Author Topic: Best vacation ever  (Read 2689 times)

FrenchToast

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Best vacation ever
« on: November 06, 2019, 07:20:54 AM »
What is the best vacation you've ever been on? Was it pre/post FIRE? Was it spendy/thrifty? Where did you go? What made it the best vacation EVER?

iris lily

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2019, 08:16:52 AM »
Two years ago we had a spendypants vacation in Romania. I loved that country because the architecture and people were Different from the other European places I had been going. It easy spendypants because we hired a tour guide in a car to ferry us around. This wasgreat because we didn’t have to argue between the two of us about where we were going and how to get there, all decisions were made for us. When traveling, it seems like I spend too much time securing the night’s lodging and getting there—that mental energy could be spend doing otherwise.

This is post FIRE.

Aside from that one, our stay in a Scottish castle pre-FIRE was magical and memorable because I love that style of architecture. It was something like $400 per head per night and worth every penny.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 08:18:55 AM by iris lily »

BECABECA

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2019, 09:39:50 AM »
My best vacation ever was post-FIRE. A good friend had been accepted to compete in the world’s oldest aviation race, the Gordon Bennet international gas balloon race. The country that she was representing, Australia, didn’t have a gas ballooning community, so it was a bit like being the Jamaican bobsled team in the Olympics. 2 months before the race, they find out that they need to have a meteorologist on the team to do all of the flight planning (the only way you navigate in a gas balloon is by going up or down in altitude to get you into the wind streams that are going the direction you want.) Since they didn’t know any meteorologists, they asked me if I wanted to figure it out and then spend a month in Europe traveling around with them as we practiced and then competed. So in exchange for learning just enough meteorology to flight plan for gas balloons, I got an all expenses paid month long European trip with my friend. It was amazing, and in the competition my friend flew straight over the Alps in a wicker basket like a badass.

Watchmaker

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 09:51:42 AM »
My best vacation ever was post-FIRE. A good friend had been accepted to compete in the world’s oldest aviation race, the Gordon Bennet international gas balloon race. The country that she was representing, Australia, didn’t have a gas ballooning community, so it was a bit like being the Jamaican bobsled team in the Olympics. 2 months before the race, they find out that they need to have a meteorologist on the team to do all of the flight planning (the only way you navigate in a gas balloon is by going up or down in altitude to get you into the wind streams that are going the direction you want.) Since they didn’t know any meteorologists, they asked me if I wanted to figure it out and then spend a month in Europe traveling around with them as we practiced and then competed. So in exchange for learning just enough meteorology to flight plan for gas balloons, I got an all expenses paid month long European trip with my friend. It was amazing, and in the competition my friend flew straight over the Alps in a wicker basket like a badass.

That sounds amazing.

My best vacation was  either two weeks in Tokyo last year, or a hiking trip in Colorado three years ago. Tokyo because I loved the people, the food, the city, and it was the first overseas vacation I've taken in a long time were I wasn't piggybacking on a work trip. It was fairly thrifty-- flights were with miles, stayed in a tiny airBnB-- but it still cost $3-4k. Colorado because the Ice Lakes trail was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and I love hiking and then soaking in the hot springs in Ouray. Not surprisingly, this was much cheaper than Tokyo. Both were Pre-FIRE.

But honestly, I'd love to do more adventurous trips like BECABECA's above.

MrGville

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 10:52:00 AM »
+1 for Tokyo.  My wife and I went there two years in a row because we loved it so much.  Both trips were covered by points/miles.  You can make it thrifty if you want, but we splurged on some nice meals.  The culture is totally different from where I'm from (USA), people are all friendly, we never had any language issues, food is AMAZING, and you can have a blast everyday just wandering around the different neighborhoods with no agenda. 

I want to go back again next year, but feel like we should visit somewhere else first.  Maybe I'll get some ideas from other people's posts!

OtherJen

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2019, 10:54:50 AM »
Seconding @Watchmaker because Japan was amazing. I was there for an academic meeting in Kobe, but husband and I bought rail passes and took the bullet train to Hiroshima for a day trip, and then stayed for an extra week to sightsee in Kyoto and Tokyo. We were pretty frugal, other than husband's airfare (mine was reimbursed) and one dinner at a Kobe steakhouse. We stayed in private-room hostels in Kyoto and Tokyo, took the train everywhere, ate inexpensively in little cafes, and did lots of free and cheap things like museums and parks. I would love to go back someday.

