Once, someone said something to me that had me speechless: “I’d never go on a holiday somewhere cold; I need sun”.
Yes, sun is very nice. Warm, hot, tropical weather is just lovely, and it’s one of the things I’m aiming to achieve this year in my travel goals for 2015.
But this general kind of thinking upsets me. Firstly, “cold” doesn’t mean no sun. Sun happens whatever the temperature. Some of the bluest skies I’ve ever seen have been in the French Alps, at an altitude of over 2600m.
Secondly, this makes it seem as though a “holiday” is only once a year and it should be used wisely. I could probably rabbit on about this until the sun goes down, so I’ll try to keep it short, but I believe there’s more to life than work and there’s more to travel than one 2 week vacation once a year. I know people don’t always have the luxury of time, but the love of travel could be made so much more inspired, so much more accessible, if people were a bit more creative with that time.
If 2 weeks in one spot on your annual holiday a year is really what you want, then obviously that’s totally fine. Everyone has different travelling styles. But I do think a lot of people don’t realise what other options are. Dream big!
My last and main point in reaction to this person’s statement is, of course: there are so many beautiful, awe-inspiring, awesome places to see in this world that aren’t baking hot.
Just because a destination won’t get you a decent tan, doesn’t mean it’s not worth going to. When I think about it, I haven’t actually properly sun bathed since, well, Australia or Bali about 2 and a half years ago now (not even I thought it was that long…). I’ve still managed to rack up a tan to be proud of – I mean, for God’s sake, your face can get tanned while skiing. Chill, people (ha… oh dear).
So let me tell you some of my favourite destinations where it hasn’t been hot or sunbathing weather.
Iceland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever laid my eyes on. I remember when I went for the first time in the summer on a cruise at the age of 16, I complained so much to my parents: “Why are we going on a cold cruise?!” I dubbed it the Cold Cruise, and we still refer to it as that now, although while my original intentions were to make my disgusted views well known, I now feel affection for it. I’m so happy I went on that cruise and didn’t come back with a tan that would beat my friend’s (we’d have a running unspoken competition each year, sadly) because that trip is one I will never forget. It was unlike anything else I’d ever seen.
And so I returned to Iceland in the winter of 2014. If you ever want to see the Northern Lights, you’re pretty much going to have to go somewhere cold. Let’s just forget the fact that we didn’t actually see them (clear skies but not enough charged particle activity, or whatever… pfft), at least we tried. We trod through so much snow and ice and stood around in face-cutting wind on that trip, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Iceland in summer or in winter – a “cold” trip year-round – is an amazing place and you’d be seriously missing out if temperature is only reason you wouldn’t go.
Vancouver to San Francisco
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. So this is cheating slightly as Vancouver and San Francisco’s weather is pretty consistent year-round, at least relative to the UK, and it was quite warm. I was there in late August: the hottest time had passed and the trees were already losing their leaves for autumn. Even as we travelled south to Big Sur, it wasn’t get-your-kit-off-and-hang-out-on-the-beach weather.
The point to this destination choice is that the reason I wanted to go to the North American west coast wasn’t to catch some rays or live the Californian surfer dream (ok, maybe a little. I will never stop wanting to live any destination surfer dream).
I did go to experience the different vibe to the east coast, and I wanted to be blown away by the beautiful landscapes: the never-ending roads and cliffs, the smell of fresh pine, the incredible, laidback cities of Vancouver and San Francisco and the wild Pacific ocean. And the varied activities available like ziplining, watching wild Orcas, skydiving, sandboarding down dunes, relaxing naked in hot springs, surfing and walking along purple-sand beaches.
When there are things like this right there waiting for you to grab them, I just can’t believe weather should be any deterrent.
I’ve been skiing in the French Alps since I was two years old, and I’ve always had the best time. When you know weather is going to be cold no matter what, and you can prepare for it, it’s fine. It’s great I have a big love for skiing, because there’s really no better way to do it than high up, amongst the mountains (in the cold!). And seriously, those mountain views are stunning.
In a world full of man made things, as simple as roads, houses, a swing set, it’s a completely liberating, freeing feeling to look out in the distance and literally the only thing you can see for miles are mountains. Covered in snow, trees and drenched in clouds. It’s a big smack in the face that you’re somewhere far away, a true sense of “getting away from it all”.
It’s no secret that I love feeling small in the world. It’s a humbling thing and it always leaves me in full, silent appreciation of how big and beautiful the world is.
Another destination from the Cold Cruise. If dramatic views is what you’re after, here you are. You can kayak through the fjords – which I’d love to do this summer when I go on yet another Cold Cruise (take two) with my family to celebrate my dad’s birthday. This kind of celebration is music to my ears. The Scandinavian culture and style is one I admire a lot, and I think a fair bit of that comes from its colder climate.
There are more places where I’d love to go and aren’t the warmest of destinations. I’m desperate to go to New Zealand and am already convinced I’d fall in love with the place. The Canadian Rockies are a constant source of lust (usually via Pinterest…) and, of course, Antarctica. I would love to go on an adventure here.
My point really is this: the world is full of incredible things. Beaches and hot weather are one of them, yes. Obviously I must believe that: Australia is my favourite country and my home from home. But you can also find happiness – a different sort of happiness, sure – in snow, ice, big mountains and dramatic scenes of glaciers. Or even just a milder temperature where you can walk around a city or jump out of a plane.
The happiness that comes from these kind of things will give you a much rounder perspective not only of the world, but of cultures, life, yourself. Every time you challenge yourself with somewhere new, you grow a little and understand more of what’s around you. Don’t limit yourself just to laying around on a beach for 2 weeks, Greek island after Greek island. (Sidenote: don’t get me wrong, the Greek islands are absolutely beautiful and I plan to explore more of them in time, but I just mean that’s not all there is.)
Beauty is everywhere in different forms, and I think we’d all be better off adapting and developing that idea of beauty throughout our lives as we travel.