42 Trips To Take In Your 40s

Serengeti Sunrise Tanzania

It seems that no matter where I look, I can’t get away from Millennials. Every article is about them, it’s what all the big companies are worrying about and I’m getting tired of it. A few months ago I wrote a post yelling from the rooftops that not only are Gen-Xers still here, but we still very much matter. Today’s post is a continuance of that theme. Too often online I see silly little posts written by 20-somethings lamenting the fact they’re turning 30 (oh no!) and advising their youthful comrades on what trips they should take before they enter into old age (31). So I wanted to provide something similar to my peers, my fellow Friends watching, flannel wearing, coffee drinking Gen-Xers and while our Doc Martens may be gathering dust in the closet, we certainly aren’t and seeing the world is something most of us want to do. Below is an assemblage of trips, some I have and have not taken, that I think are perfect for 40-somethings, whether it’s with kids, with your partner or on your own. So go forth my fellow Gen-Xers, see the world and show those kids who still is boss.

Just a quick note, I certainly don’t think anyone will take all of these trips. Instead, I’m hoping that this list provides a nice starting point to plan your own great adventure.

1. Visit a National Park – America’s best idea is getting a lot of attention this year thanks to their anniversary, but visiting any of these amazing natural treasures is a good idea no matter when you go.

2. Go somewhere just for the food – Food is one of the most important aspects of the travel experience, so choose one of the many foodie destinations around the world and go just to eat. You’ll probably have one of the best trips of your life.

3. Hawaii really is as special as everyone says – Before my first visit I was dubious, but almost immediately I was won over not just by the state’s inherent beauty, but the beauty of the people who call it home as well.

4. Capitals of Europe – A classic tour of Europe is classic for a reason, it’s amazing. The capital cities of Europe are amongst the great treasures of the world and you owe it yourself to see them.

5. Head north to Canada – At one time I wasn’t the great fan of Canada that I am today, but obviously that’s changed. I love exploring the provinces of Canada; there’s just so much to see and do here that no one will ever get bored.

6. Visit Washington, D.C. – Yup, I’m biased but that’s ok. I have to give a shout out to my hometown because I think it’s one of the best places in the country to visit, but it’s still underrated even today.

Tower Bridge London UK

7. London and Paris – Read Orwell and Hemingway and then travel to these improbably linked capitals. Start in London, see all the sights before taking the train over to Paris to bask in the glory that is this, one of my favorite cities in the world.

8. Something hard – Travel should be fun, but sometimes it should also be about personal growth. That’s why I think you should do something that truly challenges you. What that means is up to you, whether it’s an epic hike or navigating a foreign city for the first time, whatever it is it’s important that we push our personal comfort zone from time to time.

9. Take the kids overseas – While I don’t have children, I recognize the extreme importance in introducing them to the world around them at an early age. Travel teaches kids a lot from self-reliance to tolerance and of course educates them about the world around them.

10. Alaska – I haven’t been to the 49th state, but it’s a place I desperately want to explore and I think it’s a place most people should try to visit. America’s last great frontier, this massive state is a natural wonderland and one of the country’s great treasures.

11. See the best of urban and natural landscapes in South Africa – I’ve been fortunate to travel to South Africa a few times and those experiences have helped make this country one of my favorite in the world. South Africa has it all from great cities to gorgeous coastlines and of course the safari experience most people want to try at least once in their lives.

12. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland – This massive, 1,500-mile drive is the longest coastal route in the world and takes visitors along some of the most beautiful landscapes found anywhere in the world.

13. Great train journey – I love trains and I think a classic train journey is one of those amazing travel experiences everyone should try at least once. My favorite was a 2-day trip across Australia on the Indian-Pacific, an old school experience that proves the maxim half the fun is in the getting there.

Pyramid of Khafre Cairo Egypt

14. Classic tour of Egypt – This is one of the oldest tourist experiences in the world and with good reason. The ancient treasures of Egypt truly are extraordinary to witness in person, so go ahead and plan your own jaunt through time.

15. Hike through Jordan. Well, not all of it. – I’m not a hiker per se, but do enjoy day hikes from time to time. Jordan has many great walks and hikes, all of which take visitors through gorgeous and ancient landscapes. Petra, Wadi Rum and Dana Nature Preserve are just a few great places to explore on foot.

