Hear hear, the second annual Top 30 Adventurers in the World Under 30 is upon us!
Over the past month, we’ve diligently asked backpackers around the world to have nominate their picks for Top World Travelers Under 30, and received so many incredible submissions that we could have put two or three lists together! Narrowing this list down was one seriously tough call.
As Hollywood has it’s top 30 actors under 30, and Forbes has it’s top 30 businesspeople under 30, here we acknowledge the world’s gutsiest adventurers under 30 and give them their due.
This year’s list, much like last year’s, spans across genders, backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities. Hailing from fourteen different countries, each adventurer here has their own unique story and path that led them to get to where they are today.
Each stepped out, left behind a warm hearth of comfort for the cold night of uncertainty, and proudly carry the torch for a new generation of adventurers.
So, in alphabetical order, and without further ado, we present to you…
The Top 30 Adventurers in the World
Under 30 – 2016
Why she’s a top adventurer: Aileen Adalid starts this list off in alphabetical order and sets a high standard. Representing the adventurous spirit of the Filipino people, Aileen proudly bucks the stereotype that you have to be white, wealthy, and from a developed country to travel. She’s on a mission to visit every country in the world on a Philippines passport, self-funding her trips through web businesses.
She’s been traveling the world as a permanent travel for three years, beginning at the tender age of 21. The hardworking personality behind the Travel and Lifestyle blog, I Am Aileen, she’s also co-founded the e-commerce brand Adalid Gear. She’s a talented web designer, entrepreneur, and digital nomad who is living her life to the fullest.
We admire her for her resolve, her entrepreneurial ability to self-fund her life of travel, and not letting things like a Philippines passport stand in the way of following her dream.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Alyssa Ramos is a spontaneous, rambunctious kind of gal who doesn’t let anything hold her back. If someone tells her not to do something she’ll immediately do it.
She’s an adventure junky and explorer, who opts for challenges and pushing her limits. So far she has been to 36 countries across six continents, and her favorite places have been Iceland and Peru.
A self-professed computer nerd and “one of the most curious people on the planet,” she tries to launch fundraising campaigns for places she travels to. She launched a charity called HeartSleeves.org to send T-shirts to a school she volunteered at in Muizenberg, South Africa, and is exploring further ways to give back to the communities she visits.
She writes about her adventures at her blog My Life is a Movie with a voice that’s a bit sarcastic, but always bluntly honest.
Why he’s a top adventurer: While this list is full of inspiring adventurers, Anthony Williams might be the most inspiring of all. Not about to let a physical disability stop him, Anthony is on a mission to travel to every country in the world – while confined to a wheelchair!
Anthony has restrictions on all of his joints, and two metal rods screwed into his spine (plus spinal fusion). But he’s looked at these setbacks as an opportunity, determined to try to become the first wheelchair user to visit every country. Hellbent on exploring as much of the world as he can with only a single pack, Anthony has a gigantically long road ahead, with more than 150 countries to go.
He has set a target of reaching 20 new countries every year, which means he should be able to reach his goal within a decade. Traveling with a disability throws up many interesting challenges – but Anthony has the resolve to overcome them all.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Barbara Wagner is a Hungarian-born, London based jetsetter and luxury travel blogger. She set out at the age of seventeen to take on the world as a model. Ever since she has have lived in seven countries and visited 63. She’s attended film festivals across Europe, Oscar Parties in Los Angeles, Fashion Weeks in Milan or Paris, yacht parties in St-Tropez as well as Prince Albert’s wedding in Monaco.
Barbara has also undertaken many adventurous trips around the world. She has visited all seven modern Wonders of the World, hiked the Himalayas, the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu and also glacier hiked in Patagonia, Argentina. She blogs about her adventures at Jet-Settera.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Cameron Seagle is an American who has visited more than 45 countries and a number of territories.
Right now Cameron, together with his girlfriend Natasha, is gearing up for an eight months overland trip across Africa from Cape Town to Kenya.
During the trip they plan to dive off the coast of Mozambique, snowboard in the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho, camp in the Namib desert, explore Lake Malawi hike the Virunga jungle, and climb both Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Together, the pair documents their travel experiences at The World Pursuit.