We aren't FIRE, and our vacations are usually in-state camping because Michigan has great state park campgrounds. But we spent a wonderful 3 nights on Mackinac Island last month. We were definitely spendier than usual (about $1300 total vs. $250 total for 5 days of camping), but we had a great time. We got off-peak hotel rates and paid a bit extra to bring our own bikes rather than rent. But we didn't have to pay any more to hike/bike around and across the island, and we budgeted for two very good restaurant meals per day. We almost never eat out, so that was a very fun treat.

Now that I think about it, my favorite vacations always involve good company (husband), good food, and outdoor activity (I don't like to sit still). We got a Labor Day deal for a few nights in Boston plus airfare for just under $1000 a few years ago, and we spent the whole time wandering the historical areas, touring museums and the aquarium, and eating really good food. That was really fun! We also once visited Lake Placid, NY in Feb. and got to snowshoe in the woods, hike in the Adirondacks, and skate on the outdoor Olympic short-track speedskating rink.

mm1970

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 11:59:35 AM »
I'm not really sure that I can pick just one:
- 2 weeks in Copenhagen this summer.  Exhausting, but because it was mostly my husband's friends and family, I got to go along for the ride and didn't have to plan ANYTHING.  I did have to share a bed with my 7 yo son, who kicks!  It was relaxing and fun.

- a week in Hawaii at a fancy resort, 8 years ago.  We generally don't stay in places like this.  So many things to do and you never had to leave the hotel, really.  (Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island, if you are wondering).  Downside: I don't like eating out and the mini-fridge is small.

- Two weeks visiting family one summer, with the caveat - during my family week, instead of trying to see 'everyone' (it could have coincided with my 30th HS reunion, plus I have a million relatives), I chilled all week.  I told people we were home and where to find me (step dad's house).  I ignored any guilt trips (your aunt isn't getting any younger, and she's lost her memory, and she'd love to see you).  We spent the entire week hanging out with my nieces (12 and 15, my kids were 12 and 5).  We played board games galore, took them to the pool, took them inner tubing down the river, went out for ice cream.  I went for daily walks with my sister or runs on my own.

- A week in So Cal/ Arizona - Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree NP, and visiting my cousins for Thanksgiving.

- A week in SW Colorado - Telluride and Durango.  This was a trip where we met some old friends.  Hiking (though I had altitude sickness - I don't do well over 10k feet.)  Hanging out with old friends.  A rafting trip.  Playgrounds and potlucks.

- Even further back - 10 day trip driving around the southwest (before kids).  Grand Canyon, Sedona, Santa Fe, White Sands, Tucson, Joshua Tree - about half of it camping.


In short:
- I like hanging out with friends and family.
- I like being active.
- I don't like having every single minute scheduled, though I do like scheduling things.

FrenchToast

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 12:16:41 PM »
These are so great! So many votes for Japan, perhaps I need to add that to my list.
I agree w/ good food, outdoor activities, and good company! I learned recently that traveling with people who are like-minded in their vacations is important. Beware of trips with new people if you might not mesh, a relaxer and an adventure junkie may not be compatible travel buddies.

StarBright

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2019, 12:20:43 PM »
We have had very different vacations at different stages of life.

My best ever vacation was a trip to Italy where we hiked in two very different locations: the Dolomites and Sestri Levante/Cinque Terre. For an international vacation it was pretty thrifty - cheap last minute flights, staying in hostels or really run down pensiones, cafe meals. But we were in our mid 20s and it was awesome.

My best vacation since having children was a trip to Mackinac that we took this summer. It was just the right amount of active and relaxing and just a little luxurious. ( @OtherJen that is about what we paid for 3 days on the Island too!). Now I'm in my late 30s and much more run down and I need to be able to entertain children and get a good night of sleep.

In my 20s I would have thought the Mackinac trip seemed lame, and as much I loved that hiking trip to Italy, I would not choose those same accommodations at this stage of my life.

I also used to turn my nose up when my older relatives took cruises - but as I get older I totally get it :)


bacchi

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2019, 12:40:07 PM »
When I was working a lot in my 20s, the best vacation was probably one where I stayed home and didn't answer the phone and email for a week.

For a traveling vacation, it was probably a driving trip to Chaco Canyon. Camping at Chaco with a star lit sky is awe-inspiring.

weston

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2019, 12:51:05 PM »
In Order...

