“When all else fails, take a vacation.” —Betty Williams
Sometimes the simplest thoughts can be the most useful. Author Betty Williams points to a truism that far too many people tend to overlook: When you are emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and/or physically worn out, the best answer is to relax. Simply put: It’s time to take a vacation.
Yet, Americans are among the worst at taking time off. Research firm Harris Interactive noted that in 2014, less than half of all paid vacation time was used, with over 75 percent of workers not using their full allotment of time even when they did take a vacation. Even worse, some 61 percent of those that did use their time off said they worked while on vacation—thereby defeating the entire purpose.
Obviously, something needs to be done. Study after study has shown that when you take time off, especially when you travel away from home, you not only recharge yourself, you end up being a better, more productive person when you return. And the more vacations you take, even short ones, the better it is for you in the long run, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.
So don’t let that time go to waste. It’s time to go on vacation. Now. You won’t regret it.
Looking for a vacation that expands your brain? Try these.
If you listen to NPR, you’ve likely heard of this company that specializes in learning vacations. Their list of itineraries is extensive, and all of the them emphasize travel that changes you, as you explore the world and discover just how complex, amazing and endlessly intriguing it is.
Though Road Scholar was created by parent company Elderhostel, it offers journeys for all age groups and all activity levels. roadscholar.org
Featured Pick: “Great Australian Train Trek” Twenty-seven days on two iconic railways, the Indian Pacific and the Ghan, to cross Oz, along the way visiting the Sydney Opera House, wildlife parks and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.
Founded in England by a Brit who wanted to offer experiences beyond a sunburn and a few too many pints for people who wanted to travel lightly on the Earth and come home with opened minds.
Among the many choices are trips focusing on archeology sites. “We offer a diverse range of specific archaeology trips and digs, as well as small group tours or tailor-made holidays with a focus in archaeology, to appeal to those of us who just can’t leave the past alone,” says Marketing Director Sasha Chisholm.
“Learning holidays offer the opportunity to relax and unwind as you open your mind to learning new skills, or honing existing ones, with like-minded travelers.”
Featured Pick: “Archeological Cruise Sailing in Turkey” Turkey is one of the most important archeological countries in the world, and on this sailing adventure, you’ll see lost cities, places such as the sanctuary of Zeus, and the magnificent ancient city of Ephesus, with its stunning theatre.
Sierra Club Trips
A travel segment that increases in popularity every year is “service vacations,” which are not only an inexpensive way to travel, but offer the chance to do some good while you’re out there.
The Sierra Club offers many types of outdoors vacation travel, from lodges to backpacking to rafting and more, but if you’d like to explore a truly hands-on learning experience, they are one of the best.
Featured Pick: “John Muir Wilderness Trail Restoration” This August 2015 trip is rated 5 of 5 for difficulty, which means it’s only for the fit and ready for hard work, but you’ll be working in gorgeous mountain territory and helping to restore the original environmentalist’s trail.
I biked with Backroads through Normandy and Brittany some years ago, and it remains one of my favorite trips of all time. According to Backroads’ Liz Einbinder, “We find that getting out there and exploring the world is so much more fun when enjoying the camaraderie of other interesting, engaging and inquisitive folks. Our singles and solos segment is designed specifically on request from our solo travelers.
“It has grown in popularity and we expect to see continued growth over the years. It’s an interesting and fun group dynamic and we welcome all solo travelers. We’ve heard from our guests that the trips are a good meeting point between traveling alone and traveling with a group! We understand that solo travelers want to be with fun people, spend more time living and less time planning.”
I traveled solo and loved the combination of cultural learning, great food and exercise. The guides are outstanding and fellow bikers congenial. Save some Calvados for me!
Featured Pick: “Berlin-to-Dresden Singles Bicycling” Your chance to see the World Heritage Site of Potsdam, the Biosphere Reserve of Spreewald, among many other stops, while sampling local cuisines and wines along the way.
National Geographic Expeditions
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being able to take photos like the amazing ones National Geographic prints. Rev up the camera and take your pick of national and international destinations.
NGS’s Meaghan Calnan tells us that the company’s brochure of new trips is out in June, so let them know if you’d like to see what’s special and upcoming.
Featured Pick: “Peru: Land of the Inca” Not only will you see fabled Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Inca, but archeologist Peter Frost will talk about his own expeditions searching for the Inca, and you’ll have a private demonstration of traditional Andean weaving.
River cruising has increased in popularity more than 200 percent over the last few years, and no wonder. It’s a perfect way to see a country at leisure without constantly having to pack and unpack. This company is consistently rated “best” by travelers and offers river cruises all over the world.
Featured Pick: “Golden Treasure of Myanmar” As the former Burma opens up more and more to travelers, one of the best ways to see its beauties, both natural and cultural, is by river travel in a 10-day cruise to Mandalay. (Note: AmaWaterways also offers many specialty trips, including “Beer Cruises” and a “Jewish Heritage Cruise.”)