Cassandra De Pecol
Why she’s a top adventurer: Cassandra de Pocol is attempting to become an inspiration to Millenials and has set out to break the Guinness World Record for fastest person to visit all 196 Sovereign Nations. The current record for visiting every country is three years, three months and six days, set by Alan Liu of Ann Arbor, MI in 2010. Cassandra has visited over 100 in the past nine months, and well on her way to beating the record.
Through her journey, which she calls “Expedition 196,” she hopes to promote peace and sustainability through tourism.
Cassandra says, “Some people do not pursue their dreams out of fear; fear of finances, fear of failure, or fear of the unknown. I have fears too, but I use those fears as motivation rather than an excuse.”
Why he’s a top adventurer: Cassidy Knight is an Asian-American who came out of his shell as a shy, quiet kid. He was trying to start a business but was afraid to talk to anyone. In just a year he completely turned his life around and went from being homeless and starting a growing business and becoming a permanent traveler. He sold everything off he owned and moved to the far side of the world.
Now he’s taking on his fears head on, taking on crazy stunts such as backflipping off cliffs, and cycling, mo-ped riding, and hitchhike across the entire world. He has spent the last several months hitchhiking across New Zealand and is continuing his adventures, hitching by boat across the South Pacific.
Cassidy’s ethos is summed up in three words: “Follow your fears.”
Why she’s a top adventurer: Chloe White is a filmmaker from London and owner of Whalebone Films who has traveled around the world, filming in over 30 countries. Together with her husband Will, she’s currently on an adventure to circumvent the world by cycling tandem on a budget of just 10 pounds per day and is several months into her journey.
The general idea is to cycle on tandem east, first to Spain, then by various boats to Greece, and on through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, South Korea and Japan. They then fly over to the US, cycle through the southern states and up to New York, and fly back to the UK. Her favorite route so far has been cycling up west Croatia, through Slovenia into Italy to Venice.
As mentioned, the couple is traveling on a scant budget of £10 a day each for 18 months. They manage by camping a lot and not treating themselves too often. This is all we know at the moment, and we haven’t been training. But one thing we have learned is that there’s only so much planning and thinking you can do before you just have to go.
Why he’s a top adventurer: In 2004, tragedy struck Chris Mark and his family. His sister, Laura, was struck and killed while riding her bicycle home. More than a decade later, her legacy lives on.
In honor of his sister’s memory, Chris completed a 20,000 mile journey in one year from Alaska to Argentina and writes about his journey at Miles for a Memory. During the trip he raised $20,000 for the charity created in his sister’s name, “The Laura Hulbert Fund for Wishes 4 Kids.”
This guy deserves a medal! On top of his Alaska to Argentina trip, Chris has spent five years exploring the world, and is based in South Korea.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Chris Stevens is a surfer from Devon who has been chasing an endless summer since 2009. Usually found somewhere warm and tropical, he begun with a year in Australia living in a van, traveling around and surfing the coasts.
Since then he’s been bouncing all over the globe exploring some of the amazing places and experiences it has to offer. His travels are primarily driven by his desire to surf in exotic locales around the world, taking in a mish mash of cultures, landscapes and beautiful blue waves.
You may run into Chris island hopping in The Galapagos, hiking the Inca Trail, working as a surf or scuba diving instructor in Thailand, diving with whale sharks in the Philippines, road tripping in Australia, or on safari in South Africa.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Edna Zhou left her home country of the United States at the tender age of 18 and eight years later, she has no plans set to return. Currently living in Paris, she’s lived and worked all over Asia and Europe, visiting 15-20 countries each year.
After moving to Singapore with a few hundred dollars to her name, Edna began a career working in international sports, which led to her working at Olympic events in London, Sochi, and Rio de Janeiro. She picked up Gaelic football in Ireland and has since played on teams in Paris, Milan, and across China. She also regularly produces videos for BBC Travel.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Iris Veldwijk, the queen of hitchhiking, recently thumbed her way across South America, triumphantly arriving in Ushaia. She’s traveled through 63 countries, mostly by hitchhiking, and couchsurfing, camping, and busking as she goes. Some of her favorite countries she’s hitchhiked in are Mexico, Ukraine, and Iran. She speaks five languages, and is working on five more – Russian, Turkish, and Arabic.
