Alternative spring break dreams

My plans for spring break? A two-hour drive back to West Hartford to spend time with my family and friends and catch up  on some reading that slipped through the cracks during the first half of the semester. It’s a long trip, I know. But I’m willing to undertake it, for as the great St. Augustine said, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." I realize he probably wasn’t talking about going to Connecticut, but hey, it’s a start.

But while bidding adieu to the Heights and welcoming the suburbs back into my life, I dream of a vacation that will take me places I only dreamed of going and adventures my imagination couldn't have conjured up even as a child. Here are five places that I think we should all visit while we’re young, whether on spring break or not!

5. Galapagos Islands

Most of us know of the Galapagos from suffering through pre-medical science requirements before hopping off the conveyor belt in search of a different major. But these islands have a lot more to offer than the lecture in Ecology and Evolution when you spent half the time listening and half on Facebook. The Galapagos are truly a world unlike any you have seen before. Off the coast of South America just below the equator, this tropical paradise is home to flora and fauna beyond your wildest dreams. These nineteen islands offer picturesque beaches, exquisite forests and dormant volcanoes.

They also have some of the rarest animals on Earth, like the last giant Pinta tortoise and marine iguanas that frequent the waters with fellow beach-goers. Don’t tell me that swimming with iguanas wouldn’t make for a spring break to remember. These fearless creatures and many others have no problem interacting with tourists in their natural habitats, so you can bet that your new profile picture with an iguana by your side and cover photo you took of a volcano will beat out any of your friend's new uploads with some Mexican beer on the beach.

 

4. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

If you disagreed with my last comment but still want something other than Cancun, Puerto Vallarta could be the way to go. With some of the best affordable (and safe) nightlife in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is a destination that slips many college students' lists as they decide where to blow tons of money in search of the typical college spring break that they'll never forget. Hosting some well-known DJs in the downtown area in addition to day parties at some of the better hotels in the area, this trip can easily be the nonstop party of your dreams. If you need a break from the alcohol but not the sun, crystal clear beaches and group outdoor excursions with hundreds of other college students can easily be found to fill your time.

 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

3. U.S. National Parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park)

The National Parks that span all across this country harness beauty that many Americans take for granted. Whether it’s the geysers at Yellowstone, the red woods in California or the melting glaciers in Montana, the treasures they hold have been under attack by climate change and tight budget cuts.

If blowing off mid-semester steam by getting drunk with a bunch of strangers isn't your cup of tea, maybe getting in touch with nature will do you some good. Many studies have shown that access to nature is key to human health and longevity, so you really will be doing yourself a favor! If camping doesn't sound relaxing to you, lodging off-season is surprisingly cheap and renting a cabin with your friends will give you all tons of memories for a lifetime.

 

2. Cape Town, South Africa

Home to lions, penguins and a truly up-and-coming city, Cape Town is a great place to visit when you want to escape the gloomy New England weather for a week. Unique travel opportunities such as safaris with elephants, giraffes and lions and beaches with penguins, seals and great white sharks will have you bragging about your trip for months. Cape Town's tourism has expanded extensively over the years, including opportunities for parasailing, cultural exploration tours and many others. If you're more of a free spirit that can't be held to a schedule, it might be a better idea to hold off on this trip. Tour guides are the way to go in Cape Town as many people still consider the area more dangerous than safe.

 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. Amsterdam, Holland

One of the most charming and smaller cities in Europe, Amsterdam is a cultural mecca. Home to beautiful canals, architecture and museums, this navigable and friendly city is a great place to get your feet wet in the way of European travels.

Great nightlife and easy public transportation are no comparison to the constant dilemma we face when going into Boston (take the T and leave early or a cab and pay more than my outfit cost?). Biking around this city with your friends is the best way to explore. Another plus about visiting Holland? Basically everyone there speaks English. So if you're not too up on your basic Dutch phrases, no need to fret. You can explore this city with the confidence that people will be able to help you if you need it.

 

Whether you’re dreaming about an alternative spring break from your living room couch or living it up in Cancun, Gavel Media encourages you to celebrate the week off safely and responsibly!

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Christie Merino