Vacation planning in the face of snobbery

It’s March, and we’re right in the guts of the winter semester. The workload is getting heavy, midterms are here and due dates that once seemed so roomy are fast approaching. Thinking about the end of the semester is a sweet salve, a cold compress. Anxious students, lay your head on your desk and consider a vacation.

A grey winter in Victoria makes a lazy poolside vacation pretty appealing.

After five months of rain, the idea of lying in the sun for a week or two (with an all-inclusive bar) is heavenly. And after finals, the idea of accomplishing absolutely nothing except a base tan for summer is pretty dreamy, too. Travel agencies will have package deals with flights and accommodation, which is great for people who don’t want to stress about planning and booking. If you want to shop around, use websites like Kayak.com to compare flight costs, but book directly with the airline to save extra fees.

If springtime incites wanderlust in you, plan a backpacking trip. These can be done on the cheap, and you can go almost anywhere. The warmer months are perfect for trips where you’ll be doing lots of exploring on foot. But beware: the adventure of backpacking often gets romanticized. Sorting out transportation and accommodation can be a hassle, and days spent in transit can be less than pleasant. If you don’t like the stress of things not going as planned, keep the number of stops on your list short. Websites like hostelbookers.com and hostels.com are great for comparing accommodation costs and reviews. Even if you want to keep your schedule flexible and not book in advance, it’s nice to know which places are cheap, nearby and have room available.

Our B.C. backyard is awesome. A camping trip may not sound foreign and exotic, but it’s pretty hard to beat this province in the summer. Pick a few lakes and plan a road trip on the mainland, or maybe tour a Gulf Island or two. Not only do you save the time and money of an international flight, you also speak the language and don’t have to worry about losing your passport.

If you’re feeling up for a greater commitment, consider volunteering with a non-governmental organization (NGO) or aid organization. There are tons of opportunities to go overseas and help out in underdeveloped countries. It’s good for your karma and for your resumé. Plus, fundraising efforts can cut down on costs. UVic is home to three chapters of Global Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. The Water, Public Health and Medical Brigades work to deliver beneficial programs to communities in Honduras. Plus, World Water Day is on March 22, a great time to think about getting involved and bringing water to those without it.

You could also work all summer and apply for a semester abroad. Or go on a tour. Or go on one of those two-week meditation retreats in the forest.

We travel during our gap years, go away for reading break and spend semesters studying abroad. It seems like everyone is going somewhere and doing something, and people love to talk about their own travels. This is when you encounter the Travel Snob.

The Travel Snob is someone who has always done something that sounds better or cooler than what you’re going to do. If you’re going somewhere for a few days, they went somewhere better for a week. If you’re going to backpack somewhere for a month, they worked there for six. They spent a year in a picturesque hillside town in Sicily, learning the language and how to cook elaborate three-course meals, and it was perfect the whole time.

The Travel Snob can make you doubt everything about your vacation; make it seem uninteresting or unoriginal. But travelling is not a competition about who can have the most “authentic” experience, or stay the longest, or do the most. It’s about having fun, and we all have very different definitions of that. Don’t expect it to be perfect. Don’t plan a trip with the intention of finding yourself or changing your entire outlook on life. If you know you’ll have a ball drinking Piña Coladas and doing water aerobics in Cancun, rest assured you will be able to tell the Travel Snob that you had the time of your life, and who can compete with that?

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