As you transition into your first year as a physician, you’re going to experience a lot of joy–as well as stress and a lack of work-life balance. Before residency begins, take a mental break from studying, searching for a new place to live, and getting organized to go on a quick vacation–trust us, travel is good for your mental and physical health.
Set aside some time this summer to take care of yourself before you start (officially) taking care of others–a vacation will help the senioritis you were feeling at the end of med school wane before residency begins.
We’ve compiled the top U.S. cities to experience before the new residency year starts–no matter your budget, one of these cities should be manageable for a quick getaway.
If you’re trying to pinch pennies
NOLA is known for its vibrant nightlife, melting-pot cuisine, and festival culture. It’s also a great place to travel if you’re on a budget. A lot of the activities you’ll do while in New Orleans are free: people watching in the French Quarter, looking at the opulent houses in the Garden District, and window shopping on Magazine Street. The food scene in The Big Easy has a reputation for being delicious and as unique as the culture.
Tulsa is home to the largest drivable stretch of Route 66, so if you’re feeling nostalgic and want an epic summer road trip, this is it. While you’re visiting “the Paris of Oklahoma,” make sure you check out the city’s epic riverfront public park, The Gathering Place. It’s completely free, and there’s no shortage of things to do.
If you’ve been itching for the southern hospitality of a city like Charleston, but it’s out of your price range, definitely give Atlanta a try. It’s a hub city for Delta, so flights are very affordable. There’s also tons to do in Hotlanta that’s either free or fairly inexpensive: there’s free music in Centennial Olympic Park on Wednesday nights; you can take a free guided tour through art museums and galleries in Castleberry Hill; or visit Martin Luther King’s National Historic Site for some education on the Civil Rights Movement. Warning: it’s the south, so summers are HOT!
If you’ve got some room in your budget
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Our first beach destination! This city is a great place to vacation on a budget, particularly during the summer when the weather warms up. There’s tons of nightlife, 100+ golf courses, and 60 miles of beach. It’s an easy drive from the eastern part of the U.S., but expect big crowds during the summer. Make sure you check out Broadway on the Beach for people watching, walking around, and free entertainment.
The food scene in Minneapolis has been booming in recent years: the Twin Cities boast tons of award-winning restaurants, ample breweries, and coffee shops on (almost) every corner. Plus, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is another hub airport, which means cost-efficient flights.
Take your pre-residency relaxation to a new level in Scottsdale, otherwise known as the “Spa Capital of the U.S.” If you’re not one for a massage, there’s tons of hiking and walking trails, including the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve (did you know the Sonoran Desert is the “wettest” desert in the world? Expect to see lots of green, lush cacti!) There’s also a big wine scene in Scottsdale, so you can unwind by popping open an Arizona varietal.
If you’ve got cash to spend this summer
New York, New York
If you want tons of shopping, good food, and a mix of different cultures to experience, head to New York City this summer. You can do the touristy basics, like see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building, or you can venture “off the beaten path” to Williamsburg, a trendy neighborhood with tons of interesting restaurants, art, and nightlife.
Big Sur, California
Big Sur is located in California’s central coast, packed with seaside cliffs and breathtaking views. There are tons of state parks in the area that are perfect for hiking and camping–you’re also minutes from the beach. Make sure you venture to see the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach!
You’re going to spend a good chunk of money on your flight out to the Big Island. Savings tip: eat at the “lunch wagons”–they’re everywhere, and chock-full of delicious, Hawaiian cuisine. Also, head to the beach for free entertainment. If you’re a history buff, check out the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
No matter which city you choose, you’re sure to lower your stress levels just by taking the action of planning your summer vacation. Make sure you have a little fun this summer, even if it’s simply taking a long weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life–and that will help you stay balanced when work life gets crazy over the next few months.
If you’re worried about getting back on track with studying and work post-vacation, use our StudyWise guide to get tips to help you study strong this year, plus learn the science-backed reasons that our 3-phased, evidence-based approach to studying improves your learning and memory recall.