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By Steven Gillman

Are you ready to get out of the vacation rut? Here are some unusual vacation ideas to get you thinking – and planning.

Quiet Vacations

A few years back I got in the car and drove from Michigan, through Canada, to upstate new York. I found a Zen center in the mountains that rented rooms for the night. It was less than $20 for a simple bed in a plain room – with two meals daily included. There was a good library and a hot tub. At night I gathered with the others for dinner, and during the day walked the trails on the property to sit by the pond, or to collect butternuts on a hill overlooking a valley.

Monasteries and spiritual retreats all over the country rent rooms. Some of them do require participation in certain activities or events, or help with daily chores. Others require nothing of you. Some are cheap, others expensive, and some just ask for a donation. You don’t need to share their beliefs to stay at these places, and they are usually quiet, and in beautiful settings. Whether a monastery or a Hindu meditation center, most have web sites, so you can find them online.

Unusual Outdoor Vacations

An outdoor vacation doesn’t necessarily mean backpacking or driving around in an RV. Friends of mine recently did a week-long bicycle tour in Michigan, for example. Tours like this take place in many areas, or you can arrange your own. They can even include a stay at a nice hotel each night.

Hiking hut-to-hut in the mountains is only an unusual vacation here. It is common in Europe. You hike from one hut to the next, through the mountains – and no tent or sleeping bag is necessary. A bed, bedding, food and wine are available at each hut.

I have built a raft and floated down a river on it for a short vacation. Others canoe and camp. Some explore caves for days on end. My wife and I have spent a week at a time in a van, camping at a desert hot spring. Some people like to spend there vacations at outdoor-oriented nudist resorts. There are endless possibilities for more unusual outdoor vacations.

Volunteering As A Vacation

There are a lot of opportunities for vacations that involve volunteer work. There are organizations that need help planting trees in the Amazon jungle. There are opportunities here in the U.S. to help maintain the trails in the National Parks. Some people volunteer to spend their vacations teaching English or some other subject in a foreign land.

House Sitting

There are always people looking for others to stay in their houses, water the plants, and keep an eye on things. Look for these care taking jobs online or in one of the few newsletters that have listings of this sort. Sometimes you can get a house on a lake for a month, and occasionally you can even get paid for your services.

Locations include every part of the United States and most other countries. If you have any experience with house sitting or care taking it can help. Get letters of reference from those who you do house-sit for, so you’ll have a better chance at getting the next position.

How much of a vacation this is will depend on how much work the owners require in exchange for the use of their home, of course. It definitely is a cheaper alternative than most vacations.

Other Unusual Vacations

Cultural immersion vacations are becoming more popular. You might spend a week living with a family in the Brazilian jungle or in the mountains of Nepal. Gold prospecting vacations in the western U.S. and Alaska are a possibility as well. Think about it a bit and look around, and you’ll find your own unusual vacation ideas.

About the Author

Copyright Steve Gillman. Get the free Travel Secrets Ebook, as well as travel stories and tips, at

Travel Trip Vacation Tip

Alaska Kenai Peninsula moose  - photo by Lisa Langel
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