What is it that inspires you to save up and pack up before hitting the road? Is it the idea of adventure or excitement waiting for you outside that door, or simply a desire to wander and to disappear into an unknown destination? Some want to experience a different culture and there are those who want to trace their lineage or provide a service such as teaching yoga or English, amongst other things… Which might be a less conventional reason to go on a vacation but nonetheless interesting and will be able to give travellers a new perspective on what travel can be about.
Tracing your family history
Civilization has been settling down in foreign lands and migrating all over the world. Sometimes, it would be nice to take a look back and see where it all began. A simple DNA test will be able to pinpoint exactly what genetics you have in your family and you can start from there or talk to your family members about your family history. Where did you originate from, where did they move to, going back bit by bit will be an adventure best shared with a sibling or to do alone. It would be enlightening and you will be more attuned to the cultures you come in contact with simply because it is a part of you.
Going on an expedition
Everyone has fantasized about going off on an Indiana Jones-esque adventure, or perhaps being a swashbuckling pirate seeking for treasure. An expedition will be able to sort you right out. It will give you the chance to experience surviving the wild, conquering it and returning home with a sense of accomplishment because you have gone where not many have gone before. Ideas include conquering the great mount Everest, you can take a boat ride into the heart of Borneo and camp in the rainforest, seeking the elusive orang utans or even enter the world’s biggest cave in Vietnam: Hang Son Doong. The cave is said to be so big it has its own ecosystem and when it was first discovered by a villager, he thought he had transported back in time because everything looked incredibly prehistoric. However, it is no small feat to get into the cave. You must first travel to Hanoi and journey to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park before two days of intense jungle trekking before you reach the mouth of the cave. When you are there, you will be able to witness for yourself the phenomenon of a fully self-sustaining environment complete with self-regulating weather and the formation of clouds inside a cave.
Doing volunteer work for the greater good
Eco-tourism or volunteer travel has been around for a while now. You donate a certain amount of money to an organization you are interested in and sign up for their volunteer programs, which usually last for a month or so. Food and board is usually included and all you need to do is purchase an air ticket and you will be on your way to helping out the animals of your choice, at the same time making lifetime friends and memories.
Become an au pair
If animals are not your thing and you prefer to spend time with children instead, you could get free board for your time. An au pair is a live-in nanny so this gives you an opportunity to live in anything from a two bedroom flat in Paris to a mansion in New York – the sky is the limit but the only thing you will be required to have is some form of certification in childcare and first aid. Sometimes you might even be paid for your trouble, so not only will you be receiving free board, you will get additional pocket money too!
Work on a farm or smallholding
Another option is to join the WWOOFing community that offers board and food for practical help on the land. This can teach you how to do farm work, explore a different city and experience a whole new lifestyle. Aside from picking up on unconventional skills, it could also take you to a town or country you have never thought of visiting and what is more authentic than that?