Your Bucket List for Turning 40

I used to think 40 was sooooo old, but now I’m here I feel like life is just starting.

After living 20 years of incredible travel experiences, that’s a pretty awesome future shining back at me.

woman smiling and holding glasses of wine
Turning 40 feels GOOD

It seems like yesterday I was sliding through the mud in the beer tents of the Durham beer festival in North Carolina for my 30th birthday. A lot has happened since then: two beautiful daughters, a devastating financial crisis, the creation of this travel blog, and the rebuilding of a broken life to one filled with fulfilment and joy.

The thirties was one chaotic vortex of change. It was when the world launched me out of the carefree times of my twenties and asked me to figure out who I really was and what the hell I came here for. It shook me around until I could find the space to settle within the skin of my true self.

I think that’s why a 40th birthday is such a huge occasion, especially for women.

It’s because the forties bring us back to ourselves. It’s a return to the youthful energy of your twenties – a little more playful, but with a lot more self-confidence and assuredness.

You’re cool with who you are and you’re ready to play again.

The thirties is the time you grew into your adult skin – work hard, focus on your career, have kids, do the settled thing.

Then you hit 40 and you realise this adult stuff is too serious and you’re over it. You want the freedom and playful adventure back!

It’s when you finally get to say to the Universe,

“It’s okay, I’ve sorted it out now. I know how this thing works and what I have to do. Let’s do it BUT with light-hearted ease and on MY terms.”

I think also that most women by the time they hit 40 have finished childbearing and their babies are at the more manageable age. The hard and exhausting parenting yards is now over (ha ha – who the hell am I kidding?).

You’ve got your body back and a little bit of your soul. You’ve got more space to breathe and reconnect with who you are.

I feel a great energetic shift with this move into the next decade.

I’m immensely grateful for my life and the absolute wonders I’ve experienced because of travel.

I’m also incredibly grateful for those low points in my life because they have taught me the most. I understand why they had to be so present during my thirties driving me to evolve better.

But, I’m so happy to walk into forty not needing them anymore.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share my personal bucket list. These are the travel moments that shaped me as a person and that I can still recall with clarity and a deep surging of love and joy (and an attack of the giggles).

That’s why we travel – to be able to look back, stand the hairs to attention, and think

“Geez, what a life! It’s been an honour and a privilege to experience it.”

And I’m not even half way through it yet!

Here’s a song to fire you up so you can live your life and sing this at the end of it

Don’t put off those dreams.

Don’t think you can’t have a bucket list like this because you don’t have the money or the time. I never had either, yet I surged forward anyway.

Let life unfold for you as you move towards purposeful living and whatever sets your soul alight.

40 travel experiences to have before you turn 40

Caves Walk at Binna Burra Lodge, Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia
  1. Live in London
  2. Eurovan tour – i.e. Travel around Europe in a campervan (that you paint) with friends
  3. Dance in the streets at the Running of the Bulls, Pamplona
  4. Prost at the Oktoberfest, Munich
  5. Sit with the gorillas, Uganda (and get charged by a silverback!)
  6. White water raft the Nile River
  7. Have Christmas at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  8. Party at Hogmanay (New Years in Edinburgh)
  9. Teach English in a foreign country
  10. Work in a pub in Dublin
  11. Go horseriding in Bryce Canyon
  12. Backpack through Africa for five months
  13. Road trip across the US
  14. Travel around Australia with your kids (there’s bucket lists within bucket lists there!)
  15. Create your dream lifestyle around travel (or your own passion)
  16. Party the summer away on Ios Island, Greece
  17. Hike the Grand Canyon  (north and south)
  18. Hike Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
  19. Cross the road in Saigon
  20. Hike Mt Fansipan, Sapa Vietnam
  21. Visit Uluru
  22. Bike ride around Rottnest Island
  23. Work on a pearl farm in Broome, Western Australia
  24. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
  25. Go on a safari in Africa (make that multiple)
  26. Climb Sossusvlei sand dunes, Namibia for sunrise
  27. See sunrise over Mt Bromo, Indonesia
  28. Spend days swinging on a hammock in Thailand
  29. Jungle trek to see the Orangutans in Sumatra (and narrowly miss meeting a tiger!)
  30. Have Ben Harper sing just to you
  31. Be captivated by Cape Town
  32. Eat pizza and gelato in Italy
  33. Rock climb at Railey Bay, Thailand
  34. Attend a wine festival in Bordeaux
  35. Watch your country play in your favourite sporting match in another country
  36. Attend the Olympics
  37. Attend a college football game in the US and then gate crash the frat party afterwards
  38. Spend ANZAC Day in Gallipoli
  39. Attend a Jack Johnson concert in a forest by the lake
  40. Find your soul home

Forty is starting off deep in the wonder, awe and gratitude of life.

I can’t wait to see how my new bucket list unfolds. I better get started writing down some ideas because I’m ready for more adventure.

Want to see how the 40th birthday party celebrations went? Read about it here (with awesome pics!)

