You’re graduating! Now what? Well, amidst the job searching, deciding where you’re going to live now that you’re not next door to all your college friends, generally trying to figure life out and dealing with a impending sense of doom (or is that just your student loans?), it’s probably time for a quick vacay. And by quick vacay, we mean an epic graduation trip, of course.
After four years (or more!) of hard work at school, you definitely deserve a week (or two or five) of relaxing and exploring the world before you settle down and actually start that 9-5 life. TREAT YOSELF.
But since the world definitely looks different now than it did when you started college, the hardest part might be deciding where to go—and where you can go. Need some inspiration? We’ve got 10 of our favorite destinations for graduation trips in 2021.
1. Go diving (or snorkeling) in Belize.
Belize is an underrated destination that makes for a perfect graduation trip in 2021. From world-class scuba diving and snorkeling thanks to the massive Belize Barrier Reef, you can soak up the summer sun exploring a completely new world in the ocean. Not a swimmer? No problem. Belize is also home to jungles, rainforests, Mayan ruins, tiny islands, caves, waterfalls, trails and more. If you want some adventure before diving into real life, Belize has literally everything you need.
Check out Belize’s Covid-19 travel requirements before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $340* roundtrip
2. Camp at a National Park.
Wanna spend some time in the great outdoors after weeks of late-night cram sessions? Camping at a National Park is a great (and cheap!) way to enjoy some low-key adventuring. If you haven’t been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion or the Grand Canyon, the summer (and early fall) is definitely a great time to go! Pro tip: summer prices at the parks can be more expensive than other times of the year, so plan ahead and travel in early or late summer (i.e. May/June or September) if you can.
3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Go big or go home, right?
Dubai has a little bit of everything, which makes it the perfect destination for a graduation trip. Aside from being an absolutely stunning city, located right on the coast, it’s an absolutely perfect destination for adventure. From sandboarding to skiing (yes, even in the summer!), dune driving to hot air ballooning, Dubai has just about every adventure activity you can dream of, plus more.
Of course, you should also take the time to soak in Dubai’s city life, too. Dubai is FULL of entertainment and things to do. From the ultra-modern skyscrapers like the famous Burj Khalifa to Dubai’s Old Quarter, Dubai is a city where modernity meets centuries of culture and history.
Check out Dubai’s Covid-19 travel requirements before you go.
Ok, maybe you’re way ahead of the game and already have your new job/apartment lease/life figured out and only have a week or two to spare. Don’t think you don’t have time for an awesome trip! Head to Los Angeles and soak up the sunshine with endless beach days and amazing food. Or go north to San Francisco and explore the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39. Can’t decide between the two? Make it a road trip—the drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic road trips in the country.
Check California’s Covid-19 travel requirements before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $85* roundtrip
5. Island-hop in Greece.
Dreaming of a trip to Santorini ever since you first saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It’s time to make it happen for real. Greece is the perfect place for a graduation trip—unless endless beach days, crystal-blue water and hopping from island to island with some of your besties sounds like a bad time to any of you. Santorini, Paros, Mykonos—with over 200 islands to choose from, there’s no shortage of epic destinations for your grad trip.
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for Greece before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $605* roundtrip
Need a slice of paradise that’s a bit closer to home? Try Hawaii. Of course, Oahu is the most well-known island, home to the famous Waikiki beach. But if you want to get off the beaten path a bit, a trip to Kona, Hawaii (aka “the Big Island”) or Kauai will provide just what you’re looking for. Tropical jungles, black-sand beaches, waterfalls, camping, hiking, surfing and more make for an adventure in paradise. Whether you’re looking to chill out on the beach with shave ice in hand or to go hiking up mountains in Kauai, Hawaii is a great place to relax post-graduation.
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for Hawaii before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $315* roundtrip
For an other-worldly vacay before you launch yourself into the real world, head to Iceland. Although Iceland was basically unknown as a tourist destination even just ten years ago, it’s become insanely popular since then—mostly due to Iceland’s stunning outdoor scenery and adventures. Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon or hike out to some of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, Skogafoss or Gullfoss. Game of Thrones fan? There are plenty of tours that can show you around to some of the epic filming locations in Iceland. And if you really want to take it all in, Ring Road is an 800-mile-long highway connecting all the major cities in Iceland and wrapping around the entire island. Icelandic road trip? Sign us up!
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for Iceland before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $332* roundtrip
Barcelona is a must on your bucket list, and when better to make this bucket-list than as a celebration for graduating? Head to this seaside Spanish city and get ready to fill up on all the tapas and sangria your heart desires! Barcelona is really a city that has it all: stunning beaches, incredible history and culture, exciting nightlife and delicious food, plenty to do, a beautiful downtown and Old Town and nearby mountains for adventure days out of the city. Nearby islands of Ibiza and Madeira also make great weekend trips from Barcelona. Whatever kind of traveler you are, Barcelona has something to offer you!
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for Spain before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $491* roundtrip
9. New York City
Ok, if you haven’t been to New York yet, graduating is the perfect excuse to celebrate with a trip to the Big Apple. Don’t miss out on the iconic New York experiences: see the Statue of Liberty, shop ‘til you drop in Times Square, wander through Central Park, catch a Broadway show and eat a slice (or seven) or authentic New York pizza. And don’t forget to experience some of New York’s nightlife. Even if you didn’t get much sleep in college, NYC takes it to a whole new level—there’s a reason it’s called the city that never sleeps!
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for New York before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $85* roundtrip
10. Backpacking around Europe
Ok, it’s the quintessential post-graduation trip, so what would this list be without it? Whether you’ve got a week or two months, Europe is always a killer graduation trip destination. Start in an iconic city like London, Paris or Rome, then hop around to some of Europe’s best hidden gems or head to a budget destination like Prague or Budapest. No matter where in Europe you are, you’ll find iconic sights, amazing art and history, delicious food, breathtaking scenery… ok, we could go on. But we’ll just let you go discover it for yourself.
Check Covid-19 travel requirements for Europe before you go.
Last-minute summer flights: from $478* roundtrip
So, what’s your dream graduation trip? Treat yourself this year with a bucket list adventure—we’ll make it easier by helping out with the cheap flights (P.S. you can still save on flights even after you’ve graduated!)
*A Note About Flight Prices: All prices were current at the time this was published. Prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice. Prices are based on searches done at the time of writing for roundtrip flights from the United States to select destinations between May 2021 and September 2021. Flight prices vary by date, departure city, arrival city and availability. All taxes/fees are included in the price, except certain government taxes, change fees and fees imposed in destination and airline baggage fees if applicable.