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Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 10:31 AM   #1
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Blow-Out Vacation

The wife and I decided to reward ourselves and take a blow-out vacation this year (at least by our standards) as a result of reaching FI (we have elected to postpone the RE). We have taken a two week family vacation the last 7 years, and typically spend $2,500 to $3,500. This has always been the one place we splurge on ourselves and live-at-our-means. This year we are going for living-above-our-means and are budgeting $10,000.

Out first pass for the trip was 7 days rafting the grand canyon followed by one week house-boating Lake Powell. Unfortunately, this comes in at about $12,000. While this is not off the table, I am looking for other ideas. This proposed trip gives you an idea of the things we like to do, but for a little more insight here are our last three vacations (outdoors oriented, but culturally significant cities are not off the table):

2006 - Two weeks wandering Banff and Jasper Nation Parks in Canada
2005 - Two week cruise up the inside passage and back from Seattle, WA to Juneau, AK.
2004 - Five days in NYC and nine in Adirondack State Park.

Travel out of the country (USA) would be a plus. We are not looking for resorts or luxury accomodations, as for us the trip is about where we visit and what we do, not the hotel. The trip will include our 13 year old son. Any great ideas within our budget?
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 11:19 AM   #2
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Belize is an awesome destination and you can do a trip at any cost level. What costs most there is transportation, if you don't want to take forever driving across the bad roads.
I would go out on the reef either at Ambergris Caye or my favorite, Placencia--which isn't on the reef, but it is a short boat ride to great snorkeling and diving--fun for kids. Then go over to San Ignacio up in the jungle and maybe for real adventure cross the border to Tikal in Guatemala and see the incredible ruins there. There are some great, but pricey lodges in the San Ignacio area, one owned by Francis Ford Coppolla (sp) and the other is DuPlooys, which has the Belize Botanical Gardens on the grounds.

It is an adventure destination, but with English-speaking and fun-loving people. The reef is the second longest in the world behind the Great Barrier Reef.

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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 11:54 AM   #3
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

What a wonderful opportunity to reinforce a love of the outdoors in that 13 year old while doing some international travel!

Go here: http://www.piragis.com/

Check out the guided, international canoe camping trips all over the world.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

www.dragoman.com/

Outdoorsy travel over the countryside. Many "off the beaten path" kinds of destinations. Not sure how a 13 y.o. would impact potential trips. I do know they have "family" trips at Dragoman, but the selection is extremely limited (a few to africa, a few to South America for ~2 weeks). Some nights you camp and other nights you stay in hotels. You can request a free color brochure from their website (takes about 2 wks to get it) that lists all their trips in detail and describes their itineraries in length.

They also have a ton of trips all over the world for time periods much longer than 2 weeks. Some of their trips stretch for months. There may be some potential for an early retiree seeking to be a perpetual traveler for a year or two with dragoman type travel. In their brochure I saw trips for 24 weeks for as little as $7500 for almost all inclusive (all but some of your meals and your bar tab). Maybe $20,000/yr and sleep in a different place every few nights?
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 12:18 PM   #5
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

My dream is Bhutan. However, the minimum charge is $200/person/day, plus transport to get there. Not cheap.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 12:39 PM   #6
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbuzzard
Travel out of the country (USA) would be a plus. We are not looking for resorts or luxury accomodations, as for us the trip is about where we visit and what we do, not the hotel. The trip will include our 13 year old son. Any great ideas within our budget?
It's not out of the USA but it's about as far from the Mainland as you can get-- Poipu, Kauai.

Rent a condo and a car for a couple weeks. Hike everywhere, take surfing lessons, ride horses, swim/snorkel, take a day cruise or go deep-sea fishing, and look around the towns.

You could also do it in Hilo, Hawaii or Kahului, Maui with sidetrips to Volcano National Park or Hana. Or you could go upscale resort/crowds at Ka`anapali, Kailua-Kona or Waikiki.

