30 things before 30 is all about hitting those early adult life milestones and checking off those riskier bucket list items. Scroll down to see what I picked from the top 30 things I’ve done and would recommend anyone to do before hitting 3-0!
And yes, theoretically these are things you can do at any age. But just like how most of us learned to ride a bike or swim before we were 10 – I won’t even comment on what we got up to before we were 20 – these are milestones of varying maturity to knock off before 30, grouped into the three main categories of my blog. Will you let me know how many you’ve done in the comments below?
I recently celebrated my dirty 30 and it was not at all how I imagined
I’m the youngest of my friend circle, so I’ve been to many 30th birthday parties. When my husband turned 30, his brother and I threw him an epic surprise Mexican-themed fiesta, complete with a live mariachi band, slushy margaritas and a piñata! (Granted, his brother and I were still well and truly in our twenties.) One friend rented an impressive private room in the Gherkin, with fancy drinks and canapés overlooking the city of London. Another buddy had a magician come and do tricks at his house party. Super weird, exactly, but he loved it!
So I thought I’d do something bad and boujee for my 30th too. But when it came down to planning, I changed my mind. Maybe I had big fat party fatigue from my big fat Greek wedding, but no, that wasn’t it. Truth is, I didn’t want a big party. What I really wanted was a nice dinner, with great drinks, and my closest friends. So that’s what I did.
That’s quite a departure for me. We still ended up coming home at 4 in the morning, it wasn’t about having a quiet night. It was about doing what I want, and not what I think others expect of me. My experience-thirsty 20s were all about saying yes to anything and everything. I was an adult newbie! Whereas I see my 30s are going to be more about using the word no. And it feels pretty awesome.
Your twenties is that single wondrous decade between being a child and having a child, for some, anyway. The world is your oyster. It was only in my late twenties that the symptoms of turning 30 started to appear. While I very much believe that you’re only as old as you feel, I also don’t want to spend my thirties in exactly the same way as I did my twenties. Forget age as a number, it’s about growth, priorities and what each decade has to offer.
1. Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and pay the bill yourself. Why? Because you can. Because it’s your money. Your twenties are all about new experiences and learning the value of things. That means no longer depending on your parents to take you out to the nice places.
2. Eat out often. In my twenties, I had a great salary, relatively low costs, a lot of time and a high metabolism. All things that have since changed! Chances are you’re going to be making some big financial commitments in your 30s, like buying a house or starting a family, so enjoy it while you can.
3. Throw a dinner party. This is definitely 20s territory. Nobody throws dinner parties when they’re a student. This is when you graduate from throwing drinks parties to parties with food, to parties with food that you cooked all by yourself.
4. Take a cooking class. Learning to cook is actually pretty fun and a really useful skill. Especially for those dinner parties! You should by now at least be able to do some of the basics, but don’t expect to know it all. Making things like fresh pasta or Thai curry paste from scratch is best learned from the experts.
5. Eat something that scares you. I never set out to eat poisonous blowfish, but when in Rome! Be adventurous, try new things, even if they look gross or scary. You don’t know until you try! I’ve eaten a few questionable foods, like lamb’s testicles and crocodile, but draw the line at raw chicken sashimi and barbecued tarantulas.
6. Discover a new cuisine. I was lucky to spend my 20s living in London, where we literally have every cuisine at our doorstep. I tried many different things for the first time here, such as regional Chinese cuisine like Sichuan and Taiwanese, as well as Icelandic, Israeli, Lebanese, Goan, and Korean BBQ, to name a few. Cuisine and culture are so closely related, it’s pretty amazing to be able to try food from places I haven’t even been to.
7. Give up McDonalds, and KFC, and… I know, I know, it’s hard, but it’s time. Just look at the younger generations with their matcha lattes and avocado toast, the youth today won’t even touch this stuff! Ok, we didn’t grow up knowing what they know, the pink-sludge-bleached McNuggets and whatnot. But do you really need reminding that it’s bad for you?
8. Eat a real truffle. Truffle oil and truffle salt are delicious but you should also experience the real thing! Again, I’m seeing kids these days growing up on sushi and shaved truffles and not Kraft Mac N Cheese and Subway sandwiches… and those were our treat foods! I tried truffles for the first time in my 20s (and wrote a blog post about it: Truffles 101).
9. Learn what you can and cannot eat. This piece of obvious advice is actually a hard one to accept. It took me 3 puke sessions to go ok, ok, no more snails. I also gave up milk in my coffee as it just made me bloated. Is there something upsetting your stomach every time you eat it? Might be time to give it up.
