Beyond the Diploma: 8 Unforgettable Graduation Trip Ideas

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  • For history buffs, a graduation trip to London, Italy, or Greece could be the most remarkable way to celebrate their accomplishments. 
  • Bali, on the other hand, is an unforgettable getaway for someone preparing to live a life based on holistic healing and meditative bliss. 
  • Within the US, Disney is an easy way to let your hair down and have some fun. 
  • Diagonally across the nation, Alaska could also be a spectacular vacation for the nature-lover in the family. 
  • Whether you treat your grad to a family trip, a solo year abroad, or a fun-filled trip with friends, there are countless ways to say congratulations.

Unforgettable Graduation Trip Ideas

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Four years of diligent studying and tremendous accomplishment deserve a big-ticket present. What’s better than a European getaway or a stateside adventure to give a big, hearty pat on the back?

Below, you’ll find eight graduation tip ideas to say congratulations in the most memorable way. Whether you pack up the whole family for a few summer days or send your grad off with some friends, you can’t go wrong with any of these destinations. 

London, England

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For the high school graduate coming to the end of one era and the start of another, take the whole family to a historical city like London. Capture all the typical photographs like Big Ben; take selfies from the London Eye; tour Buckingham Palace. 

But, in a city steeped in so much tradition, there are hundreds of other sights to see. Tour historic museums, walk though majestic parks, enjoy some fish and chips in a local pub. 

The best travel guides in the world know to tip their caps in the direction of London, whether people are passing through it as a major hub to other European getaways or staying there for a while. 

Still, if you have a history buff on your hands, all of England is a historian’s delight. You can visit medieval towns like Bishop’s Palace and stroll through the picturesque Cotswolds. A European getaway like this is something everyone will carry in their pockets forever, making this one of the best high school graduation trip ideas. 

Santorini, Greece

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As a college graduation trip, can you imagine a week or two in Greece? What a treasure. Those white-washed buildings and bright blue doors are something that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. 

After four years of hard work, it would be such a treat to sit atop a rooftop terrace and sip on a crisp glass of white wine while dining on the fresh catch of the day. 

In terms of safety, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Lesbos, and Cofu are all good options. The larger islands like Crete and Corfu might have a little bit more to be concerned about, as they have larger populations. But, there are far fewer worries there than the major metropolises like Athens or Thessaloniki. 

Some of the finest accommodations in Santorini include:

  • Andronis Luxury Suites
  • Santorini Kastelli Resort
  • Aenaon Villas 
  • Oia Mare Villas
  • Aris Caves
  • Nikki Beach Resort & Spa
  • Kokkinos Villas
  • La Mer Deluxe Hotel & Spa

Each of these high-class destinations carries undercurrents of relaxation, safety, and wholesale bliss, making them some of the best college graduation trip ideas. But don’t limit these resorts to college grads alone. You can also turn any of these resorts and spas into one of the best mother-daughter vacations

Amalfi, Italy

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Like Paris, Italy is also a good idea. In fact, all the top travel guides are sure to have some sort of French or Italian flair. 

From Greece, it’s a scenic (and affordable) train ride, making it a nice add-on to your Grecian delights. You could stay down around the Amalfi coast and wind your way up to Rome or even Tuscany, depending on how much time you have. 

However much history is steeped into the streets of London, Italy has it beat by centuries. Of course, you have the well-known treasures like the Coliseum and the Pantheon. But, you can also step back into the Middle Ages in cities like Florence and Montepulciano. 

Schedule a movie night for Diane Lane’s Under the Tuscan Sun if you plan to head that far east from Greece. It’ll be a small thrill to walk in Frances’ steps and wonder what sort of magic a recent grad’s life will behold. 

Bali, Indonesia

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How about a spiritual retreat to cap off four years of learning? If your grad is interested in holistic medicine, yoga, or meditation, this could be the trip that turns their entire life around. Destination guides with a specific focus on healing often highlight this corner of the world. 