1. A week after we graduated college, two friends and I got into a beater of a car in N.J. pointed it west and just kept driving until we ran out of money. Managed to eke out approximately nine weeks since we camped out and lived on rice and cheese. Just an endless magical loop of Colorado, NM, Nevada, Utah and Calif with occasional forays into other western states. That was almost 45 years ago but the stories I've told and retold about that trip never seem to end. Saved just enough to make it back across the country and coasted into my parents driveway with less than 1/8 of a tank of gas and $17 in my pocket.

2. Fell in love with a divorced woman with two kids. Loved the kids just as much. After we married, my wife and I decided to splurge on what we thought would be a once in a lifetime trip for all 4 of us by taking a cruise to Alaska. The cruise ship was phenomenal and Alaska was breathtaking but what made it a great vacation was the thrill all 4 of us felt that we were now an "official" family unit.

3. Just got back from my 3rd place finisher. Did 15 days in Africa. Cape Town was great, Johannesburg was pretty good, Victoria Falls was very nice, but oh those animals. Spent most of the trip staying in lodges in the National Park. Went on 11 separate game drives. Truly amazing. Saw every animal we hoped to see in their natural habitat. It was a small fortune but worth every single penny.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2019, 01:28:34 PM »


2. Fell in love with a divorced woman with two kids. Loved the kids just as much. After we married, my wife and I decided to splurge on what we thought would be a once in a lifetime trip for all 4 of us by taking a cruise to Alaska. The cruise ship was phenomenal and Alaska was breathtaking but what made it a great vacation was the thrill all 4 of us felt that we were now an "official" family unit.

That's so sweet.  :)

The one that stands out for me is about 18 months ago we took the train to Venice for a long weekend.  It snowed and the whole place was gorgeous in a blanket of snow.  The kids were also overjoyed.  The most magical moment was when my kids had a snowball war with some local Venetian kids in a campo in one of the backstreets of Venice. 

OtherJen

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2019, 02:20:50 PM »
My best vacation since having children was a trip to Mackinac that we took this summer. It was just the right amount of active and relaxing and just a little luxurious. ( @OtherJen that is about what we paid for 3 days on the Island too!). Now I'm in my late 30s and much more run down and I need to be able to entertain children and get a good night of sleep.

In my 20s I would have thought the Mackinac trip seemed lame...

Haha, @StarBright , same here. Now, in our early/mid-40s, if the weather had been better when we visited I'm pretty sure that we would have spent a couple of hours napping in the adirondack chairs at Mission Point. We did end up waiting out some rain with our books in the big arm chairs at the public library (which is adorable). We're super exciting like that.

You might appreciate this article, as I did: Mackinac Island ‘angels’ surprise woman with stage 4 cancer, create dream vacation. It's such a special place.

NotJen

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2019, 02:36:13 PM »
All of my “best trip ever”s have been solo hiking trips in national parks. Just heading home from one now.  Being outside and active is my thing.  I also enjoy similar trips I take with my BF, which always have lots of fun moments, but he takes up too much room to have “best ever” thoughts (I assume it’s an introvert thing).

I’m pre-FIRE, though 1 month (today!) from quitting my career.

ontheway2

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2019, 02:44:53 PM »
I can't pick just one vacation, but what any vacation I would pick have in similar is not being too structured. I like going somewhere new and exploring. A walkable city or the woods preferred over time in a car (once there). I want to research the area and have an idea what I want to do, but I want to be able to take a turn wherever I want and see what happens. This is obviously a lot easier on trips that don't have the kids.

jeroly

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2019, 02:51:42 PM »
My 'best' vacation was thirty years ago, when I took a four month leave of absence (well, 2 1/2 plus six weeks of PTO) and did a round-the-world trip - seven weeks in China (including hanging out in Tiananmen Square days before the tanks came in), three weeks in the USSR, three weeks in Eastern Europe, Paris for their bicentennial, and wrapped it up with time visiting my parents in London.  Total cost for the four months including boarding my two cats (which cost $1000) was about $4k.

My most recent vacation, a post-FIRE four weeks in Nepal hiking to Everest Base Camp and environs, was pretty awesome too!  (Total cost for the four weeks was about $2.5K not counting the hiking gear I needed to get).

Actually almost all of my vacations these days are pretty great, and I'm trying to take one every two months for the next five years to knock my bucket list down! (Jordan in December 2019, and 2020 will be:  New Zealand, Madagascar, Sumatra/Sulawesi, the Baltic States, Australia, and Brazil!) FIRE is fun.

