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Ideas for a solo trip, February/March 2020.

Ideas for a solo trip, February/March 2020.

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Old Aug 8, 19, 8:57 pm
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Ideas for a solo trip, February/March 2020.

Hello fellow flyertalk enthusiasts. I first want to thank the many knowledgeable posters here who offer their advice and experiences for people like me to learn from.

Short version:
I am looking for some ideas for a destination for a holiday trip I am taking next year in the February or March time frame. Budget will be $1500 with a willingness to go to $2000 for the right place or experience. I live near Evansville Indiana, USA, and have a recently renewed passport. The trip will have to be within a Sunday thru to Saturday time frame. I will be travelling solo.

Long version:
My wife was invited to a girls trip to Mexico next summer, and with 2 little kids and both of us with full time jobs, needless to say she is excited for the trip and break from the rigors of our lives. In turn, she has offered that I should do a trip as well. Due to work commitments my trip will need to take place in a not so desirable part of the calendar.

All of my close friends and family are unable to tag along, so for the first time in ages it looks like I'm going solo. I am not on the level of travel as a lot of members here at flyertalk, but I do consider myself "seasoned" and feel comfortable travelling anywhere my budget and time allow.

My family ownes a condo in Florida so that seems like the logical place to go, however we travel there at least once a year anyway, so I'm looking for something different. I've never been to Asia and would love to try that, but am concerned about weather that time of year. My wife and I honeymooned in Central America, but I've never been to South America. My father was in the military, so i have lived and seen most of the US, save for Alaska. I've travelled most of western Europe, but that was in the fall and summer time.

So there it is. I am throwing myself at your wisdom. Thank you all in advance for your suggestions and time. I look forward to your responses.
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Old Aug 8, 19, 9:50 pm
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Originally Posted by sdfcardinals View Post
my trip will need to take place in a not so desirable part of the calendar
VERY desirable when it comes to airfare

Summer down under and anywhere south of Equator

Peru is not so expensive and worth a look.

Chile.

Thailand is pretty much always toasty and not expensive. Phillippines are cheaper, but not as developed, but most folks speak English. And the beaches .....

But Asia is a Loooong way to fly ...... used to do one week vacations when I was still working, and Saturday to Sunday only got you about six days. One advantage of Latin America, though it may well cost more to fly there.
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Old Aug 8, 19, 10:02 pm
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There are some cheap fares to mainland China, but you would probably want to arrange the itinerary to be TWOV compliant since a visa for a USA passport costs $160 plus visa service agency fees, FedEx charges, and passport photo costs. Go to either Beijing or Shanghai; you need to stay within the general vicinity of the airport you use, so you cannot visit both or do any connections within China. IMO a week would be the right amount of time to explore Shanghai.

BKK would be reliably warm, but it probably requires an additional connection and a lot more travel time from Indiana.

Be careful to avoid the spring break crowds in March.
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Old Aug 8, 19, 10:18 pm
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February is a great time to get out of the Midwest! Personally, I wouldn't go all the way to Asia just for a week. Maybe Belize? You can either do the beach/scuba stuff if that's your thing, or explore Mayan ruins. Columbia is also a pretty short flight from Miami and there's a big variety to choose from there. Or Peru or Bolivia.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 8:06 am
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I'd do a cruise off Florida, or whichever US area is easy for your air transportation - New York, Boston, New Orleans, Galveston or Los Angeles. Your life sounds busy enough that some peace and quiet would be a good thing. While cruises do have all sorts of activity, noise and excitement, I've learned I can find an entirely different experience on one. Quiet corners where one can read, while occasionally looking out at the passing water. A library. Buffet meals so one isn't required to dress up, sit too long, and try to make polite conversation with strangers. Simply wandering the various ports of call. Interesting watching as the ship arrives and departs places. Sunrises and sunsets.

There are occasional semi-educational events on a ship, if you look very carefully for them.

I did a quick check, and there are many cruise choices under $500 for your dates. And airfare to LAX and Houston just over $300.

The motion of the ship is great for sleeping.

