Excerpted from Things to Do Before You’re 30: The Try-It-Out, Get-It-Done, Live-It-Up List! by Jessica Misener. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

This post contains affiliate links.


I had my thirtieth birthday party at a trendy bar in Brooklyn. I wore a red dress and a smile. But just an hour before, I’d been a nervous wreck. Turning thirty was a huge milestone, and unlike turning twenty-one, this birthday didn’t come with an exciting rite of passage. It just felt scary. At dinner before the party, my anxiety swelled to a level that even the mac and cheese I was eating couldn’t cure. I excused myself to the restroom and stared at myself in the mirror, bargaining. Maybe I could skip my own party, or just stay twenty-nine forever? Luckily, my friends made sure I got in the cab with them, and I ended up having an absolute blast.

Powering through my fears and throwing that party sums up the biggest lesson I wish I had learned before turning thirty: how to accept who I am, “flaws” and all.

In Things to Do Before You’re 30 I’ve compiled the top six hundred bucket list items everyone should complete before celebrating their big three-oh. From smaller feats you can achieve in your day-to-day life to important life skills and must-see places around the world, Things to Do Before You’re 30 has everything you need to make the most of your twenties. Pick a small item or two to complete during the week, or plan an entire trip with a bucket list activity in mind. Now is the time to figure out being an adult, but it is also the time to live it the heck up. Push back against the boundaries of your own routine. Conquer a phobia, watch burly German men dance the polka at Oktoberfest, let go of old grudges between siblings.

These are the years of you.

Something else to remember: your bucket list doesn’t magically end after twenty-nine. You can bring your unfinished list items into your thirties, or even redo your favorite ones over and over. Turning thirty can feel like the period at the end of a really long sentence, but the truth is that it’s just a comma.

Run barefoot through the cool summer grass waving sparklers.

Have your portrait taken.

Whether you get a professional photographer to style and snap you or just have a friend take some artsy candids for social media, you’ll capture a slice of your life that you’ll

have forever. Plus, it’s a good excuse to splurge on a really nice outfit.

Go vegan for a month.

It’s not so bad: Oreos are vegan! A vegan diet, even in the short term, is a great way to detox your body, appreciate what goes into the food you eat, and possibly feel better than you ever have. Maybe you’ll even become vegan for life.

Buy cute or funny greeting cards and mail them to your friends randomly.

I moved from New York to California by myself when I was thirty, and it not only scared the crap out of me in general, but made me intensely anxious about losing touch with people I used to talk to every day. One way I coped with being so far from my friends and family was developing a new love of snail mail. I’d pick up cards whenever I was in one of those trendy home décor stores—you know what I mean—and mail them out on a whim. Who doesn’t love checking their mailbox and finding something other than yet another credit card offer and an electric bill? A book of stamps costs mere dollars, but making your friends’ day when they see a personal envelope awaiting them is priceless. Plus, it’s helped me maintain those relationships I was worried would fade with distance.

Learn how to rock climb.

Go fly a kite.

No, actually get a kite and fly it.

Start a blog.

It can be about puppies, recipes, your travels—or anything, really!

Say no to an invitation for something without giving an excuse.

I wasted so much energy in my twenties saying yes to every invite, even ones

I didn’t want to accept (like an improv show that started at ten PM on a Tuesday night), or making up lies about having plans I couldn’t cancel. Don’t be like me! You don’t owe anyone your time, and it’s okay to take a night off from your social life.

Research the origins and sustainability of the clothes you buy.

Fast fashion isn’t always the friendliest when it comes to factory conditions and humane treatment of workers. One easy way to wean yourself off the fast fashion habit, if you want, is to buy more clothes secondhand from thrift and resale stores. There are also clothing companies that dedicate themselves to sustainable practices.

Research your family tree.

Send a social media message to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

I know, I know. But you don’t have to message your awkward junior year prom date or that girl who constantly tries to get you to buy things from her online store. Pick someone you have simply lost touch with but whose company you enjoy, and give her a shout. It takes thirty seconds and you might restore a vibrant friendship.

Recreate your favorite childhood photos.

Finally let a friend live down an embarrassing moment.

Work for a boss you truly admire.

Whether it’s a store manager or a creative director, find someone

who inspires you to pursue greatness and makes you excited to show up every day.

Do your own taxes.

