Peering through the copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! you received for graduation, you start to wonder: where oh where will you go? Graduating college is no small feat and you’re already feeling the pressure of finding a corporate cubicle to call home. Instead, take some time to travel the world and discover what lies beyond the red Solo cups of hazy frat parties and the pressed khaki pants of the business world. Here is our list of the top travel spots for new grads:
The island province of Bali has called like a siren from the sea to adventurous grads for thousands of years (yes, thousands). And it’s not hard to see why–picture yourself spending lazy days surfing with locals, familiarizing your taste buds with Bintang beer, climbing the island’s volcanic Mount Agung, and making your friends back home jealous by snapping a pic with primates in Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest.
Your wanderlust will probably lead you to Kuta Beach along the Indian Ocean. A hotspot for locals and visiting Aussies, soak up the sun and make friends with someone who has a surfboard. I mean, what’s better than a free surf lesson in paradise? And with plenty of bars nearby, you can always repay your new friend with a cocktail for their troubles.
Known for its nightlife just as much as its waves, the Kuta bar scene is truly one of the most epic in Southeast Asia. The bars start to fill up with thirsty partyers around midnight, so don’t start primping too early or your hairspray might not hold up all night. Alcohol is cheap and flows freely in Bali, so be sure to taste Indonesia’s flavored liqueur Bali Moon, which comes in a variety of flavors ranging from melon to coffee.
Don’t leave town without taking in a cultural experience (aside from eating as many martabaks as humanly possible). Find a way to Tegalalang in Central Bali to tour the rice fields. One of the Bali’s most essential and iconic crops, these evergreen terraces are a great place to take a photo without a drink in your hand to send to your grandma. Round out your time on the island by visiting Pura Besakih, also known as the Mother Temple, which is a breathtaking place of worship for Hindus.
Seems like a no brainer, right? And it should be. The capital of the Netherlands is one of the most accessible and exciting destinations for college grads. Nearly 750,000 people live in Amsterdam and on any given day you’re likely to see over 600,000 bicycles locked up in the city. Step One on your trip: rent a bicycle. The rest is easy.
Although you may have imagined Amsterdam as a Never-Never Land for narcotics, marijuana remains illegal. However, the government supports a policy of tolerance which allows for locals and tourists to possess less than five grams of the smelly substance. Whether or not you partake in a toke, check out a coffee shop with a green and white sticker in the window to indulge in some diverse pastries and a laidback atmosphere.
Be warned: Amsterdam hotspots are not for the weak of heart or liver. Bars and night clubs typically close their doors at 1 a.m. during the weekdays and as late as 3 or 4 a.m. during the weekends. In this city, EDM is king, with bars and clubs hosting local as well as big name DJs on the regular. Put on your dancing shoes and make sure you’re wearing long-lasting lipstick, ‘cause Netherlands nightlife stops for no one.
Satisfy your nervous parents back home by checking out some of the area’s many museums, including the works of the one-eared wonder himself at the Van Gogh Museum, and learn about the precocious little girl who looked fear in the face at the Anne Frank House. After you’ve satisfied your cultural itch and drafted a legit sounding email to mom and dad, learn something about the human body that you may have overlooked in college with a visit to the famed Red Light District. Cameras are a serious no-no, so play it cool as you walk past the windows packed with temptation and try not to blush as workers tap on the glass or call you Dutch obscenities.
Patagonia, South America
You’ve spent the past four years trying to stay awake in lecture halls, now is the time to reward yourself for all those nights in the library. Before you embark on your quest for self-discovery and a little bit of mischief in Patagonia, lock up your gizmos and gadgets. You seriously don’t need all that tempting technology to distract you from meeting fellow travelers.
Pack a journal, camera, and your sense of adventure to immerse yourself in South America without having your face glued to your smart phone’s screen. Seriously, you can spam your friends’ Instagram feeds when you get home. Patagonia is composed of Argentina and Chile and at first glance seems like the backdrop of your very own adventure quest. And while there are tons of exhilarating outdoor activities for nature lovers, you don’t need to be as intense as Bear Grylls to have a good time. Find your way to Torres Del Paine National Park to marvel at over 927 square miles of Chilean countryside, including portions of the Andes Mountains, the Grey Glacier, and massive bodies of water like Lake Pehoé.
Let your freak flag fly after getting lost in nature. Do some not-so-scholarly celebrating in San Carlos de Bariloche—often referred to as “Ibiza in the snow,” this town is known for its wild nightlife. Local pubs and microbreweries are the premier hang-outs, but discos are never far away, with the booming bass line of EDM music drawing in dancers like the Pied Patagonia Piper. Who knows? You might just meet the love of your life in an Argentinian discoteca; I bet your mom and dad would be really receptive to meeting them.
Travel to the most southern city in the world, Ushuaia, for whale watching and take a boat to Martillo Island to see penguins waddling around in their natural habitat. Walk alongside your tuxedo-wearing feathered friends, trust me, this is not like seeing the black-and-white birds at SeaWorld.
Before traveling to any foreign country (with or without your parents’ permission), consult the U.S Bureau of Consular Affairs website to ensure safe travels. And when you’re preparing to go abroad, check out your destination’s requirements regarding passport and visas to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.