Dave1442397

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2019, 03:03:24 PM »
Lake Tahoe. I've been there many times now.

I like doing things on vacation, and there is so much to do there in the summer.

Kayaking, Hiking, Horse riding, mountain biking, road biking (the ride around the lake is fantastic, as is Donner Pass), paragliding, parasailing, wooden boat ride, Vikingsholm, The Thunderbird Lodge, etc.

Just being there makes me feel better. The air, the sun, the trees...beautiful.

Mark Twain said it best:

Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor, and give him an appetite like an alligator. I do not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones. The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be?--it is the same the angels breathe. I think that hardly any amount of fatigue can be gathered together that a man cannot sleep off in one night on the sand by its side. Not under a roof, but under the sky; it seldom or never rains there in the summer time. I know a man who went there to die. But he made a failure of it. He was a skeleton when he came, and could barely stand. He had no appetite, and did nothing but read tracts and reflect on the future. Three months later he was sleeping out of doors regularly, eating all he could hold, three times a day, and chasing game over mountains three thousand feet high for recreation. And he was a skeleton no longer, but weighed part of a ton. This is no fancy sketch, but the truth. His disease was consumption. I confidently commend his experience to other skeletons.

Ethel

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2019, 04:20:56 PM »
My best vacation to date was four years ago in Iceland.

I traveled there by ferry from Denmark, which took a couple days, and landed on Iceland's east coast. Rented a car and drove along the northern shore of the island for two weeks until I got to Reykjavik in the west. Flew back by plane.

One of these days I need to repeat this vacation, but travel along the southern shore. Such a beautiful country.

I went in September, so while it was not too cold it was mostly empty of other tourists (at least until I got to the Golden Circle). I sometimes spent hours cruising along the Circle Road, immersed in the breath-taking scenery, without seeing another car the entire time.

I alternated sleeping in the car on camping grounds or in B&B's. Met some wonderful people there that I still chat with from time to time.

The only thing I'd do differently is book a better cabin on the ferry. I took the cheapest option, which meant sharing a tiny room with 9 people distributed across three 3-story bunk beds. I had the top bunk, and there was maybe an inch between the tip of my nose and the ceiling.

Brother Esau

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2019, 04:29:18 PM »
For us, Europe:

1. Portugal
2. Scotland
3. Croatia
4. Amsterdam>Brussels>Paris

We're from the U.S. and really love the culture and history there.

mm1970

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2019, 05:57:06 PM »
How could I forget Bryce and Zion??

Both amazing, but i have a preference for Bryce. 

use2betrix

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2019, 06:13:37 PM »
My top 3 are all nearly equal in their own right.

In no particular order....

Currently 31 years old, about 3 years ago my wife and I bought 1 way tickets to Asia with absolutely no plans aside from our first week booked in a hotel in Bangkok. I had just finished 4 months of (7) 12 hour shifts/day with every other Sunday off. Prior to that I’d been working 60-70 hrs a week the past 6-7 years with no more than two weeks off per year. I have always been very OCD about my work, structure, and schedules. I was 50/50 that we’d end up back in the U.S. in a week and I’d be ready to go back to work. After the shock wore off, I realized that I could actually RELAX. We spent two weeks in Bangkok, 2 weeks in Phuket (got certified to scuba dive for 3 days off Phi Phi island), then a week in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Singapore.

As that trips was winding down, I had been building up a dual sport/touring motorcycle to do a major trip. Being February we were limited. So - when we got back we planned a 3.5 week, 3000 mile trip through Baja. We camped on the beach under the stars every night. When we got to Cabo we used 3 days of credit card rewards to pay for a few relaxing nights at the Hilton before our trip back. We were up close whale watching as 3 gray whales came right up to our little john boat that we could touch. They stayed and played for over an hour. We took off-road paths and went down in the sand, crossed streams, met lots of Canadians who came down to camp the beaches for the winter.

We went back to work for 4 months, then got unexpectedly laid off. We immediately picked up a 1966 M416 off-road camping trailer with a roof top tent to pull behind our 4Runner. We also had a 12 week old German shepherd. We did over 8000 miles in two months, camping in the tent every night but 3. Went up through Michigan, their state parks, Mackinac island, northern peninsula, over to WI, then to the badlands/black hills. Up to Banff/Jasper for 3 weeks, down to Yellowstone (got snowed on in the tent) to the Tetons, taking the Continental Divide trail down through Colorado in late October with the changing leaves. Hopped off over to Ouray for several days, down to the Grand Canyon, then finished visiting family for a couple weeks in AZ until I found the next job.

