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 with the world at your fingertips, the hardest part might be deciding where to go. Need some inspiration? We’ve got 10 of our favorite destinations for graduation trips.
1. Cape Town, South Africa.
Go big or go home, right?
Cape Town has a little bit of everything, which makes it the perfect destination for a graduation trip. Aside from being an absolutely stunning city, surrounded by beaches and mountains, it’s full of opportunities for adventure. Go cage-diving with sharks, zipline through mountains and forests with views of Cape Town, snorkel with seals or go sea kayaking with penguins.
Of course, one of Cape Town’s most famous landmarks is Table Mountain, which has amazing views from the top. Hike the (very steep!) trail to the top, or take a cable car. Or just relax on some of Cape Town’s stunning beaches.
Last-minute summer flights: from $735* roundtrip
2. Camp at a National Park.
Wanna spend some time in the great outdoors after weeks of late-night cram sessions in the library? 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 early (i.e. May/June instead of July or August) if you can.
3. Road-trip through New Zealand.
Before you have a 9-5 and limited vacation days to wrestle with, why not take a month off and head to New Zealand? Go bungee-jumping or skiing in Queenstown, renowned for its scenic views and adventure sports. Go kayaking in the famous Milford Sound or explore Auckland. Take a heli-tour to go glacier hiking or the Fox or Franz Glaciers or go wine-tasting on Waiheke Island. And of course, don’t miss the chance to visit Hobbiton in real life, just a 2-hour drive from Auckland.
Last-minute summer flights: from $699* roundtrip
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.
Last-minute summer flights: from $70* 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.
Last-minute summer flights: from $469* 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.
Last-minute summer flights: from $276* 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!
Last-minute summer flights: from $400* roundtrip
When better to head to the other side of the globe than as a graduation trip? Tokyo is one of the ultimate bucket-list cities, where you can find a mix of super-modern life in Japan alongside traditional Japanese culture. Snap that perfect Insta from the top of the Tokyo Tower, fill up on sushi and try some sake or explore temples and museums. Taking a day trip to go hiking (especially at Mt. Fuji!) or white-water rafting is also a must-do. And since summer days in Tokyo can be quite humid, white-water rafting may just be your new favorite activity.
Last-minute summer flights: from $587* 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!
Last-minute summer flights: from $80* 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.
Last-minute summer flights: from $371* roundtrip
*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 in the last 14 days for roundtrip flights from the United States to select destinations between May 2020 and August 2020. 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.