Betty Surf and Yoga Camp, Canoa, Ecuador

[tweetmeme only_single=false]For some people sitting by the pool sipping cocktails is the perfect holiday. But if you’re not one of those people, there are now a growing number of holiday options combining meaningful activity with exotic locations to create something with a bit more bite. 

These days, what you do on holidays is only limited by your imagination. So choosing the best option for you and your family really depends on what’s important to you. 

Remember just because one holiday suited your friends or neighbours, doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you or your family. Spending some time thinking about what you want out of your holiday could mean you get a lot more out of it. So before signing-up for the latest fad destination, here are some things to consider: 

Auswalkers, MacDonnell Ranges, Photo: Megan Small

What kind of person/people are you? Are you active or relaxed? Do you like meeting new people or spending time with other couples/families or do you prefer to be alone?? Are you happier in hot weather or cold weather? Do you like trying new things or are you more comfortable in a routine? It’s easier to choose a good holiday if you know what you like.  

What are your values? Think about what’s important to you and try to align your holiday with it. Is it spirituality, culture, environment or education? Do you want your children to learn something new, experience a different culture or spend valuable time outdoors? Or maybe you just want to spend time together relaxing as a family. 

What do you want to gain from your holiday? Are you happy just to unwind or do you want something more out of your holiday like a new skill, helping other people, or getting fit. Maybe you’re tired of your current job and want to use your holiday as an opportunity to try something new? Or perhaps you want to accomplish something you can be proud of forever. 

How much money do you want to spend? There’s no good going on a holiday you can’t afford and struggling for the next year to make up for it. If money is an issue, there are still plenty of breaks that can fulfil your requirements. For overseas holidays, choose somewhere you can fly to with a budget airline, book early, and try to choose somewhere where the Australian dollar goes further. Otherwise there are plenty of options closer to home like camping trips, local music or arts festivals, national parks, or visiting friends and family. 

 Whatever you want out of a holiday, there’s bound to be something to suit both your desires and your budget. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

Cook and Stay has holidays throughout Australia

  •  Master Chef – Want to learn to cook like your favourite characters from Master Chef? Taking cooking classes throughout Australia or in a foreign country can be a good way to go. Flight centre offers cooking tours and courses all around the world including in Vietnam, France, Italy, Greece, Thailand, and Japan. While cook and stay offers cooking holidays all around the country.
  • On your feet Whether it’s Everest Base Camp or a trail in your local national park, trekking can give you a real sense of achievement as well as being good for mental endurance and fitness.  Contact your nearest national park or visit Auswalk for some ideas in Australia, or try World Walks for something more global.
  • Surf’s up Surf holidays and camps are gaining in popularity in Australia and overseas, and vary widely in both level of luxury and intent. Tropicsurf for example combines 4 and 5-star surfing holidays in Australia, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mexico and Fiji with community projects. While on the more zen side and just for women, Betty Surf and Yoga camp in Canoa, Ecuador, is a beginners’ surf retreat offering beachside accommodation, three healthy meals a day, morning yoga instruction, surf classes, boot camp and even cloud forest trekking at US $130 a day. 
  • So you think you can dance? Always wanted to learn salsa, ballroom or belly dancing? Your next holiday could be the perfect opportunity. Visit for some ideas.
  • Voluntourism – There are lots of opportunities to help out while on holiday from planting trees to cleaning-up beaches or building toilets in underdeveloped communities. This can be an invaluable experience. But it’s also important to do your research and keep in mind how your contribution will impact on communities over the long-term. The voluntourism blog looks at the issues and benefits involved in voluntourism.
  • ANZAC special – A trip to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day is like a right of passage for Aussies and Kiwis, combining foreign travel with a lesson in history and national identity. Visit for more information.