Birthdays are special occasions, but some are said to be more meaningful than others. We are referring to milestone birthdays such as your 21st, 30th and other “major” age celebrations. What better gift to mark the occasion than to go on a holiday, right?
For his 50th birthday, actor Will Smith bungee jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon in the United States. Meanwhile, singer Justin Bieber rented a private island in the Caribbean near Grenada for his 21st birthday.
One doesn’t need to be Hollywood royalty to go big on milestone birthdays. What’s important, according to author and speaker John Stahl-Wert, is to celebrate our life’s achievements and transitions.
“When we celebrate a milestone, we are reminded to give thanks for the rest of our everyday moments, too. When we pause to celebrate something that is noteworthy, the act of pausing invites us to notice everything else,” he wrote on his blog.
Whether it’s the liberating 21 or big 4-0, here are some holiday ideas to mark the various milestone birthdays.
21: World’s your oyster
While there are legal differences across the globe, 21 is traditionally seen as the coming-of-age moment for a youngling. You’re a young adult, legally emancipated (in some countries, at least) and the world is your oyster. Now would be a good time to venture out of the comforts of home and go on a solo trip.
For first timers, consider countries with a relatively safe track record for travellers. Thailand ticks all the right boxes when it comes to affordable accommodation, stunning beaches, lip-smacking food and happening party scene.
Start with a culinary adventure and some cultural exploration in the capital Bangkok. Then head to pristine islands such as Koh Phi Phi for some fun in the sun.
If you’d rather celebrate your 21st birthday with a bit more pizzazz, bring a party of friends to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Over the years, the city has built a reputation for its vivacious nightlife scene. After dark, the street of Pham Ngu Lao comes alive with cheap beers and roadside cafes.
You don’t need to be a billionaire to have a whale of a celebration here.
30: Trekking through adulthood
If 21 is the passage into adulthood, 30 can be regarded as a step towards stability. It’s also a good time to go away and reflect on life’s decisions. Consider escaping the chaos of big cities and venturing into nature. Of course, a hiking trip would be a natural fit.
Some hiking trips can take up to 20 days (Mount Everest, anyone?), but there are some moderate trails you can tackle too. Indonesia is home to Mount Bromo, which offers about two hours of a relatively easy but visually impressive climb. Visitors can scramble to the crater rim and observe sulphur clouds emerging from the crater.
As it’s an active volcano, some prior research on the mountain’s conditions is necessary to ensure safety.
If it’s something a bit more cultural you seek, then head over to Machu Picchu. A four-day hike along the Inca Trail will unveil sights of ancient ruins, snowy mountain peaks and distant rivers. Those who have trekked this path talk of its life-changing quality – definitely perfect as you embark on your 30s.
40: Living a mindful existence
At this point, the phrase “age is just a mindset” probably rings truer than ever. Your wild and crazy days are most likely over, and it’s time to sober up. Now might be a good time for a spiritual adventure. By “adventure”, we mean a spa and wellness retreat.
There’s no shortage of wellness resorts in the world. Over in Italy, there are retreats that range from an 11th-century monastery tucked in the Tuscan hills to a resort set amid olive groves overlooking Lake Grada.
Closer to home, India has some wellness and yoga retreats that incorporate ancient Ayurveda treatments for that ultimate rest and relaxation.
For another kind of awakening, visiting places with deeply rooted spirituality can be an eye-opening experience. Kyoto in Japan has an abundance of spiritual sites: Temples, shrines as well as churches.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, is home to Adam’s Peak. The peak in the tea country is considered sacred to multiple religions.
50: Eat and be merry
Life gets better after 50, or so says The Happiness Curve author Jonathan Rauch. The kids are all grown up and you’re probably at the tail-end of those mortgages. Your 50s is sometimes dubbed as the golden age of happiness, and what better way to celebrate than to wine, dine and be merry!
In fact, travel booking platform Agoda revealed that there’s nothing more travellers in their 50s look forward to than a good dining experience.
If that’s the case, how about doing a food and wine trail in Australia? Melbourne has many restaurants, hidden bars, cafes and wineries to choose from. For something extra special, take a hot air balloon ride for a scenic breakfast in the hinterlands.
While Thailand might be an obvious choice, do also consider doing a food trip to other places in the region such as Vietnam and the Philippines. The latter has cuisines that merge the tastes of India, Spain, China and America.
For something more “exotic”, visit Ukraine for its pastries, soups and meat dishes. Elsewhere, you’ll find plenty of gourmet dining options in France.
60 and beyond: Life at leisure
If there are destinations you have placed on your bucket list, now might be a good time to go through that list. What’s even more special about travelling to these venues later in your life is that you’d be able to enjoy it without fear of work stresses or any deadlines.
Those who don’t mind the outdoors can travel to South Africa for the safaris. Get up close with animals as you spend the day in safari vehicles viewing the vast landscapes and incredible wildlife. A safari tour is also a great multi-generational holiday idea for your now adult children as well as cute grandkids.
Cruises across the sea are also a great way to travel during this time. You’ll have all the amenities and dining at your leisure on board. And then there are also opportunities to disembark and explore different cities.
Not a fan of the open sea? Then consider a river cruise instead. The Danube and the Rhine rivers in central Europe are popular options among retirees.