When most people think about vacations they envision relaxing, lazing about, and generally baking in the sun until the cubicle comes calling again. Here is my entire argument why you should skip that (at least once) and go do a more active, helpful, nontraditional vacation.

Nontraditional Vacation Background


In 2008 I joined up with an archaeological dig excavating Mt Zion in Jerusalem, Israel. Mt Zion is better known as the neighborhood in which Jesus was brought before going before Pontius Pilate. it was a life-changing experience.


A former coworker of mine and her husband flew down to New Orleans a year after Katrina to help Habitat for Humanity rebuild. Navigating a city not even close to being rebuilt they sum the experience up this way; ‘it was like being in a 3rd world country, but worse.’

They grew up in a 3rd world country.

Another coworker of mine does mission trips. In recent memory he’s been out to Mozambique and Recife in Brazil. Recife is renown for its violence. I can tell you from personal experience in Rio, that’s saying something. Apparently all he packs is his faith and a giant set of brass balls.


Another friend of mine got stressed out with the cubicle / road warrior lifestyle and dropped off the grid for a month to learn Spanish in a live-in school for adults in Spain. I’ve been to Spain. My week there rocked. He can now tell me how much fun he had on his trip in 2 languages.

The Real Reason to take a Nontraditional Vacation

You Might One Day Get a Letter Like This

Dear Team Member of the Mount Zion Dig,

As you now know the summer 2010 season of digging at Mt Zion has had to be canceled owing to various reasons which are not within our control. However, here in Jerusalem we will continue working hard to sort through the finds from last summer. Work proceeds on the publication as well, especially in regard to the amazing first-century stone cup with a ten-line inscription with the words “Lord, I have returned…”

But this does not mean that Shimon Gibson will not be digging this summer. Together with Yehiel Zelinger from the IAA he will be conducting a dig at the Cave of Zedekiah in Jerusalem, and we hope to see many of you there.

This excavation will take place between June 27 to July 9 in an unusual and exciting setting. Some of you may already have visited the cave with Shimon, but the work will be in a part that is not accessible to the public.

As was the case with the Mt Zion dig, we will be working Sundays through Thursdays from 6 am to 3 pm, with a one-hour lunch break. There will be two lectures per week…….

I cut off the rest as it’s not pertinent but how awesome is this? I kind of feel like they put out the call for a superhero team… .”Avengers! Assemble!! Jerusalem needs you!”

Have you ever been on a nontraditional vacation? Share below.

Comments (2)

I have never been on a nontraditional vacation, but it really sounds wonderful. Guess I’ll have to try this. It really sounds fun. I would love to take a trip to Jerusalem. I’ll have to put this on my to-do-list.
Thanks so much

Debbie, Jerusalem was suprisingly accessible. The air is heavy with history and the opportunity to literally get my hands dirty working to preserve it made me appreciate the time there so much more than other trips I’ve been on.

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