Unique Summer Vacation Ideas: Traveling on a Whim


By Evan Wade

While there’s something to be said for the intricately scheduled itinerary, some of the best summer vacation ideas come at the spur of the moment—and put you smack-dab in the middle of a new experience mere days or even hours later.

If you’re looking for fun ideas for summer, pack your bags and check these out. You never know when the travel bug will bite next.

The Gas Tank Trip

This type of trip is like a personal challenge wrapped up in a vacation. Rent a car, pick a destination that’s a gas tank away (that’s 300 to 600 miles, depending on the car’s miles per gallon, traffic, and other factors), and go there, stopping at any attractions that catch your eye along the way.

You might end up at a theme park, a summer music festival, or the world’s largest ball of twine. Pretty much any final stop would work, but don’t fixate on it. The vacation is in the driving, and the location you end up in is just icing on the cake. Bonus points if you hop on the interstate and go “blind,” following road signs to restaurants, drive-throughs, and attractions that entice you.

Don’t forget to bring a friend, since unplanned road trips are always better with a copilot (or three).

The Grab-and-Go

The grab-and-go vacation is all about being spontaneous, but it requires a little forethought. Sometime before travel season starts, prepare a bag with enough clothes and other basics to last you a few days, and write down a list of cities you’d love to visit. Once you’ve done that, resume your normal lifestyle . . . and when the urge to travel strikes, grab a plane ticket to a city on your list and take to the skies without hesitation.

In terms of summer vacation ideas, the element of spontaneity is ultimately what makes the grab-and-go so appealing. Having a bag packed and ready means fewer chances to second-guess yourself, while randomly choosing from a preselected list means you’re not leaving your fun ideas for summer completely to chance. For added entertainment, make sure the cities on that list are all places you’ve never been. It’s easier to soak in the local culture when you don’t fully know what to expect.

The New Experience Event

A new experience event is one of the best summer vacation ideas around. As with the grab-and-go, you’ll want to choose a place you’ve never been. Here, though, instead of a city, you’re hopping on a flight to a specific event—one you’ve never imagined yourself visiting before.

Summer is chock-full of things to do, a fact that holds true from LAX to LaGuardia and everywhere in between. Maybe you’ll don a fresh cap and make the MLB All-Star Game your first live baseball experience. Perhaps you’ll end up on Broadway and take in your first live show. Whatever you do, the happening is the destination here; if you’re doing something you’ve never considered before (and especially if you’re following through on a sudden, strong urge to travel), you’ve got the gist.

Open yourself up to less traditional experiences this summer: you’ll have travel stories to tell you might have never imagined.

Embark on your gas-tank trip with a rental car from Avis.


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