Leaving a job is exhausting. Starting a new job is also exhausting. So, what you do in between really matters. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea take some time off to refresh your brain and feel like you have no responsibilities, if only for a few days.
Even better, you can use that time to do something you usually wouldn’t have time to do with a full time job, like travel somewhere you’ve been dying to go, or nurture a long-ignored hobby. And yet, far too many people feel like they don’t have enough time or money, or skip the trip because they don’t have a travel buddy (since everyone else, well, has a job) and forget there are other options.
But in this case, traveling alone might be more of a pro than a con. And there are things you can do at every price point and at any distance from home that will give you the luxurious vacation of your self-care dreams.
Here are six recharging ways to take a real vacation between jobs (no matter what budget you’re on) that will leave you energized and ready to dive into your next adventure.
Price Point: $ Free or Cheap Solo Vacations
1. Tour Your Own City
If you don’t have enough money to travel, the classic staycation can be a great way to go—as long as you’re intentional about actually doing things that feel special rather than getting sucked into running errands.
When I left my last job, I spent the following week exploring New York in ways I never did while I was employed. I went to the Brooklyn Museum and got to enjoy popular exhibits with nobody else around. I walked around pockets of the city I hadn’t been to before, finding delicious tacos and other hidden gems. And I made a pilgrimage to my favorite tea shop that usually felt too far to visit.
If you make it a point to push yourself out of your ordinary routine, a staycation can be just as satisfying as a regular one—and maybe more, since you don’t have to deal with the frustrations of actual travel!
2. Escape Into a Good Book
Okay, okay—I know this sounds cheesy, but hear me out. This really is less about reading as an escape, and more about using your time off to do something simple that feels luxurious.
For me that’s getting to spend an entire day reading. For you it may be going on a nearby hike every day, binging all of your favorite movies, or sitting in a bubble bath (because how often do you really get to do that?).
You should spend your time off between jobs doing something that sounds rejuvenating to you. If that means gallivanting to some remote beach, then read on. If that much travel sounds stressful and expensive but going to a midday yoga class (so you’re not packed in like a sardine) sounds amazing, then do that.
Price Point: $$ Mid-Priced Solo Vacations
3. Visit a Faraway Friend
A great way to travel on a limited budget is to visit a friend in a different city. If they have a spare room or a couch for you to crash on, you’ll just have to pay the cost of getting there and of any fun you have while you’re in town. Plus, you’ll get quality time with someone you might not get to see very often.
When I was between jobs, I found this to be the most rejuvenating way to spend my time and ended up going on several trips like this. During the weekdays my friends would usually have work, so I’d get some time to myself to journal, finish some personal to-dos, or just laze around. Then, in the evenings and on the weekend, I would get to explore new-to-me cities through their eyes while processing my career transition with someone I trust.
Remember—if you’re visiting during the workweek, your host might be worn out in the evenings, so don’t expect to go out on the town every night. Pick a friend you’d be thrilled to just chill on the couch and split a bottle of wine with, and this should be a refreshing trip for everyone involved.
4. Do Normal-ish Things In a Different City
Want something between a staycation and a vacation, where you can get out of your routines but also not feel bad if you spend half the day sleeping in? Find a super cute Airbnb (or regular BNB) in a nearby town and hunker down for a few days. Pick a place that’s far enough to feel away from home, but close enough that you won’t spend too much time traveling; aim for a place big enough to have some cute local coffee shops, maybe a gallery or two, but not so big that you’ll feel like you need to be out exploring all day.
Jessica Greenwalt, founder of Pixelkeet, had such rejuvenating between-jobs trip from Berkeley to Portland that she now goes back periodically. She spends her time there doing things she could do at home—visiting favorite restaurants, getting out in nature—but being in a different city completely changes her perspective on them.
“There are amazing hiking spots, and so many beautifully designed spaces to hang out and work on creative projects in,” she says. “For me there are fewer distractions in Portland than in the Bay Area, and I just feel a sense of calm when I'm there.”
Pull out a map to see what cities are a stone’s throw away—or look on Google Flights for cheap and short flights available from your city. Even if you’ve never heard of a place before, do a little digging online to see if it has enough to keep you pleasantly occupied for a few days.
Price Point: $$$ Expensive-But-Worth-It Solo Vacations
5. Better Yourself With a Retreat
A retreat might sound like a lot to take on when you’re trying to take a break, but giving yourself something else to focus could actually help you disconnect from work.
That’s how it was for Rachna Govani, now CEO and co-founder of Foodstand, who went to the surf and yoga school La Escuela del Sol in Costa Rica between two of her previous jobs. “My mind was pretty calm during two hours of surfing,” she says. “The waves battered me down so badly, I couldn't think of anything else.”
Plus, going a retreat could allow you to devote uninterrupted attention to hobbies you wish you had time to nurture. Govani says her only goals were “read Cutting for Stone, get ample beach time, learn how to surf, and do yoga without worrying about rushing to a meeting or checking my email.”
There are so many different types of retreats out there—yoga, running, art, meditation, and more—that you can search based on your interest to find the perfect match.
6. Find Somewhere All Inclusive
While your first inclination when you have time off may be to explore the far corners of the earth, don’t forget that travel can also be draining. With only a few days to spare, you wouldn’t want to wear yourself out having to worry about planning every detail.
That’s why an all-inclusive (or at least mostly inclusive) vacation—like a resort or a cruise—might be a great option. You can still go to some seriously beautiful places, but since a lot of the planning is done for you, you can just sit back and relax. There are even different deals available depending what type of trip you’re looking for: a resort could be perfect for just chilling by the pool, whereas if you want more adventure you might look for a deal that includes excursions.
Chaya Cooper, a startup adviser and the founder and chief product officer of Click2Fit, chose a cruise because it was the perfect blend of relaxing and doing: “I wanted to spend the time on a beach in the Caribbean, but spending a week alone at a resort sounded incredibly boring, so waking up at a different island every day made for a great mix of chilling and exploring.” Plus, she met other solo travelers on the cruise, so it didn’t feel like she was on vacation alone.
Discount sites like TravelZoo have deals on all-inclusive packages, so they’re usually a good place to start. You can also check with individual resorts or cruise operators for last-minute specials.
Whatever you do, fill the time between your jobs with something you can’t fit in during a regular workweek—it might be awhile before you can take such a big step away from responsibility (and email) again.