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5 Non-Traditional Holiday Vacation Ideas

(credit: Rand Yagi)

Are you looking for something different this holiday season? With little time to waste, you can still avoid the stress of staying home amid all of the holiday decorating and planning parties by escaping to a place not commonly associated with this very special time of year. While it might be nice to stay in a unique place like an ice hotel or savor a hot buttered rum on an exotic beach, it's more practical to find a place closer to home that that bears no resemblance to any other holiday you've ever experienced. Here are five vacation ideas for a nontraditional holiday.

Backpacking Trip

With a little bit of planning, a backpacking trip over the holidays can be an adventure you won't forget anytime soon. Far from holiday lights, crowds of people and everything else associated with this time of year, you can set out on a road trip then camp out under the natural glow of the stars above. Of course, weather will play a critical factor in your decision during this time of year. But if a backpacking trip to a national or state park seems practical, you might end up saving yourself some extra money in avoiding a traditional holiday vacation. And if the weather is nice where you're headed, you don't necessarily have to bring a car. Instead, consider a holiday road trip on your bike or motorcycle.

Houseboats (credit: Randy Yagi)

Houseboat Rental

Although sleeping onboard a yacht might be out of the question, a houseboat rental can provide a completely different holiday experience. If it seems a bit outlandish, especially with so little time to decide, try picturing yourself with your loved one or family celebrating the holidays onboard a stately 75-foot houseboat. Adding to the appeal is the fact that most houseboats are equipped with all the comforts of a typical, land-locked house, such as satellite TV, multiple bedrooms, bathrooms and even a hot tub. Because houseboat rentals come in a wide range of pricing, try visiting reliable vacation rental sites like VRBO or House Boating and see what you can find for your desired destination.

Recreational Vehicle (credit: Randy Yagi)

RV Trip/Campervans

If you already own an RV, you may already have it packed and ready to head out on America's highways. But if an RV trip seems appealing, you can either find a local RV dealer near you or browse the selections from national RV rental companies like El Monte RV and Cruise America. Between the two, Cruise America has far more locations across the country, with nearly triple the number of its competitor. However, Cruise America only offers three styles of rental vehicles, whereas El Monte offers three different styles, along with towable trailers. If the notion of maneuvering a 25 to 40-foot vehicle seems imposing, then a towable trailer might be the better and more affordable option. Another option that would be easier than either an RV or trailer is a campervan. Unfortunately, campervan rentals seem restricted to just a few destinations nationwide, such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Las Vegas. Recommended campervan rental companies include Escape Campervans, Wicked Campers and Lost Campers. Whatever you decide, you must familiarize yourself with the rental policies and provisions from the company you select.

Treehouse Rental

It might require a bit of driving, but one could only imagine what it would be like to spend the holidays in a secluded treehouse. If it seems farfetched, a search on Airbnb last month resulted in more than 80 treehouses available nationwide over the holidays. What's more, searches from others reputable sites, such as Flipkey, Glamping Hub and to a lesser extent VRBO, also resulted in a large assortment of treehouse rentals, particularly in coastal states on either side of the country and in the Gulf region. Although the numbers of vacancies have surely dropped, it won't take you much time to conduct a search of available properties. Just be certain to check what conveniences are available in your treehouse of choice, such as a toilet, fireplace, refrigerator, etc. If your lodging preference isn't hoisted up in a tree, you could also consider a last minute cabin rental or even a one-of-a-kind yurt.

Wellness Retreat (credit: Randy Yagi)

Wellness Retreat

Because many wellness centers are closed over the holidays, your options are likely to be limited. Still, there are a few sanctuary centers that remain open during the final weeks of December and into the New Year. Some businesses, like Retreats Online and Retreat Finder, offer worldwide directories of every type of retreat imaginable, including yoga, spiritual-religious and health-wellness. The drawback on a wellness retreat is that pricing for many centers is much less affordable than other forms of non-traditional holiday vacations. The simple solution to that is to embark on a destination trip of your choice with your family or loved ones and create your own self-healing and reinvigorating environment.

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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