30 Before 30: The Challenge

World_mapWHOA.  Am I really already thinking about turning 30?  I just turned 27 two months ago!  I’m only just in my late-twenties, it’s far too early to think about the big three-oh.

…Or is it?

Today I’m talking about goals.  Those pesky little ideas that creep into conscious thought while you’re trying SO hard to enjoy a margarita on a Sunday morning afternoon.

Goals.  It may not always seem like it, but I have some.  They bounce around up there in my head, just behind my eyeballs, oft under-acknowledged.  Every now and then they demand my attention though, and this week is one of those times.

I recalled some of the goals I created around the time I was twenty; I had a short list of things I wanted to accomplish before I aged another full decade.  That list included things like: Live in another country (check); Run a marathon (no longer a goal after murdering my knees in a half-marathon in 2010); Speak at least 3 languages (a goal I am still actively working toward).

A number of those goals still remain, and an interesting phenomenon has recently taken place: A new hybrid goal has been borne of the union between the goals of my younger self and my new goals as an increasingly dedicated traveler.  So naturally, since this blog has become a way for me to remain accountable for achieving the things I set out to do, I’m writing about this new life goal here for all to see.

The idea is 30 before 30.  This can mean a variety of different things depending on who you ask.  For me, however, it’s not just another bucket list or a collection of experiences that would be cool to have before I turn thirty.  I think those concepts are a little over-done; I’m not a real fan of bucket lists anyway.  I can’t possibly choose right now which experiences I’ll want to have before a certain age when I know I’ll just discover new amazing things to try faster than I can replace the cap on my pen (it’s a handwritten list of course).

In researching just how over-done these lists are, I came across this 30 before 30 list from Business Insider and as it turns out, I’m already doing a pretty kick-ass job completing things other people deem important before the age of thirty–I’ve traveled alone, gone skydiving and scuba diving, and attended plenty of music festivals, to name a few–and I’m perfectly happy with that.

But as I said, that’s not my idea of 30 before 30.

I want to visit 30 countries before I turn 30 in 2017.  

Travel has, in recent years, become the driving passion in my life, and it saddens me ever so slightly that I haven’t done more of it by now.  I’ve been to just 17 countries since the start of my love affair with travel in 2009, and while this may seem like a great accomplishment to some, it only makes me want to experience more.

I’m certainly not advocating a skimming-the-surface style of travel where the paramount goal is accumulating stamps in your passport rather than savoring the richness of the experience itself–I’ve enjoyed the pace of my travels in the past (I spent a month or more in each country I visited in South America) and I have no intention of visiting a country for a few days and calling it good from this point forward, either.

I’m exploring three new countries before the end of this year (exact locations TBA in a later post…oh, the suspense!) which will bring me to a total of 20 and leave me roughly two-and-a-half years to visit an additional 10, a rather reasonable goal if I do say so myself.

There are a limited number of countries that I haven’t yet visited in South America, however, which means I’m more likely to achieve this goal once I finally make it across the pond to the continent that has cleverly eluded me all this time (barring a short layover last year which, I know, I know, doesn’t count), Europe.

My early twenties goals also once implored: Live in Barcelona.

That goal has since been amended to read: Live in ANY European city.  Any one.  Just throw a dart at a map for all I care.  London.  Amsterdam.  Berlin.  Prague.  Paris.  Oslo.  Brussels.  ANYWHERE.

And with such manageable travel between European countries, hitting 10 (or more…but I shan’t get greedy just yet) while calling any of those cities my home base should be a cinch.

The concept of traveling to 30 countries before turning 30 is hardly an original idea, but has been inspired by so many other travelers who’ve dedicated themselves to the cause before me.  Find more 30 before 30 inspiration here, here, and here.

With this goal in mind, I’ll be better equipped to shape and predict the direction of my life over the coming years, something I’ve not been so good at in the past.

It won’t necessarily be easy–as I know all too well, plans change–but there’s no doubt it’ll be a fun ride.  I hope you’ll come along with me…and if I’m penning this blog in German from a cozy apartment in Munich in three years’ time, don’t be surprised.

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About Leah Davis

Hey! I'm Leah. I'm a solo traveler letting my heart lead me around the world, one country at a time. I've taught English in Thailand, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, gone skydiving in Argentina, and marveled at the ruins at Machu Picchu (twice!). I love maps, strong coffee, good wine and warm climates. For even more travel talk and inspiration, you can follow my adventures on Twitter or Instagram.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to 30 Before 30: The Challenge

  1. I love the idea of 30 before 30. You can do it! I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for you. And I’m super curious about your mystery trip later this year…

  2. Christie says:

    What a great idea! Living in Europe will definitely help you tick off those next 13 countries. Looking forward to seeing whereabouts in Europe you settle for a little while!

    • LaMochilera says:

      Thank you Christie! Yes I can’t wait to experience Europe! So many possibilities! That part of the plan is still a ways off though, the anticipation may kill me!

  3. Vini @dndb says:

    I think m gonna copy half your goals 😛 Me too turned 27th this march!

  4. This is awesome! I love that you’ve set this goal and that you’re pursuing it wholeheartedly. And posting it on a blog is a GREAT way to stay accountable. I forced myself to “make time” (more than a week) for my 30th trip, about a month before my birthday … largely because I knew I couldn’t let me blog readers down.

  5. I also love this idea and have thought about setting the same goal for myself. I think it’s time to commit to it like you have!

  6. Good luck! Europe is definitely the place to explore many different countries and cultures in a limited about of time. Make sure to visit Vatican City, it counts and you don’t feel guilty for only spending a day there! 😉

  7. Love this! I traveled to London three times in my late twenties when my sister lived there. I loved just walking around, going into museums and getting cheap rush tickets to the theater. Also spent Christmas one year in Edinburgh and explored that city too. I vacationed in Barcelona a few years back – awesome, awesome city. Been to Italy too. I agree that living in any European city would be great. Good luck reaching your goal!

  8. Jason says:

    I also cannot wait to hear what new countries you will be exploring! And if you pen a blog post from an apartment in Germany in three years I will be duly impressed and all sorts of excited! I might even hop on a plane to show you around Freiburg, if you haven’t already explored it by that time!

    • LaMochilera says:

      I’m leaving in a little over a month so I’ll be writing about it soon, don’t you worry! I may end up in Germany, could be Holland, could be Sri Lanka, who the hell knows. Will be fun along the way, in any case!

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