Here’s to Being Crazy in Your Twenties

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Kate, Beth and Lisa with Ice-T and Coco

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I’ll be spending it in Paris, the city I love most.

I’m happy. I don’t have any hangups about entering a new decade. If anything is bugging me, it’s wondering whether girls in their twenties will find their way to this site, see my age, and dismiss me as irrelevant. It’s ridiculous, I know, but my narrative has always been that I quit my job at 26 to travel the world.

I love growing older, though. I love learning. I love doing more and more interesting things each day.

And you can’t say I haven’t lived my twenties.

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Oh my God, my twenties were awesome! The friendships, the parties, the guys, the questionable decisions that turned into hilarious stories by the next day.

To commemorate the end of my third decade on this planet, I’ve decided to share a photo and a story from each year of my twenties. I hope you enjoy them.

Age 20: Florence, Italy

Honestly, looking back at my semester in Florence, I am shocked that I survived intact. I’ll be writing about it more at a later date, but throwing a bunch of American twenty-year-olds in a city filled with student bars with binge-drinking packages (who can forget the personal champagne bottles at Faces, the student bar that smelled like puke?) was insane.

At one club — was it Faces or Space Electronica? — my roommate Jo dared me to climb the ladder to the platform that held a naked mannequin, panties dangling from its hand, and kiss the mannequin’s ass.

“Kate, I will pay you fifty f*cking euros if you do this!” Jo yelled.

That was all I needed to hear. I scampered up the ladder and kissed the mannequin as the club cheered.

Then the bouncer came through, yelling, “Dangerous!” and forced me to climb down.

Jo, I’m still waiting for my 50 euros!

Age 21: Somewhere in Connecticut

Senior week at Fairfield University, much like my semester in Florence, was devoted to drinking. One of the activities we had during senior week was a picnic out at a summer camp-like place in Connecticut, where we had drunk swimming, drunk canoe races, and a drunk pie-eating contest.

Well, the pie-eating contest was just a Vienna finger covered with whipped cream. But I ate that pie like it was nobody’s business.

Me and Vanilla Ice

Age 22: South Padre Island, Texas

VANILLA ICE.

I was visiting my friend Beth in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and we decided to go to South Padre Island for one night and have the spring break we never had.

Things definitely took a turn for the interesting when I saw a plane dragging a sign advertising a Vanilla Ice concert that night!

Beth and headed over to the concert, found a group of guys (figures, while most of the guys there were Kansas and Oklahoma frat boys, we found the Cornell engineering majors), but as soon as Vanilla Ice came out, I ran up to the front.

And then Vanilla Ice started pulling girls onto the stage with him. I didn’t wait — I hopped the barrier and climbed on stage!

For the rest of the concert, I edged myself up to Vanilla Ice and took selfie after selfie with him (remember that this was March 2007 and smartphones, Instagram and the word “selfie” didn’t even exist yet!). Beth and I definitely got the spring break we had always dreamed of!

Kate in Vegas

Age 23: Las Vegas, Nevada

You know, it was Vegas that originally derailed my plans to travel around the world earlier. After saving for travel, I began spending more and more on increasingly lavish trips to Vegas.

BUT VEGAS WAS SO WORTH IT BECAUSE IT WAS EVERYTHING I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AND MORE!!

I love this picture. My first BIG night in Vegas. My friend and I had been partying at Tryst where I made out with a French guy and a table of older dudes fed us tequila, then went to the after-party at Drai’s, then we burst out the doors at 6:00 AM and walked back to T.I., I think we high-fived a baby in a stroller, then sat down at a $5 blackjack table and sat down to play round after round, despite being completely off our faces.

VEGAS! Really, if you’re in your twenties, go to Vegas, especially if you’re female. Don’t leave it for when you’re older. It’s a different experience.

Boston Globe Blind Date

Age 24: Boston, Massachusetts

Wow, I’m jealous of my own hair in this photo.

In early 2009, the Boston Globe magazine started a column called Dinner with Cupid — basically, they set you up on a blind date at a Boston restaurant and picked up the tab. The play-by-play would be written up in the magazine.

A blind date with an audience?! Scary. And thrilling.

I sent off my application right away. A few weeks later, I was matched. Our date was to be at Tremont 647 in the South End. I got there first. He came in a few minutes later. Phew. He was cute.

You can read the whole thing here.