We would easily do any of those trips again in a heart beat. When I finish my current contract position (which will be mid 2021 at the earliest) we will be doing another major camping trip, or at least that’s the plan. We have bought and have been extensively preparing a 17’ casita trailer, adding a 4” lift, off road tires, generator, etc. We’re taking it on a two week trip over Christmas, it’s making it really hard to finish out this job, but each month I work I save enough for nearly 3 months of sabbatical... must... keep... going....

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2019, 08:21:17 PM »
For post kids trips:
-Skiing at Tahoe last winter, when we all just had a blast, despite the questionable hotel. The snow was fabulous, the kids were excellent on skis, we met up with friends. So much fun.
-Wailea with the kids last Thanksgiving. They are 12 & 13, so old enough to explore a lot on their own (at the hotel), but still fun to hang out with.

With my husband, he participates in a few craps tournaments/year in Las Vegas. As a result, he gets lots & lots of comps. Those trips are crazy fancy & are nothing like our real life. Also, when you are doing the incredibly fancy part of Las Vegas, it's nothing like the strip. I love the giant dichotomy between those moments & are real life.

I also like vacations that are:
-Active
-Relaxing
-Some activities, but generally unscheduled

Calimerostache

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2019, 10:17:44 PM »
Took a 4 months sabbatical with my then girlfriend.

We both left our job (3 years after we graduated from college) and went to New Zealand .
Bought a car there and toured the north and the South Island .
Stopped for a month to work in the vineyard with a tongian family.

We pretty much camped all the time (couple of stops in backpacker sometime).
Hiking pretty much none stop.
The South Island is just the most beautiful place on earth in my opinion.
The area is so diverse: rugged peaks, fjords, sandy beaches ... cannot recommend enough .
Definitely a place where I’d like to FIRE.

reeshau

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2019, 03:03:28 AM »
We have had a lot of great vacations.  Travel and seeing new places, people, and things has always been a priority for my wife and me.  But my best vacation, that I still vividly remember 22 years later, *was* a run-of-the-mill family trip to Disney World:  I was out of college, but had 2 younger school-age brothers, my Mom, my Stepdad, my Grandma, my Wife and I.  It was Grandma who suggested a detour to the Kennedy Space Center, on a lark, as a launch was scheduled.

We got to see STS-82, the 2nd Hubble repair mission...and a night launch.

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-82/images/medium/KSC-97EC-0284.jpg

We didn't have any kind of VIP seating...or any seating.  We drove along the coast, and spotted a knot of very well-equipped people:  huge telephoto lenses, radios tuned to the launch, etc.  So we stood near them.  At the point in the picture, it looked like someone across a football field had lit a match.  After about 5 seconds or so, the sound hit us.
 After about a minute, it turned night into day.  Wow.

Thanks Grandma.

Freedomin5

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2019, 03:16:01 AM »
We spent three weeks at the cottage in the Muskokas region of Canada last summer (a few hours drive north of Toronto). The fresh air, clean lakes, gorgeous hikes, and beautiful nature were amazing! We made several new friends who also owned cottages at the resort, many with children DD’s age. We also had fun visiting local farmers’ markets and hanging out at the nearest small town’s summer festivals. We visited an art festival featuring local artists from Ontario and Quebec. We also invited a bunch of friends to our cottage. So relaxing and so fun! I can’t wait to go back again next summer. Hopefully, we will spend about a month at the cottage next year.

My other favorite vacation was the Canadian Rockies, which we visited approximately 11 years ago (has it really been that long?!) Beautiful scenery, great hikes, lots of wildlife. It was exhausting but a ton of fun. And our economy rental car was upgraded to a Mustang GT for no additional cost because they ran out of economy sedans at the airport car rental place.

chouchouu

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2019, 04:20:29 AM »
Northern India, uni trip with some friends, one of whom hosted us for the trip. I love the history of the place, so many layers upon layers and it feels like living history. Driving around in our friend's vintage ambassador, meeting nomadic tribes people whose lives seem untouched by modernity, things like coal used to heat irons for the clothes. Several hundred year old buildings still in use without being relics of the past. We went rafting down the ganges and saw wild elephants on safari. Had some happy evenings at my friend's house in the himalayas chatting away into the early hours.

