Winter break is for recharging and relaxing after a grueling semester full of books, assignments and exams. There’s so much more to do than going home and eating a lot of holiday sweets, too. If you’re ready for an adventure, there are plenty to be had both in the U.S. and abroad; it just depends on what you want to do. You can take in cities, enjoy nature, get active, or pick up a hobby. Here are some creative ideas for a fun winter break.
Embrace the cold by visiting somewhere that makes the most of its icy climate. The ice hotel in Sweden offers both cold and warm rooms. Located in the village of Jukkasjärvi, which is north of the Arctic Circle, the hotel crafts its rooms and exhibits every year with ice from the nearby Torne River. These works of art are seasonal only, so winter is the perfect time to experience them. If Sweden is too far, consider visiting the Ice Museum in Alaska or the Hotel de Glace in Quebec.
- Learn to Surf
Not only is surfing one of the best exercises, but it’s also tons of fun. And places like Costa Rica, known for its world-famous surf breaks, are a joy to visit. All-inclusive surf resorts will offer lessons and accommodations in one package. While May is the ideal time to surf, winter boasts great surfing and warmer weather for an unusually enjoyable winter break.
The few weeks between semesters can be the perfect time to have a cultural experience unlike any other by going on a volunteer trip. Various organizations offer two- to four-week volunteer opportunities in countries around the world. You can choose by country or by cause.
If you’re on a tight budget, look for volunteer opportunities closer to home. This is a good time to build your resume, test working in a field you’re considering for a profession, or simply get to know your community better.
- Become an Artist
Time off from all the reading and writing you do during school is a perfect opportunity to use your right brain and develop some creative skills—they’ll give you a perfect outlet for stress when you’re back in school, too. Many colleges offer intersession classes, so look at what yours has on the schedule or seek out classes at a nearby art school or academy. And don’t think of these as classes, but as workshops; they’re less about the grade than about you enjoying a new activity.
- Be a house sitter
Winter break is often when students spend time with their families, but if yours is too far away or you just want something different, consider getting a house sitting gig or two in a city you want to visit. These opportunities often involve pet sitting, as well, so it’s a good option if you enjoy animals. This is a great way to check out a new part of the country.
- Take a road trip
A road trip with friends is a fantastic bonding experience and the kind of adventure you’ll cherish after college is over and you have to settle down into a job somewhere. Check out these road trip ideas if you don’t know where you want to go. Or, use roadtrippers.com to plan the ride you’ve been dreaming about.
Touring a country on a horse is an entirely different experience than seeing it by car or train. Riding holidays are available for beginners as well as more experienced riders. With destinations around the world, you’ll be able to choose what kind of country (and weather) you want to enjoy over winter break.
- Go on an eco-friendly vacation
Destinations around the world offer eco-friendly hotels and lodges. Check out Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California, which offers guest tents with sky domes and uses clean-burning turbines to generate electricity. If you’d like to travel abroad, Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco, set at the foot of the highest peak in North Africa, offers lodge rooms as well as accommodations at a remote trekking lodge.
- Stay in a treehouse hotel
Want to feel even closer to nature? Book a stay at a treehouse hotel. You can find these both locally and internationally, so you’ll be able to create whatever kind of experience you want. If you’re an avid hiker/trekker, staying at one of these destinations puts you right in the middle of the woods so you can get a lot of exercise over your break.
The kind of winter break you have is really only limited by your imagination (and your budget). Whether you want to seriously relax or get out and see some sights, there’s a perfect vacation waiting for you.
Hilary is a freelance writer, small business owner, and a perpetual student of life. She loves to write about everything from tech to travel and health. You can follow her on Twitter @TypewriterHil