Leaving the college days of acceptable procrastination and too much wine drinking can be a rough transition. Though recent grads have many valid questions about their future, sometimes an around-the-world trip or even close-to-home adventure is the best way to gain some real-world perspective. For wicked smart traveling, download these apps to travel like a local and then check out the list of budget-friendly destinations below.
1. Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique: Just across the border of South Africa lies the ultimate surf town of Ponta do Ouro. With beach-access bed and breakfasts (like Gala-Gala Eco Resort), diving, snorkeling and dolphin watching, this is a prime location for sea lovers. Although this has a steep price tag for the flight — a roundtrip from NYC to Johannesburg can cost more than a grand — the going is cheap from there on out.
2. Charlottesville, VA: This growing city is home to the beautifully manicured lawns of the University of Virginia, a UNESCO World Heritage Sight founded by Thomas Jefferson. While there are many opportunities to take a step back in time in the history enthusiast’s paradise — visiting Monticello being an obvious one — the Downtown Pedestrian Mall is where the kids hang.
3. Cuba: Whether it’s Havana or Trinidad you want to check out, getting to Cuba now is the cheapest it will ever be. With the influx of travelers in the coming years, experiencing the old Spanish architecture, famous music scene and classic cars won’t be nearly as affordable.
4. Dublin, Ireland: For art and literature lovers, Dublin’s Gallery of Photography and The Hugh Lane gallery shouldn’t be missed. For the rest of you visiting for honest reasons, check out the famous Temple Bar for a pint and traditional Irish music or O’Donoghue’s for a whiskey. Be sure to make time for some free sights like St. Stephen’s Green, because this city can get pricey.
5. Washington DC: With the election year in full swing, it’s the perfect time to brush up on our country’s history. Start off by checking out the free sites like the Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo and, of course, all the memorials. Stay in DC Lofty for an international backpacking experience without the price tag.
6. Sofia, Bulgaria: Party until dawn and then some in this backpacker-friendly city. Do a bit of searching to find the candlelit Hambara bar and enjoy the local atmosphere with live jazz. Sober up with Sofia’s fresh mineral water and take in a hike on Vitosha Mountain. The rest of this ancient city is accessible by foot or public transport, so enjoy the very affordable sights and eats.
7. Koh Rong, Cambodia: Only accessible by ferry, this extremely affordable island off the coast of Cambodia is a blissful retreat away from the stress of modern life. Amidst jade waters and lush natural habitats, you can enjoy the best cocktails on the island at Dream Catch Inn or zip line at High Point.
8. Nicaragua: Forget about Costa Rica for a minute and head to the next hottest Central American spot: Nicaragua. Stay in Granada to see the old colonial architecture while munching on succulent (and cheap!) street food. After your fill of the city life, take in the waves at San Juan del Sur and meet up with other young backpackers for surfing and drinks.
9. Lisbon, Portugal: Somewhat of an underappreciated destination in the European travel scene, Portugal offers an inexpensive take on this popular region. Take a winding walk along the cobblestone streets of the Alfama district or spend a day visiting the nearby fishing town of Cascais. You can’t miss the beaches there, but definitely don’t leave without going to Hell’s Mouth — an intense name for must-see cliffs.
10. Goa, India: This region of India is best known for its white sand beaches and laid back vibes. You can easily find an all-night party or a private slice of paradise on even the strictest of budgets. Check out Baga Beach for nightlife or slow it down at Agonda Beach.
11. Budapest, Hungary: Budapest has everything from free walking tours to get you up to speed on the city to a romantic rose garden surrounding a tomb from the 16th century. Head to the Margaret Island fountain to hang with the young locals and find out the coolest ruin bar to check out later in the evening. Some of the more interesting ones are found in old warehouses and hold a dilapidated charm.
12. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Full of people actually dancing tango in the streets and a literal Pink Presidential Palace, this city clearly has charm. Try the famous asado (barbecued meats) and yerba mate (bitter, tea-like drink) to be like a local, or venture over to Evita’s final resting place at the Cementerio de Recoleta. Hit up a happy hour at Duarte and be sure to order a whiskey sour.
13. The Adirondacks, NY: Pack up the car and head for the road trip of a lifetime through the inspiring Adirondack Mountains. Go swimming in Lake Placid, sleep beneath the stars and explore the shipwrecks near the Canadian border. The summer season is peak tourist season — wine vineyards and breweries are bustling — but the entrance to the parks are free, so stretch your legs and get away from the grind.
Where are you headed after graduation? Share your travel plans with us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)