Step off the beaten path! Why go where (almost) everyone has gone before? Once the floodgates open, get creative and gift yourself a truly different vacation! 

Oh, why can’t we break away from all this, just you and I, and lodge with my fleas in the hills?  I mean, flee to my lodge in the hills.  ~S.J. Perelman, Will B. Johnstone, and Arthur Sheekman, Monkey Business

We’re all going on a summer holiday, doing things we always wanted to…’ sang Cliff Richard.

Allow us to ask you: How about doing it differently this summer? How about not doing things that you ‘always wanted to’?

Turn to the tour-company ads, offering you ‘Singapore for Less,’ or ‘Switzerland in 14 Days.’ Affordable, maybe, but also terribly commonplace. And then there’s the predictable traveller’s to-do list of popular places:

  • The shop-till-you-drop Dubai experience
  • The family-style vacation in Shimla or Manali (you can already see the photos you’d post on Facebook upon return—throwing snowballs at each other, posing in Himachal gear, capturing the snow-laden peaks on your camera…)

So been there done that!

Once the pandemic is behind us, why not put your resources to creative use, and try something more exciting than that trip to Dehradun or Disneyland? We bring you a buffet of appetising options:

Archaeological Vacations

Kilchurn castle, Scotland, Photo by Connor Mollison on Unsplash
  • Fly down to Syria or Lebanon. Stay in a historic location and explore ancient treasures.
  • Be smart and go to a popular location—say England—and after you’re done with your Oxford Street and Petticoat Lane, trip down to Scotland to follow the Whiskey Trail or book yourself into an expert-led tour of Stonehenge and those fascinating medieval castles.

Learning Vacations

Just a couple of ideas to kickstart your imagination:

  • Take off to a tea estate and while you soak in the serenity, take time off to understand how a tea leaf is born. You could spend time with locals, learning about their lives and perhaps jotting down their recipes and reflections.
  • Take a sailing class in Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic Seaport Museum offers a full lineup of sailing programs: Youth, Adult, Family, and Homeschool. You can even test what you’ve learned in a weekly racing series. We know you’ve always wanted to be the captain of your own ship! It also includes one of the largest maritime museums in the country, with more than 500 vessels, including the last remaining whaleship in the world.

Now make a list of your passions and interests, and try to build a vacation that will leave you enriched.

Volunteer Vacation

Just pick a good cause, and go! Some options:

  • Teach basic mathematics to students in a rural African community
  • Help save endangered sea turtles from extinction—surf the Net for information on where and how you can do this.
  • Assist nurses at a children’s clinic in a war-ravaged city or a drought-affected belt.

The idea: Let this vacation be an opportunity to help you reinvent, re-energise, revive and refresh your tired senses and your soul. Who knows, it could change the way you think, feel and live forever!

More Ideas:

Take a Spiritual Journey: how about heading for a Tibetan Monastery high up in the mountains? Cradled among the peaks, getting in touch with your innermost being…it can be a life-changing journey indeed.

Try A Culinary Adventure: if you love cooking, this could be your chance to sit down with the grannies of India’s spice coast, Kerala, or savour the best of Himalayan flavours. Love Italian? Break—and bake—bread with the people of San Gimignano, a quaint old Italian town famed for its traditional cuisine. Your options are truly endless here: Discover the many varieties and pleasures of wine in California’s lush Napa valley, and perhaps learn how to make cheese from scratch in the French countryside!

Register for a Writers’ Retreat: The world boasts some truly inspiring opportunities for writers in the making or even those with experience. This is your chance to get away from the world, cosy up in a beautiful private estate or cottage, polish your prose or write your best verse, and share your work with those like you. Bonus: most such retreats offer you a chance to meet up with literary agents and publishers. Who knows, they might find the next J.K. Rowling in you?

Over to You: Do you have ideas, memories or photos of an offbeat vacation? Do share them with us. We’ll publish the most inspiring and entertaining ones.