Where to Travel Based on Your Chinese Zodiac Sign
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Where to Travel Based on Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

Okay, we admit this guide is rather unscientific, but it’s certainly a fun thought. Maybe the Chinese zodiac can be the tool you need to pick your next travel destination.

The Chinese New Year ushers in a new animal year for zodiac enthusiasts. That will happen on February 1 when nations that celebrate the Chinese New Year will welcome the Year of the Water Tiger.

The tiger represents power and confidence – and sometimes arrogance. Like the Westernized version of astrology, the Chinese zodiac assigns symbols based on when a person is born – though the month does not matter as much as the year.

Each year is assigned one of 12 animals, along with one of five elements. Below are some of the more common birth years for current Rustic students and what trip may be the right travel destination for them and others who have the same Zodiac outlook.

The Earth Ox

Birthdays Between January 26, 2009 – February 13, 2010
Other Ox Years: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2021

Some of Rustic’s youngest students share the same animal and element sign as older adults born in 1949. The other Ox years since then have different elements. Because of calendar differences, generally birthday dates in January or sometimes early February fall into the previous year’s designation.

The ox is one of the animals honored since has been used extensively in agriculture and is known for diligence, persistence and being a faithful friend. People born in these years are said to be tireless workers who respect traditional ideas.

Students with an ox zodiac symbol are perfect for service projects that require some muscle in a rural setting. A good program may be Mountain Air and Island Living in the Dominican Republic. There students help construct aqueducts to serve local homes and farms, offering many hours of meaningful service.

Working together in the Dominican Republic

Rustic students help with a water service project in the Dominican Republic.

The Earth Rat

Birthdays Between February 7, 2008 – January 25, 2009
Other Rat Years: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2020

The rat is the first animal in the 12 year cycle. Chinese legend says the rat hid in the ear of the hardworking ox at a party meant to determine the order. The rat jumped down to take first place.

The rat represents spirit, wit and flexibility. One of the rat’s lucky flowers is an African lily and a lucky direction is southeast. Therefore, a great destination for older students in this age range may be Tanzania where the African lily grows.

Rustic students enjoy a safari trip in Tanzania.

In this country, students’ adaptability will come in good use as they explore a different culture. They also will be one with their earth element as they see some of the world’s most interesting land animals.

Younger students in this age range can use their adaptability to travel to Fiji for Intro to Community Service, where they also will be immersed in another culture and try different adventures.

Rustic students interact with local children in Fiji.

The Fire Pig

Birthdays between February 18, 2007 – February 6, 2008
Other Pig Years: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2019

It is said that it is easy for people with a pig zodiac symbol to gain other people’s trust. They are compassionate and have a strong sense of responsibility. Zodiac pigs are said to be brave, particularly fire pigs, and to love family.

These students may do well in programs with homestays that center around family, like the Spanish Language Immersion program in Costa Rica. The program has its share of adventure activities to test a student’s bravery, along with helpful language lessons that strengthen connections.

Rustic students have the best Spanish classroom in Costa Rica.

The Fire Dog

Birthdays between January 29, 2006 – February 17, 2007
Other Dog Years: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2018

In Chinese culture, a dog showing up at a house is a sign of forthcoming fortune. People with the dog zodiac are loyal, can be cautious, and can take a longer period of time to accept new friends. The fire dog is said to be very down-to-earth and good at working with people.

One of the dog’s lucky flowers is the oncidium orchid, which grows throughout much of South America and Central America. A good program for this sign may be the Summer Camp Leadership program in Costa Rica.

Students in this program lead children in activities, which is wonderful for a loyal fire dog who is down-to-earth but appropriately cautious.

The Wood Rooster

Birthdays between February 9, 2005 – January 28, 2006
Other Rooster Years: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2017

The rooster is a sign of punctuality (which you can tell your Rooster child if they are dragging their feet!). Ancient people also believe its crow could dispel evil spirits.

Zodiac roosters are good at making friends and adjusting to new environments, which may quickly make them travel pros. The wood rooster in particular is known to be energetic, so students with this sign may love an adventurous program in a very friendly country like Fiji. The best bet may be The Big Fiji Explorer program.

Snorkel alongside the manta rays, exotic fish, and sea turtles that call the reef home in Fiji. Copyright: Rustic Pathways

The Wood Monkey

Birthdays between January 22, 2004  – February 8, 2005
Other Monkey Years: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2016

In Chinese culture, the monkey is used to pray for luck in a career. Monkeys are considered intelligent, lively and humorous. They also are known to be athletic. The wood monkey is said to have a strong sense of teamwork.

A good program for students with this sign may be Soccer and Service in Costa Rica if they like soccer. If that sport isn’t their cup of tea, they can use their lucky direction of north and head to Alaska. In the Off the Map: Alaska program they can put their athletic abilities to good use during some challenging hikes.

Hiking in Alaska with Rustic Pathways

Rustic students hike in Alaska.

 The Water Sheep

Birthdays between February 1, 2003 – January 21, 2004
Other Sheep Years: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2015

In Chinese culture, sheep represent wealth. They are considered mellow, calm and empathetic. Water sheep tend to keep a low profile.

For younger students in this age range, the Off the Map: Mongolia program gives plenty of time to contemplate life in a remote region of the world. College students who have water sheep signs can take their time exploring Morocco in the Moroccan Wanderer college program.

Rustic students travel through the Sahara Desert on camelback.

The Water Horse

Birthdays between February 12, 2002 – January 1, 2003
Other Horse Years: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2014

Horses are considered the most important animal in Chinese culture since they’ve been frequently used for transportation. Horses are thought to be strong, brave and independent. They also are supposed to be an expert in logical thinking and to love nature.

The water horse is said to be self-sacrificing and ambitious. A good nature program that fosters these characteristics is the Andes to Amazon college program in Peru. There students use their strength during hikes, while also participating in meaningful service.

Rustic students help with a service project in Peru.

The three other animals in the Chinese zodiac are the rabbit, dragon, and snake. Older college students with these signs will have a blast doing either of the college programs listed above.

Though this guide may be unscientific, there is an almost certainty that students from all different years will use their personal strengths to make the best of any trip they take.

Until you hit the road, happy Chinese New Year!

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Lead Editor

Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.