Alright people, it’s time to face facts: If you aren’t a skier, snowboarder, or jolly loaf stuck in an inner tube gliding down the slopes, winter is not your friend. Dry skin, slippery roads, brown sludge getting in your boots … it’s just too much to handle. And don’t even get me started on ice, the cruel mistress. If you’d like to take a break from your soaring heat bills and spend some money on something you’ll actually appreciate, splurge on tickets to Australia. I know traveling to another country seems aggressive (why not just Hawaii?) but in the end, Australia’s pros greatly outweigh the cons of taking such a long excursion.
Australia is in the southern hemisphere, and if you’ll kindly remember that lesson in sixth grade, that means the seasons are opposite from the northern hemisphere. 35 fahrenheit in Colorado corresponds to 35 celsius in Australia.
Australia’s beaches are universally famous. Bondi beach in Sydney is probably the most well known. Though it’s a topless beach (laaadies!), my group of friends did spot a man sunbathing naked until he was arrested, and until you’ve seen cops wearing full uniform on a sandy beach in 90+ degree weather, you haven’t lived. Another plus of Australian beaches are lifeguards. In America, most lifeguards’ jobs are part time. In Australia, it’s a full-time, elite position, and it seems like one of the first qualifications is to be insanely attractive. They even have their own TV show called “Bondi Rescue” and it’s better than porn. You’re going to be tempted to swim a little too far from shore so a lifeguard has to paddle out on a surfboard to bring you back in.
If swimming is less your style, staying in the hub of Sydney’s streets are sure to keep you busy for the length of your stay. Like any far-off populated place, the culture is a melting pot of many different countries, making the bazaars and flea markets a sight to behold. Cuisine is spectacular, and kangaroo burgers are highly recommended — where else can you munch on one of those? (Kangaroos are to Australia what deer are to Colorado, so eating them is considered kosher and, in fact, healthy!)
There’s something else: Mardi Gras in Sydney is their version of Pride, and it’s totally insane. If you can hold off and suffer through winter long enough to take a break in February, you absolutely won’t regret it. Tan, sweaty, hard surfer bodies mix with a never-ending rain of glitter, boxed wine (the only affordable alcohol in Australia due to the country’s anti-binge drinking laws), and a several-hours-long parade. This year’s festival starts on February 20 and goes until March 8, so if you want to make that your whole trip (and who could blame you?) buy your tickets soon.
Summer not really your season either? Sweaty skin sticking to itself, the inescapable heat, the horrible pounds’ worth of sunscreen you have to slather on your body … is it too much? You may need a trip to Australia’s sister, New Zealand. NZ is closer to Antarctica than the equator, so in the summer, the weather is more like a balmy spring day than an intense heat wave. And as a bonus, you’ll see the beautiful splendor of the Kiwi country: true ice-blue glacial lakes, stunning snow-capped mountains sloping off into the sea, dense rainforests punctuated with spring water safe to drink without use of purification tools or chemicals, wildlife unique to New Zealand, and for the nerd inside all of us: “Lord of the Rings” tours.
As a bonus, the people of these southern hemispheric countries are generally very nice and curious about Americans. We export our culture, so much of their media is American, and with the election of Barack Obama, our politics don’t provoke them nearly as much as Bush-era’s did. You’ll find a (very) warm welcome and if you’re lucky, a barbeque waiting for you as soon as you land — a far cry from the frigid temperatures of a mid-winter midwest.