The world is my oyster! ...for 2 weeks in March. Travel ideas pls.
December 2, 2016 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Previous travel plans fell through, but I have money set aside and time off from work. Help me brainstorm? Must be March, 2 weeks max. I'm attracted to places with a variety of history, culture, scenery, wildlife, friendly (or at least not hostile to tourists) people. Not interested in shopping, nightlife.

I would love to go to Africa if I could narrow it down to something less than the whole continent. March is rainy season in the east? I would totally appreciate some suggestions/direction.

I don't do hot climates well. E.g., loved Thailand but did not want to stay there.

I'm open to small group "adventure"-y tours if they funnel some money to locals. I'm fairly employed but time off is tight, which makes it more appealing to pay someone else to arrange logistics. Been eyeing Intrepid, anybody know if they mean what they say about sustainable tourism, hiring local?

Other places that appeal to me on little knowledge include Croatia/Slovenia, Malta. I loved Turkey, found Spain cold and unfriendly (may have been doing it wrong).

I would like to avoid massive crowds, especially the get-drunk-holiday crew, but I don't have to be overlanding through the Darien Gap to have a good time either.

Thanks in advance.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you like hiking and camping, I'd super highly recommend going to New Zealand.

A year or two ago, I spent about 10 days driving around the northern island of New Zealand and camping, and it was great, and I definitely could have used a couple extra days (to see the Northland area). Camping there is super easy, and it was around the same time of year. The guidebook NZ Frenzy is all about avoiding crowds. This app made it super easy to find campsites. There are sooo many magically gorgeous places there.
posted by aubilenon at 5:37 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh one thing I should add: one big advantage of camping is you don't really have to plan things out very much. My process was basically look through the guide book, pick out the places that seemed most interesting, look at a map, and vaguely sketch out a rough route around the island. While there I basically played it by ear, getting from place to place using data from a sim card I bought at the airport. So not zero planning time, but basically no hassle around booking reservations or anything.
posted by aubilenon at 5:41 PM on December 2, 2016

Sicily sounds as though it would be right up your alley.
posted by frumiousb at 5:44 PM on December 2, 2016

Or Cyprus/Greece-- just skip the sunbathers.
posted by frumiousb at 5:44 PM on December 2, 2016

I'm biased but I wpuld do the Sonoma Coast/Point Reyes. I might do it myself, all things considered.
posted by janey47 at 6:15 PM on December 2, 2016

G Adventures and Intrepid Travel do a lot of small group, adventure-style trips to different parts of Africa. I haven't been myself but I always thought this one looked awesome: Okavango Experience. Victoria Falls, camping in the Okavango Delta and a trip to a wildlife reserve in Botswana. The trip is ten days.

If you're interested in safaris, I saw this article in the Washington Post recently. The person in the article did a seven-day safari in the Serengeti for $2,000.

Africa is a major travel dream of my own too, so I've done a lot of daydreaming and heard stories from friends even if I haven't been yet. I think you should try either Tanzania (the Serengeti) or Botswana (Okavango Delta) or maybe go to South Africa and do a safari in Kruger National Park.
posted by armadillo1224 at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Croatia and Montenegro.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

A friend recently went to Iceland and found the scenery to be incredible and the people very friendly. She did a group tour too, don't know the name or if they're sustainable etc. but could find out.
posted by cathycartoon at 7:42 PM on December 2, 2016


It absolutely ticks all your boxes, especially given that you loved Turkey, and is safe and welcoming to travelers. Here's a collection of recent write-ups in the Guardian. Humans of New York did a trip over there a few years back and the photos and info were a real catalyst to me going.

Americans/British/Canadian people can only visit on tours anyway, many of which are run by Iranian companies - I ended up going independently on a different passport but I looked at Key2Persia and they were very reasonably priced, very responsive to all my queries, hugely helpful with planning and logistics, and are an all-Iranian operation. The tours they run are available at different price points - the 'Economy' series is very basic - lots of public transport and local restaurants, and lots of contact with local people. I was planning on doing this tour and ended up following a similar path on my own.

The visa process is somewhat convoluted for Americans but well-explained and there's not much you need to actually do - you give the tour company your info, they ask the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a pre-authorization code (which you would obviously get), they pass this on to the Iranian embassy of your choice, you mail your passport/photos, you get your visa. You definitely have time to get this sorted out if you begin in the next few weeks.

