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The company I work for is consolidating the company HR policies and they are converting me to be on a calendar vacation schedule that starts January 1st. I used to be on an anniversary schedule. The details are not important but since I recently passed my employment anniversary date this means that in 2013 I will have a bit more than eight weeks vacation that I must take in 2013 instead of my normal four.

Wow ! That is great but the bad news is that I normally travel on a budget but even on a budget going on that long of a trip would add up so I am looking for some creative ideas on how to travel that long relatively inexpensively.

I just found out about this so I have not had much chance think about the details but off the top of my head I have;

1) I've stayed in hostels and budget hotels in Europe so that is a possibility especially in the shoulder or off season.

2) Going to Australia is on my list of places to go, but it seems sort of expensive especially in the large cities but I am looking into that.

3) Camping road trip in the US, maybe rent an RV.

4) I have heard of some college dorms renting rooms when school is out.

For background this would be;

1) For a couple in their late 50's, generally good health but not real athletic, we only speak English.

2) We are Atlanta so we would be starting from there.

3) When I say budget I'm thinking at most averaging $100 to $150 a day for both of us for everything but airfare. There will always be some days in expensive cities so some low cost days would be needed to average this out.

4) We have been to Europe several times; my wife has been to the China years ago.

5) We could break it into several smaller trips instead of one large one.

At this point I'm looking for more general suggestions than detailed itineraries, especially any "thinking out of the box" ideas.


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Seasonally dependent:

You might consider a trip to Argentina. This is best during our winter. When I went, Aerolinias Argentina offered an air pass that allowed numerous flights for a flat rate (I saved some money by buying them on their spanish language site and picking them up when I got to Buenos Aires). I'm not sure if this program still exists, but it's not unusual for a foreign airline to offer something like this.

The country has jungles in the far north new Iguazu Falls, has the equivalent of the plains states in the Pompas, the equivalent of Colorado in northern Patagonia and Alaska in the south (but with penguins). It's sort of like they took all the climates of the US from Puerto Rico to Alaska and turned them upside down.

Because their economy is on the weak side, your budget should be doable and there is enough to keep you busy for a few weeks. There are quite a few cruise ships which ply between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso (around the Horn) which you might get a last minute deal. From there, you might decide to pop over to Lima/Cusco for a peek at Matchu Pichu.

(Or you could bask your buns on Copacabana in Rio, but I haven't been there in a while and the prices may be higher now).

Ranging through Argentina, then the falls and up to Rio, then across for the Inca stuff should be able to fill the time without getting bored.

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No. of Recommendations: 9
Think apartment rental rather than hotels or hostels. You can rent a perfectly fine (small) apartment in many cities and towns, even fairly expensive ones, for $100/day or less, esp. in the off season. Check vrbo, tripadvisor, and similar reputable sites, but NOT craigslist (which is rife with rental scams).

We have rented in Paris, Nice, four Hawaiian Islands, Cinque Terre (Italy), Puerto Rico, and other places on your kind of budget. And in, e.g., Portugal, Spain, Croatia, and many other wonderful places, you can do even better.

Plus, you can relax over breakfast in your apt., have lunch out some days and dinner out on others, and begin to feel like a resident rather than just a tourist. Walk, take buses, enjoy parks, museums (which often have free days), beaches.

Language is not a big issue. You work it out. You learn some phrases as you go along. You point a lot. You smile.

You might try 3-4 weeks initially, unless the extra airfares are an issue. Not everyone enjoys being away for longer than that (although I do!).

Greg, too
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Second the recommendation for apartment rentals and I would combine it with the suggestion of Buenos Aires. BA has terrific apartments at far less than $100 per day- we had a nice one in best part of town for US$400 per week- 2 bedrooms 1.5 baths.

Once you get reasonably priced housing, all the rest tends to fall in line. You learn the local shops/cafes and become almost a resident instead of a tourist. Prices go down hill quickly.