Great work-out equipment.

There are a very few ships with singles cabins, but otherwise you will have to pay the "single supplement" which essentially doubles the rate. However, there are some good sales that make this still reasonable.

No car to park, no checking into and out of different rooms.

Depending upon where your family condo is, you might be able to use it for the important night-before-cruise. Lots of web sites out there for searching, but I find www.vacationstogo.com particularly easy for pinpointing specific dates and other requirements.

I really didn't think cruises were for people like me. Don't gamble, don't do "night life", don't like noise, don't like formality, etc. But learned there are so many possibilities on a big ship that I could structure an experience just right for me. And occasionally I do end up enjoying discussions with a few folk. It is just not required.

Last edited by Romelle; Aug 9, 19 at 11:39 am
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Old Aug 9, 19, 9:38 am
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I hope you do some serious Feb-March weather checking. There are some surprises. That warm ocean current wraps along a lot of Europe. Just as an example, Bilbao, Spain has 61˚/43˚ for March high/low. Way up the Norwegian coast has surprisingly good weather.

I've left a foot+ of ice/snow in MN and seen daffodils in London and a Lemon Festival in Menton, France.

And then there is the amount of daylight. Southerly destinations of course will net you quite a few more minutes every day.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 10:22 am
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I have had good luck with Rome in the Feb-Mar timeframe. It is warm enough and relatively uncrowded. If you have not gone there, you should consider it, perhaps as a scouting expedition for a future family trip. You could spend several days there and then go down the coast to Naples/Sorrento etc. It is one of my favorite places.

Looks like you are a Skymiles member and you don't say whether you have miles to use or want to accrue miles. That time of year, I think the DTW-FCO flights may not be operating so from EVV you would be looking at an ATL connection or a double connection through DTW. You have other options via UA and AA of course.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 10:47 am
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I was going to suggest Barcelona as a great city with relatively good weather, but Europe is generally expensive and IMO it would be very difficult to do a week on $1500 unless one gets an award ticket (which wasn't mentioned in the OP as part of the plan). Within Western Europe, Lisbon/Portugal is probably the cheapest place, but the flight schedule options wouldn't be so good at this time of year.

For a one week trip, I would try hard to avoid double connections, so one way to start might be to look at TATL flights from hubs OP can reach on a nonstop with some choice of schedule. With DL, the obvious choices would be CDG, AMS, and LHR, although London and Paris seem expensive with Amsterdam not far behind. IIRC ATH would require connections in AMS or CDG, plus Greece seems like a long trip for a week, and the same would be true for Eastern/Central Europe, although some of those locations can be cheap. IIRC DL serves Prague year round, so that could be an option.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 5:12 pm
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Thank you all for the great suggestions.

I hadn't thought about China at all. PVG sounds really interesting and I'm going to do some more research as to what to see and do while there.

I actually have never been to Spain and that was towards the top of the list, however, when talking to my wife about heading there she made it pretty clear that that is a trip she would like to go along on. So that rules that out for this trip. We will travel there as a family in the near future.

A cruise sounds interesting, but I dont know if it's my kind of atmosphere honestly. Talking with friends about their cruising experiences I never got the feeling that I was missing much. That may not be fair, but that was my first thoughts.

I feel at this point I think its between South America and possibly PVG. Checking flights I cannot believe how cheap it is to fly to China. I am going to research more on the TWOV and see what makes the most sense.

Thanks again all.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 5:51 pm
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All those Chinese carriers, flying mainly to west coast have really driven down the prices..

But while PVG is further south than PEK, it can get cold in the winter. I was lucky when I did TWOV in PEK a few years back and had good weather in first week of December, but it can get rather cold.

Too bad about your wife nixing a solo Spain trip, but you can make it a family vacation later.

