Ordering a class ring, registering for graduation, and applying for jobs – these are all telltale signs of a girl knees-deep in her senior year of college. Of course, the main thing that’s been on my mind is where I’m going to go after graduating but before I start a full-time career. These days, I feel that life is so full of uncertainty. With so many things up in the air right now, planning my travel is one of the only things that keep me grounded and looking ahead to the future. So, without any further ado, here are five ways that I – and you – should consider traveling as a young graduate:
1. Domestic Road Tripping
What could be better than a low-cost, high-energy opportunity like traveling cross-country in a motor vehicle? Not much, in my opinion. I’ve been on a couple of road trips, both near and far, and I’ve found every time that exploring a region by road is an awesome way to travel. There’s no feeling quite like the adrenaline of hopping into the car with the intention of driving for days, with no solid plan, with no boundaries. I absolutely love it.
Why is road tripping so great, you ask? First of all, it’s cost effective, because if you split the price of gas amongst members of a group, it comes out to a fairly low price. Second, you can stop whenever you want! If you see an interesting town, smell delicious food, or catch a glimpse of a breathtaking view, you can easily park the car and explore whenever your heart desires. And, of course, you can make a road trip as long or as short as you want. It’s arguably one of the best ways to travel with a group of friends, which is something most recent graduates hope to do!
2. Travel Fellowships
Have you ever wanted to travel on someone else’s dime? Then consider applying for a travel fellowship! The applications for these are usually open to students during their senior year and span from two months abroad to one year. Depending on your interests and your major, you can find a travel scholarship for virtually anything, from language learning to electronic music to physical chemistry, whatever your interests are, there’s something for you.
Some very famous travel fellowships are the Fulbright, the Watson, the Critical Language Scholarship, and the Rhodes, but there are various other smaller ones that you can apply to. Companies like World Nomads also have awesome scholarship contests periodically that include prizes of all-expenses-paid educational travel opportunities. A quick search online can help you narrow your results and find fellowships that fit your distinct interests. These fellowships often have very long application timelines, however, so be sure to do your research early and plan accordingly!
3. Get a Traveling Job
Jobs that required travel were not always easy to come by, but in today’s increasingly global business world, there are more and more entry-level careers that include opportunities to travel…and get paid! Various sales and management positions in international companies have opportunities to live as an expatriate in the office locations around the world. One example of this is the oil and gas industry, which is a huge part of Texas’ economy. Hundreds of people travel around the world and move to places like Brazil, the Middle East, and Norway because of their careers in the energy industry. This is becoming a more common scenario for young people, and seeking out opportunities to work in an international setting can ultimately be rewarding in the long run.
4. Travel to Inexpensive Places
This one’s probably a given, but not all areas of the world are created equal, especially when it comes to cost. As a recent graduate, if you want to keep your costs low, the best way to do this is to plan your travel to places where the cost of living is low. Some examples of places where you’ll get the best value for your dollars are Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines), many areas of South America, and Eastern Europe. In these places, the dollar is worth a good amount of money and goes a lot farther than in most expensive areas of the world.
Inexpensive places don’t have to be abroad, either. There are plenty of exciting destinations in the United States or in your home country that you can see easily on a small budget. Not having to pay crazy high prices for flights will give you more freedom to use your money closer to home, while also getting a sense for the charm and beauty of your own home.
5. Immersive Travel
I usually tell my readers and friends that immersive travel is the best way to travel and the cheapest way, too. All too often, people equate travel with staying in luxurious resorts and eating out at fancy restaurants, but the reality is that getting down into the grit and the rhythm of local life is ultimately a more rewarding and memorable learning experience.
Dining and staying in locally-owned accommodations such as mom-and-pop restaurants or bed and breakfasts can give you a unique perspective on a place, and they usually don’t come with quite the lofty price tag, either. Homestays are a fantastic way to meet a local family and possibly learn a new language, too. Participating in local festivals, volunteering with people in the community, and taking the chance to connect with locals and make new friends is truly the essence of travel. It’s the energy that keeps us travelers going. And, in this critical step in your life as a university graduate, there’s no better way to enter the real world than to dive headfirst.