At this time of year, the summer holiday in the sun you enjoyed only last month can seem like a lifetime ago. Already, you want to start planning your next one, but what do you have in mind? If you fancy a bit of a change from the fortnight on the beach, the long weekend city break or the all-inclusive kids’ resort, why not consider something a little bit different this time round? Here are five suggestions to consider for 2014.
Volunteer your time
If you want to combine your free time with the satisfaction of ‘giving something back’, there are many volunteering projects out there that would benefit hugely from your time and expertise. From helping to build schools and hospitals overseas, to acting as a sighted guide for a visually impaired person on holiday – or even helping clear weeds from a popular beauty spot – the list of volunteering placements and holiday projects is both long and diverse.
Hone your skills
There’s something rather delightful about taking a holiday course in a beautiful location. You could learn how to paint in Tuscany or write in the Highlands of Scotland. You could try cooking your favourite cuisine in the country it originates from, or taking part in extreme sports in a new and exhilarating place – bungee jumping in New Zealand, anyone?
Swap lives for a while
With more and more families needing to cut holiday budgets as the economy continues to recover, the idea of house swapping becomes appealing. The idea is that you stay in another family’s home in the location of your choice, allowing them to stay in yours while you are away. Clearly, this option requires an open mind and an element of trust, but when it works, it can result in a great holiday at a much lower cost, with the added bonus of making new friends around the world.
Enjoy a staycation
This word was bandied about a lot a couple of years ago, as people woke up to the potential of staying near to home (or even at home) for their annual holiday. Much is said about the phenomenon of people failing to explore what is on their very own doorstep, so what better excuse is there for doing just that than the decision to stay home and holiday in peace?
Plump for a pilgrimage
OK, so you may not want to journey to Mecca or follow the well-walked route to Santiago de Compostela, but there are all kinds of ways to use your holiday to follow a belief, passion or hobby. Seeking out places or worship, historical sites or even sports matches or concerts by a favourite performer can add a real focus point to an otherwise generic holiday and inform your route, taking you to places you would never have dreamed of considering otherwise.