For personal travel, our family will never do a hotel again if we are staying more than about 3 days.
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There are lots of trips I've been on where the day to day cost has been less than half the cost, vs. the airfare. With that many weeks you can really leverage that. I second (or is it fourth) the recommendation of Argentina. There are a number of different regions there that you can visit. China is also affordable on a day to day basis, I found. Another place I found relatively cheap was Greece, though that was a few years ago, before the "austerity measures" riled things up.
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D'oh - is what Homer Simpson says when he finally understands something that is should have been obvious, often an injury is involved in his realization of the situation.

I just had a D'oh moment on this.

I was thinking of what the total cost would be to be on the road for up to eight weeks, but I was forgetting something that should have been obvious.

That is that all the time I am on the road I will be getting vacation pay automatically deposited into my checking account every two weeks while I am on the road!

Since I have pretty moderate fixed costs at home this means that most of this vacation money is available to cover my travel expenses. Pretty much other than the big ticket items like airfare and occasional splurges I won't need to dip much into my savings for a long trip if I am careful.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Here is where I am at so far;

I had not thought of Argentina but I will look into that. At first glance Buenos Aires looks interesting and a lot safer than many places in South America.

Croatia sounds interesting too but we went to Italy last spring and I will need to look into how different Croatia is.

A agree that Greece can be a great budget travel destination. We were there about five years ago during the shoulder season in mid to late September. Out on some of the less popular Greek Islands we were able to find nice midrange hotels for around $60 a night and the weather was still wonderful.

China and other oriental countries are a possaability too. We probably don't want to spend a lot of time in large cities so this will take a lot of research.

With realization that by budget is not as tight as I thought it was it looks like Australia and New Zealand are pretty doable and they are a likely choice. Maybe five or six weeks there and a road trip in the US for the remainder of the time during a different time of year.

I found out that a guy that I work with will have to take twelve weeks vacation in 2013 because he had a lot of vacation already accrued. Pretty much everyone will be taking at least double their normal vacation. It will be interesting to see how this works out since the department I am in has gone through some downsizing and was pretty lean already and now the managers are trying to figure out make things work with so much vacation time being taken in one year.

I think Dilbert would fit in here.
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a few thoughts - While I haven't been to New Zealand in a while, the ambient prices in Australia are likely to give you sticker shock (I'd say parallel to Scandinavia - been in both over the past year or so).

If you go to Argentina, BA is a wonderful city, but you should fly around and see some of the other climate zones. A few suggestions:

Go up to Iguassu Falls. Take a jet boat from the Argentine side, but take a taxi across the border and take a walk across them on the Brazilian side (totally different). Head to (San Carlos de) Bariloche and drive around the mountainous lake district. Head to El Califate and take a trek across the Perito Merano Glacier (track this down as only one travel agent in town arranges these walks and the rest will only give you a boat ride). Head to Ushuea and see the penguins. Stay in La Paz, an estancia near Cordoba in one of their wine districts (or in one near Salta in a mountainous area which looks like the US southwest. Watch whales and go scuba diving along the coast.

If you get bored, you can always head across the border to Chile. Or you can take the ferry from BA to Montevideo or the beach at Ponte d'Este in Uruguay.

Argentina "feels" like the US in the 1960's - sort of naive. Food is very reasonably priced and the quality is very high. The beef is without peer and the veggies are fresh.

Europe is fine (going to touch a bit of it myself within a month or so), but even Greece can be expensive - and if you've been there already, this is a completely different direction (but you'll be surprised that Argentina is far more European in feel than South American).

Just some idle thoughts,
(Disclosure: Do not own stock in any of the above recommendations)
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Here is and update.

Today was probably not a good news day to start researching Argentina. There were riots in Buenos Aires and other cities today over corruption in a court case and several cruise lines just cancelled stopping in Argentina because of maltreatment after stopping at the Falkland Islands. I will keep researching Argentina but so far it has not grabbed me.

I am adding Costa Rica to my list of places to research, the costs look reasonable especially in the shoulder season and there is a lot of variety there so we could do a week each in several different settings.

I'm looking into the prices in Australia and while it is clearly higher than the US I suspect that they might not really be as high as Scandinavia. One of my standbys for judging this is the "Big Mac Index" and Australia does not look too bad but the US dollar has weakened some more since it was updated .
Here is the detail and see how high the Scandinavian countries are.

