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30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30: Bucket List 30 Before 30

Title photo: Is there anything more fun than a bucket list? Here are our top 30 things to do before you turn 30!

Do you have a list of things to do before you turn 30? This is what we call the 30 before 30 bucket list! 

When you’re in your 20s, your 30th birthday can feel so far away. But as you quickly learn, the years go by faster than we expect. Your 20s are a time to learn who you are before you start a new decade.

Think back to your 10-year-old self’s daydreams about your 21st birthday. Maybe you were convinced you would be living it up at your dream school, learning by day and partying by night. Perhaps you fancied yourself a world traveler, backpacking across Europe and spending your days sipping wine with the world’s most fascinating people. 

If your dreams didn’t quite turn out as planned, it’s OK! As the past year has taught me, you should still be cracking open that wine-in-a-box and celebrating your twenties. Being in your twenties is a time for adventure and whimsy. Many of us will settle down someday, create beautiful little families and become permanent fixtures in our neighborhoods of choice. But for me, that day is not today.

To fill my time between now and thirtydom, I’ll be attempting to be a little bit reckless and a little bit responsible, to fix my undeniably bad and self-destructive habits, to make goals and surpass them and finally, to make memories I will never forget.

Here is your 30 Before 30 Bucket List: 30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30,:

1. Travel somewhere you don’t know the language or have never been before.

Going somewhere you can’t easily communicate with other people is only slightly terrifying! I’m only kind of kidding. But I have to say, doing this took me way out of my comfort zone!

Usually wherever you are in the world, you can communicate in some way, whether it’s with spoken language or with your body language.

Being somewhere you’re not familiar with the local language means you’ll need to pay more attention to what’s going on around you. You’ll be more thoughtful about what you’re experiencing and pay deeper attention — something most of us could do more of!

And who knows, you might take this as an opportunity to take on a new skill and learn a new language!

I’ve always dreamt of seeing the Northern Lights. I’ve seen the Southern Lights and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. 

2. Befriend a variety of different people.

Having friends who are different than you means you will learn and grow from them. When you have people like this in your circle, you can expand your knowledge and your mind. You’ll learn from other perspectives and how to take them into account. Your worldview will expand. And you can learn how to speak to your own beliefs more deeply.

3. Start your 401(k).

Retirement might be a blip on the map but it will be here before you know it. It’s a good idea to do yourself a favor and start saving now. Especially if your company offers matching. Grow money, grow!

(P.S. Here’s our guide to saving for retirement in your 20s!)

The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better. So whether it’s ten dollars a month or a thousand, get in the habit of putting that money away. A savings habit will ultimately benefit future you more than anything else!

4. Take a risk!

Consider what a “risk” is to you and put yourself up to the challenge. For some people, a risk might be skydiving or scuba diving in Costa Rica. For others it might be committing to a grad school program. You’ll know it’s a risk for you if you feel afraid and apprehensive of it for potentially unknown reasons. 

Taking a risk can be scary but also exhilarating. Sometimes the greatest things we will do in our lives are just on the other side of fear. If there’s one thing you can take away from this 30 before 30 list, this one just might be it.

[Tweet “Sometimes the greatest things we will do in our lives are just on the other side of fear.”]

5. Start investing.

Again, the sooner you start investing, the more your money will grow! Investing is a long-term game and starting in your 20s is the a great time to get started. We have an entire series on getting started with investing:

TIP: If you’re struggling to find money in your budget to put towards investments, I highly recommend using Rakuten! After you sign up and make an account, you can use the extension on your web browser to alert you when there is cash back available. You make your purchase as usual and percent of cash back is deposited into your account and then paid out to you quarterly!

I earn around $300-400/year in cash back just for using Rakuten. Don’t leave money on the table!

Here’s $10 for signing up and making your first purchase.

picture of a marble background, red wallet, some cash and some change

6. Form your political opinion.

 It’s up to us to educate ourselves and advocate for what we believe in.

Many people shy away from political discussions but by having them, you’ll come out with new, more well-rounded knowledge and, hopefully, will get to know your own opinions better.