Coming up in February I'm taking the kids on safari in Kenya,first time in Africa and its the most expensive trip I've ever organised but hopefully an amazing experience for them.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2019, 05:09:39 AM »
I'm not sure what to answer here. In general, I enjoy being on beautiful places that are quiet from other people and I enjoy being active. So in general I enjoy our hikes in the mountains, even though they can be physically challenging at times. But also in abroadistan, we manage to find beautiful, not crowded places and being active is not always required.

When I visit somewhere for the first time and everything is new and exiting, it makes more impression than visiting the same place for the second or third time. But it also nice to visit the same place more often, as you know you liked it there and you won't get an unpleasant surprise.

Maybe one of my long hikes was my favorite? Crossing a mountain area called Hardangervidda in Norway from the south to the north. But I have also experiences many beautiful moments during other hikes. Like crossing a hill on a place without a path and on the other side finding a beautiful blue lake with white sandy beach and the sun shining and that's where we are putting up our tent. Or a walk last year over a (very wide) mountain ridge with a beautiful sea view with islands on both sides. Or just standing on some campsite and seeing the evening/midnight sun shining on an impressive mountain ridge. Or hiking in Iceland and seeing all those weird colors they have there. It is not always the whole vacation that is the best, but elements of vacations.

ericbonabike

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2019, 06:56:16 AM »
two "best" vacations ever
1) Biked from my home on the east coast to Yellowstone.  Did it in about 3 weeks, solo.  Spent about 50% camping, and about 50% hotels.  The joy of solitude, the never ending roads, and the vast expanse of the united states made me realize that there are more important things than work.  This was the trip that made me realize that I could downshift from full time plus (paid for 40 hours per week, working 45-50 hours per week) down to something less. 

2) A couple years later, after the downshift was complete (paid for 30, work 30), my wife and I spent 10 days slackpack hiking the coast of cornwall england.  We hiked about 100 miles total, along the coastal path.  Staying in 100% B&B's / Hostels, and paid a company to haul our luggage from place to place.  We enjoyed the beautiful english countryside, the english people, and again, the sense of wonder associated with being out in nature for long periods of time. But this time, I got to do it with my best friend.


Next summer, we're hoping to spend a few weeks biking from Budapest to Prague.  Not 100% sure if that will happen, but we'll see.

My takeaway, the best vacations aren't engineered.  Spending two weeks in disney personally sounds like one of the circles of hell.  I know I'm cut from a different cloth than most americans, but I have friends who travel to remote areas and then spend most of their time watching TV in their overpriced hotel room, looking out their balconey, etc. 

redhead84

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2019, 07:03:43 AM »
I won't tell my husband, but my favorite trip was a week in Florence, Italy with my younger sister. We walked all over Florence, hiked Cinque Terre, road Vespas through the rolling hills of Tuscany, and spent a day a day in Lucca. My sister is a much more laid back traveler than my husband and more involved with the planning. It made the logistics of travel less stressful for me.

iris lily

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2019, 07:22:02 AM »
Northern India, uni trip with some friends, one of whom hosted us for the trip. I love the history of the place, so many layers upon layers and it feels like living history. Driving around in our friend's vintage ambassador, meeting nomadic tribes people whose lives seem untouched by modernity, things like coal used to heat irons for the clothes. Several hundred year old buildings still in use without being relics of the past. We went rafting down the ganges and saw wild elephants on safari. Had some happy evenings at my friend's house in the himalayas chatting away into the early hours.

Coming up in February I'm taking the kids on safari in Kenya,first time in Africa and its the most expensive trip I've ever organised but hopefully an amazing experience for them.

That India trip sounds fabulous. I would love that.

StarBright

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2019, 07:25:09 AM »
I won't tell my husband, but my favorite trip was a week in Florence, Italy with my younger sister. We walked all over Florence, hiked Cinque Terre, road Vespas through the rolling hills of Tuscany, and spent a day a day in Lucca. My sister is a much more laid back traveler than my husband and more involved with the planning. It made the logistics of travel less stressful for me.

Lucca is a wonderful city! I feel like European tourists go there but the few times I was there I never ran into Americans. That sounds like a great trip.

