January 10, 2017
As the great Aaliyah once said, age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And while traveling is wonderful at any number — people who spend their money on experiences are happier than those who spend their money on stuff, blah blah, blah — there are certain kinds of travel experiences that just make more sense to have in your 20s, before you develop a pesky sense of responsibility, professional and familial obligations, or a newfound sense-of-your-own-mortality aversion to risk.
In other words, how LO can you YOLO? Here are some travel experiences to get out of your system (and, umm… maybe make you a better, more fulfilled, more culturally sophisticated person?) before you join the ranks of those who can legitimately say: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
Party with strangers whose names you don’t remember/never knew
My friends call this unique single-serving-friend phenomenon “Cowboy Guy.” I forget why exactly, something do with a dude in a cowboy hat in New
Orleans. It doesn’t matter, but to Cowboy Guy (spread it!) is to truly laissez les bon temps rouler. Basically, you meet strangers, you become fast friends, you spend an outrageous night of drinking and debauchery with them, and you forget their names the next day (if, in fact, you ever knew them).
And I’m not talking about doing sex (see below). This is just dumb camaraderie born of partying, and while you can do it at any age, it’s really something you should experience before the clock strikes, “I can’t believe it’s 2am and I’m still out!” Also, you can Cowboy Guy (it’s gonna catch on!) with a group of friends or alone. But stranger danger, of course.
Teach English in a foreign country
This used to be a lot easier and much more lucrative. Now, if you can get hired, it’s just a good way to get free room-and-board in a foreign country for a few months. Also, resume experience! And an immersive cultural something something something where you learn things and grow and what not.
Attend a once-in-a-lifetime event
It can be the Olympics, the World Cup, the Super Bowl, the World Series, Mardi Gras, Carnival in Rio, Oktoberfest (in September) in Munich, Burning Man, whatever. Granted most of these events happen once a year (obviously, not the Olympics), but the expense of attending most of them as well as the simple time and life constraints means that for most people, going once is once-in-a-lifetime.
Have a one-night stand in a foreign country
As promised: doing sex! Why in a foreign country? Um, why NOT in a foreign country? Sure, you can, and probably will, also do this within the continental United States, but a steamy one-night romance in an exotic foreign land — like Peru! — is just one of those life bucket list items.
Because it just is.
Climb something, jump off something, dive into something
Climb a mountain. It doesn’t have to be Kili, just climb a damn mountain. Or go bungee jumping, or skydiving, or whitewater rafting, or scuba diving, or hell, even river kayaking and snorkeling will work. Just do something outside the norm of what you would usually do at home, and push your personal limits a little bit. Because if all you’re doing when you travel is the same old “Hey, we should totally hit that Starbucks outside the Eiffel Tower” stuff you’d be doing at home anyway, what really is the point? Challenge yourself. Let yourself surprise you. Go on vacation ALONE
A lot of the things mentioned on this list are a hell of a lot easier to do — and probably more fun — if you’re flying solo and not at the mercy of your friend herd. Traveling alone is some next-level me time, and at the risk of sounding sensational and cliché, it will change you as a person. (In a good way!) Spending a week by yourself (added bonus if it’s in a foreign country) is an accelerated master class of learning how to handle your shit. (Also, here’s our guide to how to do it.)
Eat something that grosses you out
Because, much like trying Brussels sprouts even before they were “cool”, you might find out that you actually like something. Alternatively, that something might also awaken you to the implicit ethnocentrism in your food choices and what you define as “gross” or “weird.” (One man’s foie gras is another man’s diseased goose liver.) It might even make you a more culturally sensitive person. Or, at least, just enable you to say, “I went to Russia and ate fish eggs on fucking everything.” (Seriously, everything.) Whatever, you do though, please don’t start insisting that you’ll only eat ‘authentic’ fish eggs, ’cause that’s pretentious and annoying.
Splurge on a stupidly decadent meal at an insanely expensive five-star restaurant
Backpack through wherever the kids are backpacking these days
Europe is “over,” and it’s all about South America now, right? Well, regardless, do it while you can because once you have serious grown-folk responsibilities, that Machu Picchu train has left the station. Forever. Until you’re retired. At which point, you’ll travel by chartered busses full of blue hairs.