I had my thirtieth birthday party at a trendy bar in Brooklyn. I wore a red dress and a smile. But just an hour before, I’d been a nervous wreck. Turning thirty was a huge milestone, and unlike turning twenty-one, this birthday didn’t come with an exciting rite of passage. It just felt scary. At dinner before the party, my anxiety swelled to a level that even the mac and cheese I was eating couldn’t cure. I excused myself to the restroom and stared at myself in the mirror, bargaining. Maybe I could skip my own party, or just stay twenty-nine forever? Luckily, my friends made sure I got in the cab with them, and I ended up having an absolute blast.
Powering through my fears and throwing that party sums up the biggest lesson I wish I had learned before turning thirty: how to accept who I am, “flaws” and all.
In Things to Do Before You’re 30 I’ve compiled the top six hundred bucket list items everyone should complete before celebrating their big three-oh. From smaller feats you can achieve in your day-to-day life to important life skills and must-see places around the world, Things to Do Before You’re 30 has everything you need to make the most of your twenties. Pick a small item or two to complete during the week, or plan an entire trip with a bucket list activity in mind. Now is the time to figure out being an adult, but it is also the time to live it the heck up. Push back against the boundaries of your own routine. Conquer a phobia, watch burly German men dance the polka at Oktoberfest, let go of old grudges between siblings.
These are the years of you.
Something else to remember: your bucket list doesn’t magically end after twenty-nine. You can bring your unfinished list items into your thirties, or even redo your favorite ones over and over. Turning thirty can feel like the period at the end of a really long sentence, but the truth is that it’s just a comma.
Below, 11 things to add to your travel bucket list.
Taste champagne in the Champagne region of France.
Grab your driving buddy and hit the pavement to see some of America’s most spectacular sites, whether you’re into red rocks or really tall trees. Depending on how much time you have, you can see two parks in one trip, such as Yellowstone and Arches, Yosemite and Big Sur, or Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon.
Down a stein (or three) and watch the polka dancers at Oktoberfest in Germany.
Held annually in Munich, Oktoberfest features over thirty different tents, each waiting to offer you specialty beers once the mayor of Munich taps the official first keg at high noon on day one.
Float on the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
There’s nothing like getting off a long and cramped flight and heading straight to this surreal hot spring, where the water is bright blue and warmed by geothermal seawater. Wade up to the lagoon-side bar and grab a juice or wine, and let the water soothe your skin and soul. If you feel like splurging, you can sign up for an in-water massage.
A Hindu celebration of love, this springtime festival starts with a religious ceremony and then later turns into a fantastic party where everyone throws colored powders at each other, creating some gorgeously vivid moments and memories.
Soak strangers in red wine at the San Vino Wine Fight in la Rioja, Spain.
This wild Spanish tradition kicks off every June at seven a.m. with a procession and a mass, followed by an epic wine war as participants use jugs, buckets, and even squirt guns to douse each other in red wine. (Don’t worry, there’s an after-party where you’ll have the opportunity to drink wine too.)
Celebrate Día de los Muertos in Mexico.
The Day of the Dead is a multiday holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. It begins on Halloween and features festivals that include bright flowers, breads, sugar skulls, and
decorations in honor of loved ones who have passed away.
See a show at the Sydney Opera House.
It’s so easy to get swept up in the majesty of the Sydney Opera House’s iconic architecture that you might forget it’s an actual performing arts center, hosting forty shows a week. From Shakespeare plays to rock concerts to kids’ shows, there’s something for everyone’s taste.
Walk the Siq in Petra, Jordan.
The Siq is the stunning ten-foot-wide entrance to the ancient city of Petra. You’ll emerge from the gorge to the sight of Petra’s gorgeous treasury.
Finally…Go on vacation without posting anything about it on social media.
Or at least wait until you get back to post so you can enjoy every screen-less moment of your trip.
Photo: c/o Jessica Misener
Jessica Misener (San Francisco) is the former deputy editorial director of Buzzfeed, whose writing has appeared on Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, and more. She’s also worked as a T-shirt folder, dry cleaning assistant, grocery store cashier, librarian, and ancient Greek tutor. She lives in San Francisco, where she regularly eats twice her weight in burritos.