16. Let your kids pick – Again, I don’t have kids but if I did I’d try to involve them as much as possible in the travel planning process. By encouraging their input, they are more excited for the adventures ahead and may teach you a thing or two in the process.

17. Adventure trip in Croatia – Most people are familiar with Croatia thanks to Dubrovnik and Game of Thrones, but this remarkable country has so much more to offer, including some of the best outdoor experiences found anywhere in Europe. Go kayaking, hiking or rock climbing and get an adrenaline rush as you experience the best this country has to offer.

18. Galapagos – Some trips go beyond the average experience and become transformational in how they change us at very personal levels. The Galapagos is one of those important destinations and is a journey I honestly believe everyone owes it to themselves to take.

19. Go to Orlando. No, seriously. – Although I haven’t been to Orlando, Florida in decades, based on everything I’ve seen lately I think it really must be a fun destination for all kinds of travelers. There’s the obvious of course, Disney World, but Universal Studios and now LEGOLAND make Orlando about so much more than just the Mouse. There are also more luxury travel options than ever available in Orlando, making it great even for those of us who like to be pampered while on vacation.

20. Luxury African safari – I’ve been fortunate enough to go one a few safaris, but a recent adventure with Abercrombie & Kent taught me the value of this trip for the 40-something. Imagine a dream trip with all of the adventure you craved (and still do) in your 20s, with the amenities you’re used to now that you’re older and you have the essence of this amazing experience.

Venice Italy

21. Take some time for Italy – If you haven’t visited Italy before, then you might think that it’s overrated. But trust me, the hype is very real. Italy is one of those remarkable destinations that you could spend a lifetime exploring and still not feel as if you’ve seen it all. It’s extraordinary and you should go now.

22. Australia. Yes, all of it – Australia does everything on a larger than life scale, starting from its immense size to everything there is to see and do there. It’s one of my favorite countries and I simply never get tired of visiting and exploring new regions.

23. Major event somewhere – Whether it’s the Kentucky Derby, Mardi Gras or La Tomatina, pick a major event somewhere in the world and go to it. The energy and excitement that surround these events is amazing and transforms the destination into something you’ll never experience at any other time.

24. Scandinavia – The Nordic countries are great fun to explore, especially in the frighteningly cold winter months. Go see the Northern Lights, dog sledding or just spend time in the capital cities, no matter what you decide to do I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the region.

25. Do something that scares you – Just as I suggest you do something difficult at least once or twice when you travel, so too do I think you should do something that scares you a little bit. This too will push your boundaries but ultimately help you grow as a person. If using a foreign metro system terrifies you, give it a shot. If heights aren’t your thing, consider bungee jumping in New Zealand. Whatever it is, confronting the things that scare us is the only way that we grow as people and ultimately, that’s what travel is all about.

26. Explore New Zealand – Speaking of New Zealand, you know all of those commercials and scenes from movies? Yeah, they’re all accurate. New Zealand does indeed feel like a fairyland when you visit and the variety of adventures to be found there are so extraordinary that you’ll soon find one trip just isn’t enough.

27. Drive Route 66 – I haven’t done this yet, but it’s been near the top of my travel bucket list for a long time. I can think of no better way to explore the U.S. than by car, and no better route to take than this best known road.

Great Wall China

28. UNESCO – I make it a point to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites whenever I travel and in so doing I’ve been introduced to remarkable places I’d never have visited otherwise. There are more than 1,000 on the list, so time to get started!

29. Europe at Christmas – For several years, my partner and I have made it a tradition to visit Europe during the Christmas season and it’s my most eagerly anticipated trip of the year. I love Europe no matter what time of year it is, but during the holidays the experiences are even more special. Christmas markets, chilly temperatures and general goodwill transform the cities you know and love into better versions of themselves, impossible to experience at any other time of year.

30. Sail around the Caribbean – Although I’ve visited several islands around the Caribbean, I think that surely the best way to experience the tropical splendor of this part of the world is by boat. Maybe I’m just channeling my inner Jimmy Buffett, but there’s a romanticism involved with a Caribbean sailing adventure that I find hard to resist.

