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Travel questions and vacation ideas
Old 07-09-2007, 08:52 AM   #1
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Travel questions and vacation ideas

I was originally expecting to do a small vacation for my next trip but I haven't completely made up my mind.

I am trying to decide on doing something out West (probably California or Pac NW), a trip to Central America or Eastern Europe. Western Europe is too expensive and Asia/Aussieland is too far away.

I haven't really been to either 3 places. A few parts of the West but nothing on a grand scale. I have never been to any part of Europe or Central America.

I have looked at the guided trips and with some of the prices I wonder if I could do better by going at it alone. Then again, I wonder if they get the best prices b/c they buy everything in bulk. For example, some E Euro trips (guided multi-country trips with a flight/few meals) are $2300-2800. I have looked at flights alone and it would come to about $800-900 if I went at it alone + rail passes for several trips $150 or so. Then I would have to add everything else in and rely on my ability to find stuff for a good price.

So with that said, which would you choose from my list?

Do many of you explore areas on your own or do you work through agencies for tours, etc.? Obviously, I would do my own thing if I stayed in the US.

I do have a ton of rewards points from my very long hotel stay with Marriott.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:48 AM   #2
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It's hard to say. The destinations are so different. There are many natural wonders to visit in the west. Best done with a rental car. How about a trip to SF and Napa/Sonoma/Russian River? We did that twice.

In the south you have the San Diego Zoo and dozens of other destinations. We have done that many times, including LA Area. Santa Barbara to Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey, SF. Done that twice.

There are the awesome parks in Utah, the Rockies, the Four Corners, the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns...
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:55 AM   #3
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Hi wildcat - I am a traveler too, and my first question is always, "what do you like to do?" I travel on my own because I like to be flexible and set my own pace. I did a tour to Italy with my aunt once and although I loved Italy, the group-touring part wasn't for me.

I haven't been to the Pac NW but have been to CA, Utah, Arizona etc. I'm a hiker/camper and so I love that part of the country. I am also a wine enthusiast and would love to tour Napa/Sonoma, but haven't had the chance yet.

I have been to Costa Rica and Panama on my own and loved both of them, and they are really cheap. In Costa Rica we bought plane tickets and set up a rental car, and then just made up the whole trip as we went along. It was great.

I plan to go to South America next. I am thinking of hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu or wine tasting through the Mendoza region of Argentina...

"Eastern Europe" is pretty broad. I loved Prague, but I was there about 12 years ago...

Central/South America will give you the most bang for your buck these days.

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Old 07-09-2007, 10:34 AM   #4
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Hi wildcat - I am a traveler too, and my first question is always, "what do you like to do?" I travel on my own because I like to be flexible and set my own pace. I did a tour to Italy with my aunt once and although I loved Italy, the group-touring part wasn't for me.

I haven't been to the Pac NW but have been to CA, Utah, Arizona etc. I'm a hiker/camper and so I love that part of the country. I am also a wine enthusiast and would love to tour Napa/Sonoma, but haven't had the chance yet.

I have been to Costa Rica and Panama on my own and loved both of them, and they are really cheap. In Costa Rica we bought plane tickets and set up a rental car, and then just made up the whole trip as we went along. It was great.

I plan to go to South America next. I am thinking of hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu or wine tasting through the Mendoza region of Argentina...

"Eastern Europe" is pretty broad. I loved Prague, but I was there about 12 years ago...

Central/South America will give you the most bang for your buck these days.

Karen
Thanks for the feedback. I have similar tastes when it comes to travel. I really like the outdoors as well.

I haven't done a group travel vacation yet. Not 100% I would like it. I am just having a hard time building up the confidence to go overseas alone w/o any previous experience with the country.

I think if I went out West I wouldn't return from the vacation
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:17 PM   #5
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Wildcat -
For North America & Europe we feel comfortable doing our own planning. However, for places we are not familar with and those places that we consider a little dicey we are planning on using a tour group format most likely ElderHostel & Road Scholar.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:49 PM   #6
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I was originally expecting to do a small vacation for my next trip but I haven't completely made up my mind.

I am trying to decide on doing something out West (probably California or Pac NW), a trip to Central America or Eastern Europe. Western Europe is too expensive and Asia/Aussieland is too far away.
I'd start off traveling in the USA first. There is so much to see here.

Why not try Yellowstone if you like the outdoors so much. It is such a unique part of this country that you will never forget the colors, smell, and overall look of that park for the rest of your life.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:15 PM   #7
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I'd start off traveling in the USA first. There is so much to see here.

Why not try Yellowstone if you like the outdoors so much. It is such a unique part of this country that you will never forget the colors, smell, and overall look of that park for the rest of your life.
I agree. We've been to about a dozen of the National Parks, and they were all neat! Yellowstone was awesome....but Glacier was even more awesome....as was the Grand Canyon....and the Everglades....and...and....all of them!!! They were all quite unique in there own way, as well as awesome in there own way!

Once I've seen everything here in the States, then I'll venture to other lands. But having seen only about 1/50th (or likely less) of the "must see" places here in my first 50 years, I've got a LOT of venturing to get in!!!
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:21 PM   #8
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I would do the US without a tour group. There are tons of things to see.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:42 PM   #9
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I agree with the others.... if you have not been traveling much on your own, start small in the US so you get comfortable doing it... going overseas or South America (that is not overseas is it??) has their own unique problems... and you might as well not be hit with all of them at once...

