Traveling after graduation from high school or college is a rite of passage. I started planning for my graduation trip long before my senior year of college. Dozens of destinations flitted around my brain until I finally landed on Croatia. I’d heard about the country on an episode of Rick Steves and a friend told me about one of her friends who had gone on a trip with a company called BusAbout. And the rest is history, as that trip is what made me the traveler that I am today. I’ve picked a few great destinations for recent graduates for their wealth of activities, backpacker culture and availability of transportation.
Australia and New Zealand
Everything you’ve ever dreamed of exists in Australia. Sweeping wasteland, lush rainforests and thriving metropolises are all found in the land down under. The backpacker scene in Australia is thriving, with cheap sleeps and activities catered to your post-graduate budget. In New Zealand, even the least outdoorsy will embrace their inner wildlife lover, with hikes on glaciers and bungy jumping. You can’t do much of either country in less than a month, but if you have two weeks in either country, you can start to scratch the surface.
Where better to spend that graduation money than on the beaches of Thailand? You won’t be alone in Southeast Asia when it comes to recent graduates. You get more bang for your buck here and can travel for longer. It’s a huge culture clash, but in a good way. Learn about the history surrounding the Vietnam War and sample dishes that will keep you hooked. And besides, dealing with everything being on “Asia time” builds character. You can see parts of two countries in two weeks, but if you want to see more you’ll want more time.
Part of what made me choose Croatia for my post-graduation trip was the fantastic exchange rate I got before they joined the Euro Zone. There is a handful of countries that still provide good value. Romania and Slovenia are just a few. Greece and Hungary are becoming more expensive, but still worth visiting. And, of course, Croatia has a stunning coastline and is still relatively cheap in cost. Pick one country to spend two weeks in or alternatively get a rail pass and spend a month or more hopping around the region.
Credit: Arturo Sotillo
Central America is well located for North American graduates and you can usually find a reasonably priced flight. Costa Rica, Belize and Honduras all offer eco-friendly adventures. It’s totally possible to do on the cheap and the area is small enough that you can see two or more countries in a two to three week period, depending on how fast you want your pace to be.
The Middle East
The region is a vague term, but here I’m recommending places like Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Turkey. Each has slightly different cuisines, but all favor Mediterranean flavors. Indulge in the history that’s among the oldest in the world and wander among the ruins. When it comes to the Middle East, I recommend picking one country and seeing it fully rather than hopping around the region, as transportation between countries isn’t cheap.