Unusual vacations for personal growth?
July 7, 2007 12:04 PM   Subscribe

I have 3 weeks in August. I'd like to travel, but not the usual vacation. I'd like to do something which brings me a measure of self-knowledge and personal growth.

I need suggestions. I've thought about volunteer vacations, various types of classes, solitary retreats, and so on, but I haven't found anything that I'm confident would fit. I'm an intellectual, enjoy philosophy, psychology, and learning new things generally. I'm an amateur baker, enjoy technology, and could stand a little more exercise in my life.

I'd like to do something which would productively stretch me in some way...perhaps something creative and leadership-like, or maybe something more skills-based and learning-oriented.

I'm not really open to living the "rough life" in a destitute area, but other than that, I'm listening. I'd really appreciate some thoughtful suggestions.

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by Malad to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Well, if your three weeks are at the end of August, you might want to consider Burning Man. While it doesn't fit in the "relaxing by the beach" category of vacation, it can be a crucible for self-discovery and there are multiple ways to volunteer.

As someone who always volunteers out there and last year spent an week laboring 8-10 hours a day on an art installation, I've found that working hard out there on something puts you in contact with lots of amazing people and provides many moments of healthy introspection.
posted by donovan at 12:51 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about a camping/hiking trip? I am sure lots of people here could suggest great locations close to where you live or further abroad, if you prefer. You could take some books along as well, maybe about something you always wanted to learn about.

Intellectual? Tick.
Excercise? Tick.
Potentially Cheap? Tick.
Personal Growth? Up to you.
Unusual? Depends if you already go camping a lot.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:01 PM on July 7, 2007

Study Spanish in Guatemala for two weeks.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 1:16 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

i've always wanted to spend some time at punta mona.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:24 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Talk of the Nation had a segment about this very topic on the 4th of July.

Here's the book discussed during the segment.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:40 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try staying at a monastery on retreat.
posted by nax at 1:49 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Have a look at the workshops at Omega and Kripalu.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:12 PM on July 7, 2007

I came here to suggest Burning Man as well. *grin*
posted by infinityjinx at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2007

Two great, cheap options for volunteer vacations are
American Hiking Society and Wilderness Volunteers.

Also Google for "learning vacations" and search for that phrase at frommers.com, which has covered some interesting options over the years. More generally, Frommer's Budget Travel magazine is a good resource.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:28 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Consider Hollyhock (a friend is spending a week on Cortez Island, where the institute is located, learning how to drum and chant, in August.) the institute is located just off Vancouver Island in Canada. Easy access by plane and ferry.

Consider too North Cascades Institute who offer a great variety of courses about birding, tracking animals, wilderness photography, writers' retreats, or doing absolutely nothing at all in North America's most breath-taking alpine setting. The institute is located a couple hours North-East of Seattle, on State Route 20 (also known as Cascades Highway)
posted by seawallrunner at 7:37 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Too bad you're averse to "living the rough life in a destitute" area, because assisting Katrina victims in the Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi region rebuild their lives would certainly bring you knowledge and self-growth, not to mention humility, thankfulness and empathy. If you were to join Habitat for Humanity or a church-sponsored group in building homes and needed community structures (libraries, civic centers, city halls, etc.), you'd meet nice people who would bless you for helping rebuild their shattered lives.

You could probably put your psychology background to good use by examining why some people there have recovered emotionally while others still feel suicidal, and someone could probably use your baking expertise. If you helped with actual rebuilding of homes, you'd get some exercise. What's not to love about an "adventure" vacation like that? (Also, if you're into gambling, Biloxi/Gulfport have some cool new and rebuilt casinos.)
posted by Smalltown Girl at 9:21 PM on July 7, 2007

« Older Where to (indie) rock on the west coast?   |   Repairing Outdoor Stairs (Brick, framed by RR Ties... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.