For the twenty year old looking to spread their wings a bit and experience new things, travelling is a great way to go about it. It’s a great time of your life to travel as a lot of people aren’t looking for that settled down lifestyle just yet. But with so much choice, how do you whittle down the options? Well, here’s a start in no particular order or priority. These are 10 places you must visit in your 20’s.
Hong Kong, China
For the nervous traveller, there are few long-haul destinations more user friendly than Hong Kong. Thanks to the heavy British influence in Hong Kong’s history, it blends east and west in a way no other city manages. Add that to the fact that it’s as modern and metropolitan as anywhere else you could think of, and you have an amazing location to visit that doesn’t pack too much of a culture shock punch. Steeped in Buddhist and Chinese culture, Hong Kong city is a great platform to visit the further province of Hong Kong which is a leap into rural real China. It also has relatively close proximity to Macau, another hugely tempting destination. For the 20 somethings, it’s a city that doesn’t sleep with a vibrant nightlife, shopping centres and cuisine that rivals anywhere else.
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flickr | Barbara Willi
New Orleans, USA
The Big Easy is situated in the southern US state of Louisiana and is synonymous with Jazz music. Established by French colonists, with Dutch, Spanish, Caribbean and West African connections, New Orleans is a melting pot of culture, music, style, architecture, history and cuisine. The modern New Orleans is also a hot bed of American sports which all make great spectacles, even if you don’t understand the rules. Given that it’s slightly off the beaten track for American cities, it’s far cheaper to visit than, say, New York too. There’s also a fairly small population, so it’s not crowded at all. If you’re looking for an intimate, charismatic, quirky and individual city break with huge variety, New Orleans is the US city for you.
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flickr | Roger Smith
New Zealand is a country slightly bigger than the U.K but with a population that’s less than half that of London. So there’s basically no-one there. Not a soul. The Kiwis are outdoor enthusiasts through and through, which is understandable given the huge variety in the landscape they live in. It has everything from white sand beaches to snow-capped mountains, lush green pastures and stormy rocky coasts. Thanks to a well-known New Zealand tourist promotional video, that I believe was called Lord of the Rings, it’s become a hugely popular destination for the 20 somethings. The open landscape and the relative free lifestyle allows for camping, hiking, skiing, sailing, surfing, bungee jumping, skydiving and a whole load of other outdoor pursuits. This is a backpackers, campers and beach barbeque-ers dream land.
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flickr | CameliaTWU
Geographically Iceland is absolutely mad. Highly volcanic and situated between the Atlantic and arctic oceans, Iceland has a hugely varied landscape with mountain ranges, extensive tundra and a large amount of glaciers. It’s also a prime location for seeing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. This wild side of Iceland makes it extremely popular for recreational stuff like canoeing or cycling or any other outdoor activity. It’s a great way to see the country in a different light than just following a tourist guide. Despite what the name suggests, the climate is moderate for most of the year thanks to the gulf stream. But make sure you know the time of year you’re going, because it can get uber cold. Culturally, Iceland is very Scandinavian, particularly Danish or Norwegian as there the first settlers of Iceland. It’s a country with no standing army and is run nearly entirely on green energy, which can’t be bad. If you need any more persuading, just check out the accompanying picture which tells you all you need to know about Iceland.
flickr | Moyan Brenn
Admittedly, sub-Saharan Africa is a term that, quite literally, covers a lot. The reason for giving such a broad umbrella term for this one is that sub-Saharan Africa is where you get that mental African picture from. You know that one in mind right now as you’re reading with the elephants and giraffes looking tiny in a vast savannah with Kilimanjaro in the background and ‘Circle of Life’ playing in the background? That’s all sub-Saharan. There’s some sort of very primeval pull about this continent for most people, probably due to the fact that that’s where our species came from. So the best way to get it out of your system in you 20’s is to go there and soak it all up. Not the easiest place to travel to or around, but well worth the time and effort in every single way. The wildlife, culture, food, geography and just innate, well, African-ness about it makes it an unforgettable trip. Go there and get stuck into. Africa doesn’t need much selling.
