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Turning 25 & My Travel Wishlist Before 30


        I love having a July birthday. It’s normally lovely weather, everyone’s in an excellent mood because exams have finished or summer holidays are looming, and having a summer birthday is the perfect excuse to get out in the sun or go abroad to celebrate. I’ve spent most of my birthdays in England, with a couple of key exceptions. My 19th birthday: in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, half way through my trip around Asia. My 22nd birthday: in Modena, Italy, during my third year abroad. My 23rd birthday: at Benicassim music festival in Spain with uni friends.

The Pick'n'mix cake at my 21st birthday

The Pick’n’mix cake at my 21st birthday

My 23rd birthday at Benicassim Festival!

My 23rd birthday at Benicassim Festival

        And my 25th birthday, last Saturday 12th July, was spent with my boyfriend in San Sebastián, on the coast of the Basque Country in the north of Spain. It’s a 5-hour train from Madrid and had been on my wishlist since I arrived in Madrid in February. And it was absolutely idyllic. We stayed in the Old Town, just 2 minutes from the beach and bang in the middle of all the incredible pintxos bars. Despite a rainy forecast we had fantastic weather and spent our days strolling along the beach, swimming in the sea, climbing hills to get to views like the one below, and eating absolute delicacies. (More on my birthday weekend in a separate blog post soon).

San Sebastián view over Playa Concha

My 25th birthday in San Sebastián

          There’s nothing I love more than travelling and exploring somewhere new, so it makes sense to indulge in doing just that on the one day of the year I celebrate my birth and very existence. I wonder where I’ll spend my next birthday in 2015… Do you prefer birthdays at home or abroad?

        I’m not overly keen on the number 25 if I’m honest. I certainly don’t feel 25 years old… I feel more like 22. The typical phrase is ‘I don’t know where the time has gone’ but I know perfectly well where it’s gone: a gap year, a 4-year degree and 2 years on a graduate scheme. It all adds up and I don’t actually feel like I’m lagging behind at all. It took me longer to join full-time employment because I took the excellent decision to spend 2 years living and travelling abroad, and I’m thrilled to have done such a great graduate scheme that’s allowed me to move to Madrid for 6 months.

        So that’s all fine, I don’t have the sensation that I’ve wasted the first half of my twenties. But nevertheless I’m still not happy about turning 25, although I can’t put my finger on why! It might be that I would like to have achieved more professionally by 25… It might be because of that awful saying (that men think is hilarious) that I’m creeping towards my ‘sell-by date’, or even worse already past it (I obviously disagree!). It might be because there’s so much more I’d like to do in my next ten (?) years of freedom. But taking 30 as a cut-off date (as everyone seems to think all the fun stops at 30) here are some of the key things on my travel wishlist. (Of course I have other goals on my personal/professional/financial wishlist but they are for my eyes only!)


My travel wishlist before I turn 30, in no particular order:

  1. Get my RYA Day Skipper qualification. In September I’m starting the RYA theory course in an evening class in London, and once I’ve done the week-long practical test in summer 2015, I’ll be qualified to charter and sail yachts all over the world.
  2. Visit Australia & Antarctica. The only two continents I’m yet to visit.
  3. Run a marathon abroad. I’m not a fan of running, but peer pressure and knowing that everyone else has run a marathon means I feel compelled to do it myself. But I won’t enjoy it…
  4. Do a sky dive. Hopefully somewhere scenic, not just in England.
  5. Do a bungey jump. I cannot wait for this one!
  6. Live for at least 6 months outside of Europe. I’ve spent a total of 1 year living in Spain and a total of 1 year living in Italy, but they’re both within my comfort zone. I’m thinking Asia…
  7. Go heli-skiing. This could be a tricky one as it’s outrageously expensive but definitely something to try once!
  8. Climb or hike a mountain. I’m envisaging Kilimanjaro here, not Everest!
  9. See the Northern Lights. We have a trip to Iceland booked for March 2015 with family friends to do just that!
  10. Work as crew on a superyacht. For one summer I’d like to escape the office work environment and head out onto the open seas! A friend of mine does it permanently and it sounds like the life… I’ve already done the winter equivalent (working a ski season) so I need to get the summer version out of my system.
  11. Do Ibiza in style. Definitely to be done before I turn 30, but only once I have enough money to do it properly.
  12. Volunteer in a developing country. I’m not yet sure of the cause or the country, but I often feel I don’t give back enough… My mother volunteers in hospitals in Ghana several times a year and I believe it’s a responsibility of everyone from a developed country to do their bit. We Brits and Europeans really are extraordinarily lucky to live as we do.
  13. Walk the Camino de Santiago (or similar). Numerous friends have raved about it and I like the idea of partaking in such an old and spiritual tradition.
  14. Backpack around South America. I feel like I know a lot about this continent, although I’ve only actually been to one country (Chile) and it’s supposed to be an incredible experience. Plus I now have friends to visit in lots of South American countries!

