If a post-grad traveler had also studied abroad in college, whether through their school's program or another's, this page will offer tips on how to think of a traveling experience without those boundaries and accommodations. This is primarily focused on international travel, but can apply to domestic travel as well!
The distinctions between the travel done during or for a study abroad program (provided by a college or similar institution) and travel done outside of the institution’s programming/planning can be subtle and easy to overlook until it's too late.
It’s important to be aware of how much of a safety net an institution provides during a study abroad program. Here are some things that a study abroad program provided that would now fall to the responsibility of the traveler.
Emergency contacts: A study abroad program allows a small network of close-by emergency contacts. When traveling after college, do not take this accessibility for granted!
Budgeting: While a study abroad program may require its participants to pay for their own groceries and necessities, larger fees such as housing and program-led excursions tend to be bundled into the larger cost of the program, which itself is usually tied to a tuition bill. So the student often won't have to think about those fees in the day-to-day life of studying abroad. Yet, accommodations and tourist activities are often the items with the biggest price tag when traveling. Make sure to be aware of how budgeting plans will have to change for post-study-abroad travel, and check out the Getting Started page for ideas
Accommodations: Not only are accommodations often take care of by the study abroad program, they are often in neighborhoods that may not have any tourist accommodation options. Be aware of this, particularly if anticipating traveling back to the study abroad program location, and also that the accommodations provided may not fit neatly into a later budget.
Home base: no matter which country a traveler ended up in in a study abroad program, it was more likely going to be physically closer to other countries than most of the United States is to its neighbors. Having that home base is crucial during a study abroad program, but, like an emergency contact network, is easy to take for granted, especially when traveling after a study abroad program.
Scheduling: Students in study abroad programs are given start and end dates, as well as a regimented schedule in between. No matter what a post-grad ends up doing after college, it is important to remember that going forward, travel time is both up to the traveler and not up to traveler: they are no longer bound by the study abroad pre-planned schedule, but they may need to plan around holidays or potential job schedules, among other factors.
Even if post-grads traveled on trips during the study abroad program that were planned not by the institution hosting the program, but instead by themselves or fellow students/program attendees, it is important to understand that simply by being in another country to begin with gives a traveler a kind of home-court advantage. It is important to recognize this as it means the post-grad traveler is, by necessity, a visitor again.
This could mean many things for a next trip. A college student may not have been aware that they needed a visa for study abroad and the school had completed the paperwork on their behalf; or they may have gotten used to traveling within the Schengen Area without needing to present their passport. For tips on how to make sure the documentation is in order for a post-graduate trip, check out the Documentation page of this LibGuide.
It could also mean that the research that the program providers conducted to ensure that excursions made the group feel "at home" would now have to be replicated by the travel. Check out the other Mindful Travel pages for a conversation on how travelers feeling "at home" in a place can undermine the local culture of that destination, and read the Leisure page for tips on how to travel ethically.