31. Somewhere in South America – Admittedly, my own travel experience in South America is limited, but the few times I’ve traveled there the trips have been amazing. Whether it’s the wines of Chile, the ancient wonders of Peru or the sunny beaches of Brazil, this is a very large continent with a lot to offer.

32. Go on a river cruise – Before taking my first river cruise I was dubious, but now after having taken several in different parts of the world I’m hooked. I love their convenience and access to new places they provide and while it’s not how I travel on every trip, it is a style that I enjoy.

33. Treat yourself – Vacations are an investment and we spend time saving up for experiences that take us to new places. At least once though, save a little longer and treat yourself when you travel. What this means is personal to you, it could be anything from flying Business Class to staying in a luxury hotel or just enjoying a spa day somewhere. Whatever it is, do it. It’s important that we take care of ourselves sometimes.

34. Something close to home – In recent years I’ve made a determined effort to explore places close to home and have had a blast in the process. No matter where you live, there’s something within an easy drive that will make for a fun travel adventure. Too many times we forget about things close to home, so it’s time to take a fresh look and rediscover your own part of the world.

Wat Arun Bangkok Thailand

35. Go to Southeast Asia. Anywhere.  – Thailand was my first experience in a so-called developing country and since then I have been hooked on Southeast Asia. Whether it’s Thailand, Cambodia, Laos or somewhere else, this is a wonderful part of the world full of exotic landscapes, great food and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

36. Be a responsible traveler – This is important, take the time to research your travel activities and make sure that you’re being an ethical and responsible traveler. This means no elephant rides or swimming with dolphins or orphanage visits. It takes time to research the proper way to experience the world, but in the ethos of Do No Harm, I feel it’s crucial for all us to be responsible as we see the world.

37. Visit as many US States as you can – America is huge and has a lot to offer, so if you haven’t already, make it a point to visit as many states as possible. Each one is very different from the other and offers something different, unique and special. I’ve been to 41 states so far and I hope to see the remaining 9 soon.

38. Go to NYC and be a corny tourist – One of the top tourist centers in the country, New York City is popular for a reason, it’s amazing. Even if you’ve been before or if you live there, take the time to go and  experience it as a corny tourist. Visit the Empire State Building, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty and see why the city attracts millions of people every year from around the world.

39. Somewhere truly remote – Being disconnected is not something I do often enough, but it’s important. In an increasingly interconnected world, we are all too tethered to gadgets and technology. At least once, choose a destination that is remote and inaccessible and where, preferably, you won’t be able to get online.

40. Drive around Iceland gawking at its awesomeness – Iceland has become one of the hottest travel destinations in the world in recent years and after a few trips there, I can see why. While it’s not geographically large, there’s a lot to do there and my favorite activity is just driving around to see what I can discover.

41. Hug a panda – This is a personal item and was at the very top of my bucket list until recently when I actually managed to hug a panda while traveling in Chengdu, China. Even if you don’t want to hug a panda, do something special at least once in this decade.

42. Chase your dream – We all have dreams, bucket lists and a mental catalogue of places we want to go and adventures we want to experience. While they may not all be feasible, choose at least one of your top travel dreams and make it a reality. There’s really no such thing as a dream trip, instead this moniker actually prevents us from even attempting to realize our fantasies. Now is the time to change that, choose something and work to make it happen. The sense of accomplishment when you finally get there will be just as sweet as the experience itself.

What would you add to this list?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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4 Responses

  1. Rick Peterson

    Great list. Especially the UNESCO world heritage sites. They can prove to be hidden gems on discovering. So, definitely worth discovering.

    Reply
  2. Lauren Bishop

    Thank goodness someone is saying what I keep thinking: enough 30 things before 30 lists! Like the world, and all the adventures within it, disappear at 30. I’ve done a number of items on this list and have many more that I’d love to complete one day. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Rosemary

    Yes, for reminding everyone out there that Gen Xers still exist and we do travel. Love your point about traveling for food. That is our mission at Authentic Food Quest and the experience truly does change you. Cheers

    Reply
  4. Catherine - Red Door Ponderings

    Love this article. Have been following you on Instagram too – love the updates you are giving there too. We definitely travel for the food, but we also like to take a slower pace, talk to and meet locals. Love this article and your site.

    Reply

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