July 12, 2005 6:20 AM   Subscribe

I need to get away from it all. From my job, from my friends, from the world I call my own. I think I need a week of uninterrupted me time. I usually take awesome vacations with friends, but end up returning home completely exhausted. Where can I go to completely chill, rejuvenate my mind and body, and return to my life refreshed. I will fly anywhere in the world, but would prefer not to spend too much money. Suggestions like The Golden Door Spa may be a little out of my price range......
posted by jasondigitized to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Canoeing and camping in Algonquin Park
posted by deshead at 6:27 AM on July 12, 2005

I'd go visit a city where you know no one. Preferably one where you don't speak the language. Walk around all day (the best exercise), eat things you aren't familiar with, speak only when spoken to (but be friendly).

I think that any kind of "spa" or "getaway" vacation always has a lot of pressure behind it -- what if you can't relax right away? You're wasting a day! OMG! But just visiting a city -- being there is the point, so there's less pressure.

I would suggest Copenhagen, myself. I found it very restful and walkable, with good food, friendly people, and some really excellent museums.
posted by esperluette at 6:35 AM on July 12, 2005

posted by mlis at 6:44 AM on July 12, 2005

Places I've found relaxing or chill-ful:

Big Bend NP in SW Texas.
Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks.
Grand Canyon NP, north rim.
Grand Teton NP in NW Wyoming, next to Jellystone (go there too).
Bryce Canyon NP in Utah.

Not much to do any of these places but walk around and look at deeply pretty scenery and the odd fuzzy animule. If you want to go in the next few weeks, I'd go somewhere other than Big Bend unless you like 100+ heat that doesn't cool down much at night.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:50 AM on July 12, 2005

I had an ex-boss who felt the same way and took off to Thailand for a week. Found a little hut right on the beach and said he woke up to see Komono Dragons hanging out near him and lived like a king on US$5 a day or something crazy like that. After a week of alone time, he came back to the US feeling great. He said it was the best way to really get away from everything. I think it worked, because within the next six months, he'd quit his job (he was an Exec VP of a tech firm), married his long-time girlfriend, and decided he would become a stay-at-home dad when his wife got pregnant and had a baby she had been pining for. He regrets none of it, apparently.
posted by cyniczny at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2005

i find going to big cities alone rather alienating. after a few days i've seen the major museums and am tired of walking and eating in restaurants alone.

what do you like to do? in my case, i like programming and reading books. so what i would do is go to a nice bed + breakfast somewhere (for a bit more company than you get at a hotel), with wireless, and somewhere outside where you can sit and either program or read. and some nearby shops/restaurants/take-aways.

that way i get to do what i would do at home if i had the chance, but without the distractions.

in fact, last time i went to tucson (on work) i stayed at a place called the adobe rose inn (you can google it), which would fit that description pretty well - it even had free beer in the fridge. tucson itself is pretty horrible, and you may not appreciate the heat/rain this time of year, but for me, doing what i described above, it would be just fine.

if i were doing it here in chile i might choose somewhere in valdivia or up the elqui valley. the hard bit here is getting the internet connection.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2005

When I'm in this mood, I go on a meditation retreat. I've been to Karme Choling in Barnet, VT several times, and hear good things about Shambhala Mountain Center, which is outside of Boulder, CO. The Insight Meditation Society has a beautiful campus in Barre, MA.
posted by bobot at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2005

ps if you go there, ask for the casita - a little independent set of rooms at the back.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:01 AM on July 12, 2005

You might try Isle Royale, and National Geographic Traveler had a great article rating US and Canadian national parks.
posted by Marky at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2005

At the end of the summer I will be going to Esalen in Big Sur, California for a long weekend. I'm not going to a workshop, I just want to hike, do yoga, read, get a massage, and soak in the hot springs. Friends of mine have gone and LOVED it.
posted by superkim at 7:27 AM on July 12, 2005

Although I live in New Mexico, I find it amazingly relaxing to venture out on day/weekend trips to every corner of the state. There is something *not* to do everywhere and the scenery really is breath-taking.

I recommend flying into Albuquerque, renting a car and going on a week-long tour of the state, self-paced with no agenda other than to see what's out there.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2005

took off to Thailand for a week. Found a little hut right on the beach and said he woke up to see Komono Dragons hanging out near him

For what it's worth, there are no Komodo dragons in Thailand. They live on the islands of Rinca and, coincidentally enough, Komodo, in the Indonesian archipelago, just to the west of Flores. There are no huts on the beach there -- or at least there weren't when I visited the area back in the early '90s.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2005

It's a bit of a trek and you'll have to rent a car to get there, but there's Kailuum and Kailuumcito on the Yucutan peninsula. I'm a little fuzzy on just how separate the two are, Kailuumcito is the newest venture after Kailuum II near Cancun closed its tent flaps for good last weekend. I stayed at Kailuum II two weeks ago and it was probably the most relaxing thing I've ever done. I'm looking forward to heading out to Mahahual as soon as I can.

There's no electricity, everything after dark is lit by kerosene lamps, meals are communal, and you sleep in a bed in a tent under a palapa shelter. Your "living room" is two hammocks and a little table, facing the ocean. Bathroom facilities are sufficiently modern - real toilets, hot and cold water. It's very comfortable, and also very simple.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:48 AM on July 12, 2005

Kripalu Center (Lenox, MA).
posted by ericb at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2005

The best place I've found for the kind of relaxing vacation you want is the town of Khania in western Crete. It's big enough to have a good market and a couple of museums you can wander into if you feel like it but small enough to be completely walkable, old enough to have impressive Venetian fortifications but unimportant enough that there's nothing in particular you have to see; you can perfectly well spend a week just chilling out at the harbor cafes, watching the boats and thinking about everything or nothing. And you can get cheap accommodations (or could when I was there).
posted by languagehat at 8:12 AM on July 12, 2005

If I were in your shoes, I'd go stay at a bed & breakfast / condo on the lake at Smith Mountain Lake ,VA and do nothing for a week. Something like Ashleigh Manor maybe. It's far enough off the beaten path that you would feel away from it all, but not totally off the grid. SML is a wonderfully relaxing place.
posted by geeky at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2005

I would suggest going to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Obviously, a lot depends on your personality, but personally, if I want a completely relaxing vacation like you mentioned, going to a foreign country, where a different language is spoken and the food and everything is so different, doesn't lead to relaxation. Fun - yes, stress-free - not really.

Vancouver Island is amazingly laid back and beautiful (especially during the next few months) and the west coast is fantastic and so much quieter than any other comparable place I've been. You can learn to surf if you want, you can lay on the beach, drive, hike, explore - there's a lot of relaxing, fun activities that you can do without the pressure of being in a completely foreign culture.
posted by shawnmk at 8:26 AM on July 12, 2005

Chiloe, a small island off the coast of south Chile... to hide-out, chill-out, get lost, read, contemplate, drink pisco sours and eat conchato...
Mendoza, Argentina, wine country, sweet folks, great food and $25 massages at the spa in the Hotel Park Mendoza. (the hotel and the hotel restaurant is great too)
posted by lois1950 at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2005

I second New Mexico. It's the most relaxing place I've ever been. Find a cheap hostel. I liked Taos, where there's a hostel that has teepees.
posted by callmejay at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2005

(Well, Hawaii's pretty awesome, too, but you said you didn't want to spend too much.)
posted by callmejay at 9:14 AM on July 12, 2005

If you're interested in peace and quiet, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is in the middle of the Ventana Wilderness, of which Big Sur is the edge. It's very isolated and very restful. Zen is entirely optional -- we stay there each summer, without any involvment in the religious routine, for the hot tubs and wonderful food. The summer work program lets you stay there fairly inexpensively, or you can just pay (quite a lot) for ordinary guest accomodation.

Or you could do what I did a couple of years back: fly to Manaus and take a boat up the Amazon -- Rio Negro preferred because the peaty water discourages mosquitos. I hired an English-speaking guide and had an excellent away-from-it-all week of hiking in the forest, swimming in the river, etc. Being on a boat reduces the pressure a lot.
posted by anadem at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

One of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had was in Belize, Central America. Specifically, the Belize island of Caye Cauker must be one of the most laid-back places on the planet. If you go there you can choose to go snorkeling, diving, or do abso-flipping-tutely nothing. We ended up spending a good part of our time there relaxing in hammocks strung between palm trees.

It's not terribly expensive to get there, and costs for decent food and lodging range from reasonable to downright cheap. The official language is English, and the exchange rate is 2 Belize dollars for 1 US dollar.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2005

essaouira, morroco is a peaceful place. you can lose yourself there - or find yourself.
posted by centrs at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2005

Big Bend NP is very peaceful; there's no one there. It is the least visited National Park. I stayed at the park lodge when I visited with my family. We went on hikes all day and just absorbed the surroundings.
Another suggestion is the San Juan Islands in Washington State. They are a group of sveral small islands served by ferry boats, with small towns on them. There's not much to do except walk around in the mossy woods, eat excellent seafood and sit on the beaches for hours staring at rocks. We go to Lopez Island, but Orcas is nice and has a few more places to stay.
posted by slimslowslider at 11:33 AM on July 12, 2005

Put some camping gear in the car, a laptop (and car adaptor), maps, firewood and general purpose stuff, then hit the road with no plans and no schedule. Or a vague plan, but nothing so specific that you'll ever feel you need to be anywhere by any particualr time. You do what you feel like, when you feel like it, and nothing else. For a week.

Head in the general direction of something you haven't really done before (eg for me, just recently, it was a desert, as I'd never never really explorered one), and just look for anything or any activities that vaguely interest you. For my trip, this included thing like:
-Looking for radioactive minerals with a geiger counter for fun.
-Looking for scorpians with a UV lamp (they glow).
-Exploring shallow caves.
-Sitting in the tent creating stuff on the laptop.
-Spending time in visitor centres and tours of natural (and artifical) wonders, plus small town museums, etc.
-Discovering that rattlesnakes are really hard to see until they rattle!
-Lots of stops for ice-cream!
-Rafting on a $12 inflateable dingy.

I was really surprised how much there is to do in a desert if you have no plans and are merely keeping an eye out for anything of interest. The cost of the week was practically nothing - gas money, and about the same again in food, camping fees, etc.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:52 PM on July 12, 2005

Grab a book you've been meaning to read, go to the airport and get on the first flight you can going to a state you know nothing about and then rent a car and start driving. Do a big loop where you drive a couple of hundred miles a day. Stop anywhere that looks interesting. Stay in cheap motels with big swimming pools. Eat in diners and non-chain restaurants. Talk to strangers.
posted by teredwar at 3:12 PM on July 12, 2005

You need more than a week. A week is for visiting the parents. A week is for going skiing. A week is NOT for rejuvenating.

Take at least a month and backpack your way around Greece. I've done it twice, so you can trust me on this.
posted by Decani at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2005

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