Farewell Youth! The Travels of my Twenties

In Slow Travel by Carly4 Comments

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I’m turning 30 in two weeks – which of course means I’ve spent the last few days reliving my glory days Twenties. I’m not too phased about the big 3-0 if I’m honest, but your Twenties do seem a pretty epic time of life for discoveries. From the ridiculous mind-numbing jobs, to the terrible terrible haircuts, the dubious hook-up decisions made, the awful outfits of university days…. there is a lot to be grateful and really embarrassed about in equal measure. What’s most incredible to me though, are the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit and enjoy in my Twenties.

In your Twenties you’re fearless, broke, hungry to discover and willing to sleep on a wooden bench if it means you can keep travelling for just one more week. Your twenties as a whole will challenge, inspire, frustrate and confuse you – travelling will push all those experiences to the limit. Some destinations can and should be experienced in your Twenties, when  you have the open heart and reckless spirit to throw yourselves into them. That’s not to say you won’t return later in life – but for me, the following places are ‘must-do’s’ for any twenty-something traveller.

Las Vegas.

This one’s an easy pick – nightlife, over the top circus & arena shows, non-stop partying and M&M’s World. What more does a twenty-something traveller need. Regretful drunken decisions? Tick. Cultural Variety? The Venetian Hotel has you covered. Life-changing experience? Damn right.

Blvd SignpostInexplicably, this is one of the only ‘Vegas’ photos I have. 2007 was a simpler, selfie-less time folks.

Vegas was one of the most surreal places I have ever been – assisted by the fact that I was travelling with my dance group. We had the kind of trip that girly comedy movies are made of – think Bridesmaids crossed with a young Sex & the City. I can’t say it was one of my favourite cities in the world, but visiting with a group of girlfriends meant we had a very excellent time of it (read:lots of free entry to clubs and drinks). Plus, my parents renewed their wedding vows in an Elvis Chapel (dressed as Johnny  & June Cash!!) and my sister vomited in a helicopter as we flew over the Grand Canyon. What’s more Rock ‘n Roll than that?


A lot of twenty-something travellers on the tours I guided were keen on visiting Amsterdam for one obvious reason. Legal weed and the ‘Coffee Shop’ culture. Sure, the illicit appeal of the city will lure you in – but the real joy of this city is the stunning Architecture, the incredible amount of world-renowned museums, the chance to stand inside Anne Frank’s house and the daily risking of life and limb by riding a bicycle around the city streets. You’ll go to Amsterdam for the weed, but you’ll fall in love with it for its culture. Go when you’re young enough to party, so you can return later and really enjoy the city while telling your bored partner about ‘that first visit to Amsterdam that was so cool man’.

Sail Croatia/Hvar.

P9080199Hvar has my heart forever and always.

Croatia is now well and truly established as a backpackers hotspot. Even way back in 2008 when I was first there it was filled with hot young things frolicking on beaches and partying in clubs built from Ancient Roman ruins. I have a soft spot for Hvar in particular because a) It’s stunning b) There may have been a flirtation with a Frenchman there c) Staying in the old town was affordable back then.


First trip to Croatia circa 2008 – still just as pasty white and freckled!

I’ve returned to Croatia many times since and did a sailing trip with my nearest and dearest from Melbourne in 2012. There is absolutely nothing that beats waking up hungover –  after a night of drinking like a pirate – then diving into the crystal blue waters from the deck of your boat. Nothing. Do it while you’re hangovers can still be washed away that easy.



Adventure capital, ski destination, home of the famous Fergburger. I freaking love Queenstown and had the greatest week skiing and throwing myself off of high towers here. Case in point:

Queenstown BungyYou may find yourself bungy jumping above the entire city, quite by accident

You need to go to Queenstown in your Twenties, because it’s a city built for the reckless, crazy party loving fiends in all of us. Not to say you won’t enjoy it in your 30’s and 40’s but go while you still have a minimal regard for your own health and safety so you can enjoy the adrenaline activities fearlessly.


London is a tricky mistress for me – we never fell in love, our first meeting was underwhelming and I can’t quite say I adore the place. And yet. Every time I visit I find some new corner or park or restaurant or street that makes me think ‘maybe we could be together one day.’ London is like my greatest ‘what if’ lover-mistress. For now I live vicariously through my best friends, who conveniently took on the challenge of London life, leaving me to conquer European living in Wien – thanks Colls!

London is a must do in your 20’s because it will make you question everything you thought you knew. Thought you knew how to read a train line map? Nope. You’re going to get lost on the Tube. Many times. Thought you’d been to big busy cities before and seen it all? Nope. London will continue to surprise you again and again with its size, the sheer crush of people and the mad bravery of its cyclists. Thought you had Londoners pegged as a certain style/type of person? Nope. You will never, ever get over the sheer variety of humanity in London. Its big, grey wet and sometimes difficult, but damn it’s a good city to roam in your Twenties.  


