Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean piling the kids into the car and spending seven days traveling the interstate. It doesn’t have to be catching a flight to Europe or the Indian Ocean. Sailing can be as simple as chartering (renting) a boat and taking your own private cruise.

Sailing vacations are all the rage these days. Thanks to tremendous growth in the yacht chartering industry and an abundance of training through companies like NauticEd, more and more people are eschewing traditional land-based vacations in favor of taking to the water. It is definitely worth thinking about if you’ve been wanting something out of the ordinary.

The good news about sailing vacations is that they are available in a wide variety of options. You do not even have to know how to sail! Below are three ways to enjoy a great sailing vacation, whether you choose to do so here in the U.S. or some other destination.

1. Sail in a Flotilla

A flotilla is a group of boats all traveling together. Flotillas are becoming increasingly more popular as a way for large groups of travelers to enjoy a sailing vacation together. They are really catching on in the U.S.

Your typical flotilla includes one lead boat followed by up to a dozen additional boats. The lead boat typically carries a local guide who not only leads the expedition but also provides on-the-water expertise. He will know just the right places to anchor, how to avoid trouble spots, etc.

You can join a flotilla either as a skipper or just a passenger. You will understand both options better by reading the next two sections of this article.

2. Charter Your Own Vessel

The next option is to charter your own vessel and go it alone. There are some definite advantages to this, including not having to follow the plans of an organized flotilla. Chartering your own vessel lets you go where you want, when you want, as slowly or as quickly as you want to go.

Chartering your own vessel does require a decision. Will you be your own captain, or will you hire one? According to NauticEd, much of this decision rests on your training and certification. You need the right certifications and resume for the jurisdiction in which you will be sailing. Some are more restrictive than others.

If you don’t want to act as your own skipper, you can hire one. Then you can just be part of the crew. You could also hire an entire crew if you want. Then you and your family can sit back and enjoy sailing as passengers.

3. Take a Training Cruise

NauticEd says that training cruises are a good way to combine a sailing vacation with on-the-water training. Training cruises are ideal for both new sailors and their experienced counterparts looking to improve their skills or earn new certifications. These vacations are harder to find, but they are out there.

Note that a training cruise involves a lot of work. You are not there just to see the sights and enjoy the water; you are there to learn how to safely sail your vessel under a variety of conditions. It is an option that’s well worth it if you want to learn to sail but have limited vacation time. Taking online sailing theory courses prior to the trip can reduce the amount of learning on the water.

A great sailing vacation can be yours if you are willing to give it a shot. If you’ve had your fill of beach-side resorts, campgrounds, and theme park vacations, take a look at what’s available in the chartering sector. You just may find a new way to describe the perfect vacation.