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December 12, 2013 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I left my holiday vacation planning until the last minute and I'm at my wits' end as to where I can take a warm, relaxing vacation at any time between Dec. 21st and Jan. 5th without spending my life's savings. Any ideas or frugality resources?

Here are my parameters: I'd like to take off for any length of time between 5 and 14 days between the stated dates, and I'd like to spend <1000 on airfare and around ~100/day or less for lodging if possible, somewhere warm, beachy-relaxing, and walkable (I don't want a car). I'll need a reliable internet connection, and I'd like it to have a little bit of a social scene so I'm not by myself the entire time. Hostels and the potential to practice some Spanish are great, but I don't want to have to spend more than, let's say 4 hours traveling from an airport to my final destination by bus or other public transportation (still don't want a car).

Is this doable this last minute and given the expensive time of year? Any suggestions for location, things to do at said location, and/or resources to do this cheaply would be hugely appreciated!

I'm late 20s, female, based in NYC.
posted by dynamiiiite to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You are likely to find the best airfares to anywhere you want to go if you are willing to fly on Christmas Day and New Year's day.
posted by Gneisskate at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2013

Dominican Republic
(Punta Cana, la Romana, Santiago)
posted by Kruger5 at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed, your best bets are going to be somewhere in the Caribbean or maybe Florida, and fly on Christmas day.
posted by Sara C. at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2013

Have you tried Kayak Explore? It's designed almost exactly for this type of question.
posted by Flamingo at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

On Kayak, I'm seeing roundtrip fares for Puerto Rico for about $600, flying out on 12/25 and returning 1/5. Kayak also will find hotel rates.
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Puerto Rico, though to see the whole island, you might need a rent car. Things to do: Rio Camuy caves, El Yunque (sp?) national park, the phosphorescent bay, old San Juan, including the amazing fort there, which goes back to 1512 or some such date. We found a very nice sleepy little beach community at the very southwest tip of the island where there were no tourists at all, called El Combate, I think.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, Kayak Explore is going to be your best bet. You can choose destinations based on departure month and destination weather (Cold, Hot, etc.) and/or stuff to do (Beach, Gambling, Golf, etc.). The Caribbean and Mexico are definitely in your budget.

Just poking around with the flight cost set to come in under $1000 and the weather set to 'Hot,' I found a destination that would fit your requirements: Isla de Vieques, a small island municipality of Puerto Rico that is home to Bioluminescent Bay. You could get an American Airlines flight that departs JFK on 12/21 and returns 12/28 for $960. A hostel in Vieques will set you back around $30/night, according to

On the same dates (Saturday to Saturday), you could fly JetBlue from JFK to St. Thomas for $810, with hostels around $50/night.

For $671 on Aeromexico, you could go to Mazatlan, Mexico, a tropical resort town known for its beautiful beaches, from 12/23 to 12/30. Private hostel rooms there start around $17/night.

The world is your oyster, really -- enjoy your trip!
posted by divined by radio at 10:36 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to Puerto Rico! I asked a similar question recently and Puerto Rico really hit all of what I was looking for. Someone linked this handy dandy tool as well, it's great for putting in a price and a starting destination and returing possible matches.
posted by Carillon at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2013

Key West.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:48 PM on December 12, 2013

Hiking in El Yunque (outside San Juan) was awesome. I did need a car to get there, but it was like $18 for an overnight rental from Enterprise last August. PR is very tourist-hospitable. Don't know about lodging, though.

Public transit sucks but if you're hanging out in the resort/tourist area/old town you don't need a car.
posted by zvs at 8:35 AM on December 13, 2013

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