Where should I travel in order to burn a week's vacation time?
October 18, 2007 8:36 PM   Subscribe

I have 4-5 vacation days I need to use by the end of this calendar year. I want to use it do some traveling in another country. Where should I go?

More details: I don't want to spend a lot on my travel expenses. (Under $1000 total, to be sure. Hopefully less. I'll be flying out of Boston or a nearby airport.) I am very likely to be traveling alone for the first time, and so it's worth mentioning that I'm a young woman b/c I know there can be safety concerns. I'd love your suggestions, because I am excited by this opportunity but I don't know where to begin!
posted by inatizzy to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Such a short time -- go some place close by. I'd recommend Costa Rica. It's a short and easy flight. The country is beautiful, inexpensive, safe, clean, beautiful, happy, fun, diverse, beautiful, and really a wonderful place to vacation.

I'd suggest flying into San Jose and staying the night in a hotel you've already booked. I like the Hotel Santo Tomas, if it's still open. Haven't been there for years.

Then take a bus up to Monteverde, and stay at one of the pretty lodges. Taxis are insanely cheap, the food is simple and delicious and cheap, the hotels are beautiful, the forests are beautiful, the people are wonderful. Go for walks, see the rain forest, get a guide to take you through the cloud forests in search of the most amazing birds, eat in local restaurants, go to the butterfly farm, go to the women's artist cooperative & bakery, have a relaxing time.

Then go back to San Jose and fly home.

I know several young women who've made exactly this trip and had no problems, and most don't speak a word of Spanish. If you don't speak Spanish, just learn a few phrases on the plane, be really nice, don't yell at people in English hoping that will help, point and smile, draw pictures, and be prepared to be surprised, usually pleasantly.

I'm happy just thinking about this trip, and hope that if you go, it will be as idealistic for you as it was for me and for so many of my female friends. We love, love, love Costa Rica.

Have fun!!!

posted by Capri at 8:44 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding Costa Rica, or maybe even Panama. Cheap, fairly English-speaking and safe enough for a gringo.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:03 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'll third Costa Rica. I'm there right now. It's currently the rainy (err "green") season, and will be until Novemberish. You may get soggy if you go to Monteverde, but you'll still have a great time. They are rainforests, after all.

Alternatively, you could head to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, such as Cahuita or Puerto Viejo, where it's currently sunny and dry (well, much drier, at least). It's a cheap, simple 4-hour bus ride from San Jose. More English is spoken in that area. The beaches are gorgeous, lodging is inexpensive, and the food is absolutely fantastic.

Feel free to contact me if you want any more information on Costa Rica.
posted by ecrivain at 9:17 PM on October 18, 2007

Montreal (culture, food, nightlife), Ottawa/Hull (culture), Halifax (college town with nice architecture), St John's Nfld (pubs, college town, it's on an Island called 'the Rock'), Quebec City (great restaurants), Orlando Florida (Epcot, Universal Studios, NASA)
posted by KokuRyu at 10:05 PM on October 18, 2007

So many possibilities!

The Florida Keys are fun--fly into Miami and rent a convertible. Or keep it low key by driving out to Cape Cod and renting a place near the beach for 5 days. The Cape is lovely and uncrowded in the late fall/early winter. I loved the Dominican Republic, close and cheap. Or Puerto Rico? Fantastic nature and history. A Mexican mountain town? Charleston, South Carolina?

(I probably haven't helped...)
posted by LarryC at 11:00 PM on October 18, 2007

San Miguel de Allende (Mexico). Very safe to walk the town, lots of culture, great food, great people (the gringos can be not so great), and normally warm weather at this time. It's also a very special place around christmas. A charming, but not expensive trip.
posted by artdrectr at 11:22 PM on October 18, 2007

Fly to Cancun. Get out of town ASAP - a ferry ride to Isla Mujeres, 3 days there, then back to the mainland and take a $4 colectivo bus south on the coastal highway to Tulum Playa, and a taxi or bike or hitch out to the coastal "hotels," most of which are either little palapa huts or, at the nicer places like Ana y Jose, basic apartments on the beach. Food is fantastic down here, very cheap, and the snorkeling in the freshwater cenotes (many local guides can take you to several in an afternoon for $20 or so) are some of the best diving I've done anywhere.
posted by luriete at 11:39 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lisbon. I don't know how much it might cost to get there, but it isn't that far from Boston if you can get a direct flight. I was there recently for a week and it's reasonably priced, and enough of the right people speak English (although it doesn't matter much, really). On a budget you might have to stay in a chain hotel, but there are a lot of them (otherwise, I can recommend the Hotel Metropole, which is central and very nice). Spend a day hanging around Lisbon, walk around the centre and the castle area. Go to Sintra for a day and see the castle there and the palace. The weather should be nice, too.
posted by manyon at 3:51 AM on October 19, 2007

Heh, I'm in the same position as the original poster, but I've already been to Costa Rica, Cancun, Montreal, the Keys, and Lisbon. San Miguel de Allende sounds interesting though. I know this is pushing it, but any more suggestions?
posted by smackfu at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2007

Lima, Peru is only a 6-hour flight and one more 45 min flight will get you a train ride away from Machu Piccu. Belize has some of the best SCUBA in the western hemisphere. Mexico City is beautiful. I'd love to go to the pyramids in Guatamala.
posted by kristymcj at 12:12 PM on October 19, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! These are great ideas. I'm getting excited. :)
posted by inatizzy at 8:16 AM on October 20, 2007

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