With economies sputtering across the globe, there's never been a better time to take a vacation. Hotels, cruise ships and resorts have lots of accommodations to fill, and deals are there for the taking. For those with sufficient expendable income, it's also a great opportunity to do something different and off the beaten path. If adventure is your cup of tea, you might want to consider a specialty vacation that caters to your personal interests and skills. Here are just a few examples of packages that are currently available. (Read more about long-term vacation destinations in Vacation Home Or Income-Producing Investment?)
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Many professional sports teams, like the Boston Red Sox, conduct "fantasy camps". They're run by the team, not a travel company, so you know it's 100% authentic. Their one-week, all-inclusive camps costs about $4,500 per person. In addition to first-class lodging and meals, you receive daily instructions from former players, and participate in nine training games. The extras include home and away personalized uniforms, autographed photo sessions with legendary players, a clubhouse locker and access to all the spring training facilities and equipment.
Beyond all the goodies, many people attend such camps to meet some of their favorite baseball stars in person. There is an opening night reception, social events, a barbecue and daily happy hour after training. The Red Sox top this off with an invitation to play in a reunion game at Fenway Park during the regular major league season. (Obsessed with baseball? Read Contemplating Collectible Investments to find out how you can start making some money off of the sport.)
If a memorable culinary experience is more your style, here is something more suited to your tastes. One popular destination is France, where you can immerse yourself into the culture and cooking amid olive trees, vineyards and herbal gardens. A family-owned country inn, the The Hostellerie Bérard & Spa, is nestled in the medieval village of La Cadiere d'Azur. With the Mediterranean Sea as a dramatic backdrop, the inn provides a relaxing atmosphere and splendid accommodations where you can indulge all your culinary senses.
A native of the village, Chef René Bérard uses local ingredients to create a cuisine that is inspired by Provence and the surrounding Mediterranean countries. He conducts cooking classes in the Bastide des Saveur, or House of Flavor. Drawing on traditional fragrances and flavors, the passionate Bérard coaches his guests with personal interpretations of the "cuisine of the sun".
The cost of this six-day adventure ranges from $1,350-2,850, depending on time of year and specific accommodations. (Find out how to eat within your budget, in 22 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices.)
If you're a history buff, you've no doubt heard of the ruins at Machu Picchu. Nestled high in the mountains of Peru, the "Lost City of the Incas" is a unique cultural and archaeological treasure. The remains of this city provide ample evidence of the advanced state of the Incan civilization, which numbered six million people at its peak. This Smithsonian Journey offers visitors a chance to explore the site before the crowds of "tourists" arrive, with an overnight stay not far below the ruins. It also features the hospitality of a lunch hosted by a family in the city of Cuzco.
Beyond the ancient temples and ruins, the tour includes visits to the Historic Center of Lima, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley to Lake Titicaca. At 12,500 feet above sea level, the world's highest navigable lake is framed by the breathtaking backdrop of Bolivia's Cordillera mountain range. An expert leader accompanies the group to provide context and background throughout the expedition.
The cost of this ten-day journey is about $4,000-$5,000 per person, and varies depending on occupancy arrangements and time of year. (Read 7 Ways To Save On Summer Getaways for more ideas.)
Feeling a bit bored and looking for something really out-of-the-box for your next vacation? How about a deep-sea dive to the mother of all shipwrecks, the RMS Titanic? Departing from Newfoundland, Canada, the Russian support ship Akademik Keldysh deploys MIR submersibles that can descend to the ocean floor. The $40,000 price tag will stop most people from making the voyage, but it's certainly an experience you would never stop talking about.
If prying the ocean depths doesn't appeal to you, how about going in the opposite direction? For $20,000 more, you can join an expedition to the top of the world. The ultimate mountain challenge belongs to Mount Everest, first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. In order to secure a spot on an expedition, you must have sufficient climbing experience. You should also know that the hefty price tag does not guarantee that you will actually reach the summit. The faint of heart (and body) need not apply. (Live an extreme lifestyle? Read Extreme Commuting: Is It For You?)
There are specialty vacations available that feature heli-skiing, sandboarding, shark diving, spelunking, gorilla encounters, drag racing, movie stunts and many other exciting activities. The ultimate experience may soon be a ride aboard the Virgin Galactic spacecraft on a suborbital spaceflight. The company is taking $20,000 deposits now to reserve a seat, with the ticket balance of $180,000 due before blast-off. The price of admission includes your astronaut wings and unlimited bragging rights.
The Bottom Line
For those looking to get away, take the time to check out some of the non-traditional trips available. It's a great big world out there and it's waiting for you to explore it.
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