choose from, but with a little planning (and a permit), you can head into the backcountry to truly feel at one with nature.

Go Volcano-Boarding in Nicaragua

Your 20s are the time to try new things, and we’re pretty sure you’ve never sledded down the (active!) Cerro Negro (“Black Hill”) volcano at 30 mph — are we right? What’s more, Nicaragua’s charming colonial towns, Caribbean islands, emerging food scene and new eco-friendly resorts beckon from just a short flight directly south.

Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Beads, booze and Bourbon Street — there’s nothing like Mardi Gras in the Big Easy. Just make sure to balance out your French Quarter imbibing with some late-night beignets from Café du Monde, all sorts of po’boys, and jazz on Frenchmen Street.

Take the Coming-of-Age Europe Trip

London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam — the possibilities are endless with a Eurail pass or cheap Ryanair flights. The Euro trip is a rite of passage for coeds studying abroad. Stay in hip hostels to save cash and meet cool people, and don’t be afraid to spin off for a solo trip to Vienna. Just don’t have any star-crossed-lover Before Sunrise expectations.

Experience Tomorrowland in Belgium

A music festival is a must in your 20s. While Coachella has some cachet, Belgium’s 3-day festival is on the next level. Because it draws the world’s top DJs and thousands of people, it’s safe to say you’ll make friends from all over the world — especially if you’re camping. Stay for a few days afterward to explore Belgium by train. The plethora of frites, chocolate and, yes, more beer will aid in your recovery.

Free Fall in Queenstown, New Zealand

You have 2 choices: Will you skydive out of plane or bungee jump off a bridge? Whichever you pick, nothing compares to the natural beauty and adrenaline rush that New Zealand’s “adventure capital" provides. Afterward, come back to Earth by relaxing at a fantastic vineyard or partaking in Queenstown’s bustling nightlife. 

Sail Around the Coast of Croatia

Sail. Party. Repeat. That pretty much sums up the Yacht Week — which has routes all over the world, Croatia being among the favorites — but we think the breathtaking scenery, motorbike adventures, spontaneous cliff jumping and potential to find far-flung travel buddies also have something to do with its growing popularity.

Sign Up for Surf Camp in Costa Rica

Anyone who’s taking their first surf lesson has only 2 objectives: to stand up on the board and to make it all the way in to the shore. Odds for both are significantly better if you attend a 5- or 7-day surf camp. In addition to daily instruction, many camps, such as Anamaya, offer organic meals and oceanfront yoga classes. Tack on a trip into the rain forest for white-water rafting, zip-lining or a volcanic thermal spa treatment, and you’ll return exhilarated and refreshed.

Raise a Stein at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

There’s no time like the present to Proust! Plant yourself at a long table under one of the brightly painted beer tents for a Hofbrau and a pretzel the size of your head. The mayor taps the first keg, kicking off the week’s festivities, but later sightings of lederhosen and “das boot” will likely be relegated to tourists (by that point, you won’t care).

Watch a Caribbean Sunset With Someone Special

There’s nothing that makes you feel more like a grown-up than that first romantic getaway. The perfect spot for your long walks on the beach? Vieques, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Check in to El Blok, a hip, new design hotel, and live out your Little Mermaid fantasies in a kayak for 2 on the Bioluminescent Bay.

Trek Through the Himalayas

Millennials have a penchant for craving authentic experiences. What better way to immerse yourself in the friendly Nepalese culture than to stay on an organic coffee farm? Organizations such as WWOOF connect travelers with local farmers, whom they help out in exchange for food and accommodations. In your downtime, you can play with goats, hike and rest up for the trek of your life! (Experienced Sherpa required.)