Creative Getaways

By Hannah Wallace July 31, 2008

Got vacation time? You could fry on a beach, stand in line at a theme park or endure a forced-march package tour of major museums. Or you could participate in a linguistic study of a dying tongue in Papua, New Guinea, investigate the ruins of a lost civilization in Mexico or volunteer in a poverty-stricken village in Brazil. The hot new travel trend of experiential vacations offers a life-changing experience of place—the real place, underneath the tourist veneer. Savvy travelers might consider the following inspired getaways for broadening their mental horizons. 


If you’ve already been to the ends of the earth, consider taking on Virgin Galactic’s four-day space trek in 2009. You’ll begin at the Mojave Spaceport in the California desert with three days of medical tests and training, including briefings on flight acclimatization, safety, regulatory procedures and zero-gravity training. On day four, you will board SpaceShipTwo, a spacecraft attached to a specially designed jet carrier. SpaceShipTwo will then detach from the jet at 50,000 feet and hurtle through the atmospheric envelope at nearly 2,500 mph. The sky will turn black, the rocket will shut off and you will begin a parabolic descent in free fall. The real thrill begins as gravity vanishes and you float around in the spacecraft. Four minutes later, you return to that bright blue marble—changed forever. $200,000 per astronaut.

Admiral Travel

1284 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota

(941) 951-1801


Antarctica isn’t exactly a vacation destination for do-it-yourselfers. That’s why Admiral Travel has designed the Photo Expedition to Antarctica, a 21-day expedition (Oct. 11-22, 2008) that begins in Buenos Aires on the cruise ship Minerva. Your fellow travelers include geologists, historians, naturalists, ornithologists and zoologists, led by prolific wildlife photographer Ryan Hilton. You’ll observe marine and bird life, hike to penguin rookeries and explore glacier-carved coves and shores. Fares start at $9,695 per person based on double occupancy.

Admiral Travel

1284 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota

(941) 951-1801


A Tale of Two Cities, which the Asolo Repertory Theatre premiered to much acclaim last season, is opening on Broadway in September, and the Asolo’s travel club, Asolo Rep Adventures, wants you to be there. It’s offering a three-day insiders package Oct. 21-24, 2008 that includes tickets to the musical followed by a post-theater supper (with surprise guests) at Sardi’s. You’ll also attend another recent Broadway arrival, In the Heights, written by and starring Manuel Miranda, who wrote the songs for the Asolo’s springtime production of Working. A behind-the-scenes tour of Central Park and backstage tours of Broadway theaters complete the package. Single is $2,100; double, per couple: $2,850 (airfare not included; hotel and some meals included).  Both prices include a $300 per person tax deductible, nonrefundable donation to Asolo Rep.

Contact Jamie Schoenfeld

(941) 351-9010 ext. 4702



If your heart tells you to roll up your sleeves and volunteer while visiting a foreign country, check out Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS), a nonprofit organization that matches volunteers with the people who need them. As an international CCS volunteer, you’ll work side-by-side with indigenous people. CCS offers one- to 12-week volunteer programs in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand. Program fees vary according to country and amount of time spent there.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

(800) 380-4777


Another new travel trend: women traveling alone or with friends, daughters and sisters. Women-only travel companies have increased more than 200 percent since 2003. Here are two trips bound to excite the adventurous spirit of women everywhere.


AdventureWomen founder Susan L. Eckert says her Humanitours are “humanitarian adventure vacations that give back to the local people we meet on our travels.” Bhutan: The DragonKingdom is one such adventure, a 12-day exploration of this real-world Shangri-La. Travelers explore pastoral hamlets, ancient temples and monasteries, spend two nights in a Bhutanese-style tented camp, participate in festivals and ceremonies, and bask in the snow-capped glory of the Himalayas. Tour-goers may also donate needed goods to different villages. Fares are $6,295 all-inclusive, with international airfare from Los Angeles to Bangkok.


(800) 804-8686


Adventures in Good Company repeats its popular Howling with Wolves, Running with Dogs adventure tour for women Dec. 28, 2008-Jan. 3, 2009. It explores Minnesota’s Northwood territory and two of its most fascinating inhabitants, timber wolves and sled dogs. After you’re feeling dog-tired from all that hard sledding, you’ll retreat to a cozy, well-appointed lodge and sooth worn muscles in a traditional Finnish sauna. $1,876 includes all activities, lodging, meals and roundtrip transportation from Minneapolis to Ely.

Adventures in Good Company

(877) 439-4042

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