At the bottom of this web page Frommers list some typical prices in Sydney, and I would assume that they would often be less in smaller cities.

here is a similar link for Norway.'s+norway+what+things+cost&source=bl&ots=1UnABM3-ue&sig=lWD3n5CL_nYfba2seGM05gKoOGU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vqrLUOOkE4_QqwGL3ICwBA&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=frommer's%20norway%20what%20things%20cost&f=false

Out of curiosity I looked at this grocery store in Australia and you can see the prices for home delivery after entering postal code 2000, which I pretty much picked at random.

There was not a clear price pattern, some things seemed high but many types of food were reasonably priced so if you were flexible in your food choices and didn't mind kangaroo burgers at A$10.89 per KB :) (Lean ground beef was A$12.00 per KG, about US$5.75 per pound. )

Soda and Beer were VERY expensive but table wine in 2 liter boxes was not very expensive.

I also spot checked hotel prices and they were not inexpensive but not dramatically higher than in the US.
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Did you take into account all the stuff you spend money on at home that you won't be spending while away?

What do you normally spend on food? Cleaning supplies? Booze? Gasoline? Entertainment? Will your utility bills be lower because you won't be heating or cooling or illuminating the house as much as when you're at home? All that stuff adds up and can put an additional thousand or more into your travel budget.

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You mentioned that you had done parts of Europe already. Did that include Portugal? While the euro isn't giving as good of an exchange rate as it was last summer, they are still a modestly priced country. Good food, good beaches, friendly people, English-speaking not too hard to find. The economic crisis has brought rates down, in an effort to encourage tourism.

The shoulder season months of June & September are quite nice, as is May with the coastal flowers in bloom. Avoid August - peak tourist season. The restaurants & beaches are far busier, service suffers and flights will cost more. If you should need to include July, the first 2 weeks have the lighter tourist load.

If you need more info, let me know. We have a home and spend several months each year there...

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Australia is very expensive. Even a bed in a large dorm can be $50 in some places...

You might consider southeast asia if that has any appeal to you. Very affordable, and english is spoken by many.

South America is where I can't help but keep returning. English is not so common there, but in 8 weeks you can learn enough to get by. With 8 weeks you could even consider picking a city (really anywhere in the world) that interests you and spending a few weeks in a full time language school. I spent 2 months in Buenos Aires at the start of a long trip and it was a really nice to live somewhere for a while and also learn the language for the rest of the trip.
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With realization that by budget is not as tight as I thought it was it looks like Australia and New Zealand are pretty doable and they are a likely choice. Maybe five or six weeks there and a road trip in the US for the remainder of the time during a different time of year.

For New Zealand, you might want to look into renting a camper or motor home. They've got em for every budget and level of luxury desired. Some people also will get a simple camper van and mostly stay in hotels, using the camper when convenient to do so. The size of the country is ideal for road tripping from one end to the other. 8 weeks is about right if you want to want to cover the whole thing, especially if you'd like to do one or two of the Great Walks (many of the Great Walks are easy to moderate tramping).
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Maybe Argentina isn't such a bright idea right now after all.

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Thanks for all the info. So far it look like it will be Costa Rica for three to four weeks in the spring.

A week in mid August after the schools have stated up here which will likely be a local beach

I am also trying to set up a three week block in September and I'm not sure what we will do. Possibly a car trip up to New England since we have not been up there.

That lease a few more days that I will fit in here and there.

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Maybe Argentina isn't such a bright idea right now after all.>>>

Not trying to push Argentina and I know OP has already made a decision, but please note that the article cited in the referenced posting mentions the reaction of the Bush Administration to the incidents in Argentina (!)- a little out of date.

According to Department of State web site, number one problem is traffic accidents (I can verify) and demonstrations are next. Most of the latter take place in center of city and can easily be avoided by just being aware of what is going on around you. I arrived in Lille, France last year and was met by thousands of demonstrators in the center of town. I just went another way. It can happen almost anywhere in today's environment.

Everyone has their own level of risk tolerance and I admit mine is higher than average. But, I would always check State's website as its information is most current and also (for the most part) accurate.
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