Through her inspirational blog, Mind of a Hitchhiker, she’s motivating women all around the world to take on their own hitchhiking adventures!
Why she’s a top adventurer: The first Irish lass to join our list, Janet Newenham is an award-winning blogger and professional journalist from Dublin whose work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and the Matador Network.
Inspired by the legacy of the real-life Indiana Jones, and his ultimate bucketlist, she set her own bucketlist of goals that she wanted to accomplish before 30 and set herself to the task any way she could. She’s worked aupair in Australia, taught English in South Korea, done NGO work in India, interned in Canada, volunteered in East and Southern Africa and studied abroad. Janet has traveled to over 50 countries, lived and worked on five continents, and plans to keep roaming the world as a digital nomad forever.
Why he’s a top adventurer: A familiar face from 2015’s list, Jarryd Salem (who goes by the nickname Jazza) and his girlfriend Alesha have been traveling for more than eight years and their adventures have been featured in places such as CNN, Forbes, Business Insider, and the Daily Mail, to name a few. Since we heard from his last year, hasn’t slowed down. To start, got engaged to his long-time girlfriend Alesha, popping the question inside the world’s biggest known cave in Vietnam.
Since then the pair has hitchhiking around Tibet and Mongolia, horse trekked to visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders in Mongolia, witnessed a sky burial in the Himalayas, camped on the Great Wall of China, completed the world’s most dangerous hike in China, took a cargo ship across the Caspian sea from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, hitchhiked around Turkey, taken multi-day hikes in deep snow, and traveled the Pamir Highway on border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan from Thailand to Turkey without using any air transport.
Follow Jarryd’s adventures on his blog, Nomadasaurus.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Another long-distance cyclist to join our list, Josh Bergemann is currently on a solo cycling trip across the entire world. He begun the Pan-American Alaska to Ushaia trip in 2015, now the next leg of his trip takes him from South Africa to the coast of China.
Follow Josh’s journey on Instagram.
Why he’s a top adventurer: A native German currently living in Beijing, Josh Cahill has had a busy time during his twenties, with more than 150 flights and 75 countries under his belt. He has hitchhiked from Berlin to Iran, lived in Kabul (Afghanistan), become part of the national choir in Georgia after a few pints of beer, walked through a mine field in Bosnia, participated in the Arab Spring in Egypt and claims the only university he has ever attended is the “University of Life!”
He has never spent a dollar on accommodation and to date has travelled to five continents. He has lived in Dubai, moved to Australia with only $50 to his name, and everything he owns fits into his backpack. He lives a life of traveling and is going to die poor one day, but full of stories and knowing that he spent his life doing the things that made him happy.
Josh recently celebrated his 30th birthday on June 17 – two days before our June 15 deadline for nominations… so he made this list by two days. Happy birthday Josh! They say life begins at 30 🙂
Why she’s a top adventurer: Native New Yorker Lauren Bonheim is a twenty-something who was unsure about who she was or what she wanted to do in life so she begun exploring the world in hopes of finding herself along the way.
She’s roadtripped across South America, skydived in the Swiss Alps, gone on camel safari through the Sahara, toured the Greek isles, partied way too hard in Ibiza, and driven an off-road vehicle through the Atacama dessert. She spends her twenties adventuring full-time across six continents and shows no signs of slowing down.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Liz Gillooly is truly the captain of her life – literally! A licensed sailboat captain, she’s spends her time chasing the horizon and the next adventure. Boats aren’t her only style of travel; she’s also ridden horses in Spain, dolphins in Tortola and donkeys in Antigua. She’s also backpacked through Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua – where she found herself so broke she couldn’t afford street food.
Her adventures all began when became fed up with expensive college fees in New York city, taking classes which didn’t interest her or serve her future interests. She received an offer to sail to New York to the Caribbean, working on a private yacht, and never looked back.
She’s survived a jet ski collision, fired a cannon on a Caribbean Pirate Ship, saved people from drowning, got lost in the Atlantic Ocean when both fuel filters failed, come face to face with a whale and spent months sleeping outdoors in a hammock.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Makai Tullis may have everyone on this list beat. Starting his adventuring career at the tender age of 7, Makai has been traveling continuously for the last two years through twelve countries and four continents.