Another option would be taking one of Norwegian Cruise Line's interisland cruises. The seven-day option travels among the Hawaiian Islands while the 10/11-day versions include a side trip to Fanning Island (Republic of Kiribati). Dining is informal, your kid would be a member of the Teen Club so he wouldn't be obligated to acknowlege your existence, and you wouldn't have to do any driving/logistics work.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 01:09 PM   #7
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
It's not out of the USA but it's about as far from the Mainland as you can get-- Poipu, Kauai.

Rent a condo and a car for a couple weeks. Hike everywhere, take surfing lessons, ride horses, swim/snorkel, take a day cruise or go deep-sea fishing, and look around the towns.

You could also do it in Hilo, Hawaii or Kahului, Maui with sidetrips to Volcano National Park or Hana. Or you could go upscale resort/crowds at Ka`anapali, Kailua-Kona or Waikiki.

Another option would be taking one of Norwegian Cruise Line's interisland cruises. The seven-day option travels among the Hawaiian Islands while the 10/11-day versions include a side trip to Fanning Island (Republic of Kiribati). Dining is informal, your kid would be a member of the Teen Club so he wouldn't be obligated to acknowlege your existence, and you wouldn't have to do any driving/logistics work.
Interestingly, Hawaii was one of our ideas. We have done an NCL cruise before (Alaska) and like the dining approach. I better like the idea of renting a condo for two weeks and just bumming around the more isolated areas of the island of choice.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 01:18 PM   #8
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

If you're active, I'd recommend 5-7 days canoeing, etc. in Alqonquan Park, about 3 hours NE of Toronto or 3 hrs NW of Ottawa, with hundreds upon hundreds of miles of lakes, streams, moose, bear, and wilderness. You can camp, but there are some wonderful rustic "luxury" lodges (such as Arrowon that includes gourmet meals (they'll pack wonderful lunchs if your canoeing) and all the equipment and facilities (canoes, sailboats, sauna, etc.) you need. You could combine that with 7-10 days in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal for a wonderful outdoorsy trip.

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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 01:46 PM   #9
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbuzzard
Interestingly, Hawaii was one of our ideas. We have done an NCL cruise before (Alaska) and like the dining approach. I better like the idea of renting a condo for two weeks and just bumming around the more isolated areas of the island of choice.
The good thing about NCL is that everyone will find something to do every day, you don't have to play "cruise attire" unless you want to, and there are plenty of opportunities for quality family time without you having to be in charge of the entertainment. We've taken two NCL interisland cruises and we'd love to do more if we could synch up our schedules.

The not-so-good thing about cruises is that you and your 2200 shipmates will absolutely overwhelm the infrastructure of whatever port you visit.

So a cruise will give you the opportunity to see what island you'd like to explore more at another time, while picking one island now means that you'll just have to keep coming back to see how you like the others!

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...0874#msg140874
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...6748#msg166748
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 02:00 PM   #10
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Here's the one we're taking next week (suspect it may be beyond what you "need"...)

http://www.celebritycruises.com/sear...Search+Results

Understandably, that's why our retirement budget for travel is 20% (no, it's my DW's "thing"; I'm just along for the ride...)

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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 02:12 PM   #11
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Good advice from Nords. Hawaii is a really good value destination.

I prefer the north side of Kauai (near Hanalei Bay), but there are also some awesome things to do on the south side (Waimea Canyon - awesome!).

We stayed at Hanalei Colony Resort which was a smaller two-story condo type place on the west side of Hanalei Bay and within walking distance of some gorgeous snorkeling beaches including Ke'e Beach (sp?). No giant high-rise hotels to deal with. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Tons of things to do up there. Hiking part of the Na Pali cliffs, kayaking, Limahuli Botanical gardens, lots of snorkeling and lovely beaches, incredible views and seabird watching at Kilauea Lighthouse. The town of Hanalei has lots of restaurants and outfitters.

I guess the north side is better May - September. Winter brings rough water to that side of the island.

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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 02:29 PM   #12
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Another choice for adventure of another sort, a canal boat rental in the UK (& other places in Europe) http://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/

I have rented boats a couple times and loved it. You operate the locks and are self contained. You see the countryside and meet a lot of people. Since your son is only 13 he will miss the better offering of the local pubs which you can dock at along the way. I plan to do this when I retire, sometime after the Northern Canada/Alaska run.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 02:31 PM   #13
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron'Da
Here's the one we're taking next week (suspect it may be beyond what you "need"...)

