At the beginning of each year, I begin thinking about planning a week for my pastor husband and me to get away to unplug and rejuvenate. In our experience, a staycation is not an option—we need to leave town. But where does a pastor take his family for a break from the stresses of ministry? Our three children are now adults, but I remember taking trips when they were children. My husband and I wanted to engage in restful activities, but that didn’t work very long with kids. So here are a few suggestions. I have not experienced some of them personally, so these are not endorsements or recommendations, just suggestions that look interesting to me.
- Ridgecrest Conference Center, Ridgecrest, NC—Situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ridgecrest offers a Minister’s Getaway package for up to four people in a room at $49.00 per night, subject to availability. On-campus activities include hiking, volleyball, miniature golf, and much more. While you are there, check out the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
- Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN—I suggest these sister towns in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee because a getaway there is customizable. Enjoy the seclusion and serenity of the mountains as you read a book on the porch of your cabin or soak in the hot tub. Heartland Cabin Rentals offers a 15 percent discount to pastors. A member of our congregation relocated to East Tennessee and owns Gatlinburg Mobile Massage. He will provide professional therapeutic massage in the comfort of your cabin if you are so inclined, and he offers a $20.00 discount to pastors on any massage. Hike on one of the many trails or rent a canoe. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Dollywood, and the Dixie Stampede dinner show are nearby. If adventure makes you relax, or the kids have to work out some energy, go-carts, white-water rafting, and zip-lining can be found. Of course, no trip to the Smoky Mountains would be complete without a walk through historical Cade’s Cove.
- Diamond T Ranch, Clark Fork, ID—Diamond T is a 132-acre ranch located 78 miles from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The ranch offers activities such as fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tubing, hunting, and more. It is also convenient to Schweitzer Ski area. A great way to unplug and enjoy God’s world, Diamond T Ranch offers a Shepherd’s Rest discount to full-time Evangelical pastors. Visit diamondtranch.com.
- Myrtle Beach, SC Ministers’ Getaway—If the coast is your preference for relaxing, this privately-owned condo at Myrtlewood Villas may be what you are looking for. The condo is located 1.4 miles from the beach in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Golf and swimming are on-site with the attractions of Myrtle Beach close by. What could be more rejuvenating than enjoying the beauty of God’s ocean? The Ministers’ Getaway is offered at a special rate.
- Cruise getaway—A cruise ship is an excellent place to unplug. I would suggest doing some research to find the best cruise line and ship for your family, but depending upon your choices, a cruise can be an affordable way to spend uninterrupted family time. We met a nice Christian family on a cruise ship who told us it was the most cost-effective way for their family to travel because of the all-inclusive nature of the trip. That said, some cruises are more family-friendly than others. Just do your homework before you book. com is a good site to consult for information on family cruises.
Whatever your choice, it is important to take time away. You will be a better pastor or leader if you give yourself time to rest and recharge.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.