He has taken a ride on the world’s longest luge track in Calgary, hiked the Tayrona National Park in Colombia, navigated and survived South America’s largest outdoor market in Otavalo, Ecuador, walked with Giants at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, and traversed Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, thought to be first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Representing the Central Asian region, Meka Muratova hails from the high mountains of Kurshab, Kyrgyzstan.
She begun her travels when she was 16 and has currently traveled through 30 countries. She’s lived and worked all around the world, and has undertaken thrilling adventures.
Besides working at the biggest Kosher Meat factory shoulder to shoulder with all kind of refugees in a small village in the middle of Iowa, to cycling 5500 km from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Beijing, China through mountains exceeding 4,500m high and braving deserts and sandstorms, Meka also survived the coldest Russian winters in the North, saw ‘white nights’, washed sheeps’ guts and participated in parties in night clubs where the deputy of the Russian Legislative Assembly was making a physical fight with all kind of LGBT representatives.
She’s currently living and working as an artist in Bern, Switzerland, planning her next big adventure.
Why she’s a top adventurer: One of the most influential travel bloggers online today, Megan Jerrard aka “Mapping Megan” has been a nomad for nine years. She visited 32 countries during her gap year, which she ultimately decided to extend indefinitely. Today a full-fledged digital nomad, this Australian lady simply does not stop traveling!
A self-professed adrenaline junkie, she’s explored the pyramids of Giza, watched the sun set over the African plains, skydived over the Swiss alps, snorkeled with giant sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos, bungee jumped in Costa Rica, white water rafted in Iceland, and rappelled down a 17 story building in the city center of La Paz, Bolivia. She’s traversed the Yungas “death road” of Bolivia on a mountain bike, and summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
Meg just returned from a month of exploring Australia’s outback and is currently gearing up on her next round-the-world trip. She’s truly a woman who’s been here, there, and back again!
Why he’s a top adventurer: Hailing from Finland, Mitja Kojo is a 23 year-old traveling musician who enjoys a unique lifestyle, with never a dull moment. Mitja begun his travels early, and began backpacking on his own when he was 14. His first trip was to Thailand and after that he has been traveling as much as he can, supporting himself with his music and the occasional odd job.
He has been around Europe, Morocco, Gambia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. His current trip has last for three years solid. He funds his traveling by bartending, waitering and by playing music all around the world.
Recent adventures include driving a tuk-tuk around Sri Lanka for a month and trekking hundreds of kilometers around Himalaya in Nepal. I’m a nomad on a seek for the best jams and new music to learn. At the moment Mitja is currently in Nepal en route to Malta, Mexico and Cuba.
Nhung Thi Thao Phung
Why she’s a top adventurer: Nhung Thao is an adventurous soul from Ho Chi Minh city who gets itchy feet if she spends a week at home. Her mission is to inspire a new generation of Vietnamese to pack their bag and travel.
After a brief stunt in an office job, she knew she had to get out. The same day she quit, she booked a one-way ticket abroad. Three years later, she’s still traveling all over the world. She’s surfed, dived, and trekked all over Asia, backpacked through Europe, and is planning a long-distance trip to the US, Mexico, and Cuba.
Her blog, Phuotvivu.com was designed to encourage other Vietnamese to explore more of the world, and she has appeared on Vietnamese television shows to talk about travel.
Why she’s a top adventurer: Nicola Easterby is a 22 year-old Aussie with an addiction to photography, adrenaline, peppermint tea and non-stop global adventures! She begun traveling solo at age 19 and quickly discovered that staying in one place would no longer satisfy her itchy feet. A talented photographer, she was discovered on Instagram by a tour company and her travel photos began to appear in travel agency brochures.
Fast forward a few years later and she now has the best job in the world, circling the globe full time as a blogger behind Polkadot Passport and travel photographer (and a talented one at that!). To date, she’s been lucky enough to travel to 33 countries and counting.
Sarah Kim Chetrit
Why she’s a top adventurer: In a story of tragedy turned into triumph, Sarah Kim Chetrit lost her parents as a child.
As an orphan, many people would’ve written her off, and indeed she suffered from a broken heart and asked “Why me? Why did this have to happen?” She managed to turn things around and proved those who doubted her wrong. She left home at 17 to begin traveling and several years later, she is living the dream.
