30 Countries Before 30 and other life goals

With my 30th birthday fast approaching I’ve been trying to distract myself with some before 30 challenges. I’m not really one to freak out about birthdays and getting older, but for some reason 30 is coming at me hard and fast. I don’t think it’s the number per say as much as this idea in my head of what life is supposed to be like when you’re 30. When I was younger and thought of a thirty year old I thought of someone who owned a house, was settled into a reliable career and probably had a baby or two. Maybe they lived in the suburbs and they probably had no fashion sense and a mom haircut. Obviously reality is always different than what you imagine when you’re young, I once thought 20 was old after all. But I also think the world is changing, at least if you live in a city in a western country. People have kids much later now, out of all my friends, only two have kids and one of them is a few years older than me. This idea of settling down doesn’t exist in the same way. People in their 30’s still care about fashion and go out for dinner at hot new restaurants. Not to mention that the real estate market in Toronto is insane, so you’ve got to be making well into 6 figures in order to buy a house.


My friend Sam and I in front of a statue of Genghis Khan in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

So why then, do I still feel this pressure to conform to these old ideals of life and success? If I’m being honest I don’t know if I really want those things, and yet that pressure is still there. When I was younger the desire for adventure and travel seemed appropriate and I think I always imagine that as I got older that would go away. That I would wake up one day and be excited to have a regular 9 to 5 job (does that even exist anymore?)  and settle in with my two weeks vacation a year probably spent at all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. But that never happened. I still lust for adventure, change, and new experiences at every turn. Toronto is a great city, I am lucky to have grown up here, and to live here now, but if I’m being honest it’s a little bit boring.  This article in the guardian called Toronto the most fascinatingly boring city in the world.


Rock Climbing in Krabi, Thailand

I’m sure many people of my parents generation look at me and my decisions and think that I’m irresponsible, or out of touch with reality. That buying a house is the end all, be all, of life success. Having a job at a big company with room for lifetime growth, is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t help that articles like this Toronto Life one paint us young people as silly and irresponsible. Not buying a house and liking to travel does not equal living off of your parents and spending thousands of dollars a year on crazy vacations and thousand dollar dinners.


Dog sledding in -30 degree weather

So, since I can’t follow the regular parameters of success, I have to make up some of my own. I would like to have kids one day, but I’m not sure that it’s going to look the same way it did 20 years ago. Instead of helicopter parenting, I lust after instagramm accounts of international families travelling the world with kids in tow. Instead of buying a house in the burbs I’ve got to hope that Toronto condo developers will wake up and start building more liveable two and three bedroom condos. We city folk have to start doing it the European way, trading extra personal space for public ones. Enjoying all the free public parks and playgrounds available while settling for less space of our own. Embracing the so called sharing economy, since it’s definitely here to stay. While a traditional job may be harder to come by, finding work is easier than ever. You can drive for uber, rent out part of your apartment as an Airbnb, sell things you’ve made on Etsy or complete errands and chores for money. Maybe a house won’t be my retirement fund, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make my own retirement fund and invest. ETFs, Index Funds and even Mutual Funds (though watch those management fees) make it easier than ever.

So, while I try to resist the inevitable pull of age, I will make my own challenges, my own choices. My current one is 30 countries before 30. I currently sit at a tantalizing 29 with 6 months to go. What will your challenge be?

Screenshot from 2016-07-09 09:56:47

  1. Canada
  2. USA
  3. Australia
  4. Indonesia
  5. Thailand
  6. Vietnam
  7. Cambodia
  8. Laos
  9. China
  10. Mongolia
  11. Russia
  12. Peru
  13. Costa Rica
  14. Bermuda
  15. Cuba
  16. Dominican Republic
  17. England
  18. Ireland
  19. France
  20. The Netherlands
  21. Germany
  22. Italy
  23. Sweden
  24. Estonia
  25. Finland
  26. Belgium
  27. Fiji
  28. New Caledonia
  29. Vanuatu
  30. ?

And I still have lots of ground to cover.


11 thoughts on “30 Countries Before 30 and other life goals

  1. juandertolearn says:

    Since you’re going to Indonesia, I think, you must have a stop in the Philippines! Our country offers a lot of varieties of destination to choose from: heritage sites, beaches, mountains, and other natural destinations. You won’t surely be disappointed. I promise 🙂


  2. daraconnolly says:

    I’m very impressed by all the countries you’ve visited – not just the number but the diversity. I’ve been in quite a lot of countries (bear in mind that I am 50% older than you) but they are nearly all developed countries in Europe, N America and Japan.

    I agree strongly with the sentiment of not having to fit with outdated ideas of what constitutes a responsible adult way of living. Those in the older generation who condemn you and your peers for living life instead of saving to buy a house have literally no clue about what the property market and the job market is like now; all they know is their own experience and assume that still applies if you just knuckle down and work hard like they did. You can try to educate them or you can just ignore them!


    • FlimsyLion says:

      I appreciate your comments and advice, sometimes it’s nice to have someone agree with your beliefs even if the majority don’t. Travel is such an amazing experience, I don’t think it matters so much where you go, although obviously the more different the place is from your home, the more eye opening the experience would be. I do encourage everyone to travel in South East Asia if you haven’t the place is really amazing and probably much easier to travel than you imagine.

      Your experience in Japan must have been amazing, that’s a country that really fascinates me.


  3. runningtotravel says:

    I think your generation (I’m a decade ahead of you) is becoming more and more aware that you don’t have to live the typical lives of your parents and grandparents. You can travel the world and make a living at the same time. You don’t have to get married, have kids, and buy a house just because you’re a certain age. I’m curious to see which country you will choose!


    • FlimsyLion says:

      Choosing is the hardest part, (excluding the whole saving money thing…) there’s so many places that I want to go, I don’t think I’ll ever make them all. I suppose that’s what makes life interesting though, there’s always something else to work towards.

      Glad to see you enjoyed your recent travels to Canada as well!


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