Turning 40 is a pretty big milestone and many of us need certain things ticked off the bucket list before the impending mid-life crisis! You spent your 20s experimenting and trying new things, sorting out your career and life goals and planning for a comfortable future. Now is the time to let loose and make sure you work on the little things that keep yourself happy. Travelling the world is easier just before your 40s as most of us have enough savings and can afford to splurge a little extra on that little something, and we’re young enough to burn off that energy trying something new. So what are you waiting for? Get ready to scratch this list off before you hit the big 4-0!
1. See the Taj Mahal
More than the actual structure, it is the epic story that draws millions of visitors to it each year. The Taj Mahal was erected by Shah Jahan in honour of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during the birth of their fourteenth child. The monument took over 10 years to build, and is constructed using white marble and semi-precious stones. Visitors from all over the world flock to catch a glimpse of the monument and spend a day in the area, taking in the ancient history and stories of the Mughal era. We recommend visiting the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning at sunrise, when the crowds are sparse and the rising sun glows warmly against the white marble structure.
2. Visit the Grand Canyon
If you are planning to visit the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona, be sure to set aside plenty of time and lots of energy. The first look into the brown hues of the canyons is sure to take your breath away. The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers plenty to see and explore so make sure you do your research and plan out an itinerary depending on exactly what you want to take away from the trip. There are plenty of walking trails to choose from, along with hikes and mule trips. The busiest and hottest months of the year are between May and September.
3. Trek the Himalayas
Now you don’t need to scale Mount Everest to prove you can trek the Himalayas, there are plenty of trails on the mountain range to suit all adventure seekers. The Himalayan mountain range includes hundreds of mountains that are spread across India, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Bhutan – most visitors tend to travel in India or Nepal. Stick to the cooler months of the year when the air is clear: from April to November. There are plenty of treks to choose from, but for those of you who just want to unwind and take in the beauty of the range there are lodges and luxury resorts that perfectly accommodate the more relaxed traveller.
4. Explore the Great Barrier Reef
One of the greatest treasures down under, the Great Barrier Reef sits just off the coast of Queensland and is over 2,000km of coral reef ecosystem. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, you have the option of going right into the deep blue ocean and truly immerse yourself with the reef by scuba diving or snorkelling, or marvelling at the wonder from afar by taking in breath-taking views from an aircraft or helicopter tour. The Great Barrier Reef is home to a wide diversity of living creatures from whales, dolphins, sea turtles, dugongs and porpoises to over 1500 species of fish and billions of other tiny marine organisms.
5. An Epic American Road Trip
Nothing says U-S-A than a road trip; the epitome of American adventure. It may sound very rock ‘n roll, but a road trip in the United States of America should be on every traveller’s bucket list. If you have a few weeks to spare you may be able to do a full blown east-bound coast to coast trip, starting from the colourful city of San Francisco and ending right across the country in the Big Apple - New York City. Key stops along the way will include Las Vegas, New Orleans, Washington DC and everything in between. For a smaller road trip in the USA, pick a state or a coast to focus on and make the best of the massive highways the country has in store for you. Don’t forget to set aside plenty of pit stops and over-night stays to truly experience what life on the road can be like.
6. Italian Culinary Experience
This one is for the foodies. As any culinary connoisseur would explain, there’s a lot more to Italian food than pasta and pizza. Whether it’s following in Elizabeth’s footsteps from Eat, Pray, Love or forging out your own palatable path, you will discover that Italian cuisine is unique, wholesome and rich in natural flavour. Go wine tasting in Tuscany, truffle crazy in Umbria and look for the best fresh pizza in South Italy. Tip: the freshest ingredients and flavours are found in the smallest villages and farms!
7. Alaskan Cruise
One of the best ways to take in the glory of the Alaskan glaciers is by being one with the sea. There are plenty of Alaskan cruises to choose from, make sure you are prepared for cotton-white views, untouched icescapes titanic wildlife. Pack well enough for the cold, but keep a few special items in case your cruise has a fancy dinner on board and you feel like dressing up. A key tip to all our readers: make sure you snag that balcony view with your cabin. You’ll thank us once you catch that early morning view with your coffee.
8. Walk Across the Great Wall of China
Stretching across over 21,000km it may not be possible to walk across the full stretch of the Great Wall, however the site is worth a visit. You can choose from a number of options to explore the architectural marvel – wear good shoes if you choose to walk, but it is possible to cycle, take a helicopter and even a cable car in some areas. We recommend visiting the Great Wall around Beijing during the pleasant months of the year – either March to May in Spring or September to November during Autumn. We also recommend going with a travel guide to make the most of the history and hidden secrets of ancient Chinese Empire.
9. Jordan’s Lost City
From the moment one steps onto the red sands of Petra, you are transported to a time of ancient civilisation. Even though the city was ‘lost’ to the outside world for hundreds of years, today it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. You can easily see Petra in a day, but we recommend reaching as soon as the gates open at 6am. You will beat the crowd and get ample opportunity to take some amazing photographs as the sun rises as there are no tourists in every photo. Top Tip: wear or carry layers with you as the temperatures drop and increase throughout the day and you will feel warm as you trek up The Monastery and cool when you’re walking in the trail that leads up the Siq.
