Do you sometimes feel as if you’re only just beginning to relax properly when your holiday comes to an end? More and more people are choosing to save up their holiday time or take sabbaticals from work so they can go on long-term trips overseas, getting a proper break from day to day life and really getting to know somewhere else. If you’re considering a holiday like this, take a look at our pick of the best destinations, where you can really make the most of your time.
Best for beauty: Thailand
With vibrant cities, towering mountains, deep forests, romantic islands and a rich cultural life, Thailand is a place where you can easily spend a month or more exploring. Standard tourist visas last for 60 days, giving you plenty of opportunity to travel around. There’s a huge amount to see in Bangkok with its fantastic entertainment and nightlife, its bustling marketplaces and its delicious cuisine, but this is only a tiny part of what the country as a whole has to offer. Head north to Phuket for idyllic beaches, go boating among the islands of Koh Samui or rock climbing up their steep cliffs, see the elephants in the jungle or relax your muscles in traditional spas. Visit the country’s golden temples and get to know its friendly people.
Best for discovery: Georgia
There are many parts of Europe where you can find Medieval towns and Roman ruins, but for its combination of history, beauty and affordability, Georgia is hard to beat. From the warm sands of the Black Sea beaches to the lush vineyards of Kakheti and the stunning views offered by the Caucasus mountains, where wild horses roam, you’ll find no shortage of natural delights. Ancient cave fortresses dot the hills in places like Vardzia, Uplistsiche and Vanis-Kvabebi; there are impressive Roman remains to be found at Tsikhisdziri and Mtskheta; and the capital, Tblisi, invites discovery of a different sort, with its narrow, cobbled streets a maze that you’ll need time to solve.
Best for relaxation: Bali
Surrounded by clear, sparkling waters, the tropical island of Bali boasts shimmering white beaches, towering volcanic mountains and layer upon layer of enchantingly beautiful rice paddies spilling across the land between. Its lush jungles are full of brilliantly coloured birds whose calls fill the air, and beyond its shores are coral reefs teeming with exotic fish. It’s surprisingly cheap to stay there and delicious, healthy local food is also available at low prices. Whether you want to swim in the warm waters of the lagoons, go scuba diving among the corals, stretch out on the sun-baked sand or join the locals in traditional yoga practices, you’ll find this a blissfully relaxing location.
Best for getting away from it all: the Faroes
If you want to escape to the ends of the Earth, you’ll find few places as remote or as wildly beautiful as the Faroe Islands. Only 49,000 people live in this windswept archipelago, which has 18 major islands and over 700 in total – but you’ll also find puffins and seals, and see whales sporting in the sea nearby. The most affordable way to stay in the Faroes is in a shared rental cottage or apartment, and rental cars are available with cheap petrol, but there are some areas you can only explore by hiking or kayaking. Within the capital, Tórshavn, there’s free public transport. Tórshavn is a surprisingly diverse place where you can get varied cuisine and enjoy the nightlife, while elsewhere you can soak up the unique culture of the Faroese.
Preparing for your trip
Planning for a long holiday isn’t like planning for a weekend trip to Paris. You’ll need to be a lot more organised. Pack clothes that will work for you in all likely weather and are easy to wash in a sink with soap if that is all that’s available. Take a good supply of USB drives so you can store your photos and writings and send them home where they’ll be safe. If you’re sub-letting or simply taking time between homes to save money while travelling, sort out a storage unit for your things. Make sure that your finances are in order and that there’s somebody who can transfer funds to you if you should find yourself in trouble.
A long-stay holiday doesn’t need to cost much more than the usual kind. If you’re smart about your accommodation and negotiate discount rates for a longer stay, you can save a lot. Eating local food is much cheaper than eating in a hotel and will help you get to know the place. This kind of trip gives you a much richer experience and a real escape from your familiar life.