January has flown by and we are already on Week 4 of the BootsnAll Indie Travel Challenge.*
The prompt for Week 4 is:
When the weather gets cold, do you prefer to head to sunnier locales or do you love the outdoor adventures or off-season prices of winter? Warm or cold, what’s your dream winter travel destination, and do you have any travel plans for the coming months?
I have made no secret of the fact that I am a winter kind of girl. Born and raised in Minnesota, it just runs in my blood. I love a good snowstorm, I think Christmas without snow is a travesty and I spent my high school years heading not to Mexico or Florida for spring break, but to the slopes in Colorado and Nevada. When Chicago was hit with nearly two feet of snow overnight last year, I dug my way out as soon as the sun was up to stomp through the powder, surveying the aftermath.
On the flip side, I am not a beach person and I despise hot and humid weather – something both Minnesota and Chicago experience in significant doses. When the thermostat inches much above 90, I pretty much shut down. I lose my appetite, I can’t think, I lose all desire to do just about anything. And while hot temperatures often drive people to the beach, I stay far, far away – I never learned to swim, am somewhat afraid of the water and absolutely cringe at the thought of coming into contact with seaweed. Crazy, I know, but I can think of few things I hate more that the feel of seaweed on my skin.
So where have I traveled in the winter months?
First off, let’s define “winter.” As a Minnesota-born Chicagoan, I define winter as November through March – sometimes even April. Not counting my current trip, in my adult life, I have taken a grand total of five vacations in the winter months.
In 2005, I went to Australia at the end of January, visiting Melbourne for the Australian Open and then following the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide before flying back to Sydney.
In 2007, I went skiing in Austria for a week, again at the end of January, followed by a few days in Lisbon, Portugal.
In 2008, I headed to Egypt for two weeks, yet again at the end of January.
In 2009, I spent two weeks around Thanksgiving in Peru, hiking the Inca Trail and the Colca Canyon.
And finally, in 2010, I flew to Berlin on Christmas Day to begin a two week trip that included ringing in the New Year in Prague, as well as stops in Vienna and Budapest.
My warm weather trips were perfect for me because, aside from a few hot days in Australia, they were still relatively mild. Egypt was actually pretty chilly with temperatures in the 50s in Cairo. While the Inca Trail was humid, temperatures hovered in the 60s and while it was up in the 80s in the Colca Canyon, it was a dry heat.
I wrote last year around this time about why I love Europe in the winter. I still do for the most part, but I admit that three straight months of winter travel is starting to wear on me a bit. Arriving in Kiev two weeks ago and then experiencing NINE straight days of snow left me longing for warmer surroundings. While winter in Europe can be great because it is less crowded and prices can be lower, the shorter daylight hours limit quality sightseeing time and you are subject to the whims of Mother Nature when it comes to cold, snow, wind and ice (note that I am writing this as it is all of 7 degrees F here in Kiev).
So what is my dream winter destination?
I no longer adore skiing, so hitting the slopes doesn’t appeal so much anymore (although après ski still does!). I still love the idea of parts of Europe over the holidays – Germany in particular – but now that I have traveled through so much of the continent, I am not sure it would be my first choice in any season.
So in the future, I think my winter destination of choice would be the Middle East or northern Africa. I would love to go back to Egypt someday and Jordan, Turkey and Morocco are all high on my list (I actually gave serious thought to traveling overland through Turkey on my way to Georgia), as are Syria, Lebanon and Israel. The rich history of the region, the natural beauty and the fact that the winter climate is milder than Chicago are all winning factors in my eyes.
Where do you like to travel in the winter? Are you a snow bunny or a beach bum or somewhere in between?
*The Indie Travel Challenge 2012 is a weekly community blogging effort in which travelers from around the world share their stories. For every week in 2012, BootsnAll will post a prompt, question, or even a challenge.