Woman hiking in meadow toward mountains.

Planning a vacation can be stressful. Thoughts of buying a plane ticket, waiting in line at TSA (do you still have to take off your shoes or is it your belt?), renting a car, and arranging a place to stay can make the idea of a vacation seem overwhelming. Suddenly, a vacation becomes an expensive to-do list of tasks to complete, not to mention time away from work and the possibility of going a week without pay.

Eventually, as the work that is required to plan a vacation passes the “this is just too much” threshold, the excitement dissipates and going to work next week seems like the path of least resistance. You might think that sitting and staring at your computer screen suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.

But why does vacation need to be this big once-a-year event that breaks the bank and provokes internal conflict? Can vacation be a spontaneous and inexpensive? I believe that the answer is a resounding yes. Choose a vacation out in nature. Nature is a literal playground, filled with beautiful areas and opportunities to remind us how to have fun. (See this video for inspiration: Nature-RX.org.)

Here are four resources to find inspiration for your next adventure:

  • WTA.org — The Washington Trails Association offers its visitors a free guide to the outdoors, a listing of trails all over our great state.
  • KingCounty.gov — King County Parks Fitness Challenge is a free family-friendly outdoor guide highlighting more than 200 parks and 175 miles of trail where you can seek out adventure.
  • NPS.gov — Washington is home to three national parks and numerous recreation and historical sites.
  • SeattleAstro.org — Seattle Astronomy Society members share their telescopes to offer the public awe inspiring views of the heavens at Paramount and Green Lake Park.