Alternative Vacations

Tired of going on the same vacation every year? Check out these alternatives.

by Jennie Wood

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Are you sick of going to the same beach every summer? Or maybe you feel the need to change more than your yearly vacation routine. Check out these alternatives to vacations, including options that focus on new careers and artistic pursuits.

Vocation Vacations

Launched in 2004, Vocation Vacations has become a resource for people looking to test-drive a new career without having to quit their current one. It's a unique vacation, where a person works with a mentor already established in the field. Vocation Vacations offers over 125 careers to explore including forensic pathologist, horse trainer, recording engineer, and sports broadcaster. The lengths of these vacations vary depending on the mentor's availability. People in the U.S. and abroad have taken advantage of this service.

Service Vacations

Several organizations provide opportunities for people who want to spend their vacation time helping those less fortunate in all parts of the world. Globe Aware offers one week volunteer vacations, designed for people who want to volunteer abroad, but who work full time and have limited vacation days. Globe Aware offers volunteer opportunities all over the world including Thailand, Romania, Peru, Laos, and China.

Sierra Club offers around 90 service trips per year for volunteers. Their service trips are in the U.S. and range from archaeological site restoration in New Mexico to assisting with whale research projects in Maui. The Sierra Club also offers a variety of other environmentally focused trips, both international and domestic, including adventures in kayaking, hiking, sailing, rafting, and more. There are other organizations that provide international volunteer opportunities including Global Volunteers. Established in 1984, Global Volunteers has short-term international and U.S. service trips available for volunteers. In most cases, service vacations are tax deductible, including air fare, visa, and all related travel expenses.

Comic Conventions

Comic conventions are no longer just for comic book fanatics. In the last decade, they have become multi-day, international pop culture extravaganzas. Many of these conventions feature special showcases for upcoming movies and ongoing television shows, usually featuring major cast members appearing in person. Popular and new video games are available to be played. Kids and adults can meet and pose for photos with some of their favorite fictional characters. Other events include costume contests, scavenger hunts, karaoke, video game competitions, workshops on a variety of topics, live music performances, and much more. The Comic-Con International: San Diego is a four day event held every July, making it a perfect time for a vacation. The New York Comic Con happens every October, usually over Columbus Day weekend.


There are a variety of spas both in the U.S. and internationally that allow you to get away from it all. The largely indoor environment means your vacation won't be affected by any bad weather. Most spa-cations are customized so you can choose between aromatherapy, body wraps, massages, personal training, yoga, and many other health services. According to Condé Nast Traveler, some of the top destination spas in the world are: The Body Holiday at LeSport, St. Lucia; Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, California, USA; Monart Spa, County Wexford, Ireland; Ananda Spa, Ananda in the Himalayas, India; ZARA spa, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, Jordan; Mii amo, a destination spa at Enchantment Resort, Arizona, USA.

Artist Retreats

Several foundations and organizations provide retreat opportunities for a variety of artists, including painters, photographers, sculptors, writers, and more. For example, Yaddo Artists' colony has hosted thousands of artists since 1926. Located in Saratoga Springs, New York, Yaddo offers residencies which vary in length from two to eight weeks. They accept the following artistic disciplines: literature, visual art, music composition, performance, film & video. Writing Conferences such as Breadloaf and Sewanee offer writers a chance to focus on their writing, receive feedback, and network while enjoying scenic environments. Bluedog Photography offers multi-day and week-long photography retreats to a variety of locations, including Japan, Cambodia, the Australian outback, and more.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
About 350 mountaineers have climbed all "seven summits"—the highest peak on each of the seven continents.

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