Approaching the big 3-0? Here’s a definitive checklist of the experiences you need to get out of the way in your twenties…
1. Go Travelling Alone
Solo travelling is one of the most liberating, rewarding experiences that you can have. In your twenties, we’ve all had times when it seems as if no one has the money or inclination to go on holiday, making it the perfect excuse to go exploring on your own. After all, you can pick where you want to go, what you want to do and how you want to do it – the world is your oyster. Sure, it can be daunting and stressful, but you’ll grow in confidence and will no doubt meet equally as adventurous people on your travels.
2. Do Something That Scares You
We’re not suggesting you abseil down the Shard or jump out of an airplane, but facing your fears is good for the soul. Whether that’s going down the adrenaline junkie route and swimming with sharks or bungee jumping, or simply plucking up the courage to ask someone on a date or take a job opportunity abroad, you should make the most of this time in your life when you’re free of attachments and hopefully in good health – later it might not be so easy.
3. Discover Your Family History
Maybe it’s our obsession with the BBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, but we’ve never been more interested in finding out where we came from. Discovering your family history is an enriching experience and one that you’ll be glad you put the time and effort in to when you can share it with your own children one day (if you want them, that is) – plus what better way to spend time with your own relatives than quizzing them on their mums, dads and grandparents? Ancestry.com is one of the most popular sites out there for genealogy, allowing you to search for your relatives based on their birth dates and names. Find out if you’ve got any interesting namesakes, if your great-great-great-aunt was pals with royalty or even if you’re related to royalty yourself…
4. Date Someone Who Isn’t ‘Your Type’
While we’re not suggesting you ditch your long-term relationship to play the field, your twenties are the best time in your life to try the dating game. The best bit? Meeting people who you wouldn’t normally meet – whether that’s through a new app, hanging out with a different friendship group or simply talking to people IRL at a party (revolutionary we know). Instead of sticking to your normal ‘type’ why not be a little more adventurous – whether that means going for an arty type instead of a rugby boy or swapping a local for someone form further afield – you might just be pleasantly surprised.
5. Learn A Language
It’s a cliché that the English are terrible at languages but sadly one that has a degree of truth to it. Buck the trend by learning to speak in a different tongue – whether that’s French, Russian or Arabic – choose one that you’ll get to practice through work or travel, and you never know who you’ll be able to converse with along the way. Our favourite way to learn is through the DuoLingo app: free to download it gives you games and exercises to help you practice your spoken and written language skills.
6. Learn How To Cook
Baked beans on toast was fine when you were at university but by now you should hopefully have a few more dishes in your culinary arsenal. If you’re a little hopeless in the kitchen, why not invest in some cookery books – a good starter is Diane Henry’s Simple, while we’re also big fans of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Nina Parker’s Nina Capri. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious (and flash) take a course at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons or Le Cordon Bleu to seriously impress in the kitchen.
7. Live In A Different City
While the vast majority of people move away for university, a lot of us get stuck living in our university towns or simply following the predictable route and moving to London. Your twenties is the perfect time to try out a new city: whether it's taking a sabbatical, spending a few months working in a different office or staying with family abroad. When you own a house / have children / get married, it all becomes that much more difficult - don't spend your life thinking 'if only...'.
8. Start Managing Your Money Like A Grown-Up
Whether your aim is to pay off your student loan (ambitious) or simply your credit card debts (hopefully less so), it's probably a good idea to start taking control of your finances as you approach your thirties. Learn about your pension, enquire about mortgages and save up for something you really want and buy it - whether it's a new handbag or a house - the sense of adult achievement will be great.
9. Become Au Fait With Wine
We're not saying you need to become a wine bore or a connoisseur, but branching out from the house vino might be one of the best decisions your palate ever makes. Ask the sommelier for recommendations, try something new and take note of what you like - you'll be surprised at just how different it'll make your dining experience.
10. Read The Classics
We're not saying you can't do this in your thirties - of course you can - but being well-read is an admirable trait and one that it's great to get started on early. If you missed out at school and haven't picked up a book in a while, take the time to actually make headway on your Amazon wishlist now. Swot up on some of our great female writers for starters, from Charlotte Bronte to Zadie Smith.
11. Find The Exercise You Enjoy
Stop paying for a gym membership you're not using and discover the class or exercise that you actually enjoy - trust us, you'll spend a lot less time avoiding it and moaning about your fitness if it's something you actually have fun doing. Whether it's aerobic yoga, synchronised swimming or walking the dog, make sure you know what's right for you.