Still holding off on taking your next big vacation? Whether you have a backlog of PTO, a remote job, or just retired, here are the best places to spend your extra time in 2022.

By Patricia Doherty
June 30, 2021
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Panoramic landscape of Maldives beach and pier with speed boats and yachts on the horizon
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For many of us, a long weekend or short vacation trip squeezed into a busy work schedule is a thing of the past. You may have retired from full-time work or discovered by way of COVID quarantine that you can work remotely and take your job wherever you go.

Still others are resisting the return to office after becoming accustomed to working at home. According to the Wall Street Journal, more U.S. workers are leaving their jobs than at any time in more than two decades. Some are seeking new positions that allow remote work beyond the pandemic while others are using their skills for independent work instead.

If you're someone whose life has become more flexible for any reason, you're probably thinking about places you've wanted to visit but may have postponed due to lack of time. Perhaps you'd like to get on the open road and explore the country or travel to a far away place. You'll want appealing surroundings and a variety of things to see and do in your free time. An extended trip is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture or learn a new language.

Here are some ideas to inspire you to pack up your laptop, sandals, hiking boots, and whatever you'll need in your home away from home.

Brisbane, Australia's skyline in the evening
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Australia

Australia's borders may not open until next year, but the massive country is full of diverse landscapes and experiences that make it worth the wait — and worth staying a while. A trip "down under" is your chance to see kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies in their natural habitats. In South Australia, swim on Adelaide's beaches or taste the wines of Barossa and the Clare Valley. Explore the Flinders Ranges in the Outback, grab a ferry to Kangaroo Island, or relax on a houseboat on the Murray River.

Thrill to the scenery of Sydney with its iconic Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and famous beaches. Feed kangaroos at one of several wildlife parks, and explore Australia's Aboriginal culture in the New South Wales Outback and Mutawintji National Park. Dive, snorkel, or cruise the Great Barrier Reef, visit Perth in Western Australia, and explore the Outback in the country's largest state. Don't miss cosmopolitan Brisbane, capital of Queensland, and a visit to nearby Lone Pine, the world's largest koala sanctuary.

Cruise

Start with a week-long river cruise along the Rhine or Danube in Europe or, for an extended experience, combine several European river cruises. You can venture to Africa for 10 days of exploring the "Secrets of Egypt and the Nile" or 17 days in Africa's national parks, Victoria Falls, and Serengeti.

For an even longer getaway, world cruises can keep you on the sea for the better part of a year as long as your bank account can handle it. Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and other cruise companies offer a variety of itineraries. You can experience the Galapagos in a luxury yacht or on one of several adventures offered by Celebrity Cruises. If sailing among the islands of the South Pacific sounds dreamy, check out Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Cunard Line's 20-day cruise boarding in Sydney, Australia.

By the way, most cruise ships offer internet and Wi-Fi with varying prices, bandwidth, and speed, so if you're planning to be productive on your cruise, check that out first.

Highway 1 turn with ocean
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Road Trip

California's Highway 1 is one of the best known drives in the country, and rather than just cruising the road, you have time for leisurely stops along the way. Spend time in San Diego if you're starting on the southern end, enjoying downtown's restaurants and the coastal beaches. Orange County offers picturesque beach towns, Disneyland, and artsy Laguna Beach. You can spend a week in Los Angeles and not see all the city has to offer.

Drive up the Central Coast through wine country in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, and Edna Valley, continuing on the Highway 1 Discovery Route. Spend a few days in the area's charming towns to get the real flavor of California's history and agricultural bounty. Big Sur, the Monterey Peninsula, redwoods, and the rugged northern coast will keep you fascinated for days. Make some time for inland detours too.

On the East Coast, starting around Jacksonville near Florida's border with Georgia, charming Amelia Island is just offshore. Head south from there on Scenic Highway A1A, a two-lane road lying between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway along beaches, nature trails, estuaries, and preserves. Spend some time in luxurious Ponte Vedra Beach and America's oldest city, St. Augustine. Continue south surrounded by the sea for spectacular views, delicious seafood, and a leisurely drive. Tour the Kennedy Space Center and perhaps take a detour to Orlando where you'll find theme parks and lots more. Take your time and stay on Highway 1 clear down to Key West where you'll want to kick back and enjoy sunset in the southernmost point of the U.S.

Singapore and Maldives

Halfway around the world and worth every minute of flight time, Singapore is one of the most exciting cities (it's a city, nation, and island) in the world. The airport alone is a wondrous destination with gardens, fountains, restaurants, shopping, and ever-changing attractions. From there, you'll find fascinating culture, delicious food at hawker markets, the stunning Gardens by the Bay, and lush Botanic Gardens. Be sure to sip a Singapore Sling at historic Raffles Hotel's Long Bar where the cocktail originated.

Republic of Maldives, an archipelago of more than a thousand tiny islands in the Indian Ocean southwest of India, offers the exotic island lifestyle and clear turquoise seas. Upscale resorts are set on their own islands, but it's also possible to enjoy the islands on a budget by staying in one of the many guesthouses. You can truly experience the local culture, cuisine, and lifestyle in an informal setting. Snorkeling, diving, surfing, fishing, and boating among the islands are just a few things to do, and there's always time to work on your tan.

Costa Rica

Looking for "pura vida?" You'll find it in Central America's Costa Rica where it's more than just a phrase — it's a lifestyle. The country's natural beauty, geographical variety, and biodiversity make it a perfect place to spend a long visit. Beach lovers can choose the Caribbean's clear waters, sandy beaches, and shorefront hiking trails or the Pacific's surfing, diving, snorkeling, and fishing on Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula.

Explore Costa Rica's national parks, wildlife refuges, biological reserves, and protected areas for hiking, bird watching, and learning about the country's flora and fauna. Arenal Volcano National Park in the northwest and Ballena National Marine Park on the west coast are just two of the country's 29 national parks.

Stay in a luxury resort, a hillside retreat in the central valley, or an eco-lodge set in a jungle rainforest. Wherever you decide to make your temporary home in Costa Rica, you'll quickly understand the meaning of pura vida.

Trading Places

Well, not literally, but if you live in an urban environment, you might want to experience life in a small town. And, if your home is in a small town and you wonder what life is like in the big city, you can find out with an extended visit. Short vacations as a tourist don't quite provide a true picture of daily life.

America offers quaint towns from coast to coast and north to south, most with Airbnbs available for extended stays. Towns you may not have heard of like Greenville, South Carolina; Chatham, New York; and Shelbyville, Kentucky might surprise you with the richness of life there.

On the other hand, you've heard of most of the cities, but what is it like to really live in one? Pack up and experience the restaurants, museums, attractions, and lifestyle of the city. If this is beginning to sound like the fable of the town mouse and the country mouse, it's close, but you won't know how your story will turn out until you give it a try.