5 Ways to Make Your Vacation Rock Even When the Destination Stinks
If you travel enough, particularly on a budget, it’s bound to happen, sooner or later. After months of planning and saving, after buying those non-refundable tickets and making the no-deposit-returned reservations at the “authentically local” bungalow hotel in the little village in Wherevernia, you get there and… it looks like you’re just about the experience The Vacation From Hell. More accurately, the vacation in hell: The rooms are small and smell funky, there is rustling in the thatch roof that may be rats (at least you hope it’s just rats, and not some form of giant mutant insect life), the staff is surly, the food is awful and there is not only no wi-fi connection, but not even cable.
But, wait! There are some things you can do to rescue this vacation. The following 5 ideas are predicated on the number of people in your party (or other fellow travelers/sufferers you can rope in), the level of desperation you feel and the assumption that the local area is not (a) overrun with bandits, (b) undergoing some sort of revolution (in which case, hie thee to the embassy) or (c) in the path of a major typhoon/hurricane (in which case, definitely contact the embassy and hie like hell to high ground). Life-threatening situations aside, let’s just assume that your only real challenge is not to die from boredom and/or being bummed out at a wasted vacation. Given that, let’s see what can be done
Where there are people, there are markets. Make a trip to the local market and see what’s available. Just because the cook at the hotel can’t cook worth a tinker’s dam doesn’t mean that he or she didn’t start with decent raw materials, so go to the source. Obviously, you’ll have to use common sense in choosing (and cleaning) vegetables, seafood or whatever else catches your fancy – food-borne illness is the last thing you want at this stage – but with care you should be able to put together a decent picnic basket. Rent bicycles, rent a tuk-tuk or whatever the local equivalent of a country taxi may be and head for the hills, the beach or a cliff overlooking the ocean. Find a nice spot, spread out a blanket and munch away while you enjoy the view.
2. Movies or The Theatre
A great way to while away a few hours would be by taking in a great movie at the local theatre but best not to watch a re-mastered version of psycho if where you are staying bears a remarkable resemblance to the Bates Motel. Local playhouse theatres are always entertaining if you watch a local group putting on a production of a famous musical, although depending on the standard, you might be laughing at all the wrong moments.
3. Geocaching (Without a GPS)
You’ve heard of geocaching, right? Someone hides a small object, usually in a container, and then takes the GPS coordinates, posts them on the internet and other people try to find it, using clues given in the post. Even without a GPS unit, you can do the same. Divide your party into two; each side takes their target item and hides it within a reasonable distance from the hotel and writes clues on a piece of paper. The two teams trade clue lists and each tries to find the item and return to home base first.
4. Local Culture
Every area has its own take on culture and with a bit of exploring and by searching out local information sources you could soon be immersing yourself in some local culture. Some areas have a reputation for spooky legends and ghost stories and where there is a good story you are likely to find a local company doing ghost tours after dark, which can actually be a lot of fun. If spooky tales are not your bag what about finding out what the local drink or delicacy is and then visit the place to experience the delights first hand. Even the seemingly dullest places have a story to tell or a recipe to share so liven up your experience and try to take in a bit of local culture.
5. Sporting Activities
Depending on where you are staying, check out the local activities and try and new sport or activity. If you are staying near water consider a fishing trip or if it is a beach resort why not have a go at windsurfing or even flying a kite. If you prefer something a little less challenging what about hiring a bike or even consider having a go on a segway, which will certainly have you talking about it afterwards.
Almost everyone has, at one time or another as a child, sat in their house and looked out the window and sighed, “I’m bored!” That’s silly. There’s always a way to entertain yourself, particularly when you’ve just blown a year’s savings on a vacation that went squirrelly (that’s “pear-shaped” for some of you). Take photographs, keep notes and at the very least you’ll have a story or two to tell the stay-at-home friends when you get back
About The Author: Guest post contributed by Carla Gregson. Carla is a freelance travel writer. She enjoys writing for various online travel publications where she shares her tips and insights.
Photo Credit – FLickr:Ron Bennetts