Congratulations, all that studying and paper-writing is over! With graduation come not only more sleep and less cafeteria food, but also an open door to go see the world you daydreamed about while reading and note-taking in the library. (At least until you have to put that degree to good use and find a job.) With so many fascinating cities and interesting places to choose from, the decision where to go can be tough – so we’ve figured out the best destinations for pretty much everyone. Isn’t that handy?
1. SAN DIEGO FOR YOUR SHOT AT THE AMERICAN DREAM
When you realize that a life in San Diego consists of sunset cocktails and cold beers on the beach, leisurely getting from A to B on a stand-up paddle board, and regularly gorging yourself on fresh fish tacos, you’ll not be able to book that one-way flight fast enough. The super-chilled way of life sure sounds like the American Dream and the perfect place for an unforgettable post-graduation adventure.
2. SYDNEY FOR DIE-HARD BEACH BUMS
“Kick back and take it easy, dude.” Get used to hearing that from the mouth of a gloriously tanned surfer in Sydney. Sure, the city is one of Australia’s liveliest and most iconic, but it’s the stunning beaches, magnificent year-round weather, and world-class surf that draw the young’uns to this slice of the land down under. Pack sunglasses, flip-flops (thongs, as the Aussies call them), and a whole lot of sun cream for some hard days of sunning on the beach, tucking into a seafood barbeque, and literally doing nothing but relaxing. Sleep, relax and repeat – that’s a motto graduates can get behind, right?
3. NEW YORK TO SPEND ALL OF THAT GRADUATION MONEY
Three words: Treat. Yo. Self! After graduation, you deserve to lighten your wallet, and there’s literally nowhere easier to splash the cash than The Big Apple. So many shops to get through, so many Broadway shows to see, and so many cute brunch spots and rooftop terraces that need to fill your Instagram feed. Plus, now that you’re on the road to full-time employment, you’re going to need a whole new and professional wardrobe anyway, right?
4. HAWAII TO RECONNECT WITH NATURE
With eight big islands and a smattering of stunning smaller islets to choose from, you’ll have your work cut out just deciding where to go, let alone, what to do when you arrive. No worries, you’ll be chilling out and connecting with nature in no time: Relax in the sun on a picture-perfect beach, enjoy a leisurely dip in a natural waterfall, or get ready for adventure with kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, and hiking hardened lava flows up to volcanic peaks. Nature doesn’t get much better.
5. LONDON FOR THE HUSTLE, BUSTLE, AND OPPORTUNITIES
Graduation – a word that simultaneously means both “It’s time to blow off some steam” and “I suppose, I better get a job.” Where better, then, to head to than London? The streets are packed with people ready to party and thrive on life’s excitement, while the buildings are crammed with businesses of all sizes and industries. Balance the celebration with some serious networking in the Big Smoke and you might be able to tick two boxes at once. #winning
6. BARCELONA TO PUT ALL THOSE SPANISH CLASSES TO GOOD USE
Remember, how in math class, you’re taught all kinds of elaborate algebra that you spent weeks learning, but deep down you knew that you’re probably NEVER going to use it again? Yeah, we get that. But after studying so hard, don’t let all of your classes escape you just after graduation – instead, head to sunny Barcelona to practice and improve all of that Spanish vocabulary. Order tapas in the native tongue, congratulate yourself for being so clever, and treat yourself to a day of strolling along the beach.
7. PARIS FOR A LOVE AFFAIR (OF THE HEART OR STOMACH)
You don’t have to arrive in the arms of a lover or search for a dashing Frenchman in order to have a love affair in Paris. The City of Love has far more to offer than sweethearts who stroll hand in hand along the riverbanks, sharing expensive coffee and baguettes as they please: From the indulgent cuisine (hello, colorful macaroons and fancy cheeses!) to the elegant and iconic architecture that lines the city and will look great on Instagram (#EFMoment) – there’s a little something to tempt just about anyone.
8. SAN FRANCISCO FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Richard Branson has his own private island and all kinds of private jets to visit them. Who doesn’t like the sound of that life? Now is the time to channel your inner Richard Branson, come up with a multi-million dollar idea that will change the world and assign yourself CEO status. One recommended first step is to visit San Francisco – the renowned home of all things start-up and entrepreneurship – to surround yourself with other innovative types with good ideas. Even if you’re not setting up your own firm right away, they’re looking for creative and hard working people like you.
9. VANCOUVER FOR THE ADVENTURERS
Though it seemed that the studying might never end, it’s finally time to get your nose out of that textbook and reintroduce your body to the world outside the library. You remember what sunlight is, right? Trade the stuffy indoors for the great outdoors in Vancouver – home to every kind of adventure your frazzled mind might be craving. Adventurous souls should already have Vancouver at the top of their bucket list: hike up stunning snow-dusted mountains before skiing back down, mountain-bike through forest trails, try out kayaking, and even hit up a beach or two. (And that’s just the first weekend.)
10. TOKYO FOR SOME CRAZY CREATIVE INSPIRATION
Prepare to enter a whirlwind of bright lights, world-leading technology, and beautiful ancient culture in Tokyo, a city where creativity seems to know no limit. There’s something new or strange (the good kind!) around every corner – be it the tallest freestanding tower in the world, grand Shinto shrines surrounded by cherry blossom trees, sumo wrestling tournaments, robot cafés, bustling shopping districts filled with colorful Harajuku girls or streets lined with glowing TV screens. And that’s without even mentioning the fantastic cuisine – pass the sushi, please!
11. WASHINGTON, D.C., TO CATCH ELECTION-FEVER
With election season in the U.S. heating up and everyone’s political opinions duly making their four-yearly appearances, there’s no better time to soak up the historic sights of the United States’ capital and wander the Mall in the footsteps of former presidents. Or perhaps (deny it all you like), you’ve already binged House of Cards on Netflix and are fantasizing about being the guy that Frank Underwood whispers to whenever he cuts away from his scene for a chat. Whatever your motive to visit Washington, D.C., you’re going to want to see the White House, no matter who will make it their new crib in the fall.