Graduation Trips That Will Change Your Life
If you’ve recently tossed your cap into the air and collected your diploma, I’m willing to bet that summer is calling your name, begging you for one more fun, careless vacation before you plunge into the icy cold waters of the real world. And who are you to say no? In fact, an epic post-grad trip can be a life-changing experience that you’ll truly remember forever.
Whether you’re looking for a crazy adventure, craving some blissful relaxation, or wanting to learn something new, check out the trips below for some inspiration.
Explore the hidden Caribbean gem that few Americans get to see.
First off, don’t worry—it’s totally legal. Travel company Austin-Lehman bent over backwards to get the U.S. Department of State to agree to let it host a travel program to this mysterious country. And it’s more than a tour from behind the looking glass: Austin-Lehman has a reputation for a people-to-people focus and connecting you with the reality of where you’re visiting. This nine-day trip will take you through two of the major Cuban cities—Havana and Mantanzas—while giving you the chance to explore the history, culture, and people of Cuba.
Why it will change your life: Growing up, we learned about how bad Cuba was, right? It was Communist and they were out to get us. But take this opportunity to view the country from your own perspective—it will teach you not accept others’ judgment as fact. Plus you’ll feel way more worldly when you can say you’ve been someone almost no one else has.
Patagonia Eco Camp Trip
Backpacking made a little bolder.
Biospheres, granite jagged peaks, and lush trails can only mean Patagonia (the region at the southern end of South America—not the outdoor gear brand). Take REI’s five-day trip set in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, which was declared a World UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. There, you can get a hiker’s dream view of the famous Torres del Paine, a granite-faced cluster of sharp peaks that stand starkly against the flat grassy plateau, plus incredible forests, sparkling glaciers, pristine lakes, and rushing rivers.
Why it will change your life: Spending a few days exploring the natural splendor of another part of the planet will put your worldview to widescreen. And camping and hiking offers a quiet space to put things into perspective—which you’ll more than appreciate as you head into this next chapter in life.
See the world on a dime, and help those in need while you do it.
Before launching your career, take a trip to use your newly acquired skills to help others. You can work on an organic farm in the Philippines, teach job skills to rural residents of Zimbabwe, lend a hand building homes in Fiji, or teach English on Crete. The options are really endless, so choose a project (and a location) that’s special to you. Just make sure to seek reputable voluntourism programs and ask for references. Some good places to start are govoluntourism.com, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), or Global Volunteers.
How it will change your life: They always say that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. You’ll see firsthand that things we take for granted as part of our everyday existence—like an education or even running hot water—others consider a once-in-a-lifetime luxury. You’ll also get the chance to make a positive impact on a struggling community (and come back with some really great resume fodder, to boot).
New Zealand Adventure Travel
Before you dive into life, dive off a cliff (with a bungee, of course).
The focus of this trip is adventure, which you could probably get closer to home if you want to save some cash. But New Zealand offers a special backdrop that you just can’t find in the Northern Hemisphere. Soaking in hot pools and hiking through the rainforests? Sandboarding and snorkeling on the tip of the island? Snowboarding and glacial hikes? Any adventure that tickles your fancy can be found in this tourist hot spot.
How it will change your life: Traveling to the other side of the world, bungee-jumping off a bridge, and kayaking around volcanoes. Need I say more?
Cross-Country Road Trip
Out on the open road, it’s all about you and the ones you trust.
Pick a destination on the map, plan your route, and hit the highway to the other side of the country: National parks, monuments, oceans and rivers, cities and rural countryside are waiting for you to conquer. Bring a couple of girlfriends and stay at seedy hotels drinking cheap wine, or book some killer accommodations and dine at the trendiest digs along your route. Spend the days stopping off at natural wonders and cultural oddities (world’s largest frying pan, anyone?) and the evenings dishing your dreams. Fodor’s has a few iconic road trips to get you started.
How it will change your life: Tossing your cares to the wind and spending a couple of weeks with your girlfriends outside of the rigors of academia gives you that sense of truly being free, in charge of your life, and capable of handling whatever comes your way. Plus, you’ll create some lasting memories with your lifelong college friends.
Photos courtesy of Sara, Stephen Colebourne, Phil Whitehouse, Thomas Wanhoff, Abaconda Management Group, and Sebastian Fuss.
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