With the big 30 looming before me, I felt that amidst my freak outs and reminiscing, it is high time I take stock of the beautiful life I’ve led so far and the things I’ve yet to do. I’ve only got two months to tick everything off the list, but hey, there is no time like the present. So here’s my list of things to try before you turn 30…
1. Jump off a bridge or building.
With ropes of course! Whilst the thought of turning 30 may send us spiraling through passages of panic and hyperventilation, there is no need to take the jump without a safety harness. I would however suggest bungy-jumping or bridge-swinging at a bridge or skyscraper near you. Insanely enough I jumped off the Gouritz Bridge in South Africa’s Garden Route twice. The first time I screamed ferociously and cried like I was about to die. For some reason I did it again sometime after just to get the video.
2. Quit your job, go travel and work in another country.
The older you get, the more difficult it is to just up and leave. Once mortgages, kids, pets and debt comes along, it’s no longer a simple decision to pack it all up and explore life in another country. Many people do it with all of these things, but let’s face it; you’re not as carefree as you once were in your 20’s. Now’s the time to work on a cruise ship, waitress at Club Med in the Maldives, teach English or move around the world as a house sitter. It will only enrich your life; you’ll never regret it and home will always be there when you return.
3. Volunteer doing something you love.
Working is one thing. Half or most of our motivation to work is for the pay check you will get at the end of it. But volunteering is your chance to give back without waiting for anything in return. The sad truth is that most times, you have to pay a lot of money to participate in any volunteer programs. But there are many NGO’s or programs making a real difference in your corner of the world. So whether you’d enjoy working at an orphanage, caring for abandoned animals in Borneo or volunteering your talents on stage or in the art studio, someone can really benefit from it. And it turns out, you will always reap big rewards too.
4. Shop like you’re 21.
When I was in my early twenties I shopped with practically no regard to a budget, in fact I don’t recall having one. I was a single student and any little bits of money I earned waitressing or doing promotions, I quite possibly spent on shopping. After my parents sent me to Argentina for my 21st birthday, together with my cousin, we shopped in the hot streets of Buenos Aires until we quite literally dropped at our hostel. Now that there’s rent to pay, petrol and monthly groceries to buy, shopping sprees are sadly a thing of my young, reckless past.
5. Road trip around your own country.
We all think we know our own country until we truly traverse it and really see what it’s all about. I thought I had South Africa pegged for the most part as I had seen a lot of its nooks and crannies whilst camping with my family growing up. But after road tripping around it and staying at some of the most rural places outside of the big cities, I am truly in awe of its beauty. We stayed in a hut in the middle of tranquil nowhere where families still live of the land and the beaches are deserted. We hopped across rivers to get home at night, listened to drum beats beside the fire and mountain biked in a pocket of green forest amidst tremendous waterfalls.
6. Live on a tropical island.
Life on a tropical island is sweet, hot and beautiful. Islands in the tropics generally have a more relaxed and laid-back vibe to them. Locals enjoy the art of doing nothing or very little and when work is done it’s at a slow pace so as not to alarm your body into thinking that you’re no longer on holiday. You will sweat until it’s dripping in your eyes, have mosquito bites on all your limbs, but you will end each day at the beach, sipping ice cold drinks beneath palm trees and truly become the person in the hammock of all travel brochures.
We were lucky enough to honeymoon on Koh Samui Island, living and working there for a year. Amidst the island issues of electrical blackouts and lack of water, life was sweet.
7. Go snorkeling in crystal clear waters.
The first time I ever went snorkeling was on the Big Island of Hawaii. I put on my goggles, snorkel and flippers and flopped into the ocean. Right off the beach I saw bright yellow fish, huge green sea turtles swimming right before my eyes and little Nemos hiding in orange sea anemone. A world beneath the water had opened up to me and I was hooked. If you’re looking for some snorkeling highlights go to Koh Nangyuan, Koh Tao Thailand or Tioman Island in Malaysia.
8. Use a scooter for transport.
Visiting cities like Bangkok or Manila could completely put you off ever setting your buttocks down on a two-wheeled vehicle. I would not suggest trying your hand on a scooter in a big city. But wait until you’re in a tiny town or on an island where it is the main form of transport and feel the wind in your hair. A scooter allows you to get closer to the environment around you. There is no longer anything between you and the fresh air, mountains, nature including monsoon rains! This also means that you need to wear protective gear and a helmet.
9. Get an open water diving certificate.
This is definitely on my bucket list as once you’re snorkeled in truly spectacular waters, there’s nothing more you want to do than get closer and deeper in this magical underwater world. Once you have the certificate you can dive anywhere in the world and this may very well become the new theme of your holidays.
10. Throw one massive party.
Before socials and parties turn into stylish, calm dinner parties for good, go all out and have one massive party at your place (or better yet at your parent’s place before you turn 20). Get your best DJ friend to spin the tunes, clear a space for the dance floor and warn the neighbours that a party is about to be had. You’ll spend half your night dancing like its 1999 and the rest of it stressing that drunk people are going to break your things. You will love it, your friends will talk about it for an age and you’ll probably never throw one again as too many dodgy people gatecrashed. But if not in your early 20’s, then when?
11. Eat new and strange foods.
I am really not one to experiment with food. Usually if it looks dodgy, I will run for the hills. But with travel, comes the need for exploration of culture, food and lifestyle of the country you’re visiting. So in the spirit of experimentation I’ve tried crunchy grasshoppers and bugs at a Thai market and fermented cabbage otherwise known as Kimchi and loved by the entire Korean nation and some crazy expats. Slimy is where I draw the line- eel, worms etc.