Accountants are expensive, and your parents can’t tackle your W-2s

forever. With websites like TurboTax and TaxSlayer, you can easily get everything organized, entered, and filed off in just a few hours.

Read the works of Joan Didion.

Didion captures the beautiful uncertainty of being in your twenties in simple, yet aching prose. Her writings, particularly her 1968 collection of essays titled Slouching Towards Bethlehem, put into real words all those ineffable things you feel when standing on a busy street corner or gazing out at the Pacific Ocean.

Belt out your favorite song at a karaoke night.

I’m partial to anything by Britney Spears, myself.

Face your biggest phobia.

If you’re terrified of heights, hike the Grand Canyon; if it’s sharks you fear most, try wading out into the ocean while holding a friend’s hand. I’m really scared of heights, but I am grateful for

each time I’ve suppressed my anxiety to look over the edge of a waterfall or climb a mountain ledge.

Go a whole day (or week, or month!) without complaining.

Ugh, this is so hard (see, I just blew it.) But making an effort to curb your griping will motivate you instead to spend that time appreciating what you do have.

Perfect the art of homebrewed coffee.

Cut out friends who don’t add any value to your life.

Old friends are gold, as the adage goes, but sometimes it’s okay to let fading friendships fade. A good rule of thumb is that with a solid friendship, you can pick up where you last left off without awkwardness or tension. And you definitely want to nix any toxic relationships from your life—anyone who belittles you, pressures you, or just makes you feel less than stellar about your awesome self doesn’t need to be taking up your time.

Reduce your carbon footprint.

Switch to LED or other low-energy light bulbs, bike or walk instead of driving, and make food choices that support low emissions (i.e., cutting back on your meat intake).

Take a public speaking lesson.

Rake the biggest pile of crunchy fall leaves and dive right into the middle of it.

Quit a terrible job.

Life’s too short to keep spinning your wheels in a gig that’s making you miserable or not challenging you enough. Just make sure you have a plan for your next move, whether it’s having a new job lined up, a freelance schedule in place, or having saved enough money to take a short hiatus.

Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-through.

Stay up all night with a roommate or close friend.

Eat junk food and laugh until your sides explode— metaphorically, of course.

Have a side hustle.

Sell your crafts on a website, such as Etsy or ArtFire, coach Little League, drive for a ride-sharing company, or start your own business.

Turn off your phone for twenty-four hours.

Eek! Don’t worry, you’ve got this.

Drink coconut water from a fresh coconut.

Bonus points if you crack it open yourself!

Go to your high school reunion.

Even though you already know from stalking these people on social media who has kids and who runs marathons, seeing all your old crushes and frenemies in person, ten years later, is way better. Reminiscing with your old buds will bring up great memories you totally forgot about.

Accept your “flaws” as part of what makes you you.

I didn’t fully feel like an adult until I learned how to stop beating myself up for things I considered “wrong” about me and just embraced them as part of what makes me, me. I’m an introvert, and so I’ll probably never be that extrovert rattling off amazing ideas around the conference table at work. But I can be that person who emails everyone after the meeting with ideas that were percolating in my head. I’ll never have a “perfect” body, but I do have one that’s strong and healthy. Sometimes I worry too much, and I drink way too much coffee. And you know what? Those are things I’ve grown to love about me, and I wouldn’t change it for a second.

Do yoga every day for a full month.

Even if it’s just the Downward Dog pose before you go to bed.

Take a trip to Vermont during the fall.

Stroll around with a thermos of coffee or hot apple cider and check out the changing leaves.

Adopt a rescue pet.

Or foster a rescue pet! There are tons of organizations through which you can provide a safe haven for dogs and cats while they wait to find their forever home.

Start a journal and write down five things you’re grateful for every night.

Read a banned book.

A personal favorite is The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Check out www.bannedbooksweek.org for more information and updated book lists.

Get your copy here!

Meet the author:

Jessica Misener (San Francisco) is the former deputy editorial director of Buzzfeed, whose writing has appeared on  Huffington PostCosmopolitanThe Atlantic, and more. She’s also worked as a T-shirt folder, dry cleaning assistant, grocery store cashier, librarian, and ancient Greek tutor. She lives in San Francisco, where she regularly eats twice her weight in burritos.

READ MORE  The F Word: Reading "Feminist Fight Club" with Your Squad