With such a wide variety of lodging options available today, such as Airbnb  and Couchsurfing, budget is not necessarily always the deciding factor on where to go on your next vacation.

In addition to an array of more affordable choices, mega deals, and specials, like Groupon and LivingSocial, increasingly today’s travelers are planning experiences that offer more than just poolside R&R and a tropical drink. Many vacationers view travel as educational or an opportunity to provide services to others through volunteer work or teaching English as a second language.

Here are a just a few of the unique and popular options available for a variety of ages that offer a change of pace from your ordinary vacation:

Roadscholar (formerly Elderhostel)  provides trips for seniors with an educational angle in all 50 states and more than 150 countries around the world. They offer budget domestic trips and last minute specials as well.

Greenheart Travel, is a not for profit organization that offers cultural immersion exchange and service opportunities for teens and adults through world travel. Greenheart also offers certification for those looking to teach English in another country professionally.

Families have always taken advantage of spring breaks and summer vacations to hit the road and make memories. But some families are using travel as education full time, in lieu of a traditional school setting. Roadschooling families  travel year round and consider their unique experiences in different destinations to be all part of the educational experience. Roadschoolers enjoy going off the beaten path and having more time to explore while meeting people from all walks of life and not having to worry about fitting their life into a standard schedule.

However, even the most low cost tried and true vacations like camping or a weekend getaway to a nearby amusement park can seem daunting when faced with the multitude of options available and limited vacation days.

Here are some important points to consider when deciding your next vacation destination:

Your travel companions:

Will you be traveling with young children, with seniors? Will your companions need special accommodations or have specific dietary requirements?

Transportation to your destination and during your stay:

Will you fly, take a train or drive?  Will you need a car when you arrive, or is public transit readily available? If relying on public transit, be sure to print out system maps ahead of time, or download them to your mobile devices for ease of access.

Season of the year and weather:

Beyond which clothing and gear to pack, find out if there will be seasonal festivals that may cause traffic or slim lodging pickings. Know the busiest seasons of the year. Weather may also impact driving and road conditions at your destination.

High Energy or low key:

Will you want to book or schedule planned activities like museums and tours or are you looking for out of the way places to find peace and quiet, a nice spot to curl up with a favorite book, or a good meal.


Frugality experts recommend that you take only the vacation you can afford, in cash or established savings. Will you finance a portion of your trip by credit card? If so, it may be wise to make a payoff schedule in your budget ahead of time, before costs get out of hand. Sometimes, just seeing the amount of work necessary to pay down a large trip may help you decide on a destination that is more in line with your current finances.

Don’t let the planning get in the way of the fun:

If booking plane tickets, lodging, car rentals and reserving tour tickets seems to be taking the fun out of planning your getaway, or if you’re just short on time, due to work or family constraints, consider the services of a travel planning assistant, like Saving Grace Chicago, to ensure that your next journey will start off on the right foot.


Bon Voyage!