Your 20’s are the perfect time to get out and explore the world. You’re young, agile and (besides having to manage that flat-lining budget) without many responsibilities. This time is also the time to figure out the type of person you are or want to be, and you know what they say – there’s no better teacher than travel. I’m a huge advocate for finishing your college degree and then giving yourself a few months before starting your career. These two, three, six? months in between are ideal for checking some wanderlust dreams off your list.
Backpacking Europe or SE Asia
This is by far the most economical way of seeing the world. A well-planned backpacking trip can be fairly cheap (think hostels!) and stress-free. It’s also the most practical way of seeing many countries at once. When I backpacked Europe I was able to experience about 16 countries, something that would have next to impossible to do individually. Come up with a budget and hit the road! You’ll come back feeling accomplished and ready to take on the ‘real’ world. If you’re interested in knowing how I did it, here are my Europe and Asia backpacking breakdowns.
Road trip the US West Coast
A road trip of any kind can be great, but the West Coast of the United States is basically built for it. There’s a ton of iconic cities to visit and even more national parks to explore. Start in southern California and work your way up to Washington. Incorporate cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle. If you enjoy camping and hiking, Utah has some of the most famous national parks in the world!
Spontaneous trip to another country
If you’re someone that likes to plan everything down to a T, take an off the cuff trip! Not only can it be exhilarating but it can also deeply change you. Keep a look out for airplane fare specials and when you find a good one – book it! Especially if you had never thought about going to that specific place before. A friend and I did this with Peru and it was one of the best trips of my life.
Hostel/Volunteer work in a hostel
This is another great way to get out and see the world on a small budget. There’s a ton of hostels across the globe that take on volunteers in exchange for free accommodation and food. Requirements vary by place, but there’s usually a two month minimum and you have to work 4 hours a day/ 5 days a week. A great website to check out is WorkAway. A group of 20 year-olds volunteering at the hostel I stayed at in Playa del Carmen, Mexico recommended it to me after I told them I’d been thinking about doing the same in Hawaii. Stay tuned! ;)
Visit an exotic country
Pick a place that seems totally crazy to you and go there. Maybe it's South Africa, or Bolivia or Finland - if it makes you feel like a total badass adventurer to tell people you're going there then you're on the right path. You know what a very affordable cool destination for those of us living in the US? Iceland. It's cheaper for me to fly to Iceland (from Florida) than it it is fly to New York or Cali. It's also one of the most unique countries I've been to - highly, highly recommend.
Take a trip out of your comfort zone
Do it safely, but do it. These are the types of trips that expand your worldview and make you a more empathetic and compassionate person. Visit a third-world country or go somewhere where you can swim with sharks. Hell, just go to Barcelona and sunbathe topless with the locals - whatever pushes you out of your comfort zone. *With reasonable limits, of course.
Get lost in nature
This is one that I have yet to do, but dying and planning to! There's a few ways to do it: camping in national parks, hiking the canyons, trekking trips, Airbnb cabin stays. Really, I'd be happy with anything near the mountains or ocean that forced me to stay away social media for a while. This is also the kind of trip you can do at any point in your life, which is great, but taking the whole family with you would make it a very different type of outing. Embrace the freedom of being in your 20's and do it now.