College: A long and arduous journey that can help people find the career path that they want to explore. During college, your most difficult and stressful decisions pretty much range between whether you should take that 8am lecture that you are 100% certain that nobody is going to attend in the first place and what’s the lowest score you can get on your final in order to just barely pass the class.
It’s particularly a work-hard-and-you-can-achieve-anything reality, but that’s just how college goes for your typical university student. Now, let’s fast forward. Four years later, you’ve managed to achieve a decent GPA and you’ve just applied to graduate (here’s a little tip for anybody who hasn’t graduated college yet: do not forget to apply for graduation.) What’s your next step? You should receive an award for putting in all that time, effort, and money to secure a degree, right? Right. So, in order to treat yourself, what is the first option that you resort to?
You just spent the last four years studying, taking exams, and possibly violently sobbing over mountains of work, so why not take a few weeks seeing the world?
The only question is whether you should travel immediately after college. The answer is equally simple, and complex, as there are a multitude of factors that you, as a now fully-fledged adult, have to consider.
The first thing we have to think about is the nature of your trip. Are you a planner or are you a go with the flow type of person? Some people enjoy having an itinerary planned down to the millisecond and others prefer to throw caution to the wind, suddenly book a flight out to the most remote country and take off.
Whatever your style is, you should always consider the following when thinking about traveling, especially after college.
Do you have the funds to travel?
Do you have any way to pay for your trip? Is this trip a graduation present from your family or are you treating yourself?
Regardless of if you’re going overseas or not, traveling is so much more than having a bunch of killer shots to elevate your Instagram and Snapchat aesthetic. Although money may be a concern in the planning process, travel becomes really amazing when you don’t have to think about all of the pennies you are dropping along the way.
While planning, remember that you just graduated. Are there any bills that you need to pay off? Student loans? Car payments? Insurance? All of these everyday obligations add up. You may not face these financial obligations before your trip, but keep in mind they are soon to come when you return home.
In addition to plane tickets, you also have to consider accommodations, transportation, activities, and food. Especially food. Whether you plan to travel overseas or to visit a new city within your home country, keep in mind that you will be dining out nearly every meal, every day of your stay. With the exception of your hotel potentially having a complimentary breakfast in the mornings.
If you’re interested in saving a few bucks here and there, consider staying at a place where you will have access to a kitchenette, or at least a fridge and microwave. This way you have the option of hitting a local grocery store and preparing meals within your room. Or, if you don’t mind eating the same thing twice, use the fridge to store your leftovers for another night’s meal. By the same token, keep discount sites in mind, from purchasing air fare to dinner plans to planning things to do in the city.
Don’t forget to work unexpected expenses within your budget. Life tends to throw curveballs at us when we are least expecting. The easiest way to spoil a travel experience is to not be adequately prepared. Include an emergency fund within your budget to make sure you have the funds to handle any surprises. If you are traveling outside of your home country, consider putting your emergency funds on a travel debit card to prevent you from overspending.
Do you have a job waiting for you?
Another aspect of traveling after college that you should seriously consider is whether or not you have a job lined up. Anybody who has graduated college within the past decade is well aware of just how vital it is to nail down a full-time job within the first six months after graduation. These days, it’s very common to leave with more than a pocket full of debt.
As a matter of fact, your average college graduate in the US owes approximately $30,100 following graduation.
If this is your situation, you should prioritize job seeking over traveling. Just because you don’t travel right after graduation, doesn’t mean the opportunity won’t still be there at a later date. In fact, traveling after finding yourself a job might open up better travel options for you in the future.
When accepting a job, be familiar with how much vacation time you receive and when. You might be able to travel sooner than expected.
Traveling after college can be a very exciting and potentially bank-breaking experience. Should you try it? If you can, definitely! You don’t necessarily have to visit exotic places like Seoul, South Korea or Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Visiting cities in America like NYC, LA, Dallas, or even Miami can reintroduce you to an entirely new world despite being closer in comparison to a foreign country.
About Haley Kieser: Haley has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Studies. She loves to travel, write, adventure outdoors, and watch football on Sundays!