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It's another weekday morning and you are sitting staring at your computer screen at work, reading Frommer's articles, shopping online, trolling the gossip websites -- anything to avoid the reality of a job you loathe. What if you could walk out the door right now and step into your dream job -- would you accept the challenge of actually doing something you loved? If so, VocationVacations (tel. 971/544-1535; www.vocationvacations.com) has the perfect way out for you (or you can give someone you love a jump start on their real career by giving them the gift of change).

When I came across this website, I must admit I was intrigued and wondered firstly how it worked and secondly why nobody had ever thought of this concept before. In a world of people who rant and complain that they hate what they do, here is the chance to take your life by the throat and if you want to, change it.

The people who run VocationVacations are passionate about what they do -- basically fulfill people's dreams. Their vision is that "happiness and passion can and should be an integral part of what you do. No matter what your current profession - whether you're a doctor, teacher, attorney, accountant, sales rep, homemaker or corporate executive - it's important to be true to yourself."

Not a vacation in the strictest sense but a vacation from your everyday life would be how I would sum up the experience on offer. For a fee ranging from approximately $200 to $2,000+ "vocationers" are matched with a mentor and invited into their business to experience what day-to-day work is like in a particular profession or business setting for a period of two to three days. Around 200 professionals act as mentors, and vocationers receive a sneak peek into the reality of what a different career could be like -- warts and all. You can choose to take your "vacation" in your home town, home state, across the country or even in the U.K. The cost of accommodations and transportation is always additional, so you will need to factor these in when choosing your "dream job." Mentors will usually make recommendations and suggestions of accommodation options nearby.

The A to Z (well currently it only extends to "Y" -- they are working on "zookeeper") of professions is comprehensive and covers everything from the glamorous (fashion designer) to the mysterious (pet detective), the delicious (chocolatier) to the downright dirty (farmer¿why? What were you thinking?). In fact there are currently 75 professions to choose from and dozens more are in "production".

My personal top ten (based on the fact that as a travel writer, most people that I meet tell me that becoming a travel writer is their dream job) are:

  1. Brew Master ¿ mmmmn beer!
  2. Costume Designer ¿ is it the ego thing, thinking that the Academy Awards could be calling my name, or is it the fact that I may get to see my favorite Hollywood hunk semi naked during fittings?
  3. Dude Rancher ¿ there's long been a cowgirl trapped inside me
  4. Photographer ¿ it was always my dream, and probably still is, to take photographs for National Geographic
  5. Wine maker ¿ similar thoughts come to mind as #1
  6. Chocolatier ¿ because you are what you eat
  7. Meteorologist ¿ so I can find out why they always seem to get the weather forecast so wrong
  8. Schooner Captain ¿ this is the only way I'd like to take on the High Seas
  9. Private Investigator ¿ imagine being paid to snoop?
  10. Artist and Gallery Owner ¿ I guess I would need to start off with some talent right?

So now for the costs, although I imagine that some of these experiences would be priceless.

I'll start with the Brew Master as I know that there are many people reading this who might have that pursuit as their number one too. Spend two days (Monday to Friday based) vocationing at the Blue Point Brewing Company, in Long Island New York. Brew Master Mark and his crew will mentor you in everything from raw material evaluation, mixing the hops into the wort and pitching yeast into the fermenter, to keg filling (possibly a change from your regular task of keg emptying), sparging and bottling. You'll also learn about business operations, including sales and marketing strategies. The vacation includes two days of one-on-one mentorship in your dream job, and is priced at $599 per person.

How about being a Radio Personality? Dale Dudley, co-host of award winning Austin TX radio show "Dudley and Bob" will mentor you and although it may mean that your alarm clock will be going off at an obscenely early hour for two days, you will get to hang out in the studio at KLBJ 93.7 FM Morning Radio, learn the behind the scenes operations of producing a morning radio talk show, meet each morning's guests (musicians, comics and the occasional movie star), experience "behind the scenes" activities, interact with the sales team, participate in the production of commercials and experience a night out-on-the-town with Dale to enjoy the Austin music scene or a round of golf. This dream session is available for $899 per person.

Try your hand at being a Baseball Team Manager and choose between the Connecticut Defenders (Norwich, CT) and the Fort Worth Cats (TX) for two days of baseball heaven priced at $799 per person.

Here's one for the man in your life (or a woman who likes to live life in the fast lane). Fancy being a pit crew member with the Automatic Racing crew for an entire race weekend -- right at the heart of the action? The Grand Am Cup circuit has race cars from BMW, Porsche, Acura, Lexus, Mazda and Audi and Automatic Racing's team cars are the ever-powerful BMW M3's. With this vocation package you will get a paddock pass, attend time trials, act as team member during races (and get to wear those flashy team uniforms), flag during pit stops, participate in any and all special events with either sponsors or the team, listen to racing team interaction via headset during race, visit with other teams, attend team meals and meetings. This experience is priced from $1,499 to $1,999 per person depending on location of race meets, which for the remainder of 2006 include:

  • June 23-25 -- Mid Ohio Sports Car Course - Mansfield, OH
  • July 28-30 -- Barber Motorsports Park - Birmingham, AL
  • August 31-September 1 -- Miller Motorsports Park - Salt Lake City, UT
  • October 6-8 -- VIR International Raceway - Danville, VA

All Vocation Vacations include a VocationVacations journal so you can document your dream job as it happens, one-hour of pre-and post- VocationVacations dream job holiday life strategy coaching and lunches during your vacation days.

So why not turn that fantasy into a reality, even if it is only for a few days. You may discover that the job you have now isn't so bad after all, or you may decide to quit your day job straight away and take a few risks. Either way, a change is as good as holiday, so two days in a different environment may be all you need to change your outlook on your career and life in general.

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