BlueHouse

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2019, 07:35:58 AM »
After a series of employment hiccups immediately after 9/11 (2 companies in a row went out of business and then hiring freeze on next employment offer), I decided that instead of stressing out about getting the next job, I'd just take a "mini-retirement" in the middle of my career. 


 6 months in southern Africa.   Not spendy at all.  I loved that I could camp out a lot for super-cheap but definitely not "rough" experiences and when I needed a break from the dirt, I could stay in a hostel for either $9/night (dorm) or when I needed to be alone:  $22/night .  I traveled like a European -- definitely not the American experience, but also definitely not "roughing it". 

So it was pre-fire but post FU money. 

StarBright

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2019, 07:58:29 AM »
My best vacation since having children was a trip to Mackinac that we took this summer. It was just the right amount of active and relaxing and just a little luxurious. ( @OtherJen that is about what we paid for 3 days on the Island too!). Now I'm in my late 30s and much more run down and I need to be able to entertain children and get a good night of sleep.

In my 20s I would have thought the Mackinac trip seemed lame...

Haha, @StarBright , same here. Now, in our early/mid-40s, if the weather had been better when we visited I'm pretty sure that we would have spent a couple of hours napping in the adirondack chairs at Mission Point. We did end up waiting out some rain with our books in the big arm chairs at the public library (which is adorable). We're super exciting like that.

You might appreciate this article, as I did: Mackinac Island ‘angels’ surprise woman with stage 4 cancer, create dream vacation. It's such a special place.

Thank you so much for sharing that article. It totally made me tear up. Michiganders are just the best!

EscapedApe

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2019, 11:33:37 AM »
All of my “best trip ever”s have been solo hiking trips in national parks. Just heading home from one now.  Being outside and active is my thing.  I also enjoy similar trips I take with my BF, which always have lots of fun moments, but he takes up too much room to have “best ever” thoughts (I assume it’s an introvert thing).

I’m pre-FIRE, though 1 month (today!) from quitting my career.

I'll second this one.

If you have any love for the outdoors at all, the U.S. has incredible National Parks. Yosemite. Crater Lake. Olympic. Mt. Rainier. Arches. Zion. Saguaro. Everglades. If you can, get an annual NP pass and visit several parks in one trip.

With the right planning, you can have a very nice vacation for pretty cheap.

tyrannostache

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2019, 12:06:56 PM »
Best vacation ever: 3 weeks with Eurail passes hosteling around Italy, Switzerland, and France with my BFF. We are both laid-back, frugal travelers who love a lot of the same things. We hiked all over the place. We're both introverts who mesh so well with our need for time together and recharge time. It was not spendy, as we were broke students on fixed budgets.

Best vacation as a couple, pre-kids:
Japan. Stayed with friends on the outskirts of Tokyo. Spent a few days in a traditional onsen. Walked and walked and walked. We could have explored for weeks and would have loved to visit more areas. We fantasize about going back. Airfare was spendy, but lodging was not, since we got to stay with friends.

Post-kids:
1) Renting a campervan and touring Utah national parks. The van rental wasn't cheap, but we could just pull over in any dispersed camping spot on BLM or USFS land. Loved it all. Next time, though, we will be staying far, far away from Moab during "Jeep Week."

2) YMCA family camp in a beautiful spot. We stayed in a big cabin with extended family. There were activities for the kids, beautiful hiking and canoeing, lots of forced family togetherness. All of that was surprisingly awesome and not at all spendy.

4) Backpacking. I take an annual backpacking trip with a group of female friends, and it is one of the highlights of every summer. Not at all spendy, unless you count the up-front cost of good gear.

chouchouu

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2019, 12:34:55 PM »
Northern India, uni trip with some friends, one of whom hosted us for the trip. I love the history of the place, so many layers upon layers and it feels like living history. Driving around in our friend's vintage ambassador, meeting nomadic tribes people whose lives seem untouched by modernity, things like coal used to heat irons for the clothes. Several hundred year old buildings still in use without being relics of the past. We went rafting down the ganges and saw wild elephants on safari. Had some happy evenings at my friend's house in the himalayas chatting away into the early hours.

Coming up in February I'm taking the kids on safari in Kenya,first time in Africa and its the most expensive trip I've ever organised but hopefully an amazing experience for them.

That India trip sounds fabulous. I would love that.

I suggest reading City of Djinns by William Dalrymple before visiting Delhi, gives you some insight into the history of the place which makes it that much more special when you see it in real life.

