Picking a destination then planning a vacation around that place, is the traditional way to prepare for a summer getaway. If you’re not feeling particularly inspired, though – or if you’d just like to try something a little different – there are definitely other ways of going about summer travel. The trick is to choose a theme or a concept first, then seeing what destinations fit the bill. Planning a trip this way can make for a wonderfully unique experience – and one that the whole family will enjoy.

Here are some ideas to spark your imagination.

Photo Credit: Mark Kaletka

Immerse Yourself in History

Families that want to learn together – while still getting to explore and experience new and exciting places – should consider a history-themed getaway. Sit down together and think about a historical event that fascinates all of you, then choose destinations that exemplify that topic. For instance, Civil war buffs could plan their travel around major battlefields; presidential historians might choose the birthplaces of former U.S. presidents.

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Bring Your Favorite Book to Life

Avid readers often find planning a vacation around the place where their favorite book or book series is based to be tremendously fun. Harry Potter fans, for example, might jet out to London and other places described by J.K. Rowling in her popular series; those who love the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn might head over to Hannibal, Missouri, where most of those novels take place.

Photo Credit: Peter Miller

Discover Your Roots

It’s easier to get the kids excited about their ancestry and passionate about genealogy when you bring them to the places where their forebears once lived. Map out a few prime places where your family’s ancestors used to live, and plan a trip around them. If you had ancestors who once traveled through Ellis Island, try to include it on your vacation; such places can bring one’s roots into living color in a fun, enchanting way.

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Pay it Forward

More people are incorporating voluntourism into their travels than ever before. Locate places in your own country – or around the world – where help is needed; be sure to select ones that aren’t fraught with peril, of course. While there, you and your family can go to work to help out those who are in need, while exploring the surrounding area for fun at the same time.

Photo Credit: Cat Burton

Enjoy a Staycation

Every now and then, you just want to get away – and don’t necessarily want to do a whole lot of actual touring. In those cases, it can be quite fun to book a stay at a nice hotel and simply relax as a family for a few days. These “staycations” are pressure-free ways to enjoy time away from home with the ones you love the most.

Photo Credit: Hernan Seoane

Show Your Team Spirit

If there’s a local baseball or sports team that you and your family are especially passionate about, you might want to consider following them to a couple of different cities during your summer vacation. If that’s not possible, a stop at their spring training facilities can also be very worthwhile and memorable.

Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer

Hone Your Culinary Skills

Agritourism has become extraordinarily popular; staying at a working farm as a family and learning a few tricks of the trade can be a fantastic way to enjoy a summer vacation. Whether you head over to Tuscany, Australia or even someplace close to home, the experience of learning a few valuable skills can be absolutely unforgettable.

Photo Credit: Elliot Gilfix

Escape to the Countryside

City dwellers can enjoy low-priced – but exceptionally relaxing – summer vacations simply by fleeing to the countryside for a couple of days. Farm stays are actually all the rage right now. Find a place where life is slow-paced and where there’s nary a single traffic light, then hunker down for a few days and luxuriate in the experience of being somewhere quiet and peaceful. Whether it’s a tiny village or a far-flung ranch, country life can be a welcome change of pace.

Photo Credit: Christopher

Explore the Big City

On the other hand, if you normally live in a quiet suburb or out in the country, a big city sojourn can be a wonderful experience. Choose the biggest city that you can reasonably travel to, and stay at a hotel that is smack-dab in the center of all the action. Make sure to get out and see all of the best sights while there, and your summer vacation is sure to be a blast.

Photo Credit: Pam Morris

Enjoy the Wild, Wild West

There are few among us who haven’t daydreamed about life in the Old West. There are plenty of dude ranches and other places where you can make those dreams a reality – and they are perfect choices for adventurous, active families. Herd cattle, chow down on chuck wagon fare and enjoy wild, vast expanses on an authentic Old West vacation.