Ideas for a solo sun vacation from Europe in January?
October 19, 2013 3:02 AM   Subscribe

I will be in Europe for work during the first week of January, and have two weeks off after that. I would like to travel somewhere, anywhere warm and sunny. Ideally, I'd like to spend the bulk of the time on a quiet beach resort where I can read and hide out from my Blackberry, but I'm also up for a couple of layovers in interesting cities on the way there and back. My budget for the trip is about USD 3500. Where should I go? (Departure airport doesn't matter, since I can make it to any major centre.)
posted by rpfields to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Europe in general is definitely not warm and sunny in January. If you want to stay in Europe the Canary Islands seem like your best bet, but even there there's a good chance it's not beach weather. Do you have the option of going a bit more south to Africa?
posted by blub at 3:19 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Absolutely, I am happy to head anywhere south--I hear that the Maldives are worth a visit, although they might be a bit beyond my price range. (I would consider splashing out for something really special.) Re: the weather, it doesn't have to be swimming/sunbathing weather, just warn enough to sit in a lounger and read without bundling up.

Thanks for your help!
posted by rpfields at 3:51 AM on October 19, 2013

Maldives was insanely nice, also crazy pricy. You could try Seychelles or Azores for a somewhat similar trip. Cape Verde is also quite popular atm with Northern Europeans.
posted by Iteki at 4:06 AM on October 19, 2013

posted by Kruger5 at 8:02 AM on October 19, 2013

1. Oman. Absolutely warm and sunny enough in January for some serious UV exposure, not hugely jet-laggy-far-away, relatively inexpensive in terms of transport and accommodation costs, simple visas on arrival (for a small fee) for many nationalities, quite a bit of interesting cultural heritage to check out in Muscat, Nizwa, and the ports and fortresses, gorgeous desert night skies and accessible camel safari-type adventures, fabulous mountain/canyon scenery at Jebal al Akhtar, many people speak great English, and it's easy to get around the main sites by rental car as petrol is laughably cheap and the roads are immaculately paved. There's snorkelling/diving up in Musandam, a region full of incredible fjords, and the beaches are gorgeous as well.

Some caveats: There are only a few resort-type places near Muscat with a holiday/vacation atmosphere, and it's quite a conservative place culturally and in terms of dress; I'm male, lived there in the summer (when it is *roasting*), and simply never wore shorts unless I was at the beach/pool or just driving to/from the supermarket or something. Alcohol is hard to come by outside bars and restaurants. This might be a deal-breaker.

That said, Omanis are welcoming and friendly and the food - a mixture of Indian, African, and Middle Eastern - is brilliant too. It might be a lot less resort-y and more active/get-out-and-do-stuff than you're looking for, but you might really like it.

2. Thailand. Once you're past the long flight over (10+ hours from Britain, less from points east), it's got lots of what you want and is good value for money, and it's peak beach-season when you'd be there.
posted by mdonley at 8:30 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incredibly cheap on the ground, and there is basically nothing to do but lie on the beach.


- pretty much everyone you need to talk to speaks English.

- if you want to travel around rather than just finding a beach town and vegging out, there's a whole local economy around scooter and motorbike rentals.

- there's some cultural stuff to do and other sights to see (interesting Portuguese churches, spice plantations, stuff like that), but nothing that's going to make you feel sad that you went all that way and didn't see Macchu Pichu or Chichen Itza or whatever.

A few caveats:

- If you're American, you will need to get a visa for India in advance. That said, visas are valid for six months and are really just a matter of doing the paperwork and paying a fee (it was $60 when I went five years ago). It's just that you'd be doing this before you left home rather than at the airport.

- As mdonley mentioned, the local culture in Goa is somewhat conservative. This is balanced by the hippie scene, which will be in full swing in some parts of the area when you're there. You have the choice of choosing a town that is more hippie-dominated (more in the northern part) or more laid-back and local but socially conservative (further south). There are also a lot of towns that are dominated by European package tourists, which, YMMV on that.

- Alcohol is less prevalent in India than in other beachy/resorty areas. While you'll be able to get just about any type of liquor (and beer is no big deal at all), if you were hoping for a margarita delivered to your beach chair by a liveried resort employee, Goa isn't really the sort of place for that. That said, in my experience drugs are everywhere and easy to come by. It is literally easier to get hash in Goa than it is to get a pina colada. I think that's just great, but it might not be what you're looking for. (Not that liquor or cocktails are unavailable -- just not as ubiquitous as they are at a Caribbean type of resort.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Petra is one of the most amazing places I've visited - not only for the archeology, but also for the local people. I hope to go back this spring. My brother and daughter recently made a visit, and had the same impression. So if I had the opportunity you describe, I'd combine an Isreali or Jordanian resort with a visit to Petra and maybe other sites in the area.
posted by mumimor at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, these are very helpful answers. I used to spend a lot of time in Dubai when I worked in Central Asia a few years ago, and hadn't thought of it as a possibility. I'm leaning towards somewhere a little more remote, though, partly because I want an excuse to tell the office I'm "off the grid" and won't be checking my Blackberry all the time. Goa has been on my bucket list for a long time....
posted by rpfields at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2013

$3500 such a large amount for just two weeks your starting point is irrelevant as you can afford to go anywhere. There are dozens of great choices in India, Southeast Asia, South America, even Africa. Do you have any other criteria that can help narrow things down?
posted by turkeyphant at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2013

Oman is a conservative country especially compared to its neighbor Dubai. Those who vacation in Oman are typically other Arabs who are looking for something more 'pure' than Dubai and such. Given your background as described, i would be weary of an entire vacation spent there. A short day or two trip is possible from Dubai should you want to see Oman.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:30 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: On the off chance anyone is following this, I decided to fly to Dubai and then connect to Goa, where I was able to get a week at a non-package hotel on the beach in the northern part of the island for a good price. On the way back, I will spend a couple of nights in Dubai.

On balance, the Goa option was one of the best for a single traveller, since most places offered a one-person rate. Some of the places that would be good deals if there were two or more people traveling would have been more expensive for considerably less luxury.
posted by rpfields at 5:42 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the cool thing about Goa is that it's well geared to solo travelers. The beach bar scene there was one of the few places I've ever felt comfortable going "out" in the evenings alone, because there were so many other people also on their own or in small groups looking to meet other people.

(BTW, no big deal, but Goa isn't an island, it's a state on the western coast of mainland India.)
posted by Sara C. at 6:18 PM on October 30, 2013

Response by poster: Oops, thanks, you can see that geography and map-reading are my strengths!
posted by rpfields at 7:22 AM on November 4, 2013

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