Choose your own travel adventure

Things to do to make your next vacation an adventure
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Sometimes all you have time for is a quick trip. It’s also good to help you recharge. You can make use of any long weekends you may get through statutory holidays, or by taking a couple of days off of work.

There are some trips you can do in three or four days that can energize you.

My main tip when you’re going away for a short time: Stay away from places that are in a different time zone. It’s not enough time to adjust, and you’ll feel tired when you get back.

These suggestions work if you want to travel alone, or with one or a couple more people. I’ve left out all-inclusive resorts and staycations because I’ve written about them in a few posts.

For all suggestions, Google or check Groupon and LivingSocial for any deals.

Learning adventures

Return to nature

Almeria, Spain
In Almeria, Spain last year

Find a quiet cabin somewhere where you can set up camp and take in nature at its finest. There are many places within reach, across the world, to spend a few days getting back to basics.

  • If it’s warm: Fish, camp out, roast marshmallows, bird watch and do a little hiking. Check for guided tours of the area.
  • If it’s cold: Ice fish, sit by a fire, paint (even if you’ve never really done it before!), snowshoe or ski.

For example, the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York and Canada has all these options.

If you really want to get into the nature spirit, go on a wildlife learning retreat. Spend the weekend learning about animals and nature, and subjects like nature photography and writing. In some of them, you also prepare your own meals as a group and learn how to kayak.

For additional deals for any learning adventure:

By the sea

surfing san diego
Surfing with my cousin in San Diego

Think about a water adventure. Go kayaking, rafting, surfing, wind sailing, or deep-sea fishing, and diving. In some places around the world, depending on where you live, you can even whale watch.

Some places offer great eco-adventures for a long weekend like in parts of the USA (California), Canada (British Columbia), South Africa and Australia to name a few.

Cooking classes

Caprese salad

One amazing way to eat well and learn as you go is to take a cooking class. If you don’t know how to cook, you can start with the basics. Or if you do, try stepping out of your comfort zone and learning new recipes, you can find cooking classes in many major cities.

Some courses offer two-three nights’ stay in their package price, along with breakfast and the meal(s) you make.

Expand your cultural knowledge

Graumans Chinese Theater
TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) in Hollywood, California

You can find a cultural hub anywhere in the world. If you’re unsure, Google what a city or town is known for and book it! From theater, music, food, art, dance, wildlife or education, you can take in an enlightening and entertaining weekend.

Even if I’m on a business trip, I try to take in a show, eat in some great spots, and see a museum.

Pamper yourself (reasonable and indulgent options)

Foodie adventures

Leonards Mill Restaurant, Fleurieu, Australia
Beet salad at Leonards Mill in Fleurieu, Australia

Check sites like TripadvisorOpenTableZomato and Yelp (there are lots, these are just a few examples) for the best restaurants in the areas you’re visiting. The data comes from reviews from people that have visited before. Check online for local food markets, farms, and any food festivals or tours that are happening at that time.

What better way to get an authentic food experience than from someone who lives in the area you’re visiting? There are a few websites that will pair travelers with residents for dinner in their home.  Sites like EatWith or BonAppetour are great sources to check and see if anything like this is available in the city you’re visiting.

Get some additional tips on my posts Try a foodie and drink adventure in one of these cities or  Eat like a foodie when you travel.

Spa days

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland

If you really need to relax and unwind, spas are one way to go. Find a hotel or bed and breakfast that has a well-reviewed spa attached to it or within quick walking distance. Ideally, you want to find one that has water features included with your spa service. You can take advantage of swimming pools, saunas, and steam rooms as part of your package.

If you’ve never been to a spa before, or haven’t been in a while, you want to try it out. You may never look back, especially if you have stress. Spa treatments can make you feel a million dollars, and some of them seem like they cost almost that much!

At home treatments can help you create your spa day at home. Feel like a million bucks with this all natural DIY Spastravaganza from Samantha can show you how to do it.

 Shop till you drop

Shopping in Rimini, Italy
Capturing my mom after shopping in Rimini, Italy

If money’s not an object, go to one of the top shopping districts closest to you. They’re almost everywhere now! New York, Milan, Paris, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Miami, Hong Kong, and so much more. It doesn’t even have to be clothes shopping; spend a weekend looking for furniture to redecorate a room in your place, or go to the Caribbean for some great prices on jewelry.

If money is an object, and it won’t make you feel like you’re missing something, go anyway and window shop. It never hurts to plan for your dream room or wardrobe.

Wine or beer weekend

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

I’ve gone wine tours in California, New York, Ontario, British Columbia, France, Italy, and Australia. I’ve also tried beer tours in Germany and Ireland. I have liked all I’ve been on so far. Not all are created equal, but they are all experiences and I have learned a lot about different wines and beer that have enhanced my food experience at home.

My tip is to go on weekdays if you can. It’s far less busy. Foodie and drink tasting travel hacks has more ideas.

Healthy exploration

Get sporty

Snowboard Mont Tremblent
Snowboarding in Mont Tremblent

Why not get fit while you’re taking a few days off, especially if you don’t feel you have enough time during your busy schedule. Go on an organized fitness retreat. Check out Money Crashers top list of fitness retreats on a budget.  There are locations around the world; depending on where you are from you can find one that works for you close to home.

  • If you prefer to do something on your own: Book a place that offers you the workout options you prefer.
  • If it’s warm: Hike, swim, kayak, snorkel, surf, hang glide, cycle, the possibilities are endless.
  • If it’s cold: Snowshoe, ski, ice skate, snowboard, go hiking or on a cave exploration (especially if you’re anywhere near Iceland!).

Serenity now

Lago di Garda, Italy
Lago di Garda, Italy home of the Lefay Resort & Spa

There are different levels of healthy living retreats that depend on what you want. You can learn stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, stretching, and have consultations on fitness and nutrition. Or you can amp it up and learn all that plus get acupuncture and give up wheat, alcohol and red meat for the weekend. For some, it might seem difficult to have to give up everything, but it’s only for a weekend and it’s a great way to detox.

The top 10 wellness retreats around the world lists the best ones in the world; from here you can search for deals on reasonable similar places.

These are some of my ideas for a weekend getaway or mini-vacation, what are some of yours?



  1. Love these tips, and the photos. All of the information you provided is very useful!

    I live about 6-8 hours away from the beach (depending on traffic), so I like to do day trips to recharge. I started out with what I call my 36 hour trip, and my last one was a 22 hour trip to LA, CA. It’s quick but worth it when you feel the need to get away.

  2. Amazing amazing photos wow. I really like these ideas too, doing a nature learning trip is something I never would have thought of. Thanks for the links, it’s something I want to try next year!

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