Nope, we never saw each other again. We texted for a bit. I went to Vegas; he went to the Caribbean; we both had business trips. It fizzled. And I ended up dating a guy I met on the walk home for several months! But Mike and I are Facebook friends to this day. Pretty sure he reads this site. 🙂

Kate and Shot Girl in Cancun

Age 25: Cancun, Mexico

“THIS IS THE BEST BAR EVER!” I screamed. Yeah, Señor Frogs may be a cheesy spot, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the funnest bar on the planet.

Something is always going on at Señor Frogs — you’re pulled up on stage, you are fed shots along a conga line, shot girls blow a whistle and twirl you and give your boobs a jiggle, you are thrown down a waterside and land in the lagoon, where people scream that alligators are going to get you and you scream and swim as fast as you can as people laugh hysterically.

Oh, yes, and that’s an I <3 SEX name tag for some reason.

Muay Thai Fight

Age 26: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

When it comes to the idiotic things I’ve done in my life, this takes the top spot. On the night when my friends and I planned to go watch the stupid drunk tourists fight Muay Thai at the Reggae Bar, I actually became one of the stupid drunk tourists and joined in.

My opponent was an Australian girl who was likely descended from convicts. I asked her to go easy on me; she beat me to a pulp. It wasn’t even a contest. She mutilated me in the middle of the bar.

My left eye was bloody for three full weeks. On the plus side, I got to know a lot of Thai people better because they would gasp at the sight of my eye and ask what happened.

Crazy Viking Kate

Age 27: Shetland Islands

Up Helly Aa, the Viking festival of fire, is still the greatest festival and one of the greatest trips that I have ever experienced. Every moment of that trip was fantastic.

Wearing a fake beard and spooning myself mouthfuls of tat tie soup through the facial fuzz. Climbing cliffs in a Viking hat. Listening to the Vikings sing the Broadway show tune “Enjoy Yourself” and singing it with my friends for the next several days. Cheering as the Shetlanders chucked their flaming torches onto the perfectly lacquered Viking boat. Dancing all night long to traditional Shetland music, finally calling it a night at 8:12 AM.

Up Helly Aa makes you feel alive, no matter how old you are.

Kate and Nadine Croc Diving

Age 28: Oudtshoorn, South Africa

CROC CAGE DIVING. When I heard that this was a thing, there was no way I wasn’t getting in a cage encircled by crocodiles!

My friend Nadine and I shrieked the whole time, but especially when the crocodiles pushed their noses right into the cage! We had nothing to worry about, though. They were fairly docile, and likely tired from their latest meal. But for us, it was exhilarating.

This wasn’t my only time croc cage diving — I went on to do it a few months later in Darwin, Australia, with a much more temperamental beast.

Kate in the Finnish Sauna

Age 29: Kuhmo, Finland

Naked. Finnish saunas were naked.

I had no idea what I was doing, and I made a few faux pas — bringing my towel and a beer in — but soon I realized why the Finns do this all the time. After a long, hot sauna with several women, most of whom I would recognize performing chamber music on stage over the next few days.

It was near midnight, yet being in central Finland in July, the sky was a delicate shade of pink, edging into blue. And it was time for us naked ladies to go skinny-dipping in the lake.

I hate cold water. I take the longest to get in. But this lake was incredibly warm, and as I swam naked through the waters under that extraordinary sky, I felt completely, utterly content. The Finns really have it figured out.

I hope to carry a bit of my twenties with me for the rest of my life — the little spark of adventure that led to so many memorable moments. Happy birthday to me.

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103 thoughts on “Here’s to Being Crazy in Your Twenties”

  1. Happy, happy birthday Kate! I really love this post as you certainly didn’t waste a minute. Yeah baby!
    You’re an absolute babe, and meeting you in April, only confirmed that.

    Now that you’ve just turned 30 and you’re in Paris; believe me: the party is only just beginning. You. Are. Going. To. Have. A. Blast! On Continental Europe: 30 is the new 20. Whoop Whoop!

  2. Ahhhh… I love that you are wearing that leopard print top in the 24 and 25 pics. Party girl! 😉

    I also love that I have gotten to accompany you (virtually) on your journeys for 5 years now 🙂 PURPLE RAIN 4 LYFEEEEE

  3. Well this if F*CKING brilliant! Basically the entire premise our website was designed on – ”If you were told you’d be dead at 30, what would you do?”, and you Kate, have certainly lived it up! Cheers to many more memories for you in the years to come!!

  4. Happy Birthday Kate! I so love reading your column and seeing all the great places you visit. Even though I’m pushing 68, I still travel on my own and enjoy it every time. It just keeps getting better and better.

  5. Happy Birthday! Happy 30th! I loved this look back at your crazy twenties! So glad you enjoyed the decade and hope you enjoy your 30s just as much!