Travel has helped me Sarah heal from the loss of her parents, and today is the only constant in a life where there used to be no constant. Now based in Amsterdam, she’s traveled through 19 countries and counting while maintaining a full time job and working her way through college.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Simon Yugler is a transformational travel consultant, an anthropologist, writer at the website Travel Alchemy.
Having studied anthropology, he immerses himself in all of the cultures he explores, traveling to remote regions the world. He has studied and lived with aboriginal tribes from Australia to Africa all the way to isolated pockets of the Amazon. He has traversed regions of the Middle East and East Africa overland, ran from tear gas in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, participated in Zimbabwean ancestral ceremonies, and studied with a family of indigenous Shipibo healers in the Peruvian Amazon.
He has successfully created a travel career, leading young would-be adventurers on trips to Central and South America, having worked as a gap year guide for the past two years. He embodies everything that a true adventurer does: curiosity, compassion, kindness, determination, and willingness. He has recently been taken on by National Geographic Student Expeditions to guide groups to Fiji and Costa Rica, adding to his extensive list of visited places.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Tom Rogers left the UK and landed in China with no electronics or plans, armed only with the insatiable thirst to travel. Navigating a roller coaster of events, emotions, and options to earn a living while traveling, he’s still going strong two years later.
A former aerospace engineer who escaped the corporate world, he’s made his way through countless countries and borders, driven a motorbike all over Southeast Asia, skydived in the Swiss alps, jumped off too many cliffs and canyons, dived with sharks, snowboarded and traversed jungles in Sumatra and the Amazon, eating food he didn’t know existed, and of course drinking (he admits a little too much).
Why he’s a top adventurer: From Northeast England, Tommy Walker has been on the road constantly since 2012. He has backpacked South East Asia and South America, in between living in Australia. Tommy is on the road again right now in Europe and is planning the next trip as he goes.
Tommy has visited the free roaming wildlife filled Galápagos, scuba dived with Bull and Tiger sharks in Fiji, toured places like Angkor Wat and Taj Mahal, explored remote caves in the Philippines, gone on safari in Northern India, and ventured to the Lost City in Colombia and trekked Machu Picchu.
A simple man whose main interests include football, jungle trekking, scuba diving, exploring ruins, hot yoga and whiskey. Tommy is a contributor to the Matador Network, and admin of backpacking groups, inspiring and helping other travelers to adjust to the traveling lifestyle.
Why he’s a top adventurer: Tyson Mayr is an aussie who only too willingly gave up a suit and a tie for a backpack. He has been traveling since 2009 through over 50 countries on seven continents, on less then $10,000 a year, volunteering along the way. He is a Global Charity Ambassador for RainCatcher, committed to carrying & installing water filters while he travels & fundraising every opportunity he gets.
He goes by the name of the “The Naked Traveller” as a metaphor for freeing yourself of material possessions & traveling ready to experience everything the world has to offer!
Tyson also recently won a competition out of 3,000 applicants for the position of Chief World Explorer for the “best job in the world” from the travel website Jauntaroo. Basically he receives a $100,000 salary to travel the world through 50 destinations and vlog about the experience.
Pardon us as we sulk with envy 🙂
Why he’s a top adventurer: Another returning face from last year’s list, Will Hatton is the flamboyant personality known as “The Broke Backpacker.” Will is passionate about real hardcore adventure; if it includes freezing peaks and steaming jungles, crashing waves and raging rivers; if it gets his heart pumping and blood racing, then he’s in.
Since we last heard from Will, he’s been busy hitchhiking from England to Papua New Guinea and has successfully crossed Iran and Pakistan. On a whim, he bought a tuk tuk and traveled across India, where he didn’t let a severe case of giardia slow him down. He insists on throwing himself into the thick of things; preferring lesser-visited countries such as Iran, Palestine, The Congo or North Korea.
Roaming the world for more than a decade, he’s spent two years traveling Asia on $12 a day, lived like a king in Venezuela, received tattoo blessings from the Kalinga tribe of the Philippines, temporarily married a girl in Iran that he met through Tinder, and slept in caves in Jordan.
Congratulations everyone who made this year’s list! Happy trails, and travel well!
Cover photo: Nicola Easterby.
Please join the discussion and leave us a comment. What do you think of this list? Did we leave anyone out? We’d love to know.