Everyone needs a vacation every once in awhile (read: always, preferably without an end date). While spending 3 months in Thailand may be the best way to recover from dealing with upper management, thanks to the US's non-existent vacation laws, most of us only get two or three weeks of paid time off.
Some of that automatically goes to Fridays taken off for summertime weddings (or bachelor/ette parties or bridal showers or baby showers or tool parties, like enough already). Some inevitably goes to the holidays. So if you're lucky, most of us get about a week to do whatever the hell we want.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can set out on your own. Book a flight, pack a bag, and go. There are so many amazing places to see and when you travel by yourself, you can do exactly as you please. Generally, this takes a lot of planning if you have specific things you want to do/see. Or you can wing it, but know that it probably won't be that relaxing. Super fun and exciting yes, but not relaxing. It can also be lonely. There are many travel bloggers who would have you believe you meet so many new people when you travel by yourself. That's not always the case and you can plan on eating several meals alone. Again, not a bad thing but definitely something to take into consideration.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, melting into a poolside cabana with a piña colada at an all-inclusive resort sounds super easy but let's be real, it's not the most interesting way to spend seven days. So here is an alternative list of things to do with your precious week off (complete with a blatant plug for our trips because we genuinely think they're a great option).
It's never too late to learn something completely new and out of your comfort zone. WOOFF, otherwise known as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is an organization that brings together people who want to learn about organic farming and smallholdings while living on a farm. WOOFF hosts provide accommodations and food to the volunteers and in return, the hosts receive a helping hand (aka free labor). Plus, you'll become part of a tight-knit community of "WOOFFers" that all share the same values and ideas you do, and you'll (hopefully) become close with your host family. So if you're looking to get your hands dirty on an organic farm, WOOFF might be the place for you.
A yoga retreat is a great way to relax, relieve stress and find your happiness. Perhaps your workload is crushing, maybe relationships aren't going quite as planned and you haven't had any rest and relaxation in a while. Going on a yoga retreat might be the best way to spend your days off. No, you aren't going to spend your time singing "Kumbaya" and sitting cross-legged for 24 hours. But you will be practicing yoga for a couple hours a day, and resetting your mind to focus on happy, positive thoughts all while making new friends and memories. Plus, retreats can be found all over the world, including your home state so you needn't travel too far to attend. Not sure where to start? Check out Yoga For Bad People.
River cruises are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel at your leisure. River cruises are especially nice because they don't require too much planning. You don't have to worry about sleeping from hotel to hotel, catching your train, trying to read a map or figuring out transportation. River cruises are also a great way to make friends. Being on a boat for a week with the same people allows you the opportunity to become close with your fellow cruisers. Plus, the smaller boats mean you can dock in smaller, more off-the-beaten-path towns for a more an immersive experience. Do, however, be sure to research the clientele of each company as some boats definitely cater to an older crowd.
Spend your vacation making a difference in a developing country, taking care of the sick or cleaning up a community. Depending on how you want to make an impact, there are many great options in numerous countries. Many different volunteer organizations offer one to two week trips where you can go with a group to an area of your choice. But you don't have to travel far to help make a difference. Even volunteering at your local hospital or helping to protect our planet can be a great experience. Which ever you choose, you'll come back with a new perspective and greater empathy – two great things.
Companies like us live and breath travel so we know where to find the most amazing experiences. We also care deeply about introducing you to new cultures and furthering cross-cultural understanding so you can be sure every trip will teach you something new and gently push you beyond your comfort zone. Plus, we've already planned, vetted, and booked so you get all the good parts of travel without the hassle. Aka, you get a vacation and an exciting cultural experience. Plus, you have the chance to connect with other young professionals who are also interested in traveling and meeting new people. Unlike a typical group tour, which has a very structured itinerary and touristy vibe, an FTLO group trip feels more like going on an adventure with some new friends (only one friend is really responsible and takes care of all the logistics so everyone else can relax). That means you can do your own thing when you want to, but still have someone to get dinner with and share the experience with. We plan trips we would want to go on time after time (because sometimes we do) and we invite you to join us on those journeys.
No matter what you choose to do - commit and go. You deserve to take a vacation from your job every so often (more than once a year) so get out there and explore!