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Chapter 20 : Some Great Alternative Vacations

Ready to consider unusual vacations--something a bit out of the ordinary? Maybe you don't want another trip to an amusement park, week at the beach or ocean cruise. Try one of the following instead.

Monastery Vacations

There are monasteries, spiritual centers and retreats all over the country that will rent you a room. Some require that you participate in certain activities or events, or help in daily chores, while others require nothing of you. Some are very inexpensive, others expensive, and some just ask for a donation. You do not need to share in their beliefs to stay at these places.

I stayed at a Zen center in upstate New York a few years ago. For less than $20, I had a simple bed in a plain room. Two meals daily were included, and there was a good library and a hot tub. During the day I walked the trails on the property to sit by the pond, or to collect butternuts on a hill overlooking a valley. It was very relaxing.

If you want a peaceful vacation, these are the places to look for. They are usually quiet, and in beautiful settings. Whether a monastery full of catholic monks, or a Hindu meditation center, most of them now have web sites, so you can find them online.

House Sitting Vacations

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.

To learn more about care-taking opportunities, see the Caretaker Gazette at

Beach Combing Vacations

Think of those Corona ads on TV. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the beach with a drink. When you get restless, start collecting seashells and driftwood up and down the shoreline. Bring a metal detector and who knows what you'll find.

There are beaches in Florida and many other places where you can camp in your RV. In Michigan and other Great Lake states, you can even find cheap motels on or near the beach.

Outdoor Vacation Alternatives

An outdoor vacation doesn't necessarily mean backpacking or hunting. Friends of mine recently took part in a week-long bicycle tour in Michigan, for example. These tours take place in many areas, or can be done anywhere if you want to do your own arranging. They can include camping, or a stay at a nice hotel each night.

Another outdoor vacation that can be done in comfort is hiking hut-to-hut in the mountains. Although there are some places in the United States where this can be done, it is much more common in Europe. No tent or sleeping bag is necessary. You hike a few hours from one hut to the next, through beautiful mountains. Food, wine, beds and bedding are available at each hut.

Travel Less and Do More

It is often the traveling part that costs the most, due to the cost of gas, convenient fast food, and expensive hotels you are forced to pay for when you just can't drive any further. So if you find a place with a reasonable motel, and a lot to do in the area - stay for a while!

For a long trip, you may want to rent an apartment in an interesting city. We did this for two months in Tucson, for about $600 less per month, compared to even the cheaper motels. It is really relaxing to stay in one place, unlike the rushing about that sometimes passes as a vacation.

Other Unusual Vacations

If you like rock and gem hunting, you could rent a van to camp in and head for the eastern Arizona desert. Or maybe you want to explore the caves of Tennessee. Look around and think about it a bit. You might find your own "alternative vacations."

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. - Aldous Huxley

Continue with Chapter 21 here: Mountain Vacations

Note: This chapter on unusual vacations was part of the e-book Travel Secrets. Now all chapters are free on this site. See the homepage (the link is at the bottom of this page) for a list of all chapters and links to them.

Other Pages:

United States Travel
Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations

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