If all of this skyward longing leaves you cold, there's still plenty of fun to be had helping Earth's other carbon-based life forms. You can use your vacation to improve animal habitats, while learning something about the environment in the process.
Even better for geeks, these experiences provide great conversation starters for those socially awkward moments when you'd be otherwise tempted to talk about PERL scripting techniques or string theory. Plus, talking about nature automatically puts an eco-focused spin on any apparent hygienic shortfalls.
For geeks, “That course is a bear!” is a challenge to be taken up with gusto. Now, you can take a course featuring actual black bears in the wild, to study their vocalizations, body language, behavior, and ecology. Taught in Ely, Minnesota by experienced bear researchers from the Wildlife Research Institute, each eight-person, four-day course includes personal introductions to members of a black bear clan, with supporting discussions and presentations. Although this year's bear courses are full, it's not too early to get on the list for the 2009 courses in May, July, and August.
Studying bears at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, Minnesota.
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If you'd prefer to get close to smaller critters, you can plan your own vacation visiting wetlands near you. By joining the Frogwatch USA program, you'll learn about the frogs and toads in your state, memorize their calls (e.g. check out the American bullfrog), and then head out to a local wetland site with a data sheet in hand to listen and observe during breeding season. Your participation will help to protect these species from decline.
If you have other animals in mind and would like to turn your experience into a global travel adventure, check out the Volunteering section of Gapyear.com. You can find programs of varying durations where you can get up close and personal with orangutans in Malaysia, sea turtles in Guatemala, whale sharks in Mozambique, and much more.
Other eco-friendly travel ideas can be found at the database of Community Based Tourism projects, where you can find a holiday that conserves the environment, benefits the local people, and gives you a better window into foreign culture.
But if it turns out that separation from your computer is no holiday at all, try InSight Cruises. You can become an Apple Certified Support Professional on board a luxury ocean liner, learning personal productivity and digital art management tips and techniques for the Mac. Or, if you're a well-rounded geek, other cruises focus on classical music, Shakespeare, and opera, and the Scientific American “Bright Horizons” tours each offer a smorgasbord of knowledge from archaeology and astrophysics to evolution and psychology. Make sure to use the handy “convince your spouse” tab for all-important ammunition before planning your next holiday.
Whatever you do and wherever you go, have fun and let your geek flag fly!