And I have been to a few Eastern Europe places.. some aspects are cheaper than western europe, but many are not... I was told that many are trying to get into the EU and their prices have soared...

Also, remember there is a language barrier in many countries.... the ones that have more tourists also have more people that can speak English and help you out...

But... any of the places listed are great places to see and do stuff...
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:49 PM   #10
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i haven't done international travel yet but when i think of it my mind goes first to doing a group and then staying after the group event was over.

for me that serves two main purposes. i'd do a gay group so that i would have opportunity to meet other single guys who like to travel. also that would give me time to get accustomed to a foreign country so that moving there for 3 or 6 months would not start off with such a culture shock. i figure the down time of a group trip would give me time to look for more permanent housing.

but even if i wasn't out to meet guys, i might do a group first just to get myself used to traveling overseas in a safe & comfortable way. i think once my confidence is up on that, i'd be fine on my own.
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:21 PM   #11
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Good ideas. I should probably see more of the US before I venture out.

Hard to decide on my options. I always feel like I have so little time to see so much

I have seen the Pacific in Hawaii but never from Cali up to Wash.

I have never been to any of the National Parks in the mountain west states.

Those have to be my top choices.
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Old 07-09-2007, 04:40 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback. I have similar tastes when it comes to travel. I really like the outdoors as well.

I haven't done a group travel vacation yet. Not 100% I would like it. I am just having a hard time building up the confidence to go overseas alone w/o any previous experience with the country.

I think if I went out West I wouldn't return from the vacation
I understand your hesitation about traveling to a country alone without having been there before. I am doing a group trip for the first time this summer, with Overseas Adventure Travel. A friend recommended OAT and the online reviews are good. I would like to do their Machu Piccu trip, which is fairly inexpensive. Check out their website.Overseas Adventure Travel Company for Adventure Vacations and Tours
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:25 PM   #13
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I understand your hesitation about traveling to a country alone without having been there before. I am doing a group trip for the first time this summer, with Overseas Adventure Travel. A friend recommended OAT and the online reviews are good. I would like to do their Machu Piccu trip, which is fairly inexpensive. Check out their website.Overseas Adventure Travel Company for Adventure Vacations and Tours
Thanks for the link youngbabe. I saved it for future reference. Machu would be a great trip.
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:00 PM   #14
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I agree. We've been to about a dozen of the National Parks, and they were all neat! Yellowstone was awesome....but Glacier was even more awesome....as was the Grand Canyon....and the Everglades....and...and....all of them!!! They were all quite unique in there own way, as well as awesome in there own way!
Agreed. A tour of the western National Monuments/Parks would be hard to beat :
Yellowstone, Yosemite, Cedar Breaks, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Rocky Mountian,
Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, Mojave, Teton, Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater,
with a lot of minor attractions as convenient : Meteor Crater, Bodie ghost town,
Grand Canyon Caverns, Tahoe. The AAA map "Indian Country" gives a nice high
res overview of the southern 2/3rd'sof this area.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:30 PM   #15
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Agreed. A tour of the western National Monuments/Parks would be hard to beat.....
Last Fall we visited the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Rocky Mountain NP's. It was a great trip!
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:00 PM   #16
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I was originally expecting to do a small vacation for my next trip but I haven't completely made up my mind.

I am trying to decide on doing something out West (probably California or Pac NW), a trip to Central America or Eastern Europe. Western Europe is too expensive and Asia/Aussieland is too far away.

I haven't really been to either 3 places. A few parts of the West but nothing on a grand scale. I have never been to any part of Europe or Central America.
We just got back from a trip to Italy and France and while we absolutely loved it, it was pretty expensive. We did it on the cheap but with my older parents and pregnant DW, some of the costs were a little bit higher than we are used to. Both DW and I had been to Italy/France before multiple times, but it was still very nice. If you've never been to Europe before, I would definitely recommend Italy/France.

How long do you have for your trip? How much do you want to spend? Is this trip going to be after summer? Czech Rep, Turkey, Costa Rica, New Zealand are all cheaper destinations which I've really enjoyed. Airfares are very high right now so you might find that while Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe, you'll still spend an arm-and-a-leg getting there.
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:37 PM   #17
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Ok, I have the short list. I am going right after the Labor Day weekend in Sept. I have done the city trip this year (NYC) so I am looking for more of an outdoors trip.

Oregon coast -- I promise to leave when I am done so be honest

Northern Cal coast -- if so which airport is best

Central Cal coast -- if so which airport is best

I will have about 3-4 days. I imagine the weather will still be decent in Oregon -- maybe a little hit and miss. I am trying not to drive too much as I would like to be out and about as much as possible. Thanks.
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:49 PM   #18
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Wildcat -- I live in Northern California and always fly out of Sacramento -- you're in, you're out, and nobody gets hurt. San Francisco is a nightmare in comparison -- the airport itself is a zoo, and then you've got the parking lot... er... freeway traffic to anywhere you're going!

My second choice is Oakland. In the East Bay, 7 miles or something as the crow flies from SFO, but also much less congested.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:19 PM   #19
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Thanks Caroline. I kind of figured Sacramento would be the best bet in Cali.

Which is more impressive in your opinion, Northern Cal/Redwoods etc. or Central Coast/Big Sur?
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:10 PM   #20
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Which is more impressive in your opinion, Northern Cal/Redwoods etc. or Central Coast/Big Sur?
I vote for the redwoods. The drive up the coast highway is beautiful, and the forest is unforgettable. Just be aware that you'll get a big crick in your neck. Those trees really need warning labels.
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