Understandably, that's why our retirement budget for travel is 20% (no, it's my DW's "thing"; I'm just along for the ride...)

- Ron
Actually, a med cruise was brought up in the brainstorming session. This is well within budget, exceeds cultural goals but falls short on the "outdoors" scale. It is on the short list.

[Edit: Spelling]
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 03:46 PM   #14
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Last February, we went to Peru for a one week trip, including Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. It was really fantastic. Many times I have been disappointed that things don't live up to expectations, but Machu Picchu was spectacular -- it looks even better than the National Geographic pictures. It was, without exception, the coolest place we have ever been. We took the train from Cuzco, but you can walk the Inca Trail if you have two weeks to spend in Peru instead of just one. Peru is relatively inexpensive.

The February before, we went to the Portuguese island of Madeira and spent the week walking the levadas (paths along the irrigation canals that wind along the mountain sides). If you like pleasant hiking with a constant view of the ocean, it is the place to go. It is slightly more expensive than Peru, but still not bad.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 04:24 PM   #15
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

I've been all over this world and seen some great places.

For me though, the very best vacations are spent at home.

That's not for everyone though, including my DW.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-10-2006, 04:59 PM   #16
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers
Another choice for adventure of another sort, a canal boat rental in the UK (& other places in Europe) http://www.anglowelsh.co.uk/

I have rented boats a couple times and loved it. You operate the locks and are self contained. You see the countryside and meet a lot of people. Since your son is only 13 he will miss the better offering of the local pubs which you can dock at along the way. I plan to do this when I retire, sometime after the Northern Canada/Alaska run.
OK, this looks beyond cool. My wife and I are going to have a serious discussion about this option. It even looks like it can be done well within buget, say for $7000 to $8000 for two weeks.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-11-2006, 02:59 AM   #17
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Hi,

How about a biking tour through one or more european countries?
Very easy for 2 weeks: Start in Passau , Germany (rental bikes available), go along the Danubian river, pass Vienna, go on to Budapest. This is about 650 km total, which makes nice and easy day trips for two weeks. Almost all of the way has biking paths, all the way is lined up with hotels and B&Bs that are used to bikers from all over the world. We did it 3 years ago and have made no reservations in advance except for Passau and Vienna.
You would hardly spend more than $ 50 per person/night, breakfast included.
Luggage? You could easily carry it on the bike.
On the other hand there are travel agencies that offer the tour (bikes, hotel, luggage transport incl.) at about $ 1200,-- per person.

If this or other biking tours sound interesting http://www.pedaloradtours.de/english/e_radtours.html
or
http://www.eurobike.at/en/eb/index/index.asp
have more info.

Chris
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-11-2006, 12:15 PM   #18
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Wow! Could we sticky this topic?? There are enough great ideas to keep me busy thru the first ten years of ER.

My two cents - we are headed back to Honduras -Bay Islands in February for a diving vacation but there are lots of other activites and great beaches there:

http://www.roatanonline.com/things_to_do.htm
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-11-2006, 12:46 PM   #19
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby
Last February, we went to Peru for a one week trip, including Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. It was really fantastic. Many times I have been disappointed that things don't live up to expectations, but Machu Picchu was spectacular -- it looks even better than the National Geographic pictures. It was, without exception, the coolest place we have ever been. We took the train from Cuzco, but you can walk the Inca Trail if you have two weeks to spend in Peru instead of just one. Peru is relatively inexpensive.

If I could do it all over again, I would have taken my young teenagers to Peru. What a great trip for a family! As it is, Peru is on my vacation list. Here's a link.
http://www.adventure-life.com/index.php
They have a section on family travel.
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation
Old 10-11-2006, 10:59 PM   #20
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Re: Blow-Out Vacation

The dream vacation that sticks in my imagination is the Kilimanjaro/safari trip that was discussd here a few months ago. I'm looking into that for my family either next summer or the one after. I've seen a lot of the Americas and Asia, but haven't been to Africa yet.
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