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Five Cheap Vacations That Go Off The Grid

4. Hop on a freighter: If you're yearning for some time on the seven seas but a typical cruise is out of your reach, consider a freighter cruise. Not only can you can set sail at reduced rates, but you'll also avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed, casual atmosphere. For a cost of about $90 to $130 a day per person, including meals (as opposed to $175 to $300 per day for a typical cruise), you can see the world, hobnob with the crew and explore life aboard a working ship. Sites like Freighter World offer everything from Mediterranean, Northern European and South Pacific cruises to transatlantic and even around-the-world adventures.

5. Rediscover yourself: Finally, for something completely different, head to the mountaintop -- the Zen Mountain Monastery, that is. During the summer, this monastic training center in New York's Catskill Mountains offers programs and retreats for both beginner and advanced Buddhism practitioners. Introductory week-long Zen training retreats are scheduled for the first weeks in June, July and August at a cost of $250, which includes accommodations in small dorms and vegetarian meals. Advanced sessions, as well as programs for teens and families, art, music and archery, are also available.

Bob Feeman is a former editor of Robb Report and Smart HomeOwner magazines, and now writes full time about a variety of subjects. He's based in Maine.
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