        Fitting all of this around a full-time job, it looks like I’m going to have a busy 5 years ahead! Who knows if I’ll still be blogging by then (probably not, if I’m to muster enough energy for everything on this wishlist!) but it would be fantastic to look back at this post in 5 years time and see how I did…

Do you think this sounds totally unrealistic? What’s at the top of your travel wishlist? If you’ve done any of the above then please let me know what you thought!


  1. That’s a great list! I had a similar one when I turned 25; however, I find as I creep closer to 30 (turning 27 this summer), my list of things to do while “free” keep growing! Definitely backpack through South America. It was one of the best things I have done.


  2. Went travelling for 6 months around SE Asia/Oz/NZ aged 33, ran the London Marathon/trekked to Everest Base Camp aged 36 and ran the NYC Marathon aged 37 it’s always funny hearing 20 somethings worried about the dreaded “Three zero!” 😉


    • Biggsy I knew you’d think I sounded stupid haha! You are the perfect example of why 30 is by no means the end of everything. But I do think it’s different for men & women (sadly) and you have had a lot more freedom than most people… You’re very lucky.


      • Not stupid at all! … but you are quite right – women do have to think about the timing of certain things but I’m very confident you’ll do all 14 trips on your list before 30 🙂 When Robbie Williams turned 25 the newspapers termed it the “Quarter Life Crisis” haha. Yes – I guess I’m fairly lucky although by now I probably should have a wife, 2.4 children and a people carrier like 99% of my school and Uni mates lol


  3. Belated happy birthday 😀
    you should travel to India and visit the Himalayas sometime… you’ll probably be able to get 3,6,7,8 and 12 done 😀 😀 😀


    • Thanks! I know, India should really be on this list as well as I’ve never been. But I can always go there after 30. The big backpacking trip I definitely want to do in my 20s is to South America.


  4. I can relate to this post in so many ways… I’m also a 25 year old who has an unhealthy obsession with karaoke singing Taylor Swift “…I’m feeling 22”. I haven’t got a wishlist for before I hit the big three oh because if the next 5 years are anything like the last 5, they’ll be gone so quickly!
    I learnt to sail last year and got my ICC, had a fab time doing it although the theory was pretty intense!


  5. What a beautiful setting for your birthday! I know exactly how you feel and I’m 2 years older than you so my panic is even more extreme! I guess we’re still young though and we have plenty of time to still do everything.

    You’ve got some great things on your wishlist – volunteering in Africa is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. Good luck fitting them all into the next 5 years!

    Happy birthday!! (oh and I love the pick n mix cake!)


    • Yes the cake was amazing! I will need a lot of luck to manage it all in the next 5 years. There are some that I’d happily do in my 30s as well, like visiting Antarctica, going heli-skiing and walking the Camino de Santiago. I just like to set ambitious (aka unrealistic) goals to try and push myself. But you’re right we still have PLENTY of time!


  6. I love this list and share a few with you, like heli-skiing and backpacking South America. And volunteer… and sky dive and bungey jump. And visit Antarctica. Ok, more than a few, because I could even go on 😉

    Good luck! I’m pretty sure you’ll manage a lot of it.


  7. Heli skiing would be absolutely off the chart!! And definitely visit Australia. I am learning that it is surprisingly diverse for a country that seems like it is one giant desert with a beach for a border.


  8. And yes, this seems completely unrealistic. But isn’t that what all travel fantasies/dreams are about? Having a ridiculous wish list that inspires you to find a way to make it happen. Unrealistic does in no way mean impossible.


    • Good I’m glad you agree! At least having some ambitious plans to work towards means I’ll accomplish more than if I made no plans. And I’m a big daydreamer so these will provide ample material!


  9. I know how you’re feeling – i’ve been in a different country for my birthday for the last few years! This year 25 was in Marrakech and previous to this I was in Rome and Hanoi. It’s great celebrating somewhere new, but scary to think how fast the time goes by!

    Your goals seem great and totally do-able! Let me know where you decide on for the marathon too, its one of the things I want to get done myself!


  10. I just turned 25 and I COMPLETELY RELATE! In fact I wrote a 30 before 30 list too, just to make sure I get things done in my twenties and don’t hit the big 3-0 without forcing myself to do things. Before we know it, time is flying again, and it’s a year later!


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