30 Before 30 – Introducing Liz 10

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Young Adventuress

Normally I am not one for bucket lists.

Actually, I think they are a big fat waste of time, if there is no thought or purpose beyond ticking items off a list. Perhaps this is because too many people have the tendency of putting this adventure or that destination on a pedestal saying “oh one day I’ll do this,” ensuring it never happens. Speaking for myself, I used to do that all the time. In fact, I still do it, in spite of my dislike for bucket lists.

You see, in spite of everything, I actually do have a giant list of things I want to accomplish in my life, most of them travel related. In addition to being an introduction to my quirky travel goals, let this post serve as an opportunity to hold me accountable for my dreams, in the vain hope that I will actually put forth an effort to make them come true.

Presenting my 30 before 30 travel list – 30 hopes, wishes, and dreams I am to accomplish before I hit the ripe old age of 30 and have to “settle down,” (read: sarcasm). I’ve got 5 years to go, so I better start ticking some of these off!

Young Adventuress

1. Visit Iran

For the past year I have been hearing great things about traveling to Iran. Now I know what you’re thinking, Iran, radical religious government, there’s not even an American consulate there. But I am a big believe in breaking down negative stereotypes about a place, and over the past few years I have developed a peculiar interest in the Middle East, and Iran embodies everything I want to learn more about

2. Hike to Everest basecamp

I have a thing for mountains, and Everest has been calling to me for years. The only reason I didn’t write climb Everest is that I am being realistic and I don’t know how I could ever afford to climb it. Also I have poor upper body strength and I am not a mountaineer. Yet.

3. Learn mountaineering

I can’t climb Everest if I don’t know how to climb on ice and how to do technical mountaineering. Where should I start?

Young Adventuress

4. Conquer the trans-Siberian railroad

Just like I have a “thing” for Iran, I also have an inexplicable interest in Russia. It probably started when I spent a year watching Anastasia over and over again in the 4th grade. Since I’m not a big city person, I really want to a healthy chunk of time traversing Russia by train. Also train travel rocks, amiright?

5. Move to at least 2 more countries

I’ve lived in Spain on and off for over 3 years, but now it’s time for a change. I really want to spend some time living in other countries before the dreaded midlife “settling-down” phase of my life. I’m well on my way to knocking off the first country this summer when I move down to New Zealand for a year.

Young Adventuress

6. Go to Antarctica

What sane person DOESN’T want to go to Antarctica? Polar plunge, kayak around icebergs, climb Mt. Ebrus and nail the 7th continent, I will make this happen one day in the next five years or die trying

7. Have a big sailing adventure

Growing up with a sailor stepdad meant lots of summer days spent sailing around the coast of Virginia. I even joined in on some long summer camps where we learned sailing, though I feel like I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned from how to tie approximately a million knots to the difference between port and starboard. I really want to re-familiarize myself with sailboats and then go on a big sailing trip somewhere awesome. I’m not picky where. Anyone here got a boat?

8. Learn to take better photos

Since I jumped headfirst into travel blogging this past year I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible photographers, who inadvertently made me look at my own work and realize I need to get my act together.

Young Adventuress

9. Get better at public speaking

Is there anything worse than standing up and having to give a talk or speech in front of more than 3 people? Maybe only if it’s filmed

10. Make more videos and get comfortable talking on camera

I’m not exactly the most poised of girls, and just like I get mega-awkward in public speaking scenarios where I am liable to say just about anything, the same thing happens when I try to video myself. The result is usually equal parts hilarious and embarrassing. By 30, I really need to have this under control

11. Survive a trip to Thailand

Not a big deal to most, but I have very severe allergy to peanuts, and for those of us anaphylactic nutcases, Thailand is pretty much a death wish. Not only do I want to go to Thailand, I want to try as much street food as I can and show others how to travel there safely with a peanut allergy.

Young Adventuress

12. Write a book


13. Try to tackle another foreign language

I’ve got Spanish under my belt and passable (painful) German and Japanese, not to mention Latin which is completely useless. Time for a new language to learn. Help me decide?

14. Run a marathon

Ok maybe just a half marathon. Or a 10K. Or maybe I should join a gym first.

Young Adventuress

15. Learn to drive the non-American way

So far all I can drive is an automatic car. As you can imagine this is quite limiting in my round-the-world travels. Renting a car anywhere outside the US is a giant pain since I can’t drive stick, and I’ve never driven on the wrong left side of the road. I also want to learn to drive scooters and motorbikes.

16. See the northern lights

Yeah, I know. Me and the rest of the world.

17. Cycle the death road in Bolivia

Perhaps not everyone is as nuts as me and wants to cycle the world’s most dangerous road down in Bolivia, but man, what a tale to tell if I survive!

18. Hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain

I’m still mad at myself that I didn’t make this happen when I was living in Spain over the past few years, especially since I lived on the actual camino. No excuses.

Young Adventuress

19. Make it on the New York Times

Just about every budding journalist and writer’s dream, the epistolary Mecca, to see my name on that infamous black and white page would truly be a dream come true

20. Bungee jump in New Zealand

I’ve held off waiting to take the plunge (literally) knowing that I wanted to first try it in New Zealand, where this crazy sport was born

21. Get diving certified

I feel like this is a requirement for any travel blogger, and until this year I didn’t really give a crap about it, until I went snorkeling in the Red Sea, around Greece and in Brindisi, Italy and I realized how much I loved it. Now I really want to learn to dive so I can explore more underwater, you know, without breathing limitations.

