Short notice one-person vacation: what do?
May 19, 2015 8:09 PM   Subscribe

I have unexpectedly received a week off work from June 13th to the 21st. Please tell me where and how to vacation alone.

I am a single American woman with a valid passport. I'm 26 years old. I have $1K to spend on airfare and another $1K in spending money once I get to where I'm going. And I need to make these decisions ASAP. Where should I go and how should I get there? I speak English, some Spanish, and some Quebecois. I am unafraid of traveling alone in foreign countries. I am happy to spend nights in hostels instead of hotels. Tell me something impulsive and weird to do!
posted by none of these will bring disaster to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Barcelona. With maybe a few days in Costa Brava.

Barcelona in the summer is amazing, and you can do it right on the budget you listed.
posted by toofuture at 8:22 PM on May 19, 2015

Where are you? It makes a huge difference if you are starting in LA, NY, or RandomVille, Middle of the USA.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:45 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Iceland is cool that time of year.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:50 PM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Germany is always interesting but the weather right now is particularly awesome. The hostels are great and "everyone" speaks English so you should be set! I know MeFites can give you more specific suggestions if you're interested.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:56 PM on May 19, 2015

Where is your nearest primary airport hub, and is distance a huge deal to you? Because I could sketch you out a fucking bombtastic Southern California vacation in June but you will not be impressed if you live in Riverside.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:03 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Getting to Europe on $1000 airfare may be a bit challenging (possibly except Iceland, where direct flights on Icelandair may be available). Google Flights isn't perfect or completely comprehensive, but I've found it's a good place to start research.

Some examples:

Plugging in MSP (where I am, note that it's also a bit of a hub) and your dates, I show prices on anywhere in the U.S. or Canada at $600 or less, with a few deals out there in the $100 to $250 range. Those prices might vary a lot based on starting location and dates.

Further examples:

Mexico City $572
San Jose, Costa Rica $722
Fort-de-France, Martinique $941
Quito, Ecuador $1008

Cities in Brazil vary a lot, a couple are showing up around $900, others up around $1300.

Most European cities are reporting roughly around $1500, with a couple of exceptions.

Moscow $902
Stockholm $992
Reykjavik $1002
Copenhagen $1044

Asia, Africa, etc. look to be out of your price range (although letting yourself go just a couple of hundred dollars higher opens up several more choices).

I've found that these estimated prices can creep up as you get closer to an actual purchase, so don't count on them too much. Do your own research fresh based on your home as a starting point, and compare.

Anyway, if it were me, I'd either try to snag cheap accommodations in Copenhagen, or I'd go to Ecuador.
posted by gimonca at 9:26 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was a recent article on solo travel, maybe in The Guardian. There are wooden vessel, small cobort cruises in the Carribean, now there is Cuba.
posted by Oyéah at 9:49 PM on May 19, 2015

I just spent a week in Amsterdam for work, I think you could do it on your budget if you could get a good airfare. Amsterdam was a good compact worthwhile destination. Of course June is also a great time to go to
Cuzco and see Macchu Picchu or go to Guatemala and do a home stay and language course.
posted by vunder at 9:53 PM on May 19, 2015

Iceland- beautiful scenery and cheap. Direct flight from east coast. Lots of young backpackers in clean and safe hostels.
posted by pando11 at 11:22 PM on May 19, 2015

I've had some magical times in Guatemala, which is easy to navigate by bus and has some spectacular landscapes. Fly to Guatemala City, travel west to Lago de Atitlan, chill, then continue on to Quetzaltenango and the western highlands.
posted by spindrifter at 5:46 AM on May 20, 2015

I'm seconding spindrifter. I spent 10 days in Guatemala this past Fall: 5 days in Antigua (at the very affordable and charming Casa Cristina) and 5 days at San Marcos on Lake Atitlan (at the afforable and gorgeous Hotel Lush). I went solo, and I'm female and had a terrific time. And, things at times were weird (in the best ways). Your $1000 for in-country spending will go far in Guat.
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:34 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Poldo at 6:36 AM on May 20, 2015

Response by poster: I live in Cincinnati, making CVG my nearest airport.

These are so many great answers! Lyn Never, I want to hear more about that Southern California trip.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 3:15 PM on May 20, 2015

Cuba is still at the point where there hasn't been much change due to tourism, could be quite interesting!
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2015

Careful about Iceland - there are strikes for several professions that are ongoing or about to start, including the national airline.
posted by seawallrunner at 7:10 PM on May 20, 2015

I never did come back and answer that - it'll depend on whether you want to rent a car, or want to do so for the whole time. But if you want a little weird in your trip, I'd say fly into LAX, rent a car, go to Joshua Tree for one or two nights, then go to San Diego for either two or three nights depending on what you want to do there, and then spend your remaining nights in LA before going back.

JT's a funky little place - there's the Retreat Center, the Integratron, there's like one bar and it has live music every night (apparently sometimes that live music is a big LA-based band working out their set list, or friends from various bands having a weekend getaway and jamming), there's several spas, a surprisingly good Indian/Pizza restaurant, there's all kinds of wacky accommodations, and you're in The Desert, for real.

If you wanted a little culture shock, you could stop over in Palm Springs on your way to San Diego. Check for deals at the swanky hotels and spa resorts.

Do San Diego for any real beach stuff - Pacific Beach for real beachy culture, or further north from Torrey Pines to San Clemente is just beach, for the most part, though some of them have services/restaurants in walking distance. Go to the zoo or the museums in Balboa Park, go to La Jolla Cove for sea lions and swimming and paddleboarding and stuff. There's really good hiking around San Diego as well. You can find hotels in all ranges, but also try vrbo/airbnb for places that might be a better deal and tucked into one of the good beach-adjacent neighborhoods that don't have much in the way of hotels.

You could also side-trip on do an in-between day in Julian or Temecula for wine. And pie, Julian is for wine and pie. Or take the inland route between San Diego and LA but spend the day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs (which is fairly empty on weekdays even in the summer) in Corona about halfway between. That's basically one of my favorite places ever, and I generally eschew going outside.

From there, back to LA. If you're willing to do the time poking around on airbnb or vrbo there are tiny studios, art lofts, guest houses, pool houses, private rooms in shared houses in areas where you'd be hard pressed to find a hotel at all. You could stay in several places around town or pick a home base and work from there. Go to one of the many amazing museums, eat all the food, go to a TV show taping (I recommend either @Midnight or The Late Late Show, but there are many more, and generally they are free), go to a movie at the Arclight on Sunset, print out the instructions for hiking to the place where you get pretty close to the Hollywood sign. Poke around, go to thrift stores, nurse coffees while you people watch.

Now you've had three completely different trip segments, with no two points more than about 2.5 hours apart. If you don't want to rent a car, I'd say instead fly to LA, take the train to Santa Barbara for a day or two, take the train to San Diego for several days, and then train back to LA. You'll need to plan a budget for Uber/Lyft/cab to get around to some extent, but San Diego has pretty decent infrastructure for the big tourist areas and LA has some public transportation though you'll have to cover the gaps. In Santa Barbara just find a nice place where you can read on your balcony between long walks and meals.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:38 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

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