Visit Canada in your Twenties – it will make you want to be a better person. They are so damn polite, their coffee & sweet treats from Tim Hortons are goddamn delicious and Canadians are the understated champions of the western world. They just quietly go about their thing being awesome in North America without the bragging of their neighbours, or the hullabaloo of their Commonwealth cousins in Australia. They are just quietly awesome. The lakes, the Skiing, the mountains and my god, the people. Go to Canada and come back a better human because of it. And trust me, all of us need to become a better person in our Twenties.  

Backpack South East Asia.


SE Asia has almost been overdone by the twenty something backpacker. Every traveller worth their salt starts out with a ‘back to basics’ trip there. A stroll down Koh Sahn Road in Bangkok is like a rite of passage and Full Moon Parties are the baptism via buckets of Vodka Redbull. I never did get myself to a full moon party, but I absolutely loved my time spent in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I adored Cambodian food, culture and people and embraced the hippie pants lifestyle of all SE Asian travellers. For your first culture shock experience South East Asia is a nice entry-level; tourist friendly, just different enough from home to challenge you, and just enticing enough to lure you back again and again. Buy the fisherman’s pants and go!


Paris Shot

Oh Paris. Cliché’s about Paris exist for a reason. I actually became a living cliché travelling through here without even trying. It wasn’t really my fault though – cheap rooms can be found in attics, baguette’s and cheese are freely available and before you know it you’re sitting in a quaint curbside cafe sipping a coffee and smoking nonchalantly. (Promise I only smoked 1 cigarette mum!). Go to Paris multiple times in your Twenties, and keep going, because it’s a city that will make your heart swell with joy on each visit. Get lost, fall in love, eat baguette’s, roam museums and revel in all the clichéd wonder of it.  



You think because you are in your twenties you shouldn’t go to a ‘kids theme park’?? You are SO SO wrong! Disney as an adult was so good I went twice – first to the Eurodisney in Paris and again with the Calisthenics dance troupe in 2008. We performed a Lion King dance there, it was weird, but awesome and granted us 3 days access to the park. It truly is the happiest place on Earth, where your inner Disney-kid can frolic the streets to theme music, take cheesy photos and, (if you ignore the over-priced souvenirs and disregard the long queues) the fireworks display alone is worth it. Though maybe skip the hefty entrance fees if you just want to see fireworks!

P1010293Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon cutouts – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!

Road Trip with Your Besties.

Look, Crossroads might have been a really, really terrible movie, but Britney was on to a good thing with the best-friends-road-trip idea. Any road trip with your besties is bound to be memorable. Sometimes for hilarious, fun, exciting, adventure reasons, and sometimes because you very quickly realise travelling with this particular friend was an awful idea. Either way, a road trip is a make or break for any friendship, and your Twenties is the rare time when you can pick and choose who your real friends are.

Gangsta LadiesGiven the chance, you should surround yourself with people as wonderfully lame as you are

In your early Twenties you will travel in big groups, madly dashing between destinations in the ravenous need to see it all and not miss out on anything (call it FOMO or YOLO or straight up idiocy, we’ve all been there!). Later in your Twenties you will find those wonderful friends who you can truly travel comfortably with. You’ll discover the world together and enjoy the infuriating, mundane, euphoric moments of travel, solid in the knowledge that this person will be there to reminisce about the disaster later in life. These friends are the golden ones who’ll be there for you at any age, anywhere in the world:


P4070518Whitehaven beach, Australia

DSCN0297Mt Sinai, Egypt Shemslie  Fiji Paris 2008 The Louvre, Paris DSC03324            Prague.  (Siblings are the original road trip buddies) Golden Gate Bridge Golden Gate bridge behind fog, San Francisco

UntitledWachau, Austria

These truly are the best kinds of friends – travel with them in your Twenties, and you’ll always have an unforgettable time, no matter where you are.

So now it’s your turn – what are some of  your must-do Twenties travel destinations? I know I missed a few here so would love to hear your most memorable travel experience from your Twenties!







  1. Wow, I’m amazed you’ve done (and traveled) so much in your 20’s! And the next decade can only get better!! 🙂

  2. Absolutely LOVE this post! I felt like I was reliving many of the trips I’ve taken so far in my twenties… not to mention the wonderfully kind things you’ve said about my people. You’re right – Canada IS awesome, and the people are even better ;). I travelled to Croatia in my early twenties as well before it became a tourist hotspot and absolutely adored it. It still is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve travelled to!

    1. Author

      Thanks Madi! Croatia is always going to have a special place in my heart (that CLEAR WATER omggg) but Canadians take top spot for most politely friendly folk 🙂 glad to inspire your reminiscing!!

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