Alternative vacation ideas

Fun and inexpensive ways to spend your holidays differently

Bored of sun bathing on the beach? Looking for a challenge that will keep you excited all the time? Choose a different way to spend your vacation this summer that will change your mindset and expand your horizon.

Helping locals

When modern day travelers are on a tight budget or simply want to intergrate into a local community, they are looking for ways to live and experience life locally. Come to Malaysia and pick dragonfruits on a farm, volunteer at a tiger temple in Thailand, help at a hostel near Machu Picchu! You can find hosts who will most likely provide you with accomodation and food, help and learn from them on HelpX or Workaway. You will need to pay around 20 euro for a 2 year membership account, but believe me, it is completely worth it (even though I only used mine once in those two years, but the week spent building a mud oven in Bali was my best Indonesia experience).

building an oven from mud in Zahara Urban farm, Bali

Meditation retreat

Meditation and yoga have become extremely popular these days, and even if you have never tried it yourself, you may have considered doing it already. What are the benefits of meditation retreats? They help you reconnect with yourself and understand where you are standing, they remove you from the environment you are used to and give you new tools to evaluate your life and your goals. They let you be alone, and experience silence and stillness. Sign up for a very famous Vipassana Silent retreat by Goenka (you can find it in virtually every country) or apply for a Peace Revolution fellowship for young people (you can also start a self development meditation online program for free now)

Peace Revolution meditation retreat



In today’s world of insurance and bills, some people are not able to leave their house empty for a long time when going on vacation. They are looking for a person to simply live in the house (and sometimes to take care of the garden or pets). And you may become this person on Mind My House, or Trusted Housesitters, or Housesit match. Ever thought of pointing your finger on the map and going to the first place you chose? This is a great opportunity to be spontaneous and go with the flow, and once you develop your house sitter profile, you may get more trust from house owners around the world.

Working at an organic farm

WWOOF or World wide opportunities on organic farms. This is a great chance to live far away from the city, to learn farming, to join a mindful community and make new friends. You can apply to become a WWOOFer and join farms in more that 100 countries of the world.

Volunteer at an NGO

There are many NGOs all over the world looking for full time and part time volunteers. For Europeans it is possible to join EVS (European Voluntary service) and go abroad for a couple of months or a year to experience new culture and contribute skills. Jobs vary from networking and workshops on communication and peace building, to teaching English or other subjects to local youths. Check out your local NGOs who can suggest this kind of exchange for you. One thing I would highly recommend – do not ever pay for your volunteering experience (unless it is a membership fee), you are giving your time and energy, and you should not pay for doing this.

Join a summer school

Look for educational exchange programs, either short term or long term. There should be a website specific to your region or country  where you can easily find many opportunities. Look for a youth exchange or a summer school, try to connect this with your professional skills and interests and your summer experience will be rewarding and fun. Look on Opportunity desk or similar websites and Facebook groups for global opportunities.

Camping and kayaking

Many of us think that vacation should be spent far away from home, and only then it will be fun and exotic. We hardly ever notice how many exciting places there are just outside of the town we live in. Time to embrace your region/province/country and go on a camping trip not far from home. You may be able to find a local travel agency that can organize a kayaking/rafting trip for you, or even a one day get away to a lake or riverside with paddle boards, kayaks, barbecue, paragliding and other exciting activities.

bungalo in Pai, Thailand



Remember that money made us quite helpless. We are used to paying for a hotel, for breakfast and dinner, for attractions, for cars and airplane tickets, but we forgot how to ask for help. And we are gradually forgetting how to communicate with each other, we simply look up locations on google maps and keep on browsing Facebook while riding a boat or hiking beautiful mountains. Try to remove yourself from technological devices and take a very small amount of money, pick a place on a map and go hitchhiking there. You may sleep in a tent or ask to stay with the locals. Remember – the more you ask for help, the more flexible you are. Do not be afraid to show your vulnerability. Being vulnerable is a good life skill.

Visit a friend

We all have friends who live out of our comfort zone. They may be our childhood friends who have moved away or someone we met in college or at a youth exchange in a different country. Contact your friends and invite yourself for a weekend visit. No matter what you are doing together with them – be it eating local food or playing with their kids – it will take you out of your own routine and refresh your mind.

Learn a skill

Instead of just going on vacation and relaxing, you may think of looking for a different kind of activity and learn something new about the culture of the country you are going to. Once I took a one week Thai massage course and have never regretted it, moreover I met many wonderful people and had a feeling of being a local in Chiangmai, even though it was just two weeks. Learn traditional dance, language, calligraphy, or cooking, no matter what you pick, it will be perfect for keeping up the flexibility of your brain.


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