12 Bucket List Things to do Before 30

Chasing Emma looking over the desert of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.

Over the past few weeks I have made a decision that I didn’t realise I needed to make: I don’t want my career to be my life. You see, my job never seems to end, and while I hate working on it over the weekend I still regularly find myself spending hours on my laptop working; and before I can blink, the weekend is over! I honestly never thought that I would need to actively make this decision, but here I am.

So what sparked this realization? It was a combination of things.

First, over the past few months I have spent over ten hours each weekend creating lesson plans and marking student work. I also spent well over half of the down time over Christmas working on these things in an attempt to prepare for the year ahead. Clearly, it didn’t have the desired effect. Added to this, I have found myself withdrawing from social activities and interactions. Finally, I came to the sudden realization about a week ago that I will be 30 in five short years, and while 30 is by no means a death sentence, if I continue going as I am I will have wasted my 20s. This is something I will certainly regret.  

To address this I have decided to begin leaving my work at work every Friday afternoon, and spent some serious time reflecting on what I want to achieve over the next five years. It was this reflection that prompted the creation of this list of 12 Bucket List Things to do Before Thirty.

So why 12?

Thirty before Thirty (or 30before30) sounds so much nicer. What about 10? That’s a nice, whole number and so much neater.

I chose 12 because I didn’t want to be confined to a set system. Once I started making my list I confess I did try to think of thirty items, but it felt as though it was losing all of its authenticity and power by adding this extra effort. I don’t actually want to create a whole new bucket list. My original list is still just as valid today as it was the day I created it, and I still want to check everything off that list. However, I currently feel a little lost and distracted from my life, so I feel like having a small set of larger goals to work towards will help me stay on track and continue seeking bucket list experiences. The items that follow are large and often broad, but they summarise what I am hoping to achieve. Maybe they’ll apply to you in some way too? Let me know in the comments below.

1. Take an active holiday

The view of the ranges as they continue west from the summit of Mt Gillen.
The view of the Western Macdonnell Ranges.

The words holiday and active don’t traditionally go together; in fact they almost appear to be a juxtaposition. But this is a type of travel that is becoming increasingly more popular all around the word.

There are hundreds and hundreds of bucket list experiences that fit this category. Maybe you want to Hike the Larapinta Trail, or cycle through Cuba, or complete the Everest Base Climb. This type of holiday is all about exiting your comfort zone and experiencing the world in a new and exciting way.

Personally, I want to hike the Inca Trail. I had originally planned to do this over the 2018/19 Christmas break, but an unfortunate injury put that on hold for the time being. I would also like to complete the entire length of the Larapinta Trail, and I currently plan to do so over a couple of years section by section.

Read Best New Zealand Bucket List Experiences

2. Go on a (real) solo trip

I am yet to take a real solo holiday. When I travel I tend to go with a friend or join a group tour, and while I may have a couple of days solo pre and, or post joining a group trip, this doesn’t count. The great thing about solo travel, particularly solo female travel, is there are heaps of blogs providing useful guides to help you gain the confidence and the know-how to make this a reality. Kiersten at The Blonde Abroad has a great article on the safest destinations for first time solo female travel, as does Brooke from World of Wanderlust.

I’m not entirely sure where I want to travel solo, but I would love to participate in a surf retreat so maybe this is an option for me. I think it’s also reasonable to consider taking a solo holiday in my own country.

Where would you like to travel solo? Tell me below.

3. Gain a second degree or complete an accredited course

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Anthony D’Angelo once said (apparently) “Develop a passion for learning. Once you do, you will never cease to grow.” I love this quote both as a teacher by trade, and as someone passionate about education and learning. I love growing through education and seek every opportunity possible to learn. In the adult world you can gain accredited qualifications through Post-graduate Degrees, Graduate Certificates and Masters Degrees just to name a few

A while ago I started working on completing a Graduate Certificate in TESOL, but to be completely honest, it’s the most boring thing in the world. The unfortunate truth is that education and teaching is so dynamic and active, but studying it is not. Despite this, I still want to complete this course as it will give me qualifications to teach wherever I want. I would also like to complete a Master’s degree one day, and before I am thirty I would like to at least have a solid idea of what I want to study for my Master’s.

4. Experience the Great Barrier Reef

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

If you have ever seen David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef series (it’s available on Netflix!) you’ll totally get it. Crystal waters. A kaleidoscope of coral. A literal living wonder of the world that can be seen from space. The Great Barrier Reef has been on my bucket list for a long time; and desperation to see it is only increasing with the knowledge that our control over the effects of global warming are fast getting away on us.

You may have noticed that I said experience rather than snorkel or SCUBA, and that’s because the GBR is 348,700 km2. There is just simply so much to see. You can of course snorkel and SCUBA dive on the reef, which I obvious want to do, but you can also kayak, sail and fly over the reef. There are also hundreds of miles of pristine beaches to explore.

