People always told us as kids that we should be whatever we want to be: astronauts. Rockstars. Ballerinas. Athletes. Detectives. Professional puppy owners or ship captains or world explorers. And then we grow up. And we're told we need to be "practical" with a secure full time job in a sensible field.
Especially in the US, traveling after college is not the norm. Society urges college grads to look for employment right away (not a bad thing), but taking a gap year or even the summer to travel isn't exactly encouraged. But it should be.
Even though older adults often say "oh I wish I had the opportunity to travel when I was your age," it still is "more important" to cling to the corporate ladder and the security of a 401k right after graduation, and anyone who strays from the norm are met with either "good for you!" or "well, just make sure you find a job when you get back *eyeroll.*" How do I know this? I received both immense praise and utter criticism - with those exact phrases - when I decided to move to Italy for a short term job after graduation.
Do what's right for you. Welcome or not, everyone is going to give you their advice on what you "need" to do. Tune out the haters and those with the ignorant, jealous mindset that traveling after college isn't possible or realistic. If you want to travel after college, now's the perfect time. And if you're just about ready to do it, here is everything you need to know.
Traveling The World After College: What You Need To Know
Research the many ways to travel
You could be working, backpacking, volunteering, or taking a two week trip. Do you want to go long term or short term? Do you want to rent an apartment somewhere or live a gypsy life?
Decide what works best for you
Once you've done your research, decide what works best for you. Whether it's Yacht Week in Croatia, teaching English in Cambodia, backpacking across Europe, a cruise around the Caribbean, a working holiday visa in Australia, or Peace Corps for two years, there are a number of ways to travel. The options are endless!
Get inspired by others
Read blogs of others who have done it to see how they're doing it. Follow their tips. Read books about travel. Search travel hashtags on Pinterest. Talk to friends or family who have gone abroad. Before I graduated college, I even went to my school's study abroad office to ask their tips on traveling after graduation, and they were able to give me plenty of tips and resources.
Know the culture's customs before you go
This is important not to just to save yourself from potential embarrassment but to also be respectful and learn about how other people live. It's also helpful to learn at least a few phrases of the language of where you're going.
The money thing.
Yes, you'll need to budget your money, and no, it doesn't have to be as expensive as you may think. Don't have quite enough saved up? Neither did I when I graduated college. I worked a summer job to pay for my flights to Europe.
If you're working abroad, be realistic about the opportunity and how much money you're going to make. Know the exachange rate of your currency and the places you're going to.
Returning from abroad: the fear of being "unemployable"
Traveling after college will boost your resume. Contrary to any fears or reservations you may have, you don't need to get a full time corporate the day after graduation.
You won't be "behind." In fact, life will be pretty much the same when you get back home. There will be jobs to apply for when you get back. You have the rest of your life to climb the corporate ladder. I'm currently working full time back home after traveling. Traveling didn't hurt my resume, it helped it.
The skills you build upon and things you learn abroad can only be positive when you're applying to jobs in the future. Plus, travel may make your career aspirations more clear.
Get ready to go!
Get your passport if you don't already have one and sort out any visa situations you might be in. Start planning with these steps: 8 Essential Steps To Planning a Trip Abroad.
Be smart and safe
Give family and close friends back home your travel plans, flight details, and a general outline of where you're going so they know how to get ahold of you if an emergency arises. Use apps like Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, or Viber to keep in touch over wifi.
Connect with other travelers
If you're going solo or want to meet people along the way, use networks like Couchsurfing or other groups to find others or get advice on traveling. Hostels are another great way to meet people on the road.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes the intial culture shock is amazing, and sometimes it takes time to adjust. By staying open-minded you'll give yourself the opportunity to try new things, have new experiences, and meet new people - the best parts about going abroad.
If you really don't like it, you can always go home
That's always an option. But try to at least give it a chance, shake up your routine, or try going somewhere new before leaving.
If you're going somewhere short term, your time will fly by. Take pictures. Keep a journal (or blog!). Be in the moment. You've worked hard to earn your degree, and now is the time to enjoy this period in life where you can be free to roam the world.
Want more inspiration? Check out these posts about travel quotes: