Sara Pauff: Creating your own ‘spring break’

There are a lot of things I don’t miss about college -- exams, Easy Mac dinners, spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks. But I do miss having a spring break.

I never really took advantage of spring break while I was in school, due either to lack of funds or lack of enthusiasm for vacation planning. Often, the stress of finding an affordable destination, booking a hotel, packing and driving for hours didn’t seem worth a few sunburned days on the beach.

But now that I don’t have the luxury of a week-long break anymore, I want it back, sunburn and all.

I know some people who are vacation camels and can store up their few weeks until the winter holidays arrive, but I don’t have that much stamina. The gap between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day is just too long, so until St. Patrick’s Day becomes a government-sanctioned holiday, I will continue to make time for “spring break” every March.

Last year, I went to Savannah with one of my sisters. We spent a day walking around town, shopping and sightseeing, then went to a concert at one of the local theaters. It was a fairly stress-free trip, with minimal planning once I had the hotel booked and the concert tickets purchased. Unfortunately, it was windy and cold and we didn’t make it to the beach at Tybee Island.

This year’s destination was sunnier, but still beach-less. I took three days off for a trip with my youngest sister to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

Yes, I went to Harry Potter World. Yes, I’m 25 years old. But two points in my defense:

I was 13 when I read the first book and in my 20s when the final book was published. Like many 20-somethings, I’ve grown up reading about Harry and his adventures. Going to Harry Potter World was like revisiting a part of my adolescence, minus the bad skin and teenage angst.

Harry Potter World is an amusement park, which is fun if you’re 10, 25 or 55. There were people of all ages -- some with kids, others without -- geeking out over wizarding robes and magic wands. It’s hard not to get excited entering the park, because it looks almost exactly like the set for Hogsmeade Village in the movies. There’s snow on the building rooftops and ravens flying around Hogwarts Castle. Every shop window has moving displays of enchanted items and magical creatures. The movie score plays over the park loudspeakers on a loop. Drink stands sell butterbeer and pumpkin juice. Park workers wander around in wizarding robes and call all the tourists “Muggles.” It’s Harry Potter-nerd heaven.

Originally, we had talked about a side trip to the beach on our way to Orlando, but we never made it. That’s okay. Maybe next year, I’ll finally get there. I just have to remember to pack sunscreen.

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