I started booking a holiday to experience the GBR last year during December until I realized that was smack in the middle of stinger season. For those of you that don’t know, stinger season in Australia extends from October to May and is when the waters around Northern Australia become extra dangerous with a surge in deadly jellyfish. Swimming during this season is risky and can only be done with any safety while wearing a stinger suit. I decided that I would rather go during non-stinger season and have a much more enjoyable time. I won’t be able to go this year as I have something else booked for mid-year, but it’s on the list for 2020.

Read Swim with Dolphins

5. Buy a house

This is one of those goals that I would like to work towards, but I’m not entirely ready yet since I’m still spending all of my money on travel. Despite this, I would like to own my home one day and would preferably like to start that process before my mid-thirties if I want to have any chance of paying it off in my lifetime.

Home ownership is a contentious issue in Australia, with rocketing house prices and a rental system that makes it difficult to rent a house to live in while saving for a house. To get this goal activated I will start talking to my bank and an accountant, just to deepen my knowledge on how to go about this effectively and successfully for when I’m ready.

6. Become financially literate

This goal kind of ties in with the one above. I would like to better understand how money works, and more importantly, how I can make it work for me. I think a lot of people are scared of money so they tend to hind from it in a cloud of ignorance and denial. I admit that I am part of that group, but I want to change it, so if you have any good self-help books or online sources you can recommend to help me achieve this goal, that would be much appreciated.

7. Participate in a dig

Old houses in the Valley of the Kings as seen from the hot air balloon

Being a lover of all types of history this is something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. Let me set the scene for you: You are on site of an archaeological or paleontological dig, bent over, softly sifting through layers of dirt, eyes peeled for the smallest detail. Then you see it. Perhaps it’s a bone from a giant mammal or even a dinosaur. Maybe it’s a shard of pottery or a coin. But there it is: a piece of history newly discovered right in front of you. Wouldn’t that just be amazing?

While I confess that I don’t like too much dirt under my nails and that I am not a fan of cargo pants, I could easily over look these things for this experience. There is a local paleontological dig opened to the public near my home town and I’m desperately hoping I can go this year! But if you know of any places or organisations that offer this type of experience, hit me up in the comments.

Read Best Egypt Bucket List Experiences

8. Do that thing you always say you want to do

We all have that one thing we are constantly telling our friends, family and colleagues that we desperately want to do. Maybe you want to dye your hair a crazy colour, or you want to volunteer at a homeless shelter at Christmas. Perhaps you want to learn to drive stick or get a tattoo. This is the push you need to finally check the item off your bucket list.

For me, I have always wanted to camp at Uluru. While I have visited Uluru before, I did it on a high school camp, so you can imagine my attitude towards the adventure. Hint: I threw the word “lame” around a lot and appeared disinterested. Looking back I wish I’d better appreciated the experience and absorbed the magic or Uluru and Kata Tjuta. This is one of the easiest items I could cross off my bucket list yet it still remains un-checked. I’m hoping to change that over the next 12 months.

UPDATE: The stars finally aligned and I took a road trip with my friend to Uluru and Kata Tjuta in September of 2020. I checked 2 things off this list in one go!

9. Take a road trip

Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

This one is more than a little cliché, but it’s a common bucket list item for a reason. There is something so inviting about an open road, a good play list and the freedom to stop whenever and wherever you want. There are some truly awe-inspiring places to road trip around the world. The Mid-West in America is a popular route, as is the South Island of New Zealand or the Golden Ring in Iceland. I’m not really too fussed where my road trip takes place, as long as I have a good time while doing it. With any luck, perhaps I can check this item off my list during my Uluru adventure.

Read Explore the Devil’s Marbles

10. Get my diet in check

Maybe you want to eat less take-out, or consume more fruit and vegetables. Whatever it is you want to change about your diet to be healthy, your twenties are definitely the time to do it.

I regularly think about adopting a pescatarian diet and transitioning to a meatless diet completely, but I honestly lack the motivation. This is mostly because I hate cooking so when I get really hungry I fall back on to bad habits. In all honesty I think this is one of those goals in which I’ll need a partner to help keep me on track. Any volunteers!

11. Learn one new skill of choice

We’ve already covered my passion for continuous education and learning, but gaining accredited qualifications is not the only way to do it. There are hundreds of online courses you can take for a reasonable price (or even free) to gain new skills and knowledge. What do you want to learn? The tricks of the photography trade? There’s a course for that. Do you want to know how to make healthy and easy meals? There’s a course for that. Do you want to learn how to use the Dewey Decimal System? There’s a course for that. There’s a course for that. There’s a course for almost everything!

Some of my favourite online learning sites include Future Learn and Skill Share.

Never in the history of humanity has access to education been so easy in the privileged world, so take advantage of it.

12. Stop sitting on the couch!

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It’s more than a little ironic that I am currently sitting on my couch writing this post, but it stands true. Get off your couch. I know it’s comfy and that naps are the best, but get out there and experience all the world has to offer. I personally am sick of all the time I waste sitting on my couch scrolling social media or mindlessly watching a show on Netflix, the contents of which I won’t be able to recall with any real clarity within the next five minutes.

I want to enjoy the last half of my twenties and drain it dry of experiences. So as I write this, it’s time to get off the couch.

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