Where to go with the girlie?
August 26, 2008 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Hive mind, I'm need of your help. My friend's birthday is coming up soon and I was hoping to plan a trip for her in the upcoming year. Help me choose where we should go.

This September, her birthday will be coming up and I was hoping to surprise her and perhaps pull her away from the mild depression she is going through.

She is turning 19 this September (yes, she is quite young. I, myself am 20) so I figured, maybe planning a trip out somewhere might do her some good and maybe cheer her up.

Recently, I started browsing the AskMeFi's threads on cruises and such, and I found that perhaps these cruises might be lacking on adventures that we seek. Not to mention that alot of people mention that cruises aren't for the younger crowd. I did question her about cruises and she seemed entirely too excited while talking about it. Thus, it isn't necessarily out of my list of options yet.

Alternatively, I was hoping maybe somewhere in the Caribbean sounds nice. She did mention that someday, she planned to visit Costa Rica or Venice or Florence. On the odd, geeky side, she mentioned she wanted to go to CERN labs in Switzerland. I'm not opposed to any of these and sometimes find myself fantasizing about them.

As for the girlie, well she is very adventurous, incredibly smart and hard-working. We used to date a little while ago, and things were progressing a little to quickly and we chose to put it on hold and attend to other matters. I do, however, talk to her regularly and she is a very dear friend of mine. Alot of her fantasies are derived from books that she's read and her list of books she has read and wants to read possibly soon, is very long. For example, the moment I mentioned about cruises, she gives me such a detailed explanation of what goes on onboard, that I was floored. She provided me with references from different kinds of novels and how the main characters spent their time on these 'wicked boats'... Perhaps maybe her imagine runs wild a little too much. Regardless, I love her all the same.

On a side note, travel costs don't mean much to me. I'm 20 and working right now and have managed to save up money for my university tuition. The cost of this trip is going to be coming out of my pocket. I do however, not want it to be too pricey. I still have to pay the bills. Lets just say I'm willing to spend about 2000-3000. The length of the trip would be from a week to two weeks.

Hive-Mind, help me find alternatives to my plans. Or if you find what I'm planning is worthwhile, then please spill your experiences on these kinds of adventures and such you've been in.

P.S Mefite's this is my first post so please don't rip it apart
posted by patla to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's plenty of geeky fun in the southwest. New Mexico especially, Very Large Array, Roswell, various test sites, etc...
posted by piedmont at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2008

From your list, Costa Rica is probably your best bet on that budget.

After you buy the airplane tickets for two, I don't think what's left of 3000USD will go especially far in Western Europe right now.

Personally, I wouldn't be in a hurry to spend such a sizable amount of money on, it has to be said, an ex-girlfriend for her birthday, and spending that money out of what you have saved up for tuition really might not be your best bet.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2008

Oh, and the "girlie" comment is bound to rub some people here the wrong way. You are really going to want to avoid saying things like that in the future.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:21 AM on August 26, 2008

How about Disney World? Super fun, casual, all that and a bag of chips.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:28 AM on August 26, 2008

I don't know where you're located, but Toronto might be fun for you two. At 19 and 20 you're old enough to drink and to get into clubs there. There's lots to do and see in and around the city. You could also take the VIA train from there to Quebec for a few days for an Old World type of adventure.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:41 AM on August 26, 2008

It sounds like you're trying to do something very sweet, but make sure you talk to her about it before you spend any nonrefundable money on tickets. Despite your heart being very clearly in the right place, I for one am the type of girl who would freak the hell out if a guy friend (especially an ex) spent that much money on me. I would definitely take it as a sign of romantic intentions, and a serious one at that. Maybe that is what you're intending to express, I don't know; your language does make it sound like you have more than platonic feelings for her. I hope it all works out for you either way, but I'd hate for the situation to explode if you're just trying to do something nice for a friend. I'd say lose the surprise aspect, talk about what you both want, and make the trip offer on whatever (well laid out) grounds feel right, romantic or not. You don't really lose any good friend points by warning her of the trip ahead of time.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2008

Yeah, I'd make sure she's actually cool with the idea of spending that much money/time with you. She might also be worried that you're trying to get something else out of the trip, and while this may not be your intention at all, you should know that this might occur to her.

Why not propose a place and a budget for a few months away from now and set that up as a goal for you each to pay half of? Saving for it together before buying anything means that if she wants to pull out at any time, she can; it also means that it's a much more "equal" vacation from the start. Perhaps you could also go as part of a larger group.
posted by mdonley at 10:04 AM on August 26, 2008

I vote for Costa Rica as well. You may even be able to score some sort of package deal with one of the eco-tour places that will get you a break on the airfare.

I think you crazy kids sound adorable, but I too have a warning along the lines of you're a kitty's -- two weeks is a long vacation. A five- or six-day jaunt is perhaps more manageable, and will also be easier to do for a reasonable amount of money. (And is a more comfortable gift to accept.)
posted by desuetude at 10:09 AM on August 26, 2008

If you want to go nuts and spend the money to go to Italy, Florence is a much better location compared to Venice. Lots of easy day trips by train to Sienna, Orvieto, San Gimignano, among others. Doesn't have to be expensive - lots of great food at trattorias, for example. Fly into Rome and take the train to Florence to save on added airfare.

