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A Guide to Gap Year and Semester OpportunitiesCambria Pilger
Graduation is right around the corner, and your student may be dreaming about taking a trip to celebrate.
The time between graduation and the start of that first “real job” or graduate school is ideal for traveling, and a trip can be an opportunity for personal growth as well as a reward for years of hard work in college. Amelia, a 2018 graduate from Bridgewater State in Massachusetts, used her family’s flight points to help pay for airfare along with graduation gift money to finance a trip to Europe. Amelia said, “I learned more about myself in 18 days alone in foreign countries than I did in four years of undergrad!”
Whether for an epic road trip with friends, or a solo backpacking experience in a distant part of the world, your student may have been dreaming and saving for a while — or perhaps you’ll surprise them with plane tickets, gas money or the whole trip. Whatever your approach, we have tips and ideas to ignite some travel inspiration!
There’s a rumor buzzing around that booking a flight on Tuesday is less expensive. According to CheapAir.com’s 2019 airfare study, this is a myth; however, you can find better deals by traveling on certain days. An analysis of 917 million airfares in more than 8,000 markets revealed that Tuesday is the cheapest day to travel — on average your ticket will be $85 less than the most expensive day of the week, Sunday.
Summer is a popular season to travel and you will find more expensive flights on peak summer dates ranging from June 15 to August 15. CheapAir’s study suggests that the closer you get to late August and September, the better chance you have of booking more affordable airfare.
The United States is packed full of gems for your soon-to-be graduate to explore: historical monuments, national parks, miraculous waterfalls, incredible architecture and much more. If your student isn’t sure where they want to go yet, we’ve researched popular destinations and polled recent college graduates on some of their favorite places.
How about a road trip to visit a couple of America’s national parks? Summer is high tourist season, so your grad should be sure to book their camping spots or make lodging reservations in advance. If they take a trip out west, suggest these national parks.
Useful tool: Download the AllTrails app. It’s free and hosts over 60,000 trails for hiking, trail running and biking. It is extremely user-friendly and makes navigating in a foreign place simple. Users can filter length, rating and difficulty level for a custom experience when embarking on their adventure.
Useful tool: The CityMappers app is an efficient way to get a bird’s eye view of all the routes one can take to get from point A to B in a busy city. It helps locate the fastest route by subway, train, ferry, taxi, car share, bike share or walking.
Maybe your graduate just wants to relax. Not a worry in the world if they look into these destinations!
A chance to explore outside of the U.S. can be a life-changing. There are so many incredible places to choose from. Make sure your student does extensive research on where they plan to go and the sort of lifestyle they can afford while traveling. Cultures can vary greatly and expectations should be set ahead of time. Encourage them to think through topics such as language barriers, housing options, safety procedures, politics, etiquette and more.
Unless your grad can find good hotel or Airbnb deals, hostels are great for travelers on a budget who don’t mind shared spaces. It is also a convenient way for your student to meet other young people from all around the globe and learn travel tips — and even make new friends to venture with! Many hostels post reviews online with insights into safety, cleanliness and price.
Meals can end up being a large expense, but travelers don’t always have to eat out! Although an authentic restaurant experience can be wonderful from time to time, your student should really take advantage of local food markets — less expensive than restaurants plus fun to visit from a cultural perspective.
For many new college graduates, a trip is a rite of passage and a way to test their newfound independence and freedom. Parents are sometimes uncomfortable when their students embark on a journey that takes them farther away from home than they’ve ever been but it’s important to honor their choice if they can make it work financially and with their other responsibilities. Be sure to discuss safety measures and logistics with them, but also trust in your student to plan their trip and deal with the obstacles that may come up along the way.
Relish this moment in time. Remember college move-in day all those years ago? What a long way you’ve both come. Your grad’s journey could not have been possible without your love and encouragement from the start.
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