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The best once-in-a-lifetime trips to enjoy in your 20s

There’s no better time to travel than in your 20s. If you’ve got very few commitments, lots of stamina, plenty of money saved and a burning desire to see the world, these are the trips for you...

A Chinese temple in Koh Phangan (Shutterstock)

1. Party in South-East Asia

Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan (Shutterstock)

Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan (Shutterstock)

Join G Adventures on this epic 40-day adventure through South-East Asia, offering equal doses of culture and fun, in one of the most unforgettable corners of the planet.

You’ll take in all the best stops and sights of the region, from trekking in Chiang Mai to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and picturesque limestone karsts in Ha Long Bay.

And because G Adventures know the best way for travellers to bond is over a good old-fashioned party, they’ve made Koh Phangan’s famous Full Moon Party your final stop on the tour. Your adventure is guaranteed to end with a bang.

Trip: Indochina Exploration & Full Moon Party

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 40 days

How much: From £2,349 (exc. flights)

2. Follow the ancient Silk Road

Camel caravan in the Gobi desert (Shutterstock)

Camel caravan in the Gobi desert (Shutterstock)

If you’re going to do the Silk Road, do it properly, on this extraordinary 115-day overland tour from Ulaanbaatar to Tbilisi with Dragoman.

Travelling by overland expedition vehicle, jeep, public bus, Russian bus, taxi, boat, camel and Metro, you’ll follow this fabled route through China, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.

You’ll explore the mud volcanoes Gobustan, wild camp near the 'Door to Hell' at Darvaza Crater, wander the timeless alleyways of Samarkand and explore the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley.

From visiting the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent to camping in remote Mongolia, this is the Silk Road adventure that offers it all.

Trip: Nomads Of The Silk Road & Mongolia

Who: Dragoman

Type: Overland

When: Jun & Jul

How long: 115 days

How much: From £9,235 + $US 3,910 kitty (exc. flights)

3. Trek in Nepal

Gazing across the Himalaya (Shutterstock)

Gazing across the Himalaya (Shutterstock)

This short-four day trek along the famous Everest teahouse trek with Intrepid is the perfect addition to your gap year adventure through India and Nepal, avoiding the headache of trying to organise a trek yourself and at a very affordable price to boot.

The journey begins with a flight to Lukla, with stunning views of Everest and the Himalaya along the way. Over the next four days, you’ll cross fast flowing rivers, climb to the highest hotel in the world and take in close up views of the mountain and the surrounding Himalayas and stay in teahouses in the village of Phakding, the market town of Namche Bazaar and the small settlement of Monjo.

This is a great introduction to Everest and trekking in Nepal.

Trip: Everest Teahouse Trek 

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: Five days

How much: From £720 (exc. flights)

4. To Rio and beyond

Taking photos on the salt flats in Bolivia (G Adventures)

Taking photos on the salt flats in Bolivia (G Adventures)

It’s the dilemma that faces every young traveller to South America: Peru or Brazil? Machu Picchu or Rio? And what about Argentina? On this fun and frantic journey from Rio to Lima with G Adventures, you can enjoy it all.

Exploring with like-minded travellers, you’ll spend 51 days immersing yourself in the energetic culture and visiting some of the most iconic places on the planet.

You’ll trek the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, cross the Bolivian Salt Flats, sip wine in Argentina, and hit the beach in Brazil. There’s time later to slow down, take the long road, and have an adventure while you can.

Trip: Rio To Lima Adventure

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: 51 days

How much: From £3,858 (exc. flights)

5. Help save the orangutan in Borneo

Volunteers at Samboja Lestari (The Great Projects)

Volunteers at Samboja Lestari (The Great Projects)

This is the once-in-a-lifetime adventure where you can give something back to the planet – a volunteering holiday at the Samboja Lestari wildlife rescue centre in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Tucked away in the Indonesian part of Borneo, Samboja Lestari was established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation to provide a safe haven for rescued orangutan and sun bears.

As a volunteer, you’ll help to rehabilitate these incredible great apes (as well as beautiful sun bears) by helping with feeding and caring for them, as well as assisting with the upkeep of the sanctuary.