Our 22 years of travel in podcast

Get inspired to make travel your lifestyle. Based on 22 years of experience, we show you HOW to make travel your priority no matter your lifestyle or budget. We did it without loads of money and, often, little savings.

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

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Share with me your tips for my new bucket list. If you’ve reached 40, let me know how your bucket list looks and if you feel 40 has a kind of magical energy to it?!

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29 thoughts on “Your Bucket List for Turning 40”

  1. This list is absolutely fantastic! I’m turning 30 in a year and a half, and I’m scared to death about it, but your post has given me reassurance. Thank you for that! 🙂 Out of all your points, #15 is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve been working my life around travel (the best I can) and don’t regret a second of it!

    Happy birthday!

  2. Happy 40th Caz!! Wow you have fitted a lot into your 40 years! When I looked at your bucket list and compared it to mine I thought to myself I had better get a move on. There is just so much to do and see in your lifetime that this list could almost become infinity. I’m still trying though 🙂

  3. happy birthday. Glad you are living your life seeing what you want. Slightly jealous. Have just finished 10665km drive in a motorhome in 6.5 weeks from Sydney to Exmouth. My dream. Now working on my bucket list again but will be ages before I will get to travel again

  4. Happy Birthday Caz,
    On my 40th I was still caring for a small baby, he would have been 5 months old.
    I’m 50 next year. This last decade has been phenomenal.
    We emigrated to Australia, and left again.
    We became home educators.
    We started travelling full time ( 2.5 years now)
    I became a professional travel blogger, I remember reading your tips for new bloggers not long after I started.
    I got super fit and ran several half marathons and took part in triathlons.
    We lived in London again, on one salary, something I thought financially impossible.
    We bought a house in Romania, still owning the Australia house.
    Good things, amazing things, happen after 40!

  5. Happy 40th birthday dear girl. We share this very special day, as I am celebrating my 65th today. May you stand on a similar platform when you arrive at my age – brimming with joy and gratitude for all the wonders we have seen and experienced along our journey. Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with all of us and allowing us to see your amazing adventures through your eyes.

  6. Happy Birthday! As someone who crossed the 30 threshold recently, I am right in the throes of ‘good god, who am i and what am i doing with my life’ identity soul searching. it’s exhausting, but i know that a) it’s necessary b) travel makes it actually easier, because it has put a lot of stuff in life in perspective for me, and has helped me set some long term goals. 🙂 cheers to the bucketlist!

  7. Happy Birthday Caz! Fantastic list. Mine would have so many of the same things on it, plus a few different ones of course, but the main thing we all have in common is the soul-burning passion to discover, an insatiable curiosity about the world, and the need to share it with our loved ones and fellow travellers. I hope the next ten years is magic for you and the world continues to surprise and amaze you. P.S I think you should put ‘Climb Mt Kilimanjaro’ on your next list. I think it would be something you would love! Challenging yet so rewarding x

  8. Happy 40th birthday Caz! This is Amazing Things to do list before I turn 40. Thanks for Sharing. Out of 40 firstly I love to do a Road trip across the US.

  9. ANZAC Day in Gallipoli is one on mine too. I regret not actually trying to get over for the anniversary this year but I happened to be in the states. I went to DC and attended the commemoration there and it was a little surreal doing it out of Australia for the first time. It was a good experience though.

    My top on the list is Iceland! For a photographer I’m told there’s no where better so that’s been at the top for a long time. I’m aiming for May next year!

  10. Happy Birthday, Caz! 🙂

    Well, I still have years to reach 40, but I can understand the kind of high that you must feel when you turn this iconic age! I’m sure it’s wonderful, and your list proves that! I also hope to do a lot of awesome before I turn 40. 🙂

  11. Happy birthday!
    I’m really jealous of how far you’ve come on your list. Personally, the Sossusvlei sand dunes and Fansipan are definitely on my list aswell. Doubt I’ll be able to go there before I’m 40, but as you say, 40 is just the beginning.

  12. Visiter Marseille à pied

    Happy BIRTHADY !
    thanks for the list
    34 – Attend a wine festival in Bordeaux, there is Marseille for the rosé wine and Bourgogne for the red wine ! The both are sublim 🙂

  13. Great post and great blog, I really like your list of things to do ! I think it helps a lot and makes life much more funnier ! Hope you make all of them even sooner. Wish you all the best


  14. I love your positive outlook! I turned 40 and was told from friends that it is the best decade. I agree with you–the 30s feel chaotic, like trying to get everything figured out, so I hope I can be in a more peaceful spot in my 40s. Happy belated birthday!

  15. I visited 84 countries. Australia would be my 85th in December. Can’t wait… Especially when checking your amazing blog posts and photos!

    Keep up a good work and…
    Happy birthday!!!!

  16. I can see your beautiful smile. You’re probably the happiest woman on the world. Happy birthday. I wish you all the best and write more great blog posts. I’m 28 years old now. I’m thinking about if I can do the list before I’m 40 years old.

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