Graduation is cause for celebration. You may be looking to fill a gap year between high school and college or you may have graduated college and are not sure what to do next. Either way, a trip is in order. Where should you go? Here are four stellar ideas.
Preview Your Grad School Location
If you are about to work toward your MBA at USC, you will be in Los Angeles soon. Why not go a month early? First, enjoy the place as a tourist. Theme parks are pricey but worth it; you have the rest of your life to be an adult, so take a few days to turn into a kid again. Tap into your wild side at the world-class Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, visit the various art and history museums, and stroll along Hollywood Boulevard.
Next, shift your perspective and start thinking like a local. Find neighborhoods close to campus or those with easy access via public transit. Visit some rental properties to get a feel for prices and amenities in different locations. Walk a few blocks in either direction; locate the nearest grocery store, pizza joint and gym. Taking time to explore is much better than conducting a frantic last-minute search right before school starts; a week now can make a huge difference in the years to come.
Get Back to Nature
If you are not enrolling in more school just yet — or even if you are — you need a break. For years, you have been surrounded by other people, by brick buildings and by deadline pressure. Time to immerse yourself in nature. You may have wonders in your own backyard, or you may have a bucket-list experience in mind; either way, the National Park Service has something special for you. There are awe-inspiring parks from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin Islands, all for free or at reasonable entry prices. If you plan to visit several, purchase a yearly pass for just $80. Many parks allow you to camp within the park, either in a tent or small recreational vehicle. No matter where you go, the time in nature will leave you refreshed, renewed and ready to face the world.
Experience the Big City
Perhaps you spent your college years close to home at an affordable state university, and you are ready to experience the excitement of big city life. Choose a city to explore in depth or discover the highlights of several. If you are going to only one, it should be New York City. Of course you will want to include the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Splurge on a Broadway play. Do not leave the city until you have had your fill of thin crust pizza and cheesecake.
If you are itching to break in that shiny new passport, choose a continent and let the adventures begin. Some of Europe’s most iconic cities include London, Paris, Madrid and Rome. For an Asian experience, visit Tokyo, Chiang Mai, Singapore and Taipei. Closer to home, explore Central and South America. You can experience all four seasons in a month as you travel from the equator toward the southern tip of Chile or Argentina.
Relax on the Beach
Can’t decide how to spend your vacation? Perhaps you are torn in every direction because you want solitude, nature, excitement and a vibrant social scene. Most of all, you need rest. The answer is simple: head to the beach. Surf the North Shore on Oahu, visit an all-inclusive resort in Cancun or cruise the Greek Isles. There are options for every interest and budget. The best thing about a beach holiday is that you can vary your level of activity from day to day. At first you may just want to stroll lazily along the shore; after a while, you may choose to try snorkeling. Before you leave, you may master surfing, sailing or stand-up paddle boarding. Make your vacation benefit the planet by exploring eco-tourism options. You can see endangered marine life up close, participate in environmental conservation and make memories that will last a lifetime.