Congratulations! You've studied hard, achieved that long-aimed for degree, and now you get to celebrate! One of the best ways to commemorate all of those years of hard work is with a trip. It's time to turn all of that learning outward and to see what's been going on with the rest of the world while you've had your head buried in the books.
Whether you want to take an entire year off or just want a long vacation, you've definitely earned the chance to travel abroad and try something new. Here's what you need to know to get started with your post-graduation travel plans.
Don't Be Afraid to Take the Plunge
While you may feel pressured to dive head-first into the world of grad school or long-term employment, rest assured that in many parts of the world it's perfectly normal, even expected, that new graduates will take some time off to travel. Students in the UK and Australia often celebrate their graduation with an extended trip called a "gap year." Although this has yet to become a rite of passage in the United States, more and more young people are taking the opportunity to travel internationally.
Taking some time off between school and the next stage of your life can even help your career long-term. Travel gives you a global outlook, problem-solving skills, and a variety of life experiences, along with a crash course in history, world politics, and more. You can use your time off to learn a new language, volunteer with a respected organization, or even increase your work experience. All of these things are attractive to future employers.
Know Your Options
While it's perfectly reasonable to want to take some time off to party or lay on a beach somewhere warm and tropical, this is not your only travel choice. Spend some time thinking about what you really want to get out of your trip. Do you want to visit new lands? Learn a skill? Help other people?
- Budget backpacking is a great way to see a lot of the world for very little money. Depending on where you go, you can make your money stretch far and spend your days exploring a new culture, discovering tasty street food, and visiting beautiful monuments and historical sites.
- Working abroad is a great option if you would like to truly experience what it's like to be an expat in a foreign country. Some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, offer work visas to qualifying applicants under age 30. Another option is teaching English abroad--countries like Japan and Korea pay native-speakers very well and often don't require prior teaching experience. Most employers will want you to sign a contract for around 6 months to one year.
- If you're not looking for the commitment involved in working abroad, you may want to look into volunteer programs. The Peace Corps is the most intense of these volunteer programs, but there are many other options all over the world that only require a few weeks or months of involvement. Whatever your field of interest, there's probably a volunteering program available if you do some research.
Turning Dreams into Reality
Once you've decided what kind of trip you would like to take, it's time to start thinking about the practicalities. Research flight costs, apply for any relevant programs or visas, and start researching your destination. Set a departure date and commit to making it happen.
- Travel costs money, so it's a good idea to amass some savings before you depart. Consider getting a summer job to help cover expenses. Check out our article on budget travel for more ideas on how to save money on the road.
- Depending on your plans, you may want to consider starting a blog to keep friends and family updated, and as a resource to show potential employers later on.
Wherever you go, and whatever you choose to do there, the most important decision is simply deciding to travel at all. Taking a long trip after graduation can be rewarding on so many levels, both personally and professionally. So take the plunge, and take that much needed and deserved break.
Have a grad in your life. Give them the gift of TripIt Pro for their upcoming travel after graduation.