You’ll also be an assistant teacher at Forest School, where orangutans learn and practise the skills they’ll need when they are released back into the wild.

Trip: Orangutan & Sun Bear Conservation In East Kalimantan

Who: The Great Projects

Type: Small group

When: Apr to Oct

How long: 12 to 26 nights

How much: From £1,295 (exc. flights)

6. Take the Great American Road Trip

Enjoying the view at Monument Valley (Shutterstock)

Enjoying the view at Monument Valley (Shutterstock)

They say that everything is bigger and brighter in America. On this plus-sized 56-day road trip across the USA, you’ll experience it all.

Starting on the star-dusted streets of Hollywood and ending in the Big Apple, you’ll road trip across the country, immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, celebrities, and culture of the United States.

From the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to the mighty Mississippi and New Orleans, you’ll visit stunning national parks, see game-changing cultural hot spots, and dig into the tastiest eats along the way.

It’s an unforgettable trip that few Americans themselves can say they’ve accomplished in their lifetime.

Trip: The Great American Road Trip: LA To New York

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: May to Aug

How long: 56 days

How much: From £6,449 (exc. flights)

7. Lose yourself in India

Contemplating Varanasi (Shutterstock)

Contemplating Varanasi (Shutterstock)

You could spend months in an Ashram in India trying to find yourself. But why not join this fun-filled, cultural journey through the best of India with G Adventures instead?

From the intricately patterned saris of Rajasthan to the beautiful symmetry of the Taj Mahal, this compact journey is an Instagrammer’s delight and the perfect introduction to India.

You’ll float past the ghats on the Ganges River to encounter the spiritual heart of Hinduism in Varanasi and get off the beaten path exploring carved stepwells and quaint temples in rural villages.

With the perfect combination of included activities and free time to explore the nation’s rich heritage, you’re sure to get caught up in India’s incredible tapestry of life.

Trip: Essential India

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £815 (exc. flights)

8. Overland from Cape Town to Cairo

Women walking with water containers on their heads in Tanzania (Shutterstock)

Women walking with water containers on their heads in Tanzania (Shutterstock)

Did someone say epic? This 17-week adventure from Cape Town to Cairo with Oasis Overland conjures up images of African expeditions from days of old and delivers wildlife, iconic landscapes and incredible tribal encounters by the bucket load.

You’ll experience everything that this vast continent can throw at you. Desert, river, and mountain crossings are inter-twined with stunning National Parks and some of the best adrenaline-fuelled activities in the world.

From quad biking in Swakopmund, and canoeing through the Okavango Delta to breathtaking wildlife encounters on the sweeping plains of the Serengeti and with the mountain gorillas of Uganda, this trip has it all.

Throw in Vic Falls, Zanzibar, the remote tribes of the Omo Valley, and you’ll stand before the Pyramids in Cairo, knowing that you’ve just had an adventure of a lifetime.

Trip: Cape Town To Cairo (17 Weeks) Nile Trans

Who: Oasis Overland

Type: Overland

When: Apr

How long: 17 weeks

How much: From £3,995 + $US 1,595 kitty (exc. flights)

9. Have an Australian East Coast adventure

Sailing a maxi yacht Down Under (G Adventures)

Sailing a maxi yacht Down Under (G Adventures)

There’s a reason that travelling the east coast of Australia has become a rite of passage for most people in their twenties. With its long, empty beaches, glittering cosmopolitan cities and extraordinary wildlife, it’s the perfect long break destination.

This 25-day Down Under trip with G Adventures is your crash course in all things Australian. For 25 days, you’ll head up the East Coast from Melbourne, dropping by Sydney, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, learning to surf and having a go at maxi yacht sailing.

A short flight will take you to the legendary outback, to explore Kings Canyon and Uluru, before travelling overland back to Melbourne, calling by Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road. Your twenties is the perfect time to discover the Land Down Under.

Trip: Australia Encompassed

Who: G Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 25 days

How much: From £3,299 (exc. flights)

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