  6. wow some awesome pics! so cool to be able to look back on your twenties with so many different memories! Im 26 and heading off to travel around Europe for a second time in a few months too, so I’ll definitely use your blog for ideas of more places to travel to 🙂

  7. OK, I actually laughed out loud at that photo of you at 21. And I’M jealous of your hair in the 24 photo. Amazing. I’m sure your thirties will be filled with just as many laughs and adventures, and I’ll be following along to see where you head to next. I have 24 months to go until the big 3-0, but I’m not worried at all….yet.

  8. I absolutely love this!! I am 26 and about to be 27. As soon as I figure out how to make a sustainable passive income..I will be traveling and living like you do. You make 30 look GREAT 🙂

  9. I didn’t start traveling seriously until I was 28. I moved out of the United States for a couple of years and lived in Asia. When I decided to come home at the age of almost 31, I started to realize that great travel experiences can be had anywhere and one is never too old to travel.

    Personally, I find people who begin traveling later in life much more interesting, no offense to you. There are soooo many twentysomethings out there who say they are leaving their lives in the cubicle behind to travel the world, when honestly, they don’t really have a whole lot of experience working in the real world and act like it is some great feat to leave behind life as they know it. Sure, it’s brave. But there are so many people out there doing the same thing now, right after college.

    I’m not saying you are wrong for having done so, but you shouldn’t worry about the fact that you’re now 30 and maybe younger people won’t find your blog interesting. People who love travel love travel, regardless if they are 20 or 80. I think it’s awesome when middle-aged people quit jobs they’ve had for years and travel the world. That takes a lot of courage too. My point is, travel is for anyone, at any age, so to worry about the fact that you are now 30 is irrelevant.

    1. Hahahaha!!! This was back in 2009 and it was the second weekend that XS Nightclub at the Encore had been open. We were hanging out and they just happened to be there.

      The hilarious thing is that my friend Beth (in purple) is the Law & Order super fan, but she was the one who was the most composed! I just yelled, “COCO!” and Lisa (in black) kept saying, “I am so honored. I am so honored,” to Ice-T. They were both really nice and happy to pose for a photo with us.

  10. I just turned 30 in June while I was interning with a Sustainable Fashion company in Peru! I am so excited for my thirties and I’m ready for some new opportunities. They say that your twenties are for figuring out what you want, and your thirties are for figuring out how to get it. So, I see nothing wrong with making mistakes or embarrassing yourself at any age, you have to figure it out somehow! 🙂

  11. Happy Birthday Kate! Thank you so much for all your inspiring posts. I am 23 finally got my own blog up and running and best of all, I start my first big out of college adventure on Saturday!!! I couldn’t be more excited. I am so glad to have your kind words reminding me that everything is going to work in the end. Thanks again and happy happy birthday! xx

  12. Hope you had a great birthday Kate! I recently found your blog and have been living in it for the past few hours, it’s so awesome and really helpful. I’m 24 and quit my writing job in March to travel the world solo & am loving every second 🙂 Looking forward to following your blog from now on! P.S. I love Lavish Habit too – was there a few weeks ago on a ‘break’ from travelling!

  13. I’m afraid my 20s (and 30s for that matter) are but a dim memory but I do remember having fun and being crazy – although the details are a bit fuzzy. I do know I had a wonderful crazy time, as you did, but you know what? It gets better. And better! Have a wonderful birthday, Kate!

  14. Hi, Kate! I was going to start a new blog as one of the preparations I’m doing to fulfilling my travel plans, then I stumbled upon yours. You have the most beautiful blog I’ve visited by far. You inspire me to make the most out of my twenties. I’m 23, and I’ll be living my life to the fullest, just like you did. Continue being a blessing to everyone who dreams of traveling the world.

  15. Happy Birthday! I’m living vicariously. Almost all the pictures of me from my 20s involve baby spitup but damn that child is cute and quite sweet. Best wishes for your next adventure.

  16. I’m a few late to this, but amazing!

    I am 26 now & sort of about to leave my job (my contract is up in November) and am trying to figure out how to travel more rather than less. I have an interview tomorrow for a job that takes me through til January and then I am On. My. Own. Oh yeah, and I have a dog who’ll be travelling with me (I brought him back from Spain when I lived there in my early 20’s)…. so it could be interesting 😉

  17. A beautiful decade Kate! Thanks for sharing everything with us over the years. All the best to you in your 30’s…Thanks for not being one the girls that dreads their age! It’s LIFE! We only get more knowledgable as we grow and getting older is beautiful!

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