7. Stop holding grudges.

Past grievances are overrated. You don’t need negativity in your life and you definitely don’t need it over something that happened years ago.

If you need to, unfollow of block the involved parties on social media. Don’t “hate follow” someone just for the heck of it. A grudge only affects the person holding it.

It’s a bad habit to be in to hold grudges. You can read more about grudges in these blog posts here and here.

8. Start a collection.

Something fun, quirky and totally you! It’s fun to collect things. Whether it’s shells from your beach trips, magnets from your travels, matchbooks from restaurants — there are plenty of unique things to collect that will keep you nostalgic over some of your best memories. 

9. Take a cross-country road trip.

Particularly if you are in the United States. You’ll get to experience many different nuances of the country and you can support local mom-and-pop businesses.

Pro-tip: avoid the highways for the best scenery.

10. Pay off your credit card debt and student loan debt.

No one wants this to begin with, but you have a chance to start off your thirties with a clean financial slate if you play your cards right (or in this case, not at all).

Debt can not only be financially devastating for building the future you dream of, but it can also be tough on your confidence.

Credit cards are great financial tools when used responsibly. It’s a bad habits to get into to use them when you don’t have the cash to pay for purchase. 

Student loans are another debt our generation struggles with. Prioritizing debt payoff along with saving can be a good thing as you approach your 30th birthday

11. Go see live music you love.

There’s something so special about seeing your favorite artists live. They aren’t going to be on tour forever, so buy the tickets and make the drive. You won’t regret seeing them live!

Why not even go see a show in Las Vegas?! It’s truly a magical place and is on my personal bucket list! We won’t always have as much free time as we do in our 20s… might as well live it up!

12. Set an annual reading goal.

I could bore you with the list of benefits of reading, but I won’t (but if you’re curious, we’ve got some right here). Go make yourself a Goodreads account and set yourself a reading goal to accomplish each year.

girl sitting on a couch in front of bookshelves reading "Water for Elephants"

13. Overcome a fear.

Sometimes your fears hold you back, but don’t let them. Take steps to overcome your fear of public speaking or heights. Once you know you what you are capable of, anything is possible.

[Tweet “Once you know you what you are capable of, anything is possible.”]

The best thing you can do for yourself is to challenge yourself in new ways! A lot of people wait too long to try new things and enjoy life.

14. Get a tattoo.

Permanence is scary, so make sure it’s something that really represents who you are at this point in your life, particularly if you’re prone to regret. Make up your mind, do your research and go for it.

If tattoos aren’t your thing, there’s always fake tattoos you can wear for a few days or a piercing you’ve always liked that you can eventually remove.

Check out our tattoo guides: Guide to Surviving Your First Tattoo7 Things To Think About Before Starting a Tattoo Sleeve,  and Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Tattoo (and Never Thought to Ask).

15. Join a club or sign up for classes.

Your twenties are a great time to explore your interests and to figure out what you’re really passionate about! 

Clubs and classes are a great way to meet new people are are also interested in similar things you are. For example, I’ve been apart of book clubs in the past that were a great way to discuss similar interests. I’ve also taken cooking classes and learned how to make an excellent risotto. We all need a signature dish!

Some of my friends are part of similar groups, moms groups, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, take dance classes or dance lessons, art classes, and more. There are so many opportunities to keep learning even when you’re not in school any more. There are so many fun things to do – let this 30 before 30 list inspire you to try something new! 

16. Treat yourself to something nice and pay for it in cash.

Saving up for and paying for something nice that you really want is such a powerful feeling! Knowing that you could afford that computer in full or are able to just pay for the trip of your dreams is not something you’ll soon forget. Plus, it probably means you’re on your journey to financial freedom — which is an excellent goal to set before you turn 30! 

If you don’t have the cash now, start saving! Make yourself a savings account called “Treat Myself” and transfer $20 a paycheck until you have enough. You’ll never forget the first time you’re able to treat yourself this way! And trust me, it won’t be the last time you do it either!

two glasses of champagne in Greece

17. Be the first person to apologize.

It’s hard to admit when you are wrong. But it’s usually for the greater good.

