Vacations just aren’t what they used to be. While families once looked forward to packing their bags and spending a week our two together as they went on a cross-country road trip, today’s kids are more interested in video games than Disney World and today’s parents are more interested in saving on gas than on traveling from tourist trap to tourist trap along a stretch of highway.

However, just because the face of recreation is changing doesn’t mean that this vacation world is dying. There’s just a few different ways of going about planning for your time off! Here are the latest in unique vacation options:

Unique Vacation - Waterfalls

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Eco-Tourism

Also known as “responsible tourism,” eco-tourism is simply vacationing that is focused on the environment and which takes into consideration our effect on the world. Although this kind of travel first started in the 1980s, eco-tourism has become extremely popular in the last few years. To officially be classified as eco-tourism, your travel should satisfy quite a number of the following criteria:

  • Ecosystem protection
  • Promotion of culture diversity
  • Increase of knowledge about the environment and the local culture
  • Minimization environmental impact due to the tourism
  • Lack of waste during travel

Eco-tourism is actually great for a family or couple on a budget, simply because one of the goals of such a vacation is to give up luxury in order to explore the natural environment and culture.

Geocaching

Love TV shows like The Amazing Race and books like Treasure Island, a geocaching day (or week…or month…) might be perfect for you. All you need is a mode of transportation and a GPS System. What is geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing)? Well, when the United States passes a bill allowing the general public access to thousands of military-owned satellites, GPS systems became popularly available.

Unique Vacation -  geocaching

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And when this happened, people decided to have some fun. In modern-day treasure hunts, adventures can now pursue “caches,” which as an unknown prize accompanied by a logbook. The coordinates of this treasure as posted on the Internet and anyone with a GPS navigator (which you can buy for a little as $100) can hunt for the cache.

These caches can be found in a waterproof bag or bucket and many include things like toys, jewelry, homemade items, antiques, and even money. These are always accompanied by a logbook, in which you record your name, hometown, and a bit about the story you took traveling to the cache.

When you reach the cache, you may take whatever items are found there (other than the logbook), but you must leave something comparable in its place.

How do you figure out what caches are available? Geocaching.com of course! Bad or missing caches are listed on this site, along with all active hunts. This kind of recreation can be a great deal because the fun of the vacation is in getting there, not in the destination.

Summer Camp

Camp isn’t just for kids anymore. There are over 250 adult summer camps in operation, with more being set up every year. The cost of these camps can range from $100 (or even less) to thousands of dollars. You can even use the site to find something within your price range. For a day camp, affordable options are definitely available.

Image by BRENT CRISCI

GrownUpCamps.com allows users to browse through hundreds of program options, including everything from Sailing and Golf in the “Sports” category to Acting and Jazz in the “Performance” category.

They even have a category for special interests, so if you like archaeology, yoga, CSI, sewing, or bridge (among other hobbies!), you can find a camp that’s right for you.

Don’t worry—you can also find adult camps that cater to special needs participants, pet owners, and campers who want to bring an RV. In short, whatever you want or need in a summer camp, you can find. And if you can’t? Many camps rent out their facilities for weekends or weeks at a time, so you can even start your own camp with friends or family members.

Recreation—whether you and your family are planning a week-long vacation or you simply want to have some fun on a Saturday when you don’t have to work—is evolving.

New and interesting options are popping up every day, sometimes even in your own backyard. Pick up the newspaper and ask around to find out what new recreation options are available to you.

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