By Phoebe Jenkins
While I love a relaxing beach vacation in summer, sometimes we all need to break free from routine and try something a little bit wild. Luckily, there are plenty of unique and unconventional summer vacation ideas when you’re craving an adventurous getaway!
Whether you’re planning one big summer trip or want to spread the joy over a few weeks or weekends, we’ve rounded up some unique vacation ideas to break out of the everyday.
Swap homes for an inexpensive getaway
Swapping homes is precisely what it sounds like – exchanging homes with someone else for a set period of time. This can be a great way to enjoy an inexpensive summer getaway, as it allows you to stay in someone else’s home for free while they stay in your home in return.
Home swapping can be done domestically or internationally, ranging from a few days to several weeks or even months. It’s an excellent opportunity to live like a local, experience a new destination from a different perspective, and make new friends and connections.
It’s essential to find a reliable and trustworthy exchange partner who has a home that suits your needs and preferences and who is interested in swapping homes with you.
Some popular home swapping websites, such as Love Home Swap, allow you to browse and search for exchange partners based on location, availability, and other criteria. They also provide tools and resources to help you plan and organize your exchange, such as sample exchange agreements, insurance options, and travel tips.
Volunteer abroad for a cause you’re passionate about
This unique summer vacation idea involves dedicating your time and skills to a project or cause in another place. It can be an incredibly rewarding and meaningful way to travel, as it allows you to make a positive impact on a community or environment, learn about different cultures and lifestyles, and develop new skills and experiences.
There are many different types of volunteer programs available, ranging from short-term projects that last a few weeks to longer-term commitments that can span several months or even years.
Some popular summer volunteer projects include teaching English, working on community development projects, helping at animal sanctuaries, and assisting with environmental conservation efforts.
Volunteer organizations and programs can be found online or through travel agencies specializing in volunteer travel. It’s essential to do your research and reputable organization that aligns with your values and provides support, training, and accommodations.
Experience farm life by staying at a working farm or ranch
Staying at a working farm or ranch offers a unique and immersive experience in farm life. It can be a great way to learn about agriculture, rural lifestyles, sustainable living, and enjoy outdoor activities and fresh, farm-to-table cuisine.
Farm stays can range from rustic cabins or campsites to luxury lodges or bed-and-breakfasts, depending on the location and amenities offered. Some farm stays offer hands-on activities such as milking cows, gathering eggs, or herding livestock, while others focus more on leisure activities such as hiking, fishing, or horseback riding.
Many farms and ranches that offer lodging also provide farm-to-table meals featuring fresh, local ingredients and traditional recipes. Some farms may even offer cooking classes or other workshops related to sustainable living, such as gardening, canning, or beekeeping.
Farm stays can be found in many locations, from rural areas to suburban or urban environments. Some popular destinations for farm stays include the United States (check out farmstaysus.com), Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Add a working farm or ranch stay to your summer vacation ideas list to connect with nature, learn about agriculture and sustainable living, and further appreciate the value of locally sourced and sustainable food.
Rent a houseboat and explore a lake or river
Ahoy matey! Guaranteed to be a memorable experience, summering on a houseboat (or just for the weekend) is a great way to enjoy the water, spend time with family and friends, travel at your own pace, and access secluded or hard-to-reach locations.
Houseboats come in many shapes and sizes, from basic pontoons with minimal amenities to luxurious yachts with full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, and even hot tubs. They have sleeping quarters, living areas, kitchenettes or full kitchens, and bathroom facilities, and some even come with a deck, outdoor grill, or water slide!
When renting a houseboat, you’ll typically receive a detailed orientation and safety briefing, instructions on how to operate the boat and any included equipment, such as anchors, life jackets, or navigation tools.
Depending on the location and the rental company, you may also have the option to hire a captain or crew to handle the boat while you relax and enjoy the scenery.
Try extreme sports like white water rafting or skydiving
Trying extreme sports is one of our favourite adventurous summer vacation ideas, offering an adrenaline rush and the opportunity to challenge yourself physically and mentally while experiencing stunning natural landscapes.
White water rafting means navigating a fast-moving river or rapids in an inflatable raft, usually (hopefully, if you’re a beginner!) with a guide or instructor. This activity requires teamwork, strength, and quick reflexes, as you work to steer the raft and avoid obstacles. There are many levels of difficulty when it comes to white water rafting, so choose a route that matches your skill level and experience.
Skydiving is jumping from a plane or other high-altitude structure, usually with an instructor attached to your back via a harness. During the freefall, you’ll experience the sensation of flying and the rush of wind rushing past you at high speeds. After the parachute is deployed, you’ll float gently back down to earth, with views of the surrounding scenery stretching beneath you … it’s super dreamy.
These and other extreme sports require a certain level of physical fitness, mental preparation, and proper safety equipment and instruction (and travel insurance) so it’s essential to choose a reputable provider that adheres to safety standards and to follow all instructions from your guide.
