25 things to do before I turn 25

This quote is commonly attributed to Mark Twain, but its source is actually unknown.

This quote is commonly attributed to Mark Twain, but its source is actually unknown.

Today is my 23rd birthday (don’t worry, I wrote this post ahead of time, and I’m off doing something fun with my day) and this seemed like as good a time as any to announce my latest project, which is:

25 things to do before I turn 25

(I know, I’m a baby, and you can’t believe you’ve been taking my travel advice.)

I’m a list-maker by nature, and I always enjoy reading other people’s lists of things to do before [insert upcoming birthday here] so I decided to make my own. I’m not a big fan of “bucket lists” because, as I’ve mentioned before, I think people should take chances and try new things sooner rather than later, and bucket lists seem to imply something you’ll get to someday, eventually, when you have time. If you’re a bucket list person, that’s cool, but here’s my list of what I hope to accomplish, big and small, over the course of the next two years.

  1. Watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean: Starting the list with an easy one — my mom’s house in Rhode Island is 10 minutes from the beach.
  2. Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail: At least 25 miles… is Never-Backpacked-Before-Emma being too ambitious?
  3. Visit at least 5 new US states and 3 new countries: In total I will have visited 25 states and 25 countries. Are you noticing a theme here?! (South Carolina 5/12/13)
  4. Drink chai in India: Do I need to explain this one?
  5. Eat pad thai in Thailand: I backpacked Europe last Fall in part because I didn’t feel ready for Southeast Asia. Solo travel there would have kicked my ass.
  6. Sleep on a beach in Thailand: But friends, I’m feeling ready for Southeast Asia.
  7. Get paid for a travel article: Then I’ll be able to refer to blogging as my job.
  8. Get paid for any sort of writing: Then I’ll be able to refer to myself as a “writer,” and my 8-year old self will be incredibly proud of me. (Completed: 5/2/13)
  9. Participate in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month encourages people to write 50,000 words during November. I want to be one of the people that this challenge nearly kills.
  10. Go scubadiving: Ideally, I want to get scuba certified, but I would settle for some sort of one-time guided experience too. Mostly, I want to hang out with fish or seals or sea turtles!
  11. Learn to sail: My dad always tried to teach me, but I never really tried to learn.
  12. Visit Jackson Hole, WY: Specifically, visit a dude ranch that my father worked on when he was in his early twenties.
  13. Get a tattoo: Sorry, Mom.
  14. Learn a third language: I’d like to be conversational in a language other than English or Spanish. Technically Catalan is my third language, but I don’t get to use that one much…
  15. Get closer to a glacier than I did in Iceland: 

    So excited!

    So excited! So far away!

  16. Visit my friend in the PeaceCorps in Senegal: This has to be completed before Christmas 2014 when her term is up.
  17. Film and edit a travel video: I did some filming in Hawai’i, but editing is hard so it might be a while before you see the fruits of my labor. It could take up to 2 years to grow, like a pineapple.
  18. Purchase and learn to use a DSLR camera: I want to be able to focus my own photos.
  19. Take E to Barcelona: Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world. My boyfriend, E, is one of my favorite people in the world. A match made in heaven? I think yes.
  20. Be an extra in a television show or movie: Some of these tasks are more challenging than others…
  21. Learn how to cook meat: I know this one sounds silly, but, you guys, I’m a really good eater, but I’m not much of a cook.
  22. Eat vegan for a month: This may sound contradictory to the previous bullet, and that’s because it totally is.
  23. Grow an herb garden: Growing one’s own food is immensely satisfying, but I don’t see myself with a full-fledged garden anytime soon, so I’m sticking with potted plants for now.
  24. Housesit: Preferably somewhere abroad, but if anyone in New England is planning a vacation soon, I’ll gladly look after your pets/houseplants/children you don’t want to take with you. (I actually do have experience with kids, just fyi.)
  25. Host a couchsurfer: I’ve done a bit of couchsurfing, and I’m eager to give back by sharing my home with someone else. Guess that means I need to find a home…

What do you hope to accomplish in the next two years? At the risk of sounding self-centered, is there anything else you think I should do before I turn 25?



  1. This is a really beautiful list, Emma! (Also if you need any help with #18, I’d be happy to help 😉 )

    1. Thanks, Suzi! I’d love your help picking out/understanding a DSLR.

  2. Stephanie · · Reply

    Several things:
    1) Come visit me in Colorado (this would satisfy #3 and #18 :P)! there are actually lots of glaciers in the Rockies (and you could even touch one)
    2) 25 miles actually wouldn’t be too bad. You could do 11 miles in one day given the right weather, so I think you could do it! Also you should start reading those women hiker magazines, and those cover lots of problems you could encounter and ways to train for such a hike (also hilarious topics come up, such as which choice of feminine products least attract bears and which kind of bears)
    3) I think you should work for that television show 1000 places to see before you die!
    4) I want to go scuba diving too!! (Also surprisingly I think Wakefield YMCA has certification courses)
    5) You could get one of those glow-in-the-dark or blacklight tattoos. So unless your job requires you to work in the total darkness or UV light, your tattoo would be basically invisible!
    6) Hope yesterday was great! 🙂

    1. I’m definitely going to come visit you! I love your list comments, I always find them so funny and insightful. In this one, I especially liked the bits about keeping bears away and invisible tattoos.

  3. I want to try a vegan diet for at least a month, too! I think summer is the best time to try this because of all of the fresh produce and farmers markets, despite the allure of ice cream.

    I personally want to learn to tango among many other things. (Learning Argentine tango in Argentina would be ideal…)

    1. We could go vegan during the same month and keep each other posted on how we’re doing. Ice cream will be infinitely less alluring if we find somewhere with good sorbet!

      And I totally forgot to add any dance-related goals to my list. If E and I get an apartment in Boston, I’m hoping to try salsa dancing again, or, better yet, bachata.

  4. […] states (South Carolina and Georgia), which, you may remember, was one of the goals on my list of 25 things to do before I turn 25 (#3: Visit at least 5 new US states and 3 new […]

  5. […] New England, enjoyed countless cups of tea, competed in a film slam, and made a list of 25 things to do before I turn 25. I’ve hitchhiked, couchsurfed, felt lonely in foreign countries, and found out that I’m […]

  6. Wow Emma, this is an ambitious list and I absolutely love it! I think it’s awesome to have goals and things to be excited for. I’ll be crossing my fingers for you to get them all accomplished. I may even create my own list 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Jenna! I hope I accomplish all 25 things, and I also think taking the time to set goals can be an inspiring process in and of itself.

  7. […] I have a friend working for the Peace Corps in Senegal and visiting this country is on my list of 25 things to do before I turn 25, so I’m counting this read as […]

  8. […] I love this video about thru-hiking the Appalacian Trail. Although I’m not prepared to thru-hike, I am hoping to spend a few days hiking the Appalacian Trail in Maine this summer (one of my 25 by 25 goals). […]

  9. Great list! I am making one right now for my 25th birthday today and I am stuck on 24- so searched for ideas and your post came up! Love it- I see this was 3 years ago, so hope most of your dreams, if not all, came true 🙂

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