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flickr | Gary Craig
The Himalayas carry that same sort of attraction as Africa, and there are many places dotted in or around the mountain range to visit. Bhutan, however, gets our vote for a few reasons. The first being it is largely unspoilt and unexplored by westerners. An entirely Buddhist country, Bhutan is also the world’s only carbon sink, meaning that it sucks in more carbon than it gives off. It’s a hikers paradise, cheap and situated in the Himalayan foothills making the scenery some of the best in the world. Rich and deep in culture thanks to its Buddhist history, Bhutan only became open to tourists in 1974 which makes it extremely new and exciting. If you’re looking to ‘find yourself’ and don’t fancy the classic cliché trip to India, then Bhutan is a brilliant alternative.
flickr | World Bank Photo Collection
Canada’s most populated city, and often mistaken for its capital, Toronto is a world hub for economics, art, music, culture, film, T.V and politics. Hugely multi-cultural with a long history, Toronto can cater to anyone’s city break needs at a far more reasonable price than the likes of Paris or New York. Speaking of which, Toronto is compared to New York frequently not only because of their close proximity but due to the atmosphere you get with Toronto. It’s been called ‘New York run by the Swiss’ as well as the ‘New York of the North’. Nearly 30 million people visit Toronto every year so it’s pretty busy, especially with a few major north American sports teams in the city. The laid back atmosphere of Toronto is making it a fast growing tourist destination and it’s a bandwagon that you should definitely jump on in your 20’s. Plus, how cool does that big spike building thing look!
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flickr | Michael Gil
With this country you really can throw a dart at a map again. With a national history so long that it goes toe to toe with Greece and the Middle East, Italy is arguably the prime European getaway. Great weather, great food, great atmosphere, great culture, great architecture, great language and great food again, Italy has endless back streets and side alleys to get lost in. From Rome to Venice to the Vatican to Sienna to Palermo to Florence to Milan to Naples, every major city in Italy is a world beater in itself and close proximity to the Riviera, means that there’s no possibility of becoming bored. If you’re the sort of traveller who isn’t fussed by site seeing or sticking to plans or tours then this is a prime spot to just explore and soak in whatever you find. If you are that type, then Italy is still perfect. This is the perfect relaxing and exploring destination for the 20 something.
flickr | Moyan Brenn
Welcome to the classic self-discovery destination. India has become such a target thanks to its completely different culture and way of life, sprinkled with the bonus of having a heavy British influence and history. If you want to get lost but still be able to speak English, India is the place. Renowned for its cheap travel, cheap accommodation and cheap food, Indian attracts the travellers who love seeing the world with nothing more than a camera and a couple of spare pairs of pants, perfect for a trip in your 20’s. The cuisine is obviously a big pull, being so well known but so varied that you’ll never try the same thing twice. The history of India is long, fascinating and distinctly unique and enchanting. Pack some sun block, be prepared for 16 hour bus rides and be a bit sensible with what you eat and drink and you’ll have a blast.
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flickr | sandeepachetan.com travel photography
Yeah this one’s cheating a little bit as there’s three in one. They’re all such worthy candidates however that none could be snubbed. The message is fairly simple overall, get yourself to South America. The huge untamed wildernesses are perfect for exploration and discovery, with distinctly different cultures to travel through than anywhere else on earth. The Amazon, the Andes and Patagonia are the crown jewels of the wild side of South America and are all awe inspiringly vast and stunning in their own ways. To travel any of these extensively you definitely need walking boots and plenty of other preparation. Huge Spanish and Portuguese influence means that the South American culture isn’t unrecognisable but definitely different. It’s an explorer’s paradise, with vast uninhabited areas across the whole continent, some of which have never been seen by man. It’s also reckoned that South America has the most native peoples left who are still undiscovered. This is one adventure to let run away with you in your 20’s.
flickr | CIFOR
Now that’s a lot to take in, granted, but being in your 20’s means you’re not lacking in drive or stamina so no doubt you can cope. Despite where you end up going though, one principle runs through every destination on this list and every destination which didn’t make it. That principle is that, you’re in your 20’s, the perfect time for travelling. So get out there.