Copenhagen 2012: The Unconventional Vacation

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Slogging around rainy countryside in a giant down jacket might not be everyone’s idea of an ideal vacation. In fact, when I explained to people that I was spending half my spring break on a study tour in Iceland, most just laughed.
But, thanks to the discovery of my inner outdoor Norse-woman and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, I left Reykjavik with a new attitude on what I like to call “the unconventional vacation.”
The same thing happened on my short kayaking adventure around Naples. My friend and I were looking for a break from the touristy haze of Venice, and the kayak trip turned out to be perfect. I’ll grant that it was a little more exhausting than the typical day at the beach, but the view (and the great workout it gave my arms) made it so much more rewarding too.
Don’t get me wrong: I like a good week at the beach as much as the average North American. My family isn’t much for big-budget vacations, but my father lives close to the Atlantic and I’d argue that there’s nothing better than spending a day on the sand with a book.
I also like vacations of the “good-old-fashioned-family-fun” variety. For my family, this most often includes a road trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee or maybe somewhere in Kentucky. Activities generally include go-karting, putt putting, outlet shopping and pancake eating. Again, I am not opposed.
I think it’s everyone’s first instinct to escape from school and head somewhere relaxing. When the school year ends, we look forward to summers at a lake or beach house and long weekends by the pool.  Vacations are filled with shopping and eating, and time off is an excuse to be lazy.
But while I’ve never been much for hiking or horseback riding, in the past month I’ve tried and loved both. In fact, I’d say I loved them even more than putt putt golf.  The more I travel, the more I recognize the difference between resting your mind and resting your body. I’ve found that lying around all day doesn’t do nearly as much for my general wellbeing as looking down over a waterfall in full winter gear.

And that realization is something I’ll take back with me to the U.S. Next time I plan a summer vacation or a spring break, I’ll try to remember that while all that outdoorsy stuff might look a little intimidating, there’s just as much, if not more, to be found on an unconventional vacation.
Photo: at

Claire Wiseman

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