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10 Epic Graduation Trip Ideas for Every Budget

Group of Young Travellers exploring Greece

It’s that time of year when Seniors are buzzing with energy – nervous or otherwise. Finals are just around the corner, but so is something else, something even better than Senior’s Week. Freedom! And what better way to celebrate your new-found freedom than to take a trip and breathe some different air. 

You only graduate once, so festivities are 100% in order, it would be a travesty not to book yourself a trip, even if it’s a local one. We understand that your brain may be jumbled with all that cramming though, so here is our guide and list of the best graduation trip ideas for every budget that’ll fulfill the checklist for activities, relaxation, and vibes.

When to go?

As soon as you step out of that last exam hall, of course! No time to waste when the world of education has come to end and the world of being a real adult looms ahead. 

But really if you’re looking for unforgettable graduate trip ideas, between May and September is probably going to be your go-to time. It’s peak summer, the sun will be out and beaming those fat rays, and most grad-jobs start in the fall so this is your last chance to really get your party on before the real world smacks you in the face (kidding, it’s really not that bad).

Contiki travellers

1- Sip some Aperols in Italy – $$

Dreaming of bliss and warm air dancing through your hair? Look no further than classic Italy – you really can’t go wrong with this destination. There’s nothing like scooping up fresh gelato with your tongue to remind yourself that this is how good life can be.

Learn the true meaning of La Dolce Vita as you sail across the sparkling sea in Cinque Terre and take the perspective photo you’ve always wanted in Pisa. This is a place of art of music and stunning architecture (don’t worry you won’t be quizzed on it). The perfect grad getaway if you ask us… and with our Italian Espresso Trip you can let your brain fully relax, we’ll take care of everything.

best foods in the world

2- Let the sun kiss your skin in Greece – $$

How’s this for a graduation trip idea? Sweat all that pent up stress out of you and hop island to island, haven to haven, in Greece. Think sunset cocktails, cool waters lapping at your toes, and bright blue domes stretching for miles winking like jewels in the sun. 

Start in Athens and commit all the mythical ruins to your memory (we recommend looking up the stories behind them as well, the Gods were evil…). Then, like the tide, let yourself be taken to Mykonos for extravagant nightlife, then to Paros and Ios, and finally to Santorini where you can celebrate your success with some local ouzo. Trust us, this is the kind of relaxation you need.

young travellers in Greece

3- Get that culture fix in Great Britain and Ireland – $$

People don’t tend to travel to Great Britain and Ireland for the great weather, though the summer season does bring about a pleasant sun! What they do come for, though, is the heaps and heaps of culture. From old castles and churches, to rich historical museums and art galleries, boredom will never be an option.

Sample some local culinary favourites like fish and chips and haggis for the brave, and go for elegant whiskey and beer tastings across Scotland and Ireland. Whoever said Great Britain had no native cuisine was very wrong. Find out for yourself.

Dating in London

4- Embark on your next chapter in Turkey – $

Set sail on abyssal blue waters aboard a ship that’ll take you from Fethiye to Samanlik Bay on our brand new Turkish Sailing Trip! This destination is for all the moods, whether you want to relax in a world-famous Turkish spa, or feel your heart soar in your chest paragliding over the turquoise sea. 

Good vibes, great memories, and amazing besties are part of our Contiki guarantees and you won’t be missing any of them here.


5- Tick one off the bucket list in Peru – $

This graduation trip idea is for overachievers (those adventure-hungry individuals who inherited the discovery gene). Want to tick off all 7 Wonders of the World from your checklist? Well this is a start. Take your cute little butt to Peru for some camping in the most lush and vibrant forests and hiking up cloud-clad mountains. Truly one of those experiences that pictures won’t do justice. 

And of course, the crown jewel of this odyssey! Machu Picchu awaits your arrival, it’s practically begging for your attention. The ruins, shrouded in rolling mist and cradled by emerald gorges, really bring meaning to the word ‘ethereal’. Our Ultimate Inca Trail will be your conversation starter all through your first few weeks at your grad job. 

Peru - When can Americans travel right now?

6- Get up and personal with crystal waters in Thailand – $

Now, Thailand really is a recent grad’s fantasy. Lazing under a palm tree, rice on your chin, a selection of fruit on a banana leaf, the gentle sounds of waves crashing against beaches of ivory sand. No pressure, no deadlines, no responsibility.

Gone are the days of instant ramen and staying up in the unholy hours to cram more info into your brain. Here you can SNORKEL! And SWIM! And SUNBATHE! The three S’s to create the most sensational escape. Contiki knows how to do Thailand, trust. We’ve got Thai Island Hopper East, and Thai Island Hopper West – which direction do you want to turn your head?


7- Embrace tradition in Japan – $$$

Speaking of instant ramen, how about treating yourself to the real deal? A creamy bowl of Tonkotsu broth with thick udon noodles and jammy eggs – that’s a hug in a bowl right there. Japan, of course, is on many travellers’ bucket lists because of everything it has to offer. From Tokyo and its bustling streets and hypnotising neon lights, to Takayama dotted with Shinto shrines, ruby Torii gates, and Matsumoto Castle – when it comes to graduation trip ideas, this place is packed with surprises.

If you’ve ever seen a Ghibli movie and fantasised about living one of Miyazaki’s whimsical adventures then this is the right place and our Trip Managers will ensure total immersion. Japan is bursting from the seams with deep rooted culture and traditions, and our Japan Unrivalled Trip will guarantee you get to experience them all. 


The crown of Asia is dotted with many many other jewels though, and with our Asian Adventure you can give each of them the attention they deserve. 

8- Party closer to home in Mexico – $$$

A classic destination for all grad vacations, Mexico has everything you need to relax, celebrate, and make some amazing memories. Spend time with us in a tequila distillery, atop a Mayan temple, and in a hot air balloon, you’ll be absolutely breathless and in awe. 

It goes without saying that you’ll also be having just the most mouth-watering food, a great way to kiss your sad student meals goodbye and kickstart your real life! Mexico is a great time guarantee, or you get your money back! (We might have to check that with the operations team actually…) 


9 – Discover why west is best from LA to the Bay – $$$

There’s just something extra twinkly about the west coast, don’t you think? And you, recent grad, there’s something extra twinkly about you too. Perfect match then! Whether it’s a sunset trip or the Vegas strip this trip is guaranteed to make you feel the kind of special you deserve.

That’s our main mission, and Contiki has the perfect Western itinerary planned. Breeze through LA’s beaches, up the hills of San Fran and marvel at Yosemite National Park, and of course the copper behemoth that is the Grand Canyon. We’ll really spoil you with an unforgettable night in vibrant Las Vegas… Imagine all the things you can get up to before coming down from this graduation high.


10 – Make the world yours in New York – $

And last but not least for our top graduate trip ideas: New York City is dripping in all the glitz and glam. The destination of a boss ass b***h. Gawk at your accomplished-self in the reflection of skyscrapers, immerse yourself in the colourful world of arts and media and culture. 

The Big Apple is the place for you to meet all the people of the world, from all backgrounds, from everywhere. It’ll remind you that the world is yours for the taking, all you gotta do is reach. The best kind of inspiration if you ask us. Contiki will guide you through the busy streets, but we’re most excited to watch you make use of your own wings…

things to do in New York - image of girl looking at camera with empire state building in the background

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