Holistic retreats are very easy to find in this oasis. And what a wonderful way to unwind after four years of tension and stress. Aside from that, Bali is renowned for its friendly locals, natural beauty, expansive beaches, clear lakes, and unique wildlife. 

Of course, if you’re going to watch Under the Tuscan Sun before you go to Italy, you simply must watch Eat, Pray, Love before you embark upon Bali. 

Disney World, Florida

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For some stateside options, you can’t go wrong with a week full of Disney delights – whether or not you have some Pixar buffs on your hands. Consider packing up the whole family and heading to Walt Disney World in Florida. 

Universal Studios is increasingly popular, now that they’ve added in so many Harry Potter attractions. Epcot’s another wonderful stop along the way with its multinational cuisine as you do a tour “around the world” and enjoy some French, Irish, and German treats. 

Pick an all-inclusive resort with a pool or even its own waterpark and you have a recipe for the perfect family getaway to celebrate a job well done. Some of the top-rated spots are:

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Be sure to bookmark our guide to the best rides in Disney World for all the thrillseekers in your party. Disney can also top the list of cheap graduation trip ideas if you opt to stay in an affordable hotel in downtown Orlando and set a few day trips in and out of the parks. 

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Sticking somewhere flashy and colorful, you could also head out to Vegas. It’s not just a gambler’s delight. You can catch countless great shows, stay in some of the finest hotels in the nation, enjoy decadent meals, and shop ‘til you drop. 

When trying to figure out where to stay in Vegas, the answer couldn’t be easier. You simply must stay at the Circa Hotel, a luxury resort located right in the heart of downtown Vegas. Although you won’t need to leave the property to have a proper good time, you’re close enough to the strip to enjoy all your explorations with ease. 

San Francisco, California

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Further out west, either a high school or college grad could easily soak up the splendors of this great city. For the TikTokers in the family, they won’t want to miss a ride along the city’s historic cable cars as they climb those steep, steep streets. The same goes for selfies along the banks of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The full family or a pack of classmates can enjoy a picnic in the park. Some of the most picturesque spots include Golden Gate Park, Dolores Park, and the Presidio. Of course, San Fran is known for its outdoor festivals, as well. The summertime is a prime time to see what music festivals are guaranteed fun for the grad. 

If you want to turn this getaway into a road trip, be sure to follow our guide of the top ten coastal stops along the way from Santa Cruz to San Francisco

Ketchikan, Alaska

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They don’t call it the Last Frontier for no reason. Hands down, a trip to Alaska could be one of the best graduation trip ideas in the USA. If you have nature lovers in the house, treat the whole family to a glacier-filled trip of a lifetime. Cruising out of Seattle and up to Alaska is always a sight to see. And Seattle is no slouch in terms of fun graduation trip ideas.

All-inclusive cruises are always a fun time for a family who’s celebrating – with pools, entertainment options at night, and plenty of food to go around. Like the Caribbean, cruises to Alaska are bountiful. 

Some of the best stopping points are tucked neatly into the Inside Passage, including Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau. Visiting a place where bald eagles roam free, totem poles stand tall, and the people are a delight is one of the best ways to tip your cap to your recent grad’s accomplishments. 

Kickstart Your Grad’s Explorations Today

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Fostering a global curiosity and general sense of wonder is one of the best ways to celebrate the sense of accomplishment that comes after four years of diligent study. We hope these graduation trip ideas will do just that. 

If you want to transfer any of these trip ideas into the birthday celebration of a lifetime, we’ve got you covered there, too. Explore our guide to the best birthday vacation ideas for another show-stopping journey filled with wonder, delight, and a mountain full of memories. 

And, when you’re done, set your sights on northeastern cities and towns like Manhattan and Bar Harbor, Maine. With our guide to the best New England getaways, you’ll never want to leave this corner of the country. No matter where you go or who you’re celebrating, we wish you a lifetime filled with happy memories. 

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