And while I respect Romelle's suggestion about cruising (and may actually consider it in the future as opposed to just automatically nixing it), I do feel like it would not be for me. For one thing, I would have severe internet withdrawal

So I understand your reluctance very well
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Old Aug 9, 19, 9:08 pm
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PVG needs a Visa. In the China thread there is a Wiki on the topic. Recently, it has been possible to get 10-year visas. Worth doing ASAP, since it is possible that could change. I think mine was $140, but might have been a little more, and might have changed. Also takes some time. I'd definitely recommend using an agency (I've tried both DIY and agency).

Regarding cruises, I felt pretty much like Emailkid and sdfcardinals before I took one. Just not something for someone like me. I don't dare use the words here to describe the mental stereotype I had for them as I don't want to be rude to others. But there really are more possibilities than I had expected, and I was able to find choices that worked very well for me. I've since made a project of taking each grandkid on just one so they have an actual frame of reference about them. Internet withdrawal is a problem, but I've learned that most ports have free wifi almost as soon as one steps off the ship. And that was usually my first stop, until I'd gotten a fresh fix.

You can make a cruise a little more of a foreign adventure by taking one of the foreign lines. Costa is Italian, Pullmantur Spanish, Hurtigruten Norwegian.

If you are thinking of going as far as PVG, you might consider Singapore. Further south. No visa. Great public transport so you can go all over easily and cheaply. Clean, safe. But wonderfully unique. Possible to find reasonable accommodations. Fabulous food. The flight though will eat up 2/3 of that budget and a full hard day each way.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 10:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Romelle View Post
PVG needs a Visa.

.....
Not necessaruly

IF you are "transiting" TWOV allows many days these days. It was only 48 hours when I did it, but I spent 36 hours in Shanghai WITHOUT a visa
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Old Aug 10, 19, 5:54 am
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
Not necessaruly

IF you are "transiting" TWOV allows many days these days. It was only 48 hours when I did it, but I spent 36 hours in Shanghai WITHOUT a visa
You are right. I'd forgotten about that option.

This is one of the reasons I purely love this site. Mis-information gets noted almost immediately.

I have to admit though that it now takes me more than 48 hours just to recover from that long a flight. My excuse for forgetting that option?

But, OP, if you consider this option do VERY CAREFULLY check MOST CURRENT info on China visas. It is one of those things about which one cannot be casual.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 12:44 pm
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If you want to visit Shanghai, I'd highly suggest going to another city as well. I would recommend Taipei, stay there 2-3 days, go to Shanghai, for the remainder of your time and then go home. I did that last year on China Eastern from Jakarta, stopped in Shanghai for 3 days before going home. It only added $75 dollars to the airfare, and I did not have to get a visa.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Romelle View Post
PVG needs a Visa. In the China thread there is a Wiki on the topic. Recently, it has been possible to get 10-year visas. Worth doing ASAP, since it is possible that could change. I think mine was $140, but might have been a little more, and might have changed. Also takes some time. I'd definitely recommend using an agency (I've tried both DIY and agency).

Regarding cruises, I felt pretty much like Emailkid and sdfcardinals before I took one. Just not something for someone like me. I don't dare use the words here to describe the mental stereotype I had for them as I don't want to be rude to others. But there really are more possibilities than I had expected, and I was able to find choices that worked very well for me. I've since made a project of taking each grandkid on just one so they have an actual frame of reference about them. Internet withdrawal is a problem, but I've learned that most ports have free wifi almost as soon as one steps off the ship. And that was usually my first stop, until I'd gotten a fresh fix.

You can make a cruise a little more of a foreign adventure by taking one of the foreign lines. Costa is Italian, Pullmantur Spanish, Hurtigruten Norwegian.

If you are thinking of going as far as PVG, you might consider Singapore. Further south. No visa. Great public transport so you can go all over easily and cheaply. Clean, safe. But wonderfully unique. Possible to find reasonable accommodations. Fabulous food. The flight though will eat up 2/3 of that budget and a full hard day each way.
TWOV allows about 144 hours in Shanghai without a visa providing that the flights are TWOV compliant, meaning that you connect through a third country (NRT, HKG, ICN for example) in one direction (only).


Last edited by EmailKid; Aug 11, 19 at 1:46 pm Reason: Overly personal
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