10. Eat at a Japanese sushi counter omakase style. Better yet, eat at a sushi counter in Japan, because it might just change your whole understanding of sushi. It’s probably the most disciplined cuisine in the world, taking decades to become a master sushi chef. The best meal of my life was at a sushi restaurant in Honolulu (click to read more).
11. Start collecting air miles. Get one of these right away. Right away! I paid for my Argentina flight with air miles points and even flew first class from Tokyo to London on points! I’m a British Airways Executive Club member, they call air miles Avios, and you collect them through miles flown as well as pounds spent with your BA Amex card. Here’s a link to their website.
12. Book a spontaneous trip! Ever seen the age spontaneity curve? It’s practically zero in your thirties. A spontaneous trip can be anything. Go somewhere alone. Escape the winter. A weekend away. Visit a friend. There’s just something about doing it spontaneously or last-minute that makes it better somehow.
13. Explore the country you live in. You don’t have to travel abroad to go on holiday. We often take the country we live in for granted and don’t make the most of it like we do when we travel abroad. Recently I took a trip to New Forest and it was a timely reminder that I need to get out and do this more often!
14. Plan at least one big trip per year. This was life-changing for me. In my early 20s, it was unthinkable that I would visit Barbados, Japan, Thailand, Argentina, and Hawaii before turning 30! There is no substitute for the experiences you’ll have while traveling. Try booking as far in advance as possible so that you can take advantage of any early bird deals.
15. Stay at a Relais & Chateaux hotel. It took me a while to realize that I’m just not a fan of big hotel chains like Hilton or Sheraton. It’s just personal taste. I love boutique hotel groups like Relais & Chateaux, Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Warwick Hotels & Resorts. (A few blog posts on the topic: La Bamba de Areco, Pousadas, Barbados.)
16. Do an activity holiday. My parents aren’t big activity people, so when I started traveling in my 20s, I made sure to try a new activity each time! Activity holidays are possibly my favourite, after wine holidays, of course. There are so many options, camping, glamping, hiking, biking, scuba-diving or snorkeling, skiing or snow-boarding, detox, yoga, survivalist, whatever takes your fancy!
17. Meet other travelers. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling alone or with someone, you never know who you’ll meet. George and I have met some incredible people and even made lasting friendships with people we met on holiday.
18. Go to a festival. Music festivals and carnivals are amazing, mind-expanding experiences. There are so many these days, Coachella, Burning Man, Glastonbury, Samba Carnivals… But they’re also super crowded, often involving portable toilets, and about a week’s recovery time. The novelty eventually wears off.
19. Tour a wine region. You’re in your 20s, it’s time to sophisticate that palate! (And maybe check out my blog post on How to Choose Wine!) If you don’t like wine, you don’t know what you’re missing. Wine is this amazing thing because it’s so much more than just a drink. It’s culture, food, stories. My favourite holidays involved wine tours. You’ll also find the best restaurants near the best vineyards – not a coincidence.
20. Immerse in a new culture. I’ll never forget my first time to Japan. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you go, immersing yourself in a new culture is one of the most amazing things you can do. We visited Tokyo, Hakone, and Kyoto in 11 days. The best part was staying at a traditional Japanese inn called a ryokan in Hakone (read about my experience here).
21. Quit your job. Staying in the same job forever is not what it used to be. Experts say that people are changing jobs more regularly than ever and that it’s a good thing! If you don’t love your job, leave. A lot of people end up making big career changes in their 20s as they finally discover what they want to do. I quit mine at 28 years old, and it was one of the best things I ever did!
22. Learn a new language. Knowing several languages is a huge advantage, but it’s also really beneficial for flexing your brain after university. If I could start learning Greek at 25, so can you! Between my husband and I, we can get by in Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Norwegian, German, and Japanese!
23. Rent an unfurnished flat. This is better advice than it sounds. Not only does it mean no more rubbish landlord furniture, but renting unfurnished will also help you to accumulate your own things well before that big house deposit is due.
24. Overcome a fear. Your 20s are about taking that plunge, breaking out of your comfort zone, to be daring and try new things. Feel the fear and do it anyway! This will feel all too easy in your self-confident 30s. Or you might just say no!
25. Try a new class. Learning a new language, skill or sport is valuable at any age. In my twenties, I tried so many different classes, from language and writing classes to cooking and sports, like MMA, spin, bootcamp, bouldering, and body pump! My attitude is that we never stop learning. What’s yours?
26. Try the advanced level. While it’s great to keep trying new things, it’s equally important to stick with something and build up expertise! Learning comes in stages and it takes time to reach the advanced level.
