Two empty weeks in July - what to do?
June 19, 2006 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Okay, I have two weeks at the end of July when I have nothing planned, and want to do something a bit different that is going to be something to write home about as such. I'm 18 and off to University at end of September and have lined up plans for the rest of my holidays, just not anything for these two weeks.

So from Sunday 16th of July to Thursday 27th July I have no plans (I'm meant to work the Friday 21st / Saturday 22nd but can take that off if required).

I'm not adverse to travelling (I'm in the UK at the moment) - I have always wanted to go to America / Canada and explore more of these countries. I've already lined up some work experience with a company in London and a lot of overtime to earn some cash for Uni.

Money is a bit of an issue - I have no more than £500 to use really. I'd ideally like something that is different, not like anything else - not just another holiday, something truly memorable. I'm open to any and all suggestions!

So any ideas from you guys? What would you do if you had two weeks spare?
posted by philsi to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
I know you said you wanted to do something that is different but still i'd really recomend getting an Interrail ticket. I know it's a bit of a "coming of age" thing in the UK (along with the west coast of Aus boozing holiday). But it's well within your budget and you'd get to see a good part of Europe which you probably otherwise wouldn't see. Also, i believe one of the zones is in Eastern Europe (including Romania & Bulgaria) which is definitelly worth visiting.
posted by tnai at 7:08 AM on June 19, 2006

£500 isn't a lot to get you out of Europe and then do other things. One suggestions within the UK (so you're left with a bit of cash that might be useful for your first term) might be to do a long-distance walk. Beautiful scenery, and lots of thinking time to yourself. The Offa's Dyke trail on the Welsh border, which follows the route of an ancient defensive line, is one I'd really recommend. It takes just under a fortnight on average.

If you're looking to go abroad, a brief inter-railing burst would be fun too. A 2 zone pass would cost you just over £200, if you go camping or stay in hostels you'll survive very cheaply. Here's a map of the zones - you could blitz southern France and northern Italy, for instance. This is what I did when in the same situation as you 8 years ago - the furthest south I went was Rome, then worked my way through Florence, Siena, Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Milan, Monaco, Marseilles, Nice, final night in Paris then back home. It's knackering and you won't get the chance to linger much, so you end rising at dawn to see everything - but it really is worth it.
posted by greycap at 7:09 AM on June 19, 2006

Morocco. Get a cheap flight to Malaga, catch the bus to Algeciras, get the boat to Tangiers. It's been a while since I did it but you can probably manage to get there for less than 150. Once you're there, things are real cheap and it's quite an amazingly different place.

You might even be able to get a cheap flight direct to one of the moroccan airports I guess (depends where you are in the UK) - but there's qomething quite cool about catching the boat to Africa. Once you're there, well, I've only visited Tangiers, Chefchaoen and Marrakech, but from what I've heard pretty much anywhere is going to be interesting and challenging. It'll help if you speak french or arabic, mind, but you'll get by whatever.
posted by handee at 8:00 AM on June 19, 2006

Why don't you take a look at ryan air or easy jet or any of the other discount airlines and see where they will take you? I'm willing to bet you can get to Budapest or Vienna for less than a 100 pounds round trip. If not, go to Germany and start traveling from there.

One thing I always wanted to do when we lived in Austria was to hike through the alps from hut to hut. Like England there are right of way laws and you can pretty much cross the country. I think you can easily travel into Switzerland, Germany or Hungry as well.

If you are not so into hiking, then just go to the cities. I love traveling by train, but these days compared to the discount airlines, its quite expensive. You might sign up for, that would be a cheap way to stay place and get to know local people. If that doesn't work, try the local youth hostel - you are sure to meet lots of people your age and have a ball.

(Be sure to leave your travel plan with your parents and take your cellphone so someone knows where you are in case you get into trouble).
posted by zia at 8:01 AM on June 19, 2006

On preview, I forgot to mention you can easily get to portugal or spain that way too. And if you go down the iberian pennisula, you can take a ferry to north africa if you have time and energy.
posted by zia at 8:02 AM on June 19, 2006

Thanks for your suggestions so far - I am looking into the interrail ticket idea (thanks tnai), I wasn't aware that such a thing existed - it could be a good experience, and I might be able to bring a few friends along with me for the trip...

I'm more a fan of trains and planes than walking / hiking though not adverse to hiking for a few days!

Keep the ideas coming - I'm really appreciating them so far!
posted by philsi at 8:09 AM on June 19, 2006

Thinking back to my last few weeks before moving away to college, I wish I'd explored more on my own and bonded with family and friends who I knew I wouldn't see for a while.

- Relish the last few uninterrupted days at home by investing the money in incredibly rare, delicious, expensive ingredients you'd never ordinarily purchase, and have out-of-this-world meals with your family and friends. Champagne and lobster, make your own guacamole with a mortar and pestle, roast a pig in a pit/goat on a spit in the back yard. Learn to love food and plan parties; liberate yourself from the sandwich toaster!

- Learn about your society in nontraditional ways: shadow a local craftsperson/artisan, visit local places of worship, sit in an emergency room/casualty ward for a few hours, attend town council meetings and raise any concerns you have.

- Visit extended family who might not ordinarily see you outside of functions but who enjoy your company and always ask about you when they talk to your parents. Help Grandma go shopping, take Uncle Leo and Aunt Mabel for a spin round the countryside and enjoy a picnic somewhere, visit your new baby niece and learn to change a diaper.

- Appropriately summer-themed travel experience, a variant of which is probably accomplishable for £500: Experience the "Midnight Sun": Ryanair to Tampere, bus to Helsinki, train to St. Petersburg, on to Moscow, train through various Baltics to Kaunas, Ryanair to Stansted. (Or Easyjet(?) to Tallinn, ferry to St. Petersburg. Whatever.) All guidebook-able, not really off-the-beaten-path, but it's only two weeks - why burn out?
posted by mdonley at 8:25 AM on June 19, 2006

What about working at a kids' summer camp for a two-week session? Most places have already done a lot of hiring, but all the camps I've known have always been able to use extra hands. You could even think about working at an American or Canadian camp, which would give you opportunities to meet foreigners and explore a new country. Best of all, it wouldn't cost too much -- many camps will pay you (as well as giving you free room and board), and some will even reimburse you for your flight.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:46 AM on June 19, 2006

If you're at all interested in farming or organic food, I would suggest WWOOFing [willing workers on organic farms]. It occurs to me that you may not have time to make arrangements, but it may be worth looking into.
It's an awesome way to learn new things, excercise, eat well and meet new people while on a budget. During my stint at it in Western Canada, myself and my boyfriend managed to survive (happily) for 4 months with only 300$.
At the end of it, you'll be more statisfied than had you spent your £500 doing something less productive.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:13 PM on July 3, 2006

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