There's nothing like graduating to make you want a celebratory vacation.

Both a massive accomplishment and a bittersweet end of an era, completing your studies can also be a reality check as you begin the next phase of your life.

So, where should you go once you graduate? These 10 incredible destinations allow you to put off real life for a little bit longer.

A man flips into the deep blue water of a cenote in Mexico.
Leap into a cenote in Playa Del Carmen © Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

1. Mexico

Affordable and with a wealth of diverse things to do, Mexico is the perfect post-graduation escape. The country has a happy place for everyone. Head to Tulum for a beachy, out-till-dawn vacation that is bursting will beach clubs, upscale cocktails and cerulean cenotes. Look to Puerto Vallarta for a classic, lay-by-the-pool escape. In Mexico City, you can try local delicacies and get lost in a museum for the afternoon. Stop by the stunning Museo Universitario del Chopo, which boasts an extensive contemporary art collection. Oaxaca offers a mix of Indigenous and colonial influences, with day trips out to explore the natural world and local villages. Head to Santiago Apoala for a look at a remote Mixtec village in the heart of a towering mountain range. If the last four years in the library require some sunshine and a warm place to recover, there is no better place than Mexico to finish that beach read. 

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Get to know the US with a road trip © Getty Images/Tetra images RF

2. Road trip across the US

Nothing bonds a group together like a long car journey, making a road trip across the US with your mates the perfect post-graduation send-off. It's hard to grasp the magnitude of the United States until you drive through it. Pick between visiting iconic national parks like Yellowstone,  Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, or cruising along the West Coast from the Redwoods to Joshua Tree with a stop in some of the Golden State's famed cities, like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Uncovering the mysteries of the West has long been an American tradition, not to mention watching the landscapes change and evolve in a matter of days is a mesmerizing experience.

To keep this adventure affordable, try camping in the national parks rather than staying in hotels. It will require some advanced planning, maybe even some reservations. Visit nps.gov for more information.

3. Greece

Few places have the same vacation appeal as Greece. With its hot, sunny climate and stellar museums, especially the Acropolis Museum, the fantastic restaurants and endless island hopping opportunities, it's hard to have a dull moment. Pro-tip: Don't skip Athens. The birthplace of Western civilization and a paradise for thinkers, artists and scientists, come see the starting place for man's greatest ideas. 

When it comes to Greece's islands, Mykonos is where the nightlife takes center stage, while Santorini provides a more romantic and relaxing atmosphere. Beware, a steep price tag comes with Greece's most popular island spots. Alternatively, if you crave a slightly less touristy experience, the Ionian Islands in early autumn make a great escape. Slow down, eat your way through fresh local delicacies and see what makes the Mediterranean way of life so revered. 

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Costa Rica is known for its endless natural wonders © Cavan Images/Getty Images

4. Costa Rica

If college wasn't enough of a thrill, head to Costa Rica. Considered one of the happiest places on earth and packed with adventure opportunities, you can white water raft, zipline, traverse sky-high bridges, and surf the most stellar waves to your heart's content. 

If you've spent the last four years in the heart of a city and are in dire need of some nature, warm weather, and delicious food, this after-graduation trip is for you. Start your day with a hearty serving of gallo pinto, take refuge from the heat with a street mango smothered in lime juice, salt and chili powder and wrap up the day with chifrijo, a local dish of fried pork and beans with all the toppings. Not to mention, eating your body weight in ceviche is considered a right of passage. Pura Vida is right!

Young asian couple sightseeing in a local market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Explore a local market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam  © Getty Images/Klaud9

5. Vietnam 

Affordable, beautiful and warm, a graduation trip to Vietnam gets you out of your comfort zone. Get lost in a sea of mopeds in Hanoi and slurp pho on stools along the sidewalk. Head up to Halong Bay, where you can tour its limestone islands on a junk boat. Enjoy an urban metropolis like Ho Chi Minh City, wander the Binh Tay Market or visit Vietnam's only Taoist temple, Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda, before cruising along the Mekong Delta and getting to know the locals at the Cai Rang Floating Market.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

For a graduation trip that melds celebration with culture, look no further than New Orleans. The loud streets of this city burst with energy: live bands, dancing, cocktails and more. As New Orleans continues to be impacted by climate change, try to reduce your impact during your visit by using trains, bikes and public transport to explore the city.  Eat beignets (deep-fried pâte à choux pastries) in the French Quarter, listen to jazz in a dimly lit bar, and if you time it right, join in with the commotion of Mardi Gras. Beyond the nightlife, the Big Easy is famous for its flavorful cuisine and unique rich history. Make sure to take the time to appreciate both. Don't miss having a steaming bowl of gumbo or biting into a massive Po'boy. Follow it up with a visit to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which explores the city's complex influences and longtime connection to the natural world.  

A couple walks down the streets of Brooklyn laughing happily.
New York City is the perfect place for a post-grad trip © LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

7. New York City

A graduation trip can also be an opportunity to test out potential places you may want to live. For many, that means New York City. Visit before you commit to living here: it's busy, loud, (sometimes) stinky and eye-openingly wonderful. But it's not for everyone. For this test run, spend your time checking out galleries and parks while eating at some amazing restaurants. It will be a pricey trip, no matter how hard you try to budget. Still, it's a great chance to meet new people and try every cuisine you can imagine. Make sure to catch the train to Brooklyn for an afternoon in the Botanical Gardens.

8. South Africa

Not ready to stop learning? Head to South Africa. With a tumultuous and storied history, a trip to this stunning country can be life-changing. Apartheid isn't that far in the rearview mirror, and its lasting effects are visible across much of the nation. Dedicate time to visiting some of the historical sites in Johannesburg, such as the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison turned Constitutional Court. Then, hit the beach to surf some famous waves at Addington Beach along the iconic Golden Mile or catch glimpses of South Africa's diverse wildlife in the expansive Kruger National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for big cats, elephants, rhinos and more. Find time to catch at least one sunset from the top of Table Mountain. Its unmatched views are accessible by cable car in Cape Town.

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Marvel at waterfalls in Skogafoss, Iceland © Jeremy Walker / Getty Images

9. Iceland

With stunning fjords, shooting geysers, natural hot springs and the northern lights – Iceland offers an otherworldly reset from your studies. A nature-first vacation, try and dedicate some time beyond the beautiful capital Reykjavik. You'll need a large budget to chase waterfalls, sip pints and toast your graduation in Iceland, but you'll look at the world entirely anew. 

10. Florence, Italy

Florence offers a decadence and youthfulness that is easier to access than in Rome or Naples, and its Renaissance beauty will fill your aching heart if you don't want to leave university or college. Marvel at Botticelli's masterpiece, the Birth of Venus, in the Uffizi and wander the expansive Boboli Gardens. Luxuriate with two-hour dinners on one of their many piazzas, climb to the top of the fabled Duomo to take in the rolling hills in the distance. There is so much to love about Florence, but like most major cities in Italy, it can be expensive, but it's the price you pay to heal your heartache.

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