Saying “I’m sorry” is something we learn as children but don’t often implement as adults. Apologize when you’re in the wrong.

18. Run a half marathon and start taking care of your health.

Or a triathlon or a 5k. Pushing yourself physically is not only good for your body but good for your mind. And plus, you’ll feel really awesome with your medal.

We’re capable of far more than we think we are — and this is your chance to prove it to yourself!

And even if these extreme physical fitness activities aren’t your thing, consider improving your life in other areas of wellness. For example, getting a good night’s sleep every night makes a world of difference. 

19. Forgive yourself for mistakes.

Realizing you made a huge mistake by passing over an amazing job offer might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not.

Forgive yourself and move on. This goes along with letting go of grudges–don’t hold them against yourself. That thing you really regret from high school? That’s old news. Anyone who met you then doesn’t know the real you. So let it go!

20. Learn how to cook.

I’m not saying you should aspire to be Ina Garten; just learn how to make a few fancy dishes for one of those special occasions. They might come in handy sooner than you think.

Knowing how to make risotto is a great recipe to always have in your back pocket. It’s easy one you know the steps and can be made in any variation based on the ingredients you have on hand.

In the last decade I’ve learned how to make a delicious risotto, the best chocolate chip cookies on this planet, and homemade bread! 

An on a similar note, I recommend investing in high quality cookware as soon as you can.

21. Eat really expensive food.

Treat yourself (and maybe your significant other) to a meal at one of the world’s top restaurants. Find out what all of the fuss is about and indulge in food made by someone who invented the cooking method. It’s so much fun to have an experience like this!

22. Pay it forward.

Ever had someone help you out when you didn’t ask for it? Even if you haven’t, you can still start a chain of positive events by paying for someone’s coffee or helping them change a flat tire.

Positive momentum is a powerful thing, people! 

23. Attempt to break a world record.

In the Guinness Book of World Records, of course. There are records for everything, so round up your friends and give it your best shot. Even if you don’t quite break a record, it’s still a pretty cool memory to have.

24. Attend the Olympic Games.

Whether it’s Winter or Summer, you’ll never regret being in the presence of the world’s elite athletes and having the opportunity to watch history in the making.

25. Pick a cause and be passionate about it.

Whether it’s cancer research or clean water, donate and make efforts to help others and advance your cause.

Don’t just say you’re interested in a cause, go live it and be it — volunteer your time, fundraise or donate. Change doesn’t happen by sitting at home on your couch.

[Tweet “Change doesn’t happen by sitting at home on your couch.”]

26. Make your family tree and learn your family history.

There is no history more interesting than your own–figure out who your ancestors were and how they impacted the world and your own life. What you find out might surprise you.

Take it a step further and record your family’s complete medical history. This will not only come in handy for you, but for future generations are well.

27. See a Broadway play.

Or a Cirque show or Blue Man Group.  Put on your best dress or your tux and live it up.

28. Work a menial job.

A job where you know you won’t advance but also requires tipping. You’ll gain a better appreciation for people you come across in your future who count tips as the largest part of their salary.

If this doesn’t fit into your career plan, try picking up a second job around the holidays — you’ll appreciate the extra income and you’ll gain some eye-opening experience for those who work for minimum wage full time.

picture of a tip jar

29. Become a connoisseur in something.

Whether it’s cheese, wine, tea or coffee, your garnered knowledge will always help you make small talk but also enrich your life in ways you haven’t even imagined.

30. And finally, make a list of 40 Things to do Before You Turn 40.

If only because it’s fun! As you find out as you get older, you don’t always have as much time as you think you do. Plus, turning 30 is kind of something to look forward to.

This list is in no particular order and I ultimately hope it inspires you to have as much fun as you can in your 20s! Try a new sport, a new hobby, a new cuisine. We will never be as young as we are in this moment. The next couple of years will go by so fast. 

So what’s stopping you from having the best time in your 20s? Get after it! 

What’s on your list of 30 things to do before you turn 30? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.