I am all for the stereotypical beach-lounging holidays when I travel.
There is a time and a place for this sort of tune-out and disconnect vacation, but the truth is this is not the only way to spend your time away from work.
Whether you’re going away for a week or if you’re looking to incorporate new experiences into your extended travel plans, here are some alternative travel ideas to the traditional getaway.
1. Language Learning
Language learning would have to be my favorite method of alternative travel.
Not only do I get the chance to learn (or brush up on) language skills, but I also get direct contact and access to locals living there for a true cultural immersion.
Traveling to learn a language also can be done at budget prices in certain parts of the world.
I, personally, have partaken in Spanish lessons in Guatemala and Russian lessons in Kyrgyzstan at the low rate of around $4 per hour of one-on-one instruction.
2. Yoga Retreats
Yoga retreats are becoming popular with both men and women alike as they provide a getaway from normal life in a relaxing and healthy mode.
Imagine a week, or a month, spent fine-tuning your mind and body in an ashram in India.
I’ll be covering this topic in further articles, including the best locations around the world for yoga retreats, so stay tuned.
3. Teaching English
Teaching English abroad would be considered an activity fit for extended travelers.
However, there are shorter-term volunteer teaching positions, like with Projects Abroad, that might put you in front of a class for a minimum of a month at a time.
Just like language learning, teaching English provides an entire culture to you every day you are in the classroom.
While teaching and language learning might not be a long-term solution or activity for everyone, one cannot argue with the cultural insights gained in the process.
4. Archaeological Digs
History buffs and museum lovers might fancy a chance to get where the real action happens: in archaeological digs.
You might be surprised to find out that you don’t necessarily need to be in university or be an expert in the field to participate in fieldwork around the world.
In this case, you will be considered a volunteer. As such, you might have to pay a fee to dig, but your funding will often help the camp to continue the excavation.
I spent a month in late 2007 uncovering a Roman fort on the Spanish island of Menorca, and loved every minute of it.
You can search for volunteer excavations on the Archaeological Institute of America‘s site.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and this method of travel is becoming a tried and tested method of budget travel for vagabonds and nomads.
Through Wwoofing, the farm owners do not have to pay volunteers, but they do provide accommodation and food. The volunteers do not get paid, but they get a unique cultural experience abroad with free food and accommodation.
Wwoofers have the opportunity to pick grapes on a vineyard in France or sheer sheep in the New Zealand countryside just to name a few of the possibilities.
A minimum stay is 2 nights, but this can vary by farm.
For those looking to give back to the less fortunate or tragedy-stricken, volunteer opportunities are endless in about every country of the world, even your own.
A popular short-term volunteer program called Habitat for Humanity brings individuals together from around the world to construct houses where needed most.
All Hands Volunteers puts individuals on projects in places that have recently been struck by natural disasters, such as Haiti and the Philippines.
7. Cooking Courses
If you love a country’s food, and love cooking, a cooking course abroad may be your mode of alternative travel.
As an example, who better to teach the art of cooking Thai food that Thai people themselves.
Combine that with the possibility of market visits in Thailand, meeting famous chefs and diving into countless local restaurants and you have a getaway fit for a king.
Plus, you’ll come back with the best kind of souvenir: cooking skills.
You don’t even have to worry about suitcase space for that one!