1.5k, 3 weeks, where to?
August 11, 2008 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Need travel advice: 2 adventurous law students post-bar, passports in hand.

My girlfriend and I are both entering our third year of law school, and our thoughts have turned to a post-bar trip. Some info: figure a budget of $1k-2k, $1.5k would be about perfect. It would be in August, let's say a maximum of 3 weeks, 4 if you have something kickass that we would have the scratch for. I'm of the extreme-sports type (whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, etc.). She isn't, but is well-traveled and fairly adventurous. We're both kind of foodies. I can muddle my way through basic instructions in spanish, and she can do the same in german. We're both mid-20s. Not big into clubs, and would like to find a happy medium between sitting on a beach all day and cycling 70 miles a day. We've both seen some of Europe, and I've lived in NZ for 6 months.

Where to?
posted by craven_morhead to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
$1.5k per person or total?

Where are you leaving from?
posted by stovenator at 6:31 PM on August 11, 2008

Well, first of all, is that $1.5k each or total? Makes a bit of a difference. Traveling by airline in the peak season can get pretty pricey. You could easily spend over $1k on transportation alone, leaving precious little in the way of money to spend.

That being said, and as I write this I consider ideas for my own bar trip next summer, what about a cycling tour of Ireland? I had the opportunity to drive around the perimeter of the island last summer in about a week, and let me tell you, it's gorgeous. There are actually guided, supported tours which will carry your luggage from place to place so you don't have to travel ridiculously light. Check out CyclePeople for an example. It's within your price range, but it's only about a week. If you're willing to go longer and carry less, you can use that page (or Google, I'd imagine) to find places that will just rent you a bike and bid you farewell.

If you do think about something along these lines, Ireland is probably a good place to do it. It's not the most densely-populated place you're likely to find, but towns are usually no more than a few miles apart. It's really not that big either. And it's completely dotted with awesome B&Bs, many of whom are connected to a national voucher network, where you can stay for something like $30-$50 each per night.

As far as food goes, it isn't likely to be the fanciest fare, but it'll be local, fresh, hearty, and traditional. Good whiskey too.
posted by valkyryn at 6:38 PM on August 11, 2008

Maybe the Maritime Provinces by bike and ferry? You might get really lovely scenery and by avoiding the transatlantic airfare could put some money away.

Alternatively, $1500 is nothing to sneeze at in Guatemala or Honduras.
posted by mdonley at 7:36 PM on August 11, 2008

machu picchu?
posted by rux at 8:45 PM on August 11, 2008

I say road trip in the United States. I never understood the fascination with Europe and other foreign countries when the United States is so huge and diverse (Just think The Big Apple to small town Kentucky).

Just open up Google Maps, create an account and put down points of interest, then build your route on that. Driving around you can spend a day or so in a few of the cities, stop at dinners and talk with locals and maybe hit up the Grand Canyon, Vegas and both Oceans, plus the gulf.

Food costs can be mitigated by packing a cooler with lunch meat and other sandwich stuff and buying water in bulk before the trip and filling bottles on the road. Hotels are not necessary every night, and with two of you, you could just drive through the night if you had to or just park it and sleep for a few hours at a rest stop (I've done it many times myself).

The important thing in any such adventure is to document it with photos and maybe a journal or even a blog. Note the interesting people and the interesting events because you can see something through a picture, but all the extemporaneous stuff is what makes the experience great.
posted by thebreaks at 6:01 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

My wife (newly minted JD) and I (newly minted MS) took off for a while in 2004. We had a blast in Hawaii. We volunteered on a farm, and, because we were doing a work trade, lived there 2 months and spent about $500-$750 total (mostly on food for our non-provided meals). So that's about $1500-$2000 for the month, including 2 flights. Swim, surf, windsurf, bike, hike, etc. on your days off and your life will be pretty outstanding. Way better than it's going to be (poor poor lawyers).

You can legally hitchhike in Hawaii. And therefore, it's reasonably common. So transportation on Maui was okay. On Oahu, there's a very good bus system. The big island, I can't say, but I assume hitching is also common.
posted by zpousman at 9:11 AM on August 12, 2008

I agree with thebreaks's sentiments and endorse them.

But, have you ever considered Bolivia? I lived in the Bolivian Amazon last year and it is pretty amazing.

You can fly to La Paz and take a short 'jump-off-the-altiplano-flight' (45 minutes) on a twin engine plane down to a grass landing strip in the town of Rurrenabaque, which is located at the exact point where the Andes begin to rise up from the Amazon basin. Rurre's the starting point for visits to the Madidi National Park and the Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve. There are some "ethno-ecotourism" lodges in the jungle -- the best probably being the "Chalalán" and "San Miguel del Bala" ecolodges. A little bit more rugged place that is still recommendable is the Mapajo ecolodge, a project of some Tsimán-Mosetén indians.

Also, you could drop by the bar Pachamama and just ask them where there are some good hikes around town (tell gili and katrina hi). There's a fair amount of ecotourism in the area. There are river dolphins, caiman, aligators, anaconda, and spider and howler monkeys in the 'pampas.' Just about any tour agency will take you there... I'd maybe stop by the offices of Conservation International (on the central plaza in rurre) and asking them for a guide recommendation - as they have a guide training program. There are also 'jungle' tours into the national parks (this would include the ecolodges described above) - though your chances of seeing as many animals (other than tons and tons of birds) are slim (though I did see a jaguar at the end of my 6 months - I was very lucky).

The flight to La Paz could run you as much as $900 (hopefully less). The flight to Rurre is about $50. You could also take a bus from La Paz, which would run you about $9, but instead of 45 minutes you're looking at 22 hours. :-) I could get you details on tour prices - though they fluctuate quite a bit.

Though there's some political strife in Bolivia right now, the area I'm recommending hasn't seen much conflict. FINALLY, I have to mention that the Morales government recently created a $130 (est.) visa charge for all Americans entering the country. Apparently though, sometimes this isn't charged...but you would have to count on it from the outset.

Anyway, I love the area.
posted by punkbitch at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: $1.5k apiece, leaving from Denver. Punkbitch, would you suggest that sort of route instead of one of the amazon river boat tours?
posted by craven_morhead at 9:46 PM on August 12, 2008

Craven, sorry for the delayed reply. I have an obvious bias towards the area I described above. I don't have experience with tours on the Amazon -- though I did take a boat from Manaus to Porto Velho in Brazil that was incredible. But it was definitely not a tour boat!

I think the quality of an Amazon tour boat would depend greatly on the kinds of stops it makes (and the frequency of those stops: you might get bored, or worse, blown away by incessant, loud speaker cumbia and cheeserock on deck). In any case, the Amazon river is breathtaking. But so is the entire region...

I suggest that particular area because I have fond memories of it and because it provides what I think is unique access to pristine environments. The indigenous tourism aspect is interesting and weird at the same time. Once the protected areas arrived these communities had to adapt (meaning, they couldn't continue commercially harvesting natural resources, namely mahogany and cedar) and so tourism was encouraged by conservation groups. Rurrenabaque has a bit of a rugged, frontier-town feel though, and that might not appeal to everybody.

If you do go to Rurre, I highly recommend the hotel ambaibo.

Good luck with your search!
posted by punkbitch at 9:34 PM on August 17, 2008

Also, not too far from Rurre is this the 'death road' downhill mountain biking route -- mentioned in this nytimes piece.
posted by punkbitch at 9:38 PM on August 17, 2008

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