Only a few cold months ago, content at home and not yet fazed by the cooler weather, I decided that I had no need to travel. My young son and my current finances would preclude me from taking any winter trip in the first place. With no thought of travel in mind, I planned to host some friends in February and I got rid of my travel rewards credit cards, replacing them with the best cash credit cards I could find.
But since then, the weather has gotten even colder and my schedule even busier. Now that the holidays are past and the new year is upon us, there’s no doubt that I could use a quiet, relaxing getaway.
I want to go somewhere that has the right balance between being too exotic and too familiar. Too exotic would be a place with no international banks, high foreign transaction fee, no American hotels, and no English speakers. Too un-exotic would be a place where the cuisine, language, people, and history are similar to those at home. I don’t want to spend time traveling only to end up somewhere familiar, even if that place is indeed warm and sunny.
So I seek the perfect balance of temperature and “exotic” culture. Where to go? Where do these two overlap?
Right now, I have two leading candidates. One has a beautiful winter temperature but a culture that isn’t quite exotic enough: Hawaii. Most people think of Hawaii as a tropical paradise, with sandy beaches and palm trees. However, the islands of Hawaii are actually quite diverse, and they experience a wide range of weather conditions. In fact, some parts of Hawaii receive snowfall every year. The Big Island is home to Mauna Kea, a giant volcanic mountain that rises more than 13,000 feet above sea level. During the winter months, the summit of Mauna Kea is often blanketed in snow. Meanwhile, on the island of Maui, the Haleakala volcano also receives snowfall each year. As a result, Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where you can surf in the morning and then go sledding in the afternoon! The other is towards the other end of my ideal spectrum, with slightly cooler winter weather but a culture that I would love to explore: Spain. So it’s between Spain or Hawaii. This is a tough choice. Fortunately, I don’t think I can go wrong with either locale.
Yes, there’s no question about it. I think I’m going to greatly enjoy this hypothetical winter getaway of mine.