Samuel

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2019, 12:56:03 PM »
Tie between:
1) My first international trip (Canada don't count, coming from Seattle) at 30 years old, a solo trip to Spain booked on a whim in a moment of frustration with my life. I've since done many other trips but I'll always have uniquely fond memories of that experience of taking that first big leap into the unknown.
2) 10 days in Iceland with my girlfriend, 8 of the days in a camper van circling the island. There is nothing quite like Iceland, despite the cost and hoards of tourists (luckily mainly near Reykjavik).

Still being a working stiff, I have yet to have a vacation longer than 12 days in my entire adult life. One of my major post FIRE goals is to break that record by a significant margin.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2019, 12:59:41 PM »
My top two would be the 10 days I spent skiing/partying in Lake Tahoe (also got married while there) and the two week cruise to Antarctica. Both were quite spendy.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2019, 02:51:39 PM »
I am not FIRE yet, and I adore vacations.  My favorites -

1) Lake Tahoe in early summer - we biked around the lake, went white-water rafting, and hiked for days.  On our second-to-last day we ran into a bear, who, luckily, was more scared than we were (soooo much adrenaline).  I love this area.

2) Hawaii - My dad's best friend was stationed on Oahu, and we stayed with them for a week when I was a kid.  I had never seen water that clear.   It was a beautiful, relaxing trip.  (My worst vacation ever was also Hawaii.  I went back with my now-exhusband.  He overscheduled us so much the trip wasn't fun.  He'd drive us to a beach, give us exactly 35 minutes, then make me get in the car to drive to another beach where I'd have another 30 minutes or so.  Plus I got food poisoning.)

3) the Netherlands - I added two days to a work trip, so I only had to pay for one night in a hotel and meals/activities.  I got to spend an entire day in a museum with no one to nag me to leave.  I got to see the tulips (amazing!!!).  I got upgraded to a hotel room with a balcony right along the water, and I ate dinner watching the sun set.  I forgot my passport in the hotel safe and had a comedy of errors trip to retrieve it and get back to Amsterdam (after a brief and accidental detour to Belgium) to fly home. 

Honorable mention - Disneyland.  The look on my 5-year-old son's face when he first caught sight of Cars Land was worth every penny we spent on that trip.  He radiated pure joy all day.

js82

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2019, 07:40:22 PM »
What is the best vacation you've ever been on? Was it pre/post FIRE? Was it spendy/thrifty? Where did you go? What made it the best vacation EVER?

In my case it was solo traveling Alaska.   Not FIRE'd yet, and didn't even know what FIRE was at the time(though I was never super spendy).  Vacation wasn't "cheap", but was relatively inexpensive as far as Alaska vacations go.  The vacation was mostly unstructured - I booked a plane ticket, some hotels in various locations, and rented a car.  And off I went.  Lots of hiking, spectacular scenery, and close encounters with wildlife.  Also tooled around Anchorage for a bit and visited a few microbreweries.

What made it the best vacation ever?  Mostly that I approached it with the attitude of: "I'm doing exactly what I want to do, and I don't care what anyone else thinks."  There's something liberating about traveling solo and not having to answer to anyone.  There's also something empowering about walking into a restaurant, stating "table for one, please," and just sitting by the window looking out over the mountains while you sip a glass of wine and wait for your food to show up.

*I definitely splurged on a few meals on this particular vacation, but other than that it was a pretty affordable trip.

jmwagner5

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Re: Best vacation ever
« Reply #40 on: November 07, 2019, 08:40:34 PM »
So many amazing vacations in this list!  I wish I had more PTO and money to do all of them.   

My best vacation ever was pre-FIRE for the last month of my Golden Birthday Year (instead of a golden birthday day I decided to make the whole year an adventure and journey). 

I spent all of December in New Zealand traveling with a group of 20 other people where I was the only person from the USA for most of the trip.  We camped out each night across both the North and South Islands and for my money there is no place quite like the beauty of that country.  Took advantage of the opportunity to put up tents on ocean-front beaches away from humanity and bike along amazing roads with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other.  Also had the chance to try bungy jumping, sky diving over the Abel Tasman National Park, cliff jump, canyon swing, swim with wild dolphins, tube through glow-worm caves, luge in Queenstown, sand surf into the ocean and so much more!

I met amazing friends from Europe, Asia, and South America on that trip and can't wait to visit them in their home countries now.  Cannot recommend NZ enough to people as a place to visit!