Beyond a Holiday: The Alternative Ways to Travel

by Holly

As paint-by-numbers package holidays become almost routine, alternatives away from the traditional holiday formula are becoming more attractive to travellers.

Less than hundred years ago, travel was a great, daunting adventure, usually conducted in an once-in-a-lifetime trip and often only open to those who had huge privilege. Fast forward to the present day and buying a holiday is as simple as popping to the supermarket, you simply pick a destination, book the flights and choose your hotel. You can even get other people to organise this for you, or go all-inclusive so you barely need to leave the hotel once you have arrived in your chosen country. Yet, this isn’t the only way to travel, and as package holidays (while still brilliantly fun) begin to seem almost routine, people are beginning to look for alternative travel experiences.

The motivations behind choosing a different sort of travel are as varied as the individuals who embark on these adventures. Many have to find a pragmatic approach to a tight budget and burning Wanderlust, finding ways to see the sights without the use of hotels or expensive flights, while others have plenty of money and are simply searching for novelty. Whatever the reasons are for pursuing an unconventional travel experience, there’s a variety of options available if you want to see the world. 

Enjoy Home Comforts

For those who want a home away from home, rather than opting for a prohibitively expensive hotel, there’s plenty of alternative choices out there. If you own a house, signing up to a house swapping website, like Home Exchange, is one way to spend time on the other side of the globe at a fraction of the cost. If you have been careful when choosing your swap, you will also find a house that has been lovingly looked after by a similarly grateful traveller, allowing you to enjoy the unique comforts of a real home.

If you don’t own your house you aren’t necessarily locked out of these homely comforts, with prospects such as house sitting, sofa surfing or au pairing available. Websites such as Mind My House allow you to sign up for opportunities where you get to spend time in great new locations in exchange for watering the plants. Sofa surfing doesn't even require this, and with a bit of bravery it's an extremely cheap way to travel, with a handy tour guide in the shape of your host thrown in. Au pairing on the other hand will require much more work, but offers a chance to earn money abroad.

Contribute While You Travel

From the Peace Corps for US citizens, which require a dedication of two years and can see you working in some of the most challenging environments in the world, to short working holidays on organic farms, there’s vast and varied volunteering opportunities abroad. Schemes such as WWOOF allow you to work on organic farms all over the world in exchange for food and a roof over your head, as well as plenty of time in the evenings and days off to go exploring.

Other volunteering holidays encourage people to fundraise- in order to cover their costs- before they go off to save everything from Orangutans to baby turtles, raising the profile of the cause. Furthermore, The National Trust (a British charity that protects and preserves historical homes, gardens and surrounding countryside) feeds and houses their volunteers in exchange for work, giving travellers a chance to experience some of the most beautiful and historic sites in Britain.

Multiply Your Home Abroad Options

Lots of these examples show ways of travelling that wouldn’t make too much of a financial dent, perfect if you have to spend your money carefully. For those at the other end of the scale, buying the next fashionable 5 star holiday will always be appealing, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also looking for new and interesting ways to see the world. For example, by joining a members club (at a significant fee) that offers access to luxury holiday homes in spectacular destinations, from England to Japan. Offering more opportunities to see the world than simply buying one holiday home would, this is attractive to those who can afford it. 

Become a Digital Nomad

The internet is a wonderful thing, and with the power of Wi-Fi more and more people are realising that their jobs can be completed remotely. Whether they can convince their boss of the same thing is another matter, but for freelancers and those allowed to work out of the office, there are very little restrictions on where they can conduct their job, be it from home or the other side of the world.

Remote working communities are growing up everywhere, including locations Europe, South America, Thailand and Bali, with cities such as Chang Mai becoming particularly popular. Limited only by the presence of an internet connection, this is less a holiday than a lifestyle choice, with the potential to hop between countries for years with the security of a steady income stream.

Take Your Home with You

While it’s possible to enjoy the comforts of someone else’s home, there’s also the option of radically downsizing and taking your own home with you. Especially appealing to those who face the prospect of never conceivably ever being able to afford a traditional house, converting a van or buying a caravan or motorhome will give you both an (admittedly bijou) place of your own, as well as a means to travel about where you please. This blogger documents his experiences living this lifestyle, which range from challenging to life affirming, giving you an insight into a life constantly on the move. 

Updated: 12/16/2015, Holly
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