10. Salar de Uyuni
This one is for all you photographers looking for your next big creative project, or even if you just want some extraordinary pictures to share on social media. Salar de Uyuni is located in Bolivia and is the largest salt flat desert in the world. Be sure to stock up on supplies, food, warm clothing, fuel and oxygen tanks just in case. Even though the surrounding areas are just small villages, once you get to Salar de Uyuni, be prepared to have your breath taken away. The salt is pristine white and makes for the perfect optical illusion, along with the pin drop silence in the vast atmosphere that gives you the ideal surreal setting.
11. Machu Picchu
UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu is on every adventure seekers bucket list and its clear why. The ancient Inca city is known for its awe-inspiring archaeological achievements and the area is believed to still contain plenty of uncovered secrets. The weather in Macho Picchu can be extremely unpredictable so be sure to carry layers, however the best time to visit is from May to September. This one is not for the faint of heart so be prepared to face high altitude, varying climates, rocky pathways and biting insects.
12. Indonesian Surfing
Surfing in Indonesia became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1960s and 70s, and is today a multimillion dollar industry for the country. The best season to hit the waves is from April to October and popular places include Bali, Mentawai, Lombok, Sumatra and any of the Gili Islands. If you want to escape the crowds and discover surfing spots of your own, you are spoilt for choice amongst the 13,000 islands. Bring your own board if possible, but if you’re thinking to buy, Bali and other more populated areas have plenty of surf shops you can browse through.
13. Sunrise at Cappadocia
The fairy-tale region of Cappadocia has had tremulous history enthralling enough to match its unbelievable landscape. Carved right into the Anatolian plains are tall rock sites known as Fairy Chimneys, which make for the perfect sunrise setting. The region is known for its hot air balloon flight at dawn where you can witness the rise of dozens of these colourful balloons spawning up from the mountains. We recommend skipping the actual balloon ride to secure a spot at a nearby high viewing point to watch the dreamlike effect of the balloons taking off.
14. Explore Wildlife in Serengeti
The vast Serengeti is known for its rich ecosystem, game reserves and primarily the largest mammal migration in the world. You can visit Serengeti any time of the year, but be sure to book your stay and activities in advance during busy seasons to avoid disappointment. If you’re lucky you will be able to spot the Big Five during your time on a Game Drive. We recommend a visit to a Maasai Village where you can interact with the semi-nomadic people of the Maasai, learn about their customs and traditions and even purchase their handmade crafts as souvenirs.
15. Stay in an Igloo
An igloo stay may seem extreme, but it is exceedingly doable! Today’s igloos have every modern day amenity and are tightly packed with almost everything you will need for your stay. You can choose to stay in igloos all over Europe, but we love the cosy igloos of Norway, Switzerland, Austria and Finland. Make sure you pack plenty of warm clothing. It is cosy inside the igloo, however you will need gloves and socks to protect yourselves from the ice. Since igloos are very weather dependable, plan your trip from November to March. Would you stay a night in an igloo?
16. La Tomatina Festival
This one is not for everyone’s appetite. The annual La Tomatina festival takes place in the town of Buñol in Spain and draws around 20,000 participants in what is essentially a full-blown food fight. Participants throw squashed tomatoes at each other following a tradition that started in the mid-1940s. Be sure to wear clothes that you intend to discard after the fight as they will get ruined, wear comfortable closed shoes so you don’t lose them and slip in the crowd and protect anything valuable in a waterproof case!
17. See the Northern Lights
Ideally a top choice on anyone’s bucket list, the Northern Lights are one of nature’s spectacular wonders. The dancing lights in the north and south hemispheres are nature’s way of providing us with a free light show. The ideal time to catch Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights in the North) is during winter – with crucial viewing time being 8pm to 2am. Pack lots of warm clothing and hot beverages if you plan to stay awake all night in the open to catch a glimpse of this remarkable show.
18. Visit a Castle
You don’t need to be royalty to see the insides of a castle. The Edinburgh Castle is an icon of Scotland and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The castle sits on top of the ominous Castle Rock and the walk up The Royal Mile offers plenty to see and do from local shops, cafes and entertainment. Don’t miss the crown jewels within the castle, which were first used together in 1540 for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots.
19. Cherry Blossom Season in Japan
Hanami is the traditional Japanese custom of ‘flower viewing’ and takes place during the Cherry Blossom season of the year from February to May. The sakura is a symbol of Japan and thousands of people from all over the world flock to the country to catch a glimpse and celebrate the spring season. Stay away from the crowds of the city and spend time in more remote areas like Mount Fuji, Kinkaku-Ji Temple, Nara Park and Nijo Castle.
20. Explore Marine Life of The Galapagos Islands
Located off the west coast of South America, the Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of rare natural wilderness, magnificent inhabitants and plenty of adventure. Each of the 18 main islands are home to distinct living creatures like marina iguanas, sea lions, turtles, lizards, gulls, waved albatrosses, dolphins, sharks and more. The best way to explore the Galapagos Islands would be by cruise where you can make short stops on each of the islands, swim in the ocean, go on wildlife tours and excursions, take part in water sports, go kayaking and taste some fantastic local cuisine!
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