The 30 Before 30 trend is pretty popular. (If you aren’t familiar with it, just Google it.) It’s a way to encourage anyone under 30 (whether they’re a month or 10 years away from hitting it) to push boundaries, make changes in their lives, embrace new experiences, or have new adventures. As a firm believer in bucket lists (and adventures), I decided to do one too.

I’m going to be 27 on my next birthday. That probably seems like the most mundane age in the world, but to me, it’s pretty big. And weird. I certainly hope I live to a ripe old age, hopefully trotting around in Converse like a super cool grandma, but I also know that life is not a spectator sport. And even more realistically, I know it can end at any time.

But this isn’t meant to be macabre. Quite the contrary: my 30 Before 30 challenge is meant to inspire adventure. Adrenaline. Skipped heartbeats, big smiles, joyful screams, the feeling of being alive. It’s meant to push my boundaries, break down my comfort zone, get me off my butt and doing the things I’ve said for years I’m going to do “someday.”

But why 30? For one thing, it’s my golden birthday (I’ll be 30 on the 30th of March.) For another, it’s the next biggest turning point in my life: I’m leaving behind my 20s, these fickle and emotional years, and embracing the first decade of the rest of my adult life. I’ve read other lists that include getting married, having a baby, publishing a book, etc. While those are admirable goals, you won’t find any of them on my list. I do hope to be married before I’m 30, and I want to publish a book someday (because I’m a writer), but I chose to focus mostly on experiences and travel-related items for this list, because I see it as a big and wonderful way to celebrate my single girl life. After all, the next phase of my life will be very different, with very different bucket list items. (How about 35 Before 35?)

So, without further ado, here is my 30 Before 30. I’ve taken 30 items from my master bucket list (plus some new ones) and hereby challenge myself to finish them by March 30th, 2019. That date seems so far away, and yet I know it will be here before I know it. I’ll be keeping track of my progress and sharing it here, so follow along if you wish.

And please, share your 30 Before 30 (or 40, or 50, etc.) with me! I’d love to share in your journey as well.

1. Do something that scares me

Basically, that’s my entire list. But I have to do something NOT on this list that scares me. I’m already wondering about my sanity.

2. Go on a cross-country road trip in the U.S. and Canada

One of my longest-held dreams. Someday, I want to visit all 50 States and Canada…but I’m not overloading myself. If this happens on my road trip, great. But I just want to get in the car and do it first.

3. See/experience Stonehenge

DONE! 11.5.15

Luckily, I’ll get my chance next month! I first visited London nearly 8 years ago and a fluke caused us to miss our Stonehenge day trip. I’ll be returning to London in November, and plan to make amends.

4. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

If there was ONE thing that could define “bucket list” in my life, this is it. It’s the greatest, most challenging, daring, “someday I want to” act I’ve ever wanted to do – not just for its enormity, but for its spiritual and mental weight as well.

5. Attend the real Oktoberfest

And consume lots of German beer and bratwurst and pretzels.

6. Visit Orlando’s Disney World & Harry Potter World

DONE! 1.14.17

It’s that “someday” item I’ve put off for years because I’ve always wanted to save money for adventures abroad! But, hello, ultimate Harry Potter nerd here. I feel like a traitor for not visiting yet.

7. See the Greek Parthenon

….and the Acropolis, and Delphi’s Oracle, and basically visit and fall in love with Greece.

8. Go back to Yosemite National Park

I visited for the first and only time when I was 11. I’d like to go back as an adult and stay for a few days.

9. Visit Hawaii

DONE! May 2019

To see Pearl Harbor, active volcanoes, famous sunsets, a real luau…

10. Swim with dolphins

DONE! May 2019

I’m hesitant about this one, since I’ve read so much about how inhumane this is. So, unless I can find a reputable, sustainable outfit that offers this, I might change it.

11. Visit Italy’s Cinque Terre

DONE! 6.22-6.25.16

Because Italy is the country I want to see most (besides Ireland,) and because this place is like the Mediterranean paradise of my dreams.

