You might travel alone, in a group with friends, with a partner or your best mate – in your twenties, anything goes. Not settled down yet? Looking for the ideal place to live, work and play? Fall in love with the culture, history and people of a faraway place and maybe you’ll find your future home.
Now is the time to explore, unburdened by kids, mortgages and matching luggage sets. Grab your passport, pick your destination and make some memories.
La Tomatina – near Valencia, Spain
If you enjoy a food fight, this trip is unmissable. It may not be as famous as bull-running, but the tomato-throwing festival La Tomatina has been a local tradition in Buñol, near Valencia, since 1945. It’s on the last Wednesday in August and is now so popular that it’s billed as ‘The World’s Biggest Food Fight’! The tomato pelting is just part of fun; you can expect music, dancing, fireworks and plenty of delicious local food and drinks.
Island hopping - Greece
Each Greek island has its own personality so whether you love the lazy beach vibe, historical tours, water sports or partying hard, there’s an island for you. Start in Athens for the culture; try vibrant Mykonos for beautiful beaches and fun nightlife; explore the active volcano in dramatic Santorini; enjoy quiet beaches and picturesque villages in Naxos; or combine medieval towns, stunning beaches and a spot of windsurfing in Rhodes. With more than 150 inhabited islands, the possibilities are almost endless.
Alpine music festivals - France/Switzerland/Austria
If you love snow sports but want more from your apres-ski, try one of the winter festivals springing up all over the Alps. Top picks include Snowbombing (Mayrhofen, Austria) promising world-class headline acts, cable car-aoke and Austria’s biggest fancy dress street party; and Snowboxx (Avoriaz, France), a week of mountainside mainstage gigs and club nights set in the biggest ski area in the world. A local tour guide will help you find the best snow conditions.
The ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe
Once a rite of passage for the British aristocracy, now anyone can soak up the art, culture and bars of Europe’s great cities. Top places to visit include Paris, Geneva, Turin, Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples (for trips to Pompeii and Vesuvius). With more time, Vienna, Munich and Berlin might be added – or anywhere else that takes your fancy!
Hot air ballooning – Cappadocia, Turkey
Turkey’s huge and varied landscape offers beaches, mountains, ancient and modern cities and some of the strangest geological terrain on earth. The most breath-taking way to see the ‘fairy chimneys’ near Göreme is by hot air balloon at sunrise, drifting silently above the rock formations of this World Heritage Site. Back on the ground, take a private hiking tour to discover rock-hewn houses and underground cities in Capadoccia.
Full moon beach party, Thailand
Full moon parties might be a cliché, but they’re popular for a reason! If you’re a party animal, join the backpacker trail to the monthly full moon parties on Haad Rin beach, Koh Phangan, with up to 30,000 other travellers. Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Chang also offer an array of parties with different vibes from buzzing to more sophisticated and laid-back.
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Traditional temples and palaces, parks and museums, neo-futuristic architecture, fashion and technology – all with a soundtrack of non-stop K-Pop - Seoul is one of the most vibrant cities in the world right now. With so much to see and do, a local guide is the best way to get to the heart and soul of this metropolis.
One of Morocco’s four former imperial cities, the heart of Marrakech is its fortified old town packed with narrow alleyways, souks and vendors selling everything from Berber carpets to brightly coloured spices and traditional leather crafts. The world-famous Jemaa el Fnaa square buzzes with activity day and night; musicians, snake charmers, magicians, monkey trainers entertain the crowds amongst the enticing aromas drifting from open-air food stalls.
Sea of Cortez – Baja, Mexico
One of the planet’s most diverse seas, welcome to what Jacques Cousteau called ‘the marina of the world’. Sea-kayaking is the best way to see the underwater life and soak up the sun, and close encounters with sea-lions, manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins are all-but guaranteed. You can combine kayaking with wild camping, snorkelling and even yoga for a relaxing/active break, or a stopover in vibrant Mexico City to soak up the colourful culture with a local guide.
Torres del Paine - Chile
Voted fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic and the 8th Wonder of the World by TripAdvisor, this National Park has a lot to live up to. Whether you take a day hike or walk the full circle in 8-9 days, it won’t disappoint. You will need a local guide to access some parts of the park where you’ll find the most breath-taking views and rare flora and fauna, such as guanacos, rheas and pumas.
With its combination of Caribbean climate, complete with palm trees and glorious beaches, and more than half a century of Communist government, Cuba is a truly unique place to visit in your twenties. Historic Havana, with its colourful colonial architecture and Fifties American cars, was made famous by Hemingway, but there is history, culture and natural beauty all over the island – if you don’t speak Spanish, a local guide will help you explore it.
Great Barrier Reef - Australia
Largest coral reef system in the world, the world's biggest structure made by living organisms, a World Heritage site often referred to as one of the seven natural wonders of the world – how many superlatives do you need?! The Great Barrier Reef is a top vacation spot for scuba divers, but the hugely diverse marine life can also be enjoyed by snorkelling or from a glass-bottomed boat.
See history being made at a global sporting event
Whether you’re an armchair enthusiast or you play every day, nothing beats the excitement of being in the crowd a title is won or a record broken. Big events give you the perfect reason to visit somewhere new such as the Republic of Korea (PyeongChang winter Olympics 2018); Japan (Tokyo summer Olympics 2020); Russia (soccer World Cup 2018); or Australia (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018). Annual fixtures include the tennis Grand Slams (Melbourne; Paris; London; New York), European cycle tours (Tour de France; Giro d’Italia; Vuelta a España), Super Bowl (in a different US city each year) and the Argentine Polo Open in Buenos Aires.
Climb a proper mountain
Everest is a favourite backpacker destination – the trek to base camp, at least – but if you’re not an experienced mountaineer there are some impressive peaks that even a beginner can summit. You’ll need a local guide but you can walk, rather than climb, up Japan’s Mount Fuji, Pikes Peak or Mount Hood in the USA, or Africa’s highest mountain, the 5895m-high Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Visit the Land of the Midnight Sun or see the Northern Lights
In summer, experience the midnight sun in a number of countries inside the Arctic Circle including Canada, the USA (Alaska), Russia, Greenland and the northern Scandinavian countries. The Northern Lights are visible in similar locations, plus Iceland – but are best seen in the winter. The best tours can include adrenalin-fuelled snow and ice-based sports, or astronomy, photography and wildlife watching trips led by local guides.