Now, what do you get them — fresh off of a life-changing accomplishment, primed and ready to take on the world — for a graduation gift? If you want to give them one last leg up in their education, then the answer is: the world. A trip abroad offers fresh perspectives beyond a textbook, as well as the chance to create memories together as a family. The bigger the journey, the bigger the memories, so here are three destinations replete with worldly experiences that both parents and graduates can enjoy together.
A sliver of land floating just beyond mainland China, few places in the world provide as much wonder and discovery per square inch as Taiwan. The state’s numerous relics are a testament to its storied history. The Juifen Goldore Museum provides an insightful look at Taiwan’s former mining industry under Japanese rule, while the nation’s myriad temples create a living history lesson on the colorful crisscrossing of cultural influences. While Dajia Mazu Temple is, by many accounts, the most famous temple in Taiwan, Eternal Spring Shrine is perhaps the most tranquil with its waterfall and mountainous setting.
Equally quintessential to the complete Taiwan cultural experience are its Night Markets. Existing all throughout Taiwan, these centers of commerce stay bustling well into the evening, providing all sorts of wares and delectable street food. Some, such as the Keelung Temple Night Market or the Fengyuan Mayaudung Night Market, exist symbiotically with temples, making for two bucket-list items in one visit. Wherever you explore, cap off the day with a family session of karaoke. Karaoke is huge in Taiwan, and this cultural phenomenon is the perfect chance to show your kids how “lit” Fleetwood Mac was when you were their age.
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Only 110 miles across, but a massive 2,653 miles long, Chile is a seemingly never-ending mountain range neighbored by coastline on its entire west side. This contradiction of geography makes the perfect setting for an exciting journey into the grandiosity of nature, with the wonder of ancient civilizations sprinkled throughout.
With the Atacama Desert sprawling high in the mountainside for most of the northern portion of the country, it’s easy to think you’ve suddenly teleported to Mars: some spots of the arid orange landscape haven’t seen rain in over 300 years. Besides the abundance of hiking trails, salt-pond deposits and geysers, these great outdoors also harbor the Atacama Giant, a massive desert god carved into the land by indigenous cultures over 1,000 years ago.
To learn more about Chile’s ancient history, a visit to Easter Island is an absolute must. The iconic stone monoliths dotting the coast prove to be a goosebumps-inducing sight, as well as an excellent jumping-off point for learning about indigenous cultures—both past and present. If your graduate is keener on adrenaline rushes than history lessons, Chile is also a prime playground for adventure. Between the pristine surfing along the Pacific coastline, scuba-diving off the coast of Easter Island or skiing down the slopes of the Villarrica volcano, Chile has enough options to match any level of thrill-seeking.
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When it comes to graduation trips, a trip to Europe is tried and true. When zeroing in on your chosen destination, consider countries that are less traveled, and thankfully less crowded, such as Finland. Wedged between Sweden and Russia, it’s one of the northern-most European countries—and with a culture centered on saunas and the arts, it’s a cool country less traveled.
While the capital of Helsinki offers your family plenty of chances to jump-start creativity with the cutting-edge museums like the Design Museum Helsinki or Kiasma, your best bet for bestowing an artistic muse on your high school grad is actually outside. The Northern Lights can be seen from Finland 200 days of the year, so long as it’s a clear-sky kind of night. The further north you go, the better: swap out the city for a cottage or purpose-built igloo to really immerse yourself in “The Land of a Thousand Lakes.” Whether you spend your days strolling through design boutiques or spying reindeer out in the forests, Finland is certain to inspire all who visit.
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