It is a lot of money - maybe better spent on a honeymoon?!
posted by sanchopanza at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2008

Consider the weather where you are now and if you want it to be the same or different, warmer or cooler. If you suspect she is mildly depressed maybe something that includes fresh air and physical exertion, like the availability of light hiking trails and such.

I think Maine is a fabulous place to be in September, but not if you're looking for a rockin' nightlife. If you're looking for warm sand and beach I agree with the Costa Rica votes.

You're a thoughtful friend. Have fun.
posted by Breav at 10:54 AM on August 26, 2008

I second Toronto -- it's one of my favorite cities and there's plenty of vacation-stuff to do. However, I also second freaking the hell out if someone were to do this for me without discussing it in Very Great Detail. Talk to her. Please.
posted by coppermoss at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2008

Third Toronto. Or Montreal. Both are great in September and one your budget you could stay at least a couple of days somewhere posh!

Also third the "please ask her about it first" idea.
posted by Waterbear at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2008

Honestly I would try a road trip, I can't see where you are from but if you have two weeks and some cash and a car I would recommend a cross country drive. There is always something to do and see and its a good time of year for it. Even better you could do a road trip of Canada.
posted by hexxed at 1:22 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: A cruise would be fun - of course I'm biased as I'm anxiously awaiting my own cruise in 3 months.. you can easily find cruises for about $450 per person, even less if you look hard for deals - that right there takes care of your room, food, and transportation in one fell swoop. The only other money you need is for your destinations, which I imagine you could get by with only a couple hundred dollars. Not sure if it matters or not, but as you're underage you probably wouldn't be able to drink onboard, but once you're in Mexico/Belize/Insert-other-country-here, I believe you'd be above the drinking age.

As for cruises not being for the younger crowd.... maybe, but I think you'd be ok. What matters more is the cruise line. You might be miserable on a Celebrity Cruise Line, which from what I hear is full of retirees or older adults who want to be pampered and, well, treated like a celebrity. I've only cruised once, and it was on Carnival - there were a pretty wide range of ages there, from little kids, some teens (who did seem bored on day #5), and plenty of young adults (and by that I mean your age up through probably mid-30's). I also have a friend who's been going on yearly cruises with Royal Carribbean since her early 20's so that's another option. I've found that Carnival tends to have the cheapest cruises, but again if you shop around you can find good deals for any cruise line.

Frankly I think a cruise might suck as a teenager (like 'junior high' age teens), simply because everything sucks and is uncool at that age, you can't drink, and activities for that age range are limited to an arcade and a 'teen night club'.

And the destinations usually have something for everyone. If she's into doing 'smart' things you could go to ancient ruins, take a 4x4 tour of jungle preserves, etc. Or you can hang out at a beach all day. Or go snorkeling/scuba diving. Or parasailing. Or all of it, since you're in a different place each day.

Enough about that - one other suggestion mentioned above that I'd also strongly second is a road trip through the southwest - especially if you and/or your friend aren't familiar with that area of the country (and don't mind spending long periods of time in the car). One trip I did in the past was to fly into Vegas, spend a couple of days there (plenty of non-gambling things of interest to see there). From there we drove to Flagstaff, AZ and used that as a base to see a bunch of cool things in that area - Grand Canyon, Sedona, the Meteor Crater, Wupatki Nat'l Monument and a few other things. There's also Zion National Park which I highly recommend - it's in the very southwest corner of Utah, takes about 2 hours or so from Vegas.. it's incredibly beautiful and a lot of people don't seem to know about it. It's on par with the Grand Canyon, just much smaller. But unlike the Grand Canyon where you basically drive along the rim, get out and stare at the gaping hole in the ground, Zion has tons of trails you can walk along, ranging from extremely easy to fairly strenuous.

Well, whatever you choose to do, have fun. And I also agree that you should talk with her just to make sure she's not freaked out by your spending so much money on her.
posted by MarkLark at 3:03 PM on August 26, 2008

Consider the weather where you are now and if you want it to be the same or different, warmer or cooler. If you suspect she is mildly depressed maybe something that includes fresh air and physical exertion, like the availability of light hiking trails and such.

I think Maine is a fabulous place to be in September, but not if you're looking for a rockin' nightlife. If you're looking for warm sand and beach I agree with the Costa Rica votes.

Costa Rica's got a lot of variety -- jungle, mountain, and beach -- to breav's earlier point, there's great adventure/hiking/exploring type tours.
posted by desuetude at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2008

I'd suggest camping for a long weekend instead of some of the ideas you mentioned.

Camping is inexpensive, lovely and as relaxing or adventure filled as you make it. I'd be uncomfortable if an ex spent too much time or money on my birthday. You may have the time and money to spend, but it can still make her uncomfortable.
posted by 26.2 at 12:45 AM on August 27, 2008

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