Traveling young is important because it shapes your worldview. When you travel young, you realize who you are and what you believe in before it’s time to make the big-kid decisions (career, marriage, and all that scary stuff) that will impact the rest of your life.
If you were to visit each of these places before turning 30, you would be pretty darn well in touch with yourself and pretty equipped to take on real, adult existence.
Check out — and check off! — the ultimate soul-searching travel list.
30. Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, Namibia
Larger-than-life red sand dunes will make you feel, well, smaller than life. In a good way.
29. Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan
Padmasambhava, known as the “Second Buddha,” meditated in this cliff-top carve-out for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours. Close your eyes for three minutes, and inspiration will find you, too.
28. Jellyfish Lake in Palau
Swimming through thousands of golden jellies without a sting leaves you feeling half awestruck, half invincible.
27. Dharavi in Mumbai, India
One of the largest slums in the world, this friendly community is a square-mile pocket of poverty in India’s booming economic center.
26. Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California
It’s just a day hike, but it’s a strenuous one at that. When you summit, you’ll know what it’s like to stand on the top of California.
25. The Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand
In a display of national unity, pretty much everybody in Thailand has a wild water fight to celebrate the new year.
24. Hydra, Greece
Before you surrender to big city life, learn to savor the pace of a small town (in what happens to be an incredibly artsy small town).
23. The Washington Monument observation deck in Washington, D.C.
Sure our country is defunct sometimes, but it gave you the freedom to be.
22. The Rhino Charge in Nairobi, Kenya
Every year, extreme drivers embark on a 10-hour, off-road race through the savannah to fundraise for animal conservation.
21. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico
The only soccer stadium in the world that’s hosted two World Cups– sit in the seats where fans before you witnessed Maradona’s “goal of the century” in 1986.
20. Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
The world’s largest salt flat is miles of flat, zen, abandoned bliss.
19. Disney World in Florida
Because soon you’re gonna have to bring your kids with you, and they’re not going to stop for a beer break.
18. The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
This is the only of the seven wonders of the ancient world that’s still in existence.
17. Rio Upano in Ecuador
Whitewater raft through the rainforest and see what it’s like to grow up beside toucans in a native tribe.
16. La Closerie des Lilas in Paris, France
Picasso, Cezanne and Apollinaire used to chat at this fancy café. So did Hemingway– you can still sit at his favorite bar stool.
15. The Inca Trail in Peru
On the 26-mile trail to Machu Picchu, you’ll pass five lesser-recognized Incan towns that were once thriving.
14. Nowhere, Spain
Each year, attendees at the desert festival design their own society based on “creative freedom.”
13. Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany
When the Berlin Wall first made one side of this residential street part of Soviet East Berlin, people died trying to jump out their windows to a free neighborhood on the other side. It’s an odd and important contrast to modern Berlin’s hipster-filled streets.
12. Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain
Spending downtime outdoors is a weird concept to Americans. Madrid’s social hub will change your opinion real fast.
11. Macau Tower in China
The second-highest bungee jump in the world starts 760 feet above China’s version of Las Vegas.
10. Drake Passage, Antarctica
Get a penguin’s eye view of our Earth’s very bottom before you start working your way to the top.
9. The Dead Sea in Jordan
With a Biblical history and a perch in the midst of modern conflict, this could be the most historic (and saltiest!) body of water on Earth.
8. XS Nightclub in Las Vegas
Go big with bottle service at the highest-grossing club in America.
7. The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic
Stacks of graves are layered over each other, so nobody knows exactly how many people are — or who exactly is — buried here. That’s intense.
6. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Last year, literal millions of people turned up for what might be the biggest party on Earth.
5. Havana, Cuba
Get a glimpse of what happens when a culture hits the pause button.
4. Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan
These zany, Seuss-like fields will reintroduce you to your zany little kid self.
3. Zurriola Beach in San Sebastian, Spain
Surfers in this small city get amped about riding the same waves, on the same beach, every single day. And they never ask for anything more.
2. Bodø, Norway
The quiet village outside the Arctic Circle will give you major room to think, especially when you spelunk deep into one of its caves.
1. Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia, on the border of Chile and Argentina
At the top, you’ll treasure the view of towering, unspoiled glaciers– and the pride of knowing you climbed there.