The holidays are right around the corner, and much of the country is now covered in snow. In San Diego, where I live, the “brisk” 65 degree days mean that boots and scarves appear where tank tops and flip flops used to live. This isn’t satire.
Winter is officially here. And for some people, the season brings on a serious case of the winter blues.
Whether you wait all year for the first flakes to fall or find yourself entering hibernation mode at the first sign of cold, it’s always nice to have a sliver of sunshine to look forward to. The popularity of traveling from January-April proves that, for many, wintertime is the perfect opportunity for a getaway.
Are you or your family planning a winter vacation? We’ve compiled a list of warm-weather Discover Corps destinations that offer a tropical cure for the winter blues. Check them out below, and feel free to add any others to the list by dropping us a comment!
Nestled between the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica is certainly having its moment in the sun. More and more travelers are seeking the beautiful beaches and diverse landscapes of this Central American nation, with the dry season of December-April being the best time to visit.
One of the most exciting things about visiting Costa Rica is the incredible biodiversity that is waiting to be discovered. If you’re interested in seeing that range of ecosystems up-close, the Discover Corps Family Volunteer Vacation is an option with a little bit of everything. For those who are most interested in learning about and working with Costa Rica’s wildlife (including sloths, monkeys and pumas) in coastal communities, the Sea Turtle Initiative is perfect.
Both trips offer 3 family-friendly sessions in March and April to choose from—a great opportunity to make spring break into a memorable getaway.
The Galapagos Islands
Although weather is relatively consistent in the Galapagos (due to their location near the equator), we’d recommend visiting in the winter and early spring. At this time of year the waters are calm and slightly warmer, the flowers are in bloom, and sea turtles and native birds are nesting.
These famed islands are a major bucketlist destination, so if they’re calling to you than now’s the time to book travel for 2017. Trips to the islands are limited due to strict permitting, so groups are kept small and tend to fill quickly.
Opportunities to get hands-on experience with the giant tortoises and native plants of the islands, like Discover Corps offers on its Family Volunteer Vacation, are even more rare. So if you’re considering a trip to the Galapagos and want to pack as much fun, excitement and learning into your time on the islands as possible, a March escape with Discover Corps may be just the ticket.
The popularity of visiting Peru has brought an influx of travelers to Cusco (and the nearby Inca citadel of Machu Picchu) during the high season of May-October.
For those who don’t want to fight crowds on their visit to Machu Picchu, traveling in the Peruvian summer is a great option. There is slightly more rain, but this makes the countryside more fresh, green and beautiful. And with a great mix of outdoorsy, active and cultural activities, Discover Corps’ Children of the Andes vacation is a great spring break option.
As an added bonus, deals on flights to Peru in the winter and early spring months can also be found, as this time of year is considered the tourist “low season.”
Discover Corps’ March session is open to families and single adult travelers alike. And if you’re looking for an adults-only trip? Our February session has you covered.
People often forget that South Africa can get cold in the winter (which is our summer)! That means that, for travelers who are seeking a South African safari experience, it’s best to visit in the fall or springtime, when it’s not too hot or too cold to be comfortable on the savanna.
For visitors from the northern hemisphere, that makes South Africa a prime destination for a winter or spring break getaway. Discover Corps is offering two sessions of the Wildlife Conservation Experience at this time of year– one for adults in February, and a family-friendly trip in March.
Far beyond a traditional safari, this vacation is designed to give travelers and insider’s perspective and hands-on experience with Africa’s most treasured and endangered wildlife.
While staying in the Greater Kruger National park region, you’ll meet and support conservationists who protect rhinos that are being poached for their horns, lions that are suffering from Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and leopards that are being hunted by local farmers.
The Dominican Republic’s northern coast is the type of place that winter daydreams are made of. Pristine sandy beaches with palms draping over the calm, azure waters are, essentially, a screensaver photo waiting to be taken.
Beneath the surface of this beautiful Caribbean getaway, however, there is so much more than meets the eye. Beyond the larger tourist communities dotting the island’s southern coast, the Dominican Republic is a diverse and culturally-rich destination.
While living steps away from a gorgeous private beach, Discover Corps travelers in the Dominican Republic have the opportunity to contribute to two meaningful projects while vacationing this spring. For those interested improving the health of the community, the Global Heath Initiative includes public-health centered volunteer experiences in the itinerary.
Those who are more interested in environmentally-focused projects might prefer the Heart and Soul of the Caribbean itinerary, which allows travelers to dive into ongoing efforts by locals in the community to transition to environmentally sustainable methods.
Both trip options also include more traditional vacation activities, like snorkeling and ziplining, and allow for plenty of time relaxing on the beach. Discover Corps is offering a combined 6 sessions of these trips this winter and spring, which makes fitting a week of warm weather into your schedule as easy as ever. –Sara McDaniel
BIO: Sara McDaniel is a San Diego-based educator who uses her summers to explore the world, often alongside her students! In addition to writing for The Volunteer Traveler, she has directed international programming for various travel organizations. When she’s not writing or researching, she can often be found swimming in the ocean, eating all of the delicious foods she can find, and teaching in San Diego State University’s College of Education.