What should I do over winter break?
October 18, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Where should I go for winter break?

Background: I'm a senior in college who has lived in his dorm for the last 3 years (including all summer, winter and spring breaks). I want to spend 2-3 weeks doing something crazy over winter break, most likely travelling alone but possibly with one other person (I'm male, sorry cgs).

I'll have 3-5 thousand to spend on the trip. The only country I've been to is Canada. I only know english, so that is an issue. I'd love to go to New Zealand, but the transportation is too expensive. I'm a comp sci student who will probably spend the next 5 years in a lab, so I'd love to do something crazy outdoors (think climbimg Kilimanjaro). I don't want to go somewhere where I'll be stuck in the touristy areas. Nature is a plus, bars are a plus. I want to hike, swim, kayak, bike....

Departing from CT, USA. Free dates are cec. 17th through Jan 17.

posted by null terminated to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total)
Response by poster: *dec. 17th
posted by null terminated at 10:52 AM on October 18, 2005

I was going to suggest New Zealand, but it seems you've ruled it out, but my real point was - somewhere southern hemisphere. There is nothing like a few weeks of summer in the middle of winter to rip the guts out of winter :)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:53 AM on October 18, 2005

argentina / chile? Shouldn't take too much out of your budget for airfare, it's the summer, things aren't too expensive, and outdoor activities are plentiful.
posted by true at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2005

If you want to kayak and bike, you are probably going to get stuck in the touristy areas. They just aren't going to have facilities for this in a non-tourist area. As for the hiking and swimming though...

You could go to the interior of Jamaica. They speak English. It's warm. The interior is far less touristy. It's cheap(er).
posted by Pollomacho at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2005

I'll second Chile or Argentina.
posted by driveler at 11:15 AM on October 18, 2005

Patagonia is perfect for you.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2005

as others suggested, south america would be great. for a bit more money and a better chance of getting by on english, you might look into scandanavia (norway or sweeden) or perhaps switzerland/austria.
posted by masymas at 11:30 AM on October 18, 2005

Brazil is incredibly inexpensive, and tons of fun.

However, the primary language is Brazilian Portugese - while most people should be able to understand your Spanish (if you know it), you probably will have a hard time understanding Portugese. Many of the younger people will speak English, though.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:36 AM on October 18, 2005

In your situation, South America is perfect. I did two weeks in Ecuador a few years ago and had an amazing time. I chose to go there becuase it is small which makes it easy to travel, while having a range of environments from rainforest to beach to grasslands to mountains/volcanoes. It is pretty inexpensive as well, and really really beautiful.
posted by GregW at 12:47 PM on October 18, 2005

Are you sure the transportation to NZ is too expensive? I went to NZ two winters ago, and spent about $800 on the roundtrip fare, which doesn't seem too prohibitive given what you've said your budget is. (Maybe prices have gone up since then, or maybe I just got a great deal.)

What about Thailand? I've never been, but a few friends of mine go regularly (and they don't speak Thai beyond a few basic phrases they picked up ahead of time) and I believe December/January is the optimal time, weather-wise. Plenty of jungle treks, scuba diving, etc. to be had.
posted by scody at 1:22 PM on October 18, 2005

Volunteer work in New Orleans!
posted by craniac at 1:37 PM on October 18, 2005

Response by poster: scody: I would still love to go there, but tickets I could find are around $2K and I couldn't tell if that was one way.
posted by null terminated at 2:16 PM on October 18, 2005

Travel illegally to Cuba! It is very friendly and an amazing place, outside the currents of globalization. And once Castro kicks the bucket the whole island will be bought up by either Disney or narco-trafficers (or both?) and the Cuba that exists now will be wept away in the blink of an eye. Go to the Lonely Planet Cuba message board for advice.
posted by LarryC at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2005

I promise I don't work for Tourism New Zealand, but it should be fairly simple to pick up round-trip tickets to Auckland ex SFO or LAX for under 1K...
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:28 PM on October 18, 2005

"Pssst, buddy! C'mere! For airfares, look here.
Don't tell nobody, ok?"
posted by rob511 at 5:29 PM on October 18, 2005

In case the idea of volunteer vacations interests you... I happened to read an article yesterday about them, with some descriptions that matched a few of your stated preferences for climbing, hiking, non-touristy, etc. The following groups have expeditions in your stated time frame:
posted by PY at 6:41 PM on October 18, 2005

If you don't mind the cold weather, you could always check out Western Romania near the Carpathians, although a lack of Romanian skills might make that difficult. I'm going to Romania/Moldova/Ukraine myself this winter for vacation.

I'm sure there are lots of neat non-touristy places in S. America too. I've heard that South Africa is quite nice in January, my boss goes there every year.
posted by vkxmai at 7:18 PM on October 18, 2005

Thailand is a real trip... lots of islands, great bars, women, scooter rentals, hiking, ruins, etc. Once you get there, you can live cheap. Good hotel rooms anywhere except Bangkok for $20-25 per night. $3-5 for lunch. If you spend $800 to get there and spend $60 per day, you could stay for a month on $3000.
posted by kdern at 9:40 PM on October 18, 2005

the Cuba that exists now will be wept away in the blink of an eye

What a pleasingly poetic typo.
posted by biffa at 3:18 AM on October 19, 2005

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