Go on a wellness retreat to focus on self-care
A wellness retreat is a vacation or getaway that offers health, relaxation, and well-being with a range of activities and services designed to help guests reduce stress, improve fitness, and enhance mental and emotional wellness.
Wellness retreats vary in length and intensity, from a weekend summer getaway to a longer, more immersive experience. Some typical features of wellness retreats include yoga and meditation classes, spa treatments, healthy meals, fitness activities such as hiking or kayaking, and workshops on mindfulness, nutrition, and stress management.
Wellness retreats can be found worldwide, from remote nature settings to urban centres, and cater to a super wide range of interests and preferences. You have probably heard of them as they are popular among those seeking to recharge, detox, or simply take a break from the stresses of daily life.
Embark on a cider or craft beer tour to sample local brews
Travelling on a cider or craft beer-tasting tour is a must-do summer activity for any foodie or drink enthusiast. One of the best things about tasting tours is that they allow you to sample various flavours and styles. Plus, you’ll learn about the brewing process, the different ingredients used, and the unique history and culture behind each brew.
But it’s not just about the drinks themselves – it’s also about the experience. On a craft beer or cider tour, you get to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers, who share a passion for great food and drink. You’ll visit local breweries and cideries, learn about the region’s history and culture, and get a taste of the local way of life.
And let’s not forget about the scenery. Many cider and craft beer tasting tours (wine tours, too, of course!) take you through some of the most picturesque regions in the world, from rolling hills and vineyards to quaint towns and villages. Trust me on this particular summer vacation idea.
Stay in a treehouse or a hobbit hole for a whimsical experience
Looking for an unforgettable summer travel experience? Look no further than staying in a treehouse, dome, or a hobbit hole. These unique accommodations offer a one-of-a-kind experience that you won’t soon forget.
Staying in a treehouse allows you to reconnect with nature in a way that’s truly magical. Waking up to birds singing and the rustling of leaves in the wind is an experience unlike any other. You’ll feel like you’re living in a fairytale as you climb up a ladder to your cozy little nest perched high up in the trees. Bring books for a digital retreat.
Staying in a hobbit hole offers a charming and enchanting experience. What’s a hobbit hole? These cozy underground dwellings are reminiscent of the idyllic homes in the Shire, as seen in the “Lord of the Rings” movies. It’s like stepping into a storybook as you curl up by the fireplace with a good book and a cup of tea.
Pack your bags, leave behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and get ready to immerse yourself in a world of whimsy and enchantment.
Tour abandoned places or ghost towns for a spooky adventure
Touring abandoned places or ghost towns is a must-try if you’re looking for a unique adventure that’ll give you chills down your spine. I’ve had the chance to explore a few of these (like this one in Kitsault, B.C), and it was an unforgettable experience each time.
There’s something incredibly eerie about walking through a deserted town or an abandoned building frozen in time. The silence is deafening, broken only by the creaking of old doors and the rustling of leaves in the wind. The walls that were once alive with laughter and conversation are now nothing but remnants of the past.
It’s fascinating to see how nature has taken over these once-thriving places too. Trees grow through the roofs of old houses, and vines snake their way up the walls. You can almost feel the history and energy of the place around you, even though it’s now just a shadow of its former self.
Of course, exploring abandoned places can be dangerous, and you should always take the necessary precautions. But with proper planning, it’s an experience that’s both thrilling and awe-inspiring and the perfect addition to your summer vacation ideas list.
Rent a van or RV and hit the road for a mobile vacation
There is nothing like a summer road trip to break out of the every day, explore different destinations and experience the freedom of a mobile lifestyle. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, travel at your own pace, and have the flexibility to change plans or routes as you go.
Converted vans or RVs can range from simple, DIY conversions to high-end luxury vehicles with all the amenities of a hotel room. Some standard features of converted vans or RVs include sleeping areas, kitchenettes, and bathroom facilities. Some may also have rooftop decks, solar panels, and off-road capabilities!
Renting a converted van or RV offers several advantages, such as cost savings on accommodations, the ability to customize your itinerary, and the convenience of having everything you need in one vehicle.
Many rental companies specialize in converted vans or RVs, ranging from large chains to small, local businesses. Choose a reputable rental company that offers reliable and well-maintained vehicles, appropriate insurance coverage and roadside assistance, just in case.
Stay in an underwater hotel for an unforgettable experience
There’s something special about a hotel room with a breathtaking view, whether it’s overlooking African plains from a safari lodge or admiring the New York City skyline from the penthouse suite of a top-rated hotel. But what if we told you some hotels take “room with a view” to a new level?
We’re talking about underwater hotels that let you fall asleep to the sound of gentle waves and watch exotic fish swim past your windows. These luxurious properties offer a unique and unforgettable experience from Dubai to Australia.
Check out this fabulous list of underwater hotels from Conde Nast to add to your summer vacation ideas bucket list!