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6 Alternative Ways to Spend Christmas

Temporary escapes are a great way to clear your head without necessarily leaving the security of a full-time job. I saw this comment on one of our Esc Facebook groups over the weekend:

random thought… do you guys know of a good retreat during christmas time… exploring the idea of of spending a different one this time or maybe like a volunteering activity or something..

Here are six ideas just off the top of my head – got any suggestions of your own? Do leave them in the comments below.

1. Do the Big Stretch in New Zealand or Spain.

“This brilliant little life coaching company set up by writer & psychologist Rosie Walford has helped people change career from finance to photographic art, extricate themselves from a negative relationship, accept a seat in the House of Lords and move from London to Scotland.  Choose one-on-one stretch days with Rosie in London or on Waiheke Island in New Zealand, book one to one coaching with Rosie or another Stretch coach via email and Skype (an initial chat is free), or, for 2013 and beyond, take an intensive fix on a life coaching holiday in Spain.”

I did a session with Rosie years ago, on Waiheke Island, and absolutely loved it. Read more here.

2. Spend some time in the Austrian mountains.

Zsofia Kapolnas and Gergo Babos escaped the advertising and marketing business and moved to a mountain village in Tyrol with 500 habitants, 1550 meters above sea level, and started running their own guesthouse – check it out.  Read their Hero profile here. Gergo told me in an email:

It’s located in Austria, Tyrol, Oetztal only few kilometers from the Italian border. Ötztal is really a fantastic travelling destination and also a place to live. It is surrounded by 2 or 3000 meters high mountains, with huge glaciers coming down from their top regions. It is full of small creeks and mountain streams which quickly run down on the mountain sides, very often in form of beautiful waterfalls. Actually Tyrol’s highest waterfall, the 150 meters high Stuibefall is just 20 min. walking from our house. In wintertime Oetztal is one of the most popular skiing destinations in Europe with more than 300 km ski slopes:

3. Spend time with TribeWanted.

Ben is the co-founder of TribeWanted: “an exciting sustainable community on a Fijian island.” From memory, they’re also starting up a community in Sierra Leone. Read his hero profile here.

4. Do Outward Bound in New Zealand.

Outward Bound runs courses all over the world, but I’m biased towards the New Zealand one, as that’s the one I did. Cannot recommend it highly enough:

Outward Bound is New Zealand’s leading organisation for showing people their full potential through outdoor challenge and adventure. Established in 1962, OB still operates from its original location, Anakiwa, in the Marlborough Sounds. Anakiwa (near Picton) is regarded as the most perfectly situated Outward Bound school in the world. The natural timbered buildings merge gracefully into the curve of the bay and are backed by native bush. A long jetty stretches to where the school’s small fleet of cutters are at anchor. The classrooms of the school are the native bush, mountains, rivers and seaways of Marlborough. The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand is a member of Outward Bound International. This was founded by Kurt Hahn in Wales in 1941. There are 42 member countries. Hahn was an educator. In his words: “We are all better than we know. If only we can come to discover this, we may never again settle for anything less.”

5. Go on a health retreat in Thailand.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Kamalaya recently:

“At Kamalaya Koh Samui, Thailand`s award-winning Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa resort, you can experience a life-enriching healthy holiday. Our wellness programs offer solutions for detox, yoga, stress and burnout, fitness and weight control. If you are looking for a more personalised wellness experience, our team of international naturopaths can work with you to create your own health program from our extensive range of holistic medicine, spa and healing therapies.”

6. Surf and do yoga in Byron Bay.

To me, Byron Bay in Australia is an Escape the City mecca. So many Sydneysiders and Melburnians fed up with big city life, flocking here to lead more artistic, creative lives – everyone seems to be a banker-turned-surfer, consultant-turned- yogi, lawyer-turned-artist…