15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Turn 30

The oldest, truest axiom of travel is that you never have both time and money. Before retirement, when your knees will be feta, your best shot at traveling big might be those bumpy early years when the world’s a swirl anyway. In your teens and 20s, let’s be honest, you’re not in charge of squat; you don’t have kids; you can get eight solid hours even when origamied in a bus seat; you’re gastrointestinally fearless; and virtually nothing can kill you even if it tried.

So stack a bit of cash, drop the dog at mom’s, and get going. The world will still be here in a week, a month, a year. Trust us. No one in their 30s or 40s or 90s stops to wish, Gosh, if only I’d traveled less and put in longer hours at the office.

That’s the how and the why. For the where, we asked writers who’ve been around the world twice and lived to tell. Here’s what they sent back on how to (mis)spend your youth — at whatever age you happen to be now.

Riomaggiore
RIOMAGGIORE | LUKAS UHER/SHUTTERSTOCK
Dendrosenecio (giant groundsel) on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro
DENDROSENECIO (GIANT GROUNDSEL) ON THE WAY TO MOUNT KILIMANJARO | K_BOONNITROD/SHUTTERSTOCK
VARANASI, INDIA
VARANASI, INDIA | ALEXANDER MAZURKEVICH / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
BARRANQUILLA , COLOMBIA
BARRANQUILLA , COLOMBIA | KOBBY DAGAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Wat Plai Laem temple
WAT PLAI LAEM TEMPLE | ALEKSANDAR TODOROVIC/SHUTTERSTOCK
TULUM, MEXICO
TULUM, MEXICO | PATRYK KOSMIDER / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Arc de triomphe
ARC DE TRIOMPHE | IM_PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK
Cap-Haitien, Haiti
CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI | DANIEL-ALVAREZ / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM