I either have time but no money or money but no time. This question concerns the first scenario.
December 4, 2012 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I am lucky (?) enough to have 6 weeks of unpaid 'vacation' in December/January. Some of it I'll use visiting family for the holidays, but I still have a month or so free. What exciting thing(s) can I do with myself during that time that won't cost too much money? Say... $1000-2000 (or less!)

I am looking for something to do with myself starting after new years for 2-4 weeks. I would prefer to go somewhere. I do not have a car. My standards for room and board are pretty low-- I am cool with hostels or camping (weather permitting) or other cheap options. I would be flying/traveling out of Chicago or Providence/Boston/NYC.

I'm primarily just wanting to use this time for something other than watching 30 Rock reruns in my bed. I just want to learn something new or do something interesting, and I would prefer I got to go somewhere new to do it-- so a trip or a cheap class or a project I could latch on to... anything like that.

I'm 25, I like outdoorsy things, artsy things, learning new things, and I would love to take a trip somewhere where it is sunny and doesn't get dark at four in the afternoon.

I'm definitely open to something international if in budget-- I have a passport and a fair amount of experience traveling, including in the developing world. I speak some spanish.

I know this question is wide open and vague, I'm just looking for ideas.
posted by geegollygosh to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I should have set my budget at ~$1000. I'd be willing to go up to 2k, but only for something really amazing.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:07 PM on December 4, 2012

How about wwoofing? Or you could try to find a house/pet-sitting gig somewhere nice (many people are looking for sitters for the holidays).
Have fun!
posted by travelwithcats at 7:14 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Sidhedevil at 7:15 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and do a Spanish intensive with family home stay. I recommend the Proyecto Linguistico Quetzaltco. (no affiliation - just a former student)
posted by rosa at 7:27 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would you enjoy a train trip? I like taking Amtrak when I have time to spare - this country is made of incredibly beautiful scenery, and I find looking at it relaxing and inspiring.

I've taken the train from NYC to Chicago ($125), stayed at the nice Chicago hostel, took the train through the southwest to Albuquerque ($162), stayed at a cheap motel, and continued on the train to LA ($106). I've also taken the train from LA to the Bay Area ($56), and you can go from the Bay Area to Portland ($100), which has two nice hostels, and from Portland to Seattle ($32), which has the best hostel. You could then take a flight back to your target city ($200-300). The hostels I've visited were $30-40ish/night for the shared rooms.

In other words, you could set up a wonderfully extensive American train trip adventure for $1000 - maybe not all of those stops I listed above, but you could catch a number of great cities. I just wouldn't recommend spending more than 24 hours on a train at a time; I start feeling claustrophobic at about that point, and it's not easy to sleep in coach anyway, so I always alternate nights of train sleep with nights of real sleep in a bed. I've also chosen to spend extra on private hostel rooms sometimes, since the constant people-everywhere thing of train + hostel travel can wear me down.

Here are photos from my NYC-LA trip, here are photos from northern CA to central CA on the train, and here are photos from LA to central CA on the train.
posted by dreamyshade at 10:09 PM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Looks like you could get a flight from Chicago to Cancun for about $500. I don't know what a backpackers budget in Mexico is these days but I would think you could be comfortable for $100 a week? That part of the world is amazing--jungles, beaches, Mayan ruins, native culture. For extra wonderfulness go to La Palma in Mexico and pay the mail boat to take you to Naranjo, Guatemala along the Usamacinta river.
posted by LarryC at 12:25 AM on December 5, 2012

Cargo Ship travel has traditionally been a good option for people with time and a spirit of adventure - but not so much money.

Or you could go and climb Roraima.
posted by rongorongo at 3:48 AM on December 5, 2012

A last minute cruise might be the thing. You can get the cheapest room there is, and just float around for a few weeks. Get off the boat wherever it lands, wander around.

Your meals are taken care of, and you can use the gym, pool, etc. It's a pretty luxurious vacation and it can be dirt-cheap if you don't care where you go.

Even with a single-suppliment, you can book a series of back-to-back voyages and still stay within your budget.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:26 AM on December 5, 2012

Do you have other friends/family you can visit? If it was me I would spend at least a week or two surfing the couches and guest rooms of my cousins and college friends. (I have friends and family who live in or near interesting places, so even when they're at work I can get out and go to a museum, go on a hike, etc. If your friends mostly live in, like, oil field boom towns or outer-ring suburbs of boring cities, this is probably bad advice.)
posted by mskyle at 6:29 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older How to unlock a Nokia phone?   |   House is full of toxic fumes from neighbor's... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.