Young Adventuress

22. Figure out how to get a long term visa in Europe without marrying anyone

Ultimately I see myself settling in Europe but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get a proper visa to stay long term as an American without A. marrying a European or B. enrolling in school. Help?

23. Hike the Inca Trail in Peru

Back a few years I traveled all the way to Peru to visit Macchu Picccu but ended up missing it since there were giant mudslides closing the site for a few months. I vowed next time I visited I would hike there instead

24. Skydive over the Swiss Alps

On my first trip to the Swiss Alps in 2008 I realized this would be the place I would skydive for the first time, what a backdrop!

**Update** I actually made this happen this week in Interlaken!

Young Adventuress

25. Hitchhike somewhere

Channeling my inner Jack Kerouac, I want to go on an epic hitchhiking trip one day, preferably by myself

26. Visit Mongolia

For some reason Mongolia seems like such an interesting place to visit. It’s very high on my list. Probably has something to do with reading too much National Geographic. If I get my way, I will make it Mongolia by car in the famous Mongol Rally

27. Volunteer in Africa

Growing up I used to volunteer and campaign for many different organizations but over the past few years, I’ve lost touch with that side of myself.

28. Drive across the US

I don’t do enough hometown tourism; in fact, the amount of places I’ve visited in the US is painfully limited.

29. Visit Svalbard in Norway

Svalbard has been at the top of my adventure travel list since I was a kid reading about Lyra’s adventures up there in the Golden Compass books.

30. I’m going to leave number 30 open-ended. What should I do? Have any suggestions for me? What’s on your travel bucket list?

Liz Carlson is a fan of strong coffee, impractical dresses and brutal sarcasm, not necessarily in that order. You can find usually find her wandering around the world, most likely in a cafe or bookstore, frantically trying to finish a story and planning for her next trip. 

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10 thoughts on “30 Before 30 – Introducing Liz

  • Kara

    Great list, Liz! I tacked the Camino and Thailand this summer. Epic! Here’s my #30 for you, Angkor Wat. I had limited expectations when I went last month and it ended up being one of the coolest places I have ever been (or will ever go).

  • Helen | Helen in Wonderlust

    Great ‘non bucket list’ bucket list! I have some of the same ones! Especially the Northern (and Southern) Lights!

    Number 30 – climb Kilimanjaro? Higher than Everest Base Camp, and it’s in Africa – bonus and you can combine with your Africa volunteering!

    Let me know when you get that boat – need a First Mate?

    I keep threatening to run a marathon too. 🙂

    Love following your adventures Liz and can’t wait to see the next items on your wish list come true!

  • Alex @ ifs ands & butts

    All I can say is I have ALL kinds of visa advice that does not involve marrying someone, but none of it is easy (or cheap), but definitely practical. Germany is one of the most difficult, France very accepting of extended visas to Americans, Italians lax, etc. but happy to share what I know

  • Trevor Huxham

    I think it’s really cool that you want to visit Iran, especially as a woman. Have you read Rick Steve’s chapter on the country in his book Travel as a Political Act? It COMPLETELY changed the way I view the place—he also has a 1-hour documentary show as well. I would love to hear your perspective on the Islamic Republic, and maybe a catch-all post on female tourism in the Muslim world.

    As for the Camino—DO IT!!! One of the best, most satisfying experiences in my life and I only did the bare minimum of 5 days. I think you’d really like doing it especially since, like you said, it passes through La Rioja.

  • Nicola O'Dwyer

    Hey Liz,

    Love the list. Must write my own one soon! I am definitely itching to move away. I have a job lined up in Shanghai (with a month training in Thailand!) but I am waiting for my visa to come through… Alternatively I have a visa for Canada!


  • kami

    Actually two of your goals are on my agenda for next year (Iran and Trans-Siberian train), now let’s hope nothing will stop me for going to these two places!

    As for the Schengen visa: I know than in Poland once your visa-free 90-days end you can hop to non-Schengen country for a day and then you can return for another 90-days. This apply to Americans but for example not to Canadians… And it’s so easy (and cheap) to go from here to Ukraine or UK that it actually wouldn’t bee too much hassle. If you need more details on that let me know and I’ll try to find you more info!

  • WriteousD

    Wow!!!!! Now that’s a list! I was thinking your #30 should be a 20 day overland camping safari in Southern Africa. I had the opportunity to experience this adventure and BOY was it amazing!! All I have to say is ADVENTURE, ADVENTURE, ADVENTURE. It’s definitely worth it.

  • John

    Such a great adventure you have there.I too really have the urge for adventure like yours. But I never had the chance to document my travel experiences and write it down.Perhaps I should start my own stuff. Anyway, I suggest that you try a relaxing, a luxurious trip in Punta De mita Mexico – Punta mita villa rental it’s great place to be.

  • Noor - Desert to Jungle

    Great to hear you want to visit Iran. I’ve been twice and the people are by far the most hospitable I’ve met anywhere in the world. They really will go out of their way to help you. I’ve had people stop and offer me lifts (and it’s about the only country in the world where I’ve taken lifts from strangers apart from when I hitch hiked through France), had dinner in people’s home, stayed the night at the home of a local chief of police. The list goes on and on.

    I also highly recommend running a marathon! I ran Singapore last December and it was an amazing experience. It takes commitment to do the 16 week training though!

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