12. Kiss foreign strangers.
Who knows how long it will be before you meet the love of your life and long to be at his/her side forever? So when you’re single and travelling…the time is now to kiss sexy foreign strangers you meet along the way. (And not in a put-yourself-at-risk-kind-of- way. There are crazy people out there). When you’re older, wiser and already married to the partner of your dreams, you can giggle about these cross-continental crushes and about how you should’ve known better than to fall for the DJ, the crazy romantic French, passionate South Americans or the adventurous Germans.
13. Travel completely solo.
I’m quite a sociable person, so the thought of travelling alone seemed quite daunting to me at first. Turns out I packed my bags and moved to South Korea. I didn’t know any people or the language but it morphed into the greatest adventure of my life. The friends I made became like family and I still communicate with them years down the line. You cannot fathom just how much you’ll learn, grow, be and love when you visit or move to a place by yourself. Do it!
14. Try a new hobby.
So you’ve always played one sport, gone to gym or played the guitar, why not try something new. If you don’t try, how will you ever know if you’re any good at it? Take a sculpture class, join a beginner’s dance class, try your hand at archery or join a drumming workshop. You might just end of loving it.
15. Take to the water.
Not all of us are water babies but there is so much fun to be had in the ocean, that I would suggest going for it. Get a surf instructor to show you the ropes at a local beach with waves. Once you get your balance, SUPPing (Stand-up paddle boarding) is a great workout and you can do it on flat waters of a lake or canal.
16. Journal your adventures.
Even if you’re not a writer, there’s such value in documenting your best adventures. Journaling is often good for the soul, allows you to take stock of what you achieve and what you’re still hoping to; plus when your memory fades with time, you’ll always have the recollection on paper to relive again or tell your grandkids.
with a parachute and other necessary safety precautions. This is something I’m yearning to do. Friends who’ve gone paragliding describe the feeling as out of this world and I can’t wait to do it. Before you develop any health issues that tend to come along with age, jump out of a plane when age is on your side. My Dad is the youngest 59 year old I know, but when he went bridge swinging a few years ago, the pressure alone increased the size of a hole in his heart ( a problem since childhood). So if you are older, consult your doctor before attempting to fly.
18. Go on an unplanned holiday.
Some of us control freaks like to have every detail of accommodation, route and transport planned out way in advance to ensure a smooth journey. But luckily I’ve married a very spontaneous man who does things at a whim. It truly makes for a more exciting trip, because who knows where you’ll end up. So even if you’re going on holiday in your own country, take a drive and when you find a good spot stop. I’m almost sure you’ll discover a new place you’ve never heard of.
19. Go Camping.
And by camping I don’t mean true camping. Not glamping where you arrived and your safari tent is already set up on a wooden platform with a bed more luxurious than your and a bathroom reminiscent of Elle Décor’s cover. No, good ol’ camping where you pitch your own tent (sometimes in the dark), sleep close to earth on a thin fold-up mattress only to wake up in the morning to cook your breakfast on a little gas stove. The older I get, the more I’m in favour of the previously mentioned luxury option, but there is nothing I love more than the smell of a tent, zipping up my sleeping bag, waking up early because the sun has hot-boxed you inside and starting out the day in the river or the ocean.
20. Experience wild animals in their natural habitat.
And I don’t mean the zoo. Despite popular world miseducation, I don’t get to see lions, giraffe and zebra on a daily basis in South Africa. It would be a dream if I could but I don’t live in a game reserve. Watching wild animals go about the day of stalking, hunting, bathing and eating is one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen and you can very easily get hooked on game drives or river cruises in the wild. We recently went to Borneo to see the wildlife indigenous to this part of the world. I was truly blown away to see Orangutans, Proboscis monkeys, hornbills and pygmy elephants alongside the river going about their day.
21. Run a half marathon.
My husband seems to think this is a must. As a non-runner, I beg to differ. But hey, I can see the appeal in training avidly for months only to push yourself beyond what you thought was possible and finally reach the finish line on the day. Still, I’m a terrible runner.
22. Climb a sizable mountain.
Even if you are not friends with inclines (like myself), start with short walks up gradual inclines before hitting a hardcore trekking route. Some people live for the challenge of intense gradients; I however just relish the view at the top. Go prepared with enough water, snacks and warm clothes. Don’t go alone and tell family/friends where you’ll be hiking. Know that at higher altitudes it will become harder to get oxygen, but go slow and preferably with a guide (in unknown territories) and you’ll feel like the conqueror you are.
This may seem like quite the anti-climax after all the titillating activities above, but believe me when I say that studying only gets harder as the years roll on. I know that we tend to be young and foolish after school, but buckle down and get it done. Many people fool around, have too much fun only to drop out and never finish a degree/diploma/certificate. The result being that later in life, you will find yourself at a great disadvantage when trying to get the job you love. I know it’s cruel, but employers will always want to see paper whether you’re a budding journalist, photographer, chef, accountant or teacher. More than anything, it proves that you were able to endure and see a challenge through until the end and that’s a trait everyone is looking for in their team.
24. Learn a new language.
The more I travel, the more I desire to communicate with other people in their mother tongue. When you’re not longer trying to holler at locals in your own language and getting irritated when they don’t understand you even when you talk louder ( I see this scary behaviour in some tourists)…you have the chance to really to know them by starting with just a few words and phrases in their language. I learnt a bit of basic Hangul in Seoul, Need-to-know Thai phrases and numbers and now I’m attempting Malay. I come from a country with 11 official languages and I’m embarrassed to say that I only know two of them with morsels of a third one. I long to be able to communicate with more of my own people and need to get learning.
You’re never too old to give any of these things a try, so even if you’re over 40, you can still continue ticking these off your list. But life is short and no one knows when today will be their last, so live life to the full not making excuses of why you can’t try something new now.
Which things would you still like to tick off on this list?