March is a lovely time to go, and the country will be full of life and energy right before Nowruz.
posted by mdonley at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2016

Go to, type in your departure airport, and see where is cheap to go in March that works with your interests/parameters/etc.

Assuming you're on the East Coast based on some of your past questions, it looks like London, Madrid, and Scandinavian capitals are very cheap to fly to this March. This could mean using one of those as your base of operations, or it could mean flying there and then hopping a budget airline flight to a different location (I think Dubrovnik and Ljubljana are supposed to be cheap from London, yeah?). On the other hand London, Scandinavia, and Ljubljana are likely to be dreary in March. Dubrovnik slightly less so?

If money is no object and it works in terms of weather/season, Accra, Ghana is $903 from Newark in March. Tel Aviv is $721. New Delhi is $542, but March is when the weather begins to get hotter in India. Tokyo is under $600, which could be perfect for you, and the low price implies that those tickets aren't for Cherry Blossom season.

I just looked at flights from LAX, partially just in case you're west coast based, and partially because OMG I miss traveling, and so much of East Asia is in the $400-500 range. Seoul, Taipei, or Tokyo would be amazing in March.
posted by Sara C. at 8:54 PM on December 2, 2016

Iceland - drive by yourself. You can do this in two weeks, around the entire country (including the W Fjords). It's beautiful out there, few tourists. Stay out of Reyjkavik, just pick up your car and drive around the beautiful countryside.

Another two-week adventure at that time is the Norwegian coast. I went up and down the fjords with Hurtigruten, five years ago, and that took 13 days with their ferry. The food was good, the scenery was outstanding, and there was time to visit most of the 33 places where the ferry stopped. You can do the organized excursions at each stop, or go on your own. Very much worth it. AND - at that time of year you could catch the Northern Lights.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:38 PM on December 2, 2016

In Iceland, for example this tour.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:45 PM on December 2, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everybody! I'm having fun with this. People who have recommended Iceland - any redundancy with Alaska or completely different? I get to go to Alaska for work (yay), looking for different for vacation.

One note on Kayak, some of those super cheap flights are from justfly. They come up tops on Internet scam lists, I'm a bit irked that Kayak partners with them. I do love that explore feature though, didn't know about that. Thanks! (I am W Coast, just do the bicoastal thing a fair bit.)
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 9:55 PM on December 2, 2016

The best way to use Kayak in light of some of the scammy/too-good-to-be-true flights is just to pick the cheapest option that is with a reputable airline. I, too, don't love that they've started partnering with some sketchier sites, but it's easy to only use airline sites or orbitz or the like and still get great deals.
posted by Sara C. at 10:20 PM on December 2, 2016

Last March I went to Morocco for 6 days and hiked in the Anti-Atlas mountain desert with a tour group. It was stunning. If I had had more time I would have taken the bus afterwards to Marrakesh and then continued up the country by train and bus. The first bit was a tour, the second bit would have been independent.

The company I went with was Exodus, but there are several others that do good, similar trips and have a reputation for letting the money trickle down to locals and being conscious of the impact of their tours.
posted by kadia_a at 12:19 AM on December 3, 2016

Spend days in Marrakech (if you can, treat yourself to a fancy riad), then fly to Dakar, Senegal and onward to either the Senegalese Coast or Banjul in Gambia (there's a new president since yesterday so the country should be pretty relaxed) although the latter might be too tourist friendly.

Lonely Planet books or website are very good for trip planning and will offer plenty of excursion ideas around the main cities.
posted by Kwadeng at 12:27 AM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Namibia - lovely for a self drive but can be quite expensive, unless you're camping. Stunning scenery and very safe

South Africa - Beautiful, very cheap due to the collapse of the south african rand. Towns can be a little dangerous, stick to Cape Town and the Garden Route.

Jordan - Great time to go. Usually swarmed by masses of tourists, but due to the troubles in Syria (very far away), it's great
posted by moiraine at 9:16 AM on December 3, 2016

Response by poster: In case anybody is keeping an eye on this one, Tanzania is on! There will be more travel-related questions soon. Love all the advice here. Thanks.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 8:21 PM on December 31, 2016

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