27. Use face cream and sunscreen daily! Male readers, I’m talking to you since most women know this already. While you’re out there living la vida loca, you need to realize that you’re not a fresh-faced baby anymore. You won’t regret taking care of your skin in your 20s, but you will regret it if you don’t. It’s really simple: daily face cream and sunscreen.
28. Quit smoking. It’s amazing how much the smoking image has changed in a few short years. Cool or uncool, quitting before 25-30 is ideal for your lungs to regenerate. Especially if you’ve smoked since your teens. Also, don’t let anything rob you of your ambition. Your 20s are fun but also hard work so buckle up!
29. Learn to Drive. My sister is just 2 years older than me yet she belongs to the car-owning generation and I don’t. Can someone please explain that to me? Car-owning or not, your twenties are a good time to learn how to drive and once you turn 25 you can rent a car on holiday.
30. Challenge yourself physically. The older you get, the harder (and weirder, old cycling man) it gets. It’s easy to get lazy in your twenties, but don’t make that mistake. Exercise, in whatever shape or form, should be part of your weekly routine for the rest of your life. A healthy body is also a healthy mind.
How many out of 30 have you done?
Image Credits: All photos from unsplash.com
I love this list and I actually did everything on this list before I turned 30 — other than learn to drive, which I still haven’t done! Haha Are you doing to do a 40 before 40 list?
Hey! Thank you, it’s not a bad list! Here is my 40 before 40 https://missportmanteau.com/40-bucket-list-things-before-im-40/ I have quite a way to go… although 3 weeks ago I had a baby 🙂 Become a mother, check! x
Oh boy! I turn 30 this year and I must say I got a bit of anxiety going through the list hahah! Thinking, how much have I done. However, the key is to remember, life doesn’t end at 30. In fact, my above 30 friends attest to 30’s being the best time yet, where you really know what you want! Either way, this is a seriously good list!!
Nice list. I’ve done many of those things but I don’t think they necessarily need to be done by 30. Life is a journey and it doesn’t need to be the same for everyone. Cheers.
Thanks Hung, I agree! These are the things that I did, everyone’s list will be different.
This list is amazing and so inspiring dear! I am glad that I’ve read this post. I only did a few of these things that you mentioned here but I am 26 and I will try my best to do all of these before turning 30. yup that is my goal. 🙂
Thanks Zana! I guess everyone’s list is going to be different. I’m sure there are many things you’ve done that I haven’t! But while we only live once, I definitely recommend giving this list a go 😉
I’m a few years into my thirties now but I’d say I managed to accomplish about 20 from your list before hitting the big milestone. Great advice for those folks making their way through the decade of their twenties to explore, challenge, and discover.
Love this post!! I’ve done all but quit my job and stay at a Relais hotel – I’m in my mid thirties now, but never too late to finish the list right?!
Hey Cat! Thanks so much 🙂 That’s impressive! So you’ve never changed jobs? What type of hotels do you like? A short bit of history on Relais & Chateaux in this blog post: https://missportmanteau.com/portuguese-pousadas/ Other than local B&B type places, I don’t know another hotel group that combines local culture, cuisine, history and architecture better! That’s at least why I find them so special. Today I discovered National Geographic has a fairly new Unique Lodges of the World accreditation. Worth checking out also xx
Ah what a cool list! I’ve done a bunch of these (I guess I’m lucky as I’m only 23) but anyway, these are some great guidelines for someone who wants to achieve as much as possible before turning 30.
We just bought an apartment, now we’re planning our 10th anniversary trip to Maldives in 2020 🙂
Also, would love to learn a new language. I already know Finnish, Swedish, English, Germany, Norway, Spanish & little bit Estonian. Would love to learn French :3
Wow that is amazing for 23 and congratulations on the apartment! Impressive list of languages, you have a talent there. I love languages too, after Greek I want to learn Japanese! So I can keep up with the jokes my husband makes when we’re in Japan and so we can have an awesome ‘secret language’ 😉
Love the list hun. Thanks for sharing this. I agree that your 30s are a great decade, and learning to say no, refine your tastes and challenge yourself are crucial to your growth.
Thanks lovely 🙂 I’m really looking forward to what my thirties have in store! There’s something so exciting about starting a new chapter, even if we’re already nearly halfway through this book…
Amazing list! I have done many things from your list and those have been so much fun. This year I’ll go exploring Asia and probably go to a restaurant with that Michelin Star. 🙂 Btw it would be read a follow up of how you’ve done with these after couple years!