12. Go to Japan

I thought about just making this a generic “Go to Asia,” since I’ve mostly been to Europe, the U.S., and Australia/NZ in my travels. But technically, I have been to Asia on flight layovers. And that doesn’t count. Besides, I really want to go to Japan. (See #18 on my master bucket list: Take a photo of Mt. Fuji with cherry blossoms in the foreground.)

13. Get my first tattoo

DONE! 8.14.16

Can you believe I just got my ears pierced for the first time on my 26th birthday?

14. Go zip-lining in a rainforest

DONE! May 2019 (technically, this was in Hawaii…but I’m totally counting it.)

I’ve been zip-lining before and loved it. But I’ve always wanted to zip over a jungle canopy, and the one time I had the ultimate jungle zip-lining experience booked, I had to cancel it last minute due to changes in travel plans. I was pretty heartbroken.

15. See the Milky Way in a Dark Sky Park

…and get a cool photo of it.

16. Visit the “James Bond restaurant” in Switzerland (Piz Gloria)

DONE! 6.18.16

I’ll tell you why: because I want to hike the Swiss Alps, and I have to do that to get to the cable car that would take me to said restaurant. And because I want to ride a Swiss cable car, even though I’m a bit freaked out by the idea of floating mid-air between some of the tallest mountains in the world. And because James Bond, that’s why.

17. Tour Auschwitz

I know I’m going to cry, and probably be haunted for months afterward. But I know what a profound effect seeing the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam had on me, and it’s just something I want to do…something I feel I need to do.

18. Go wine-tasting at a French vineyard

Staying in the vineyard’s chateau: optional, but preferred.

19. Camp in the Colorado Rockies

…and sing “Rocky Mountain High” on numerous occasions.

20. Ride in a hot-air balloon

DONE! 6.5.16

I don’t know why, but I don’t trust a giant balloon with my life when I’m suspended mid-air. But as they’re actually statistically safer than airplanes, I know my fear is pretty unjustified. I wish this could count as “do something that scares you.”

21. Attend Burning Man

Confession time: I’ve been secretly interested in Burning Man for awhile now, but have never even dreamed of attending because I was afraid of being labeled a “poser.” I recently had a great conversation with a true “burner,” who told me that I would love and benefit from Burning Man and should absolutely go. He inspired me (and helped bat away my shyness), so I want to challenge myself to go! Just from what I’ve read, I know I’ll come out of it totally transformed.

22. Master a 30-minute meditation session

I just started practicing meditation, and I hope to master at least 30 whole minutes of total mindfulness in the next few years. It might happen sooner than I realize, or it could be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We’ll find out.

23. Learn the Thriller dance


24. Learn how to skateboard

I grew up playing with Beanie Babies, American Girl dolls, and Barbies with my sister – we had no cousins, and no neighbor kids our age. We were deprived in the world of 90s children’s sports.

25. Get PADI-certified (A.K.A. Learn how to scuba dive!)

I’m very uncomfortable in deep water, so this should be fun – again, can’t this count as something that scares me?

26. Join a sky lantern festival

DONE! 10.7.17

Not just because Tangled is one of my favorite movies of all time – or that the soundtrack of my love life is “I See the Light.” I’ve always been infatuated by sky lanterns.

27. Book a one-way ticket somewhere

Technically, I’ve done this before — three years ago, I booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand. But that was because I was waiting for the prices to come down for my return trip — I already knew which date (well, week) I was coming back. This time, I want to book a one-way…indefinitely. The very thought makes me want to cheer and shake in my boots at the same time.

28. Fly on the fly

Pack a bag, show up at the airport, and book the next (or cheapest) flight out..wherever that may be.

29. Sky dive

It’s a good thing most sky dives are done tandem now…I could never jump on my own.

30. Celebrate my 30th birthday in style

DONE! 30.30.19

Because it’s my golden birthday, and because it will commemorate the (hopeful) completion of this list!