Where should I go over winter break?

I can take up to 3.5 weeks off this winter (Dec. 8 – Jan. 2), and I’d like to find somewhere special to go.

Because I’m in the US and would like to keep time spent recovering from jet lag to a minimum, I’d like to stick to the Western Hemisphere. I was originally thinking of going to the Galapagos Islands, but I’ve just discovered that you need a lot of lead time to plan a good trip in December. Phooey.

I’d be a woman traveling alone. I like visiting places that are of cultural, historical, or ecological interest. I’m less into upscale shopping, resorts, or luxury cruises. (Some time in resorts can be great, though, especially after I’ve been roughing it.)

I’m OK with getting around in places where people speak little to no English. I could at least hold basic conversations in Spanish and Portuguese, and I think I could get by in French.

I’ve already been to some places in the Americas, including: parts of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, some small towns in Bahia, and Chapada Diamantina); parts of Ecuador (Quito, Otavalo, Latacunga, and a few places in different parts of the Amazon); the Yucatan Peninsula, and parts of the Dominican Republic (Salvador, San Francisco de Macoris, Boca Chica, and a very small town in the Cibao).

So, fire away! I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Cartagena, Colombia. Really. It’s a World Heritage City.

Easy connections through Miami. No jet lag.

The old city still has the colonial era walls and fortifications. Multiple museums and other sites of interest can keep you busy for days just in the old city. Be sure to take in the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum).

Tour the Longaniza Trail in Puerto Rico: sixteen restaurants featuring twenty-seven different dishes, all based around longaniza.

Okay, you could also check out the beaches and historical sites while you’re there.

Scribble, where would you be coming from? Do you enjoy road trips?

A drive down Baja California has some treasures: gray whales you can come so close to, you can almost them; you easily hear them breathe - a fantastic experience. The missions of Baja. The World Heritage Sites in Mulegé and the Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_Mexico

Panama. Tons of history, easy to get around, more rainforest and more birds than Costa Rica, lots of cultural diversity.

3.5 weeks off? faints Jet lag? Maybe come home a few days early from nearly a month off. (Sorry, kidding, not thread crapping.)

Barbados? Well, that’s where I’m going, anyway. 57 days, but who’s counting?

Also, good job traveling solo. I won’t say it’s hard traveling solo as a guy, but stop asking me where my wife is, please. I don’t have one. I have a great deal of respect for my fellow solo travelers. I can only imagine it’s harder for women. Have fun, wherever you go. I’m going diving. Ring me if you get there.

As far as Latin America… Sounds like you know your way around. But, I like Bahia Drake Costa Rica. Is somewhat undiscovered, easy enough to get to, relaxing, safe. Good for swimming and jungle exploring. Will be high tourist season though (good or bad depending how you look at it).

If you like cities, Buenas Aires has become very hip in the last decade (lots of foreigners moved there when real estate was cheap). Also, if you like happening tourist centered mountain towns , I have heard good things about El Chalten.

I would like to check out Vinales Cuba before the embargo gets lifted. But you would have to go there through Mexico, and I am not sure how safe it is.

Peru! Definitely Peru.

Actually Cuba is very safe. The Castro regime realizes the importance of tourism. Anyone that does harm to a tourist faces severe punishment.

I’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu.

Why else do you recommend Peru?

I can’t believe I asked that question. Never mind. I’m not actually that ignorant or that stupid, I swear.

Please–keep the suggestions coming!

Yeah, Peru was pretty awesome and there are a number of Machu Picchu and Inca Trail (and more) threads archived here that provide lots of good details.

Any place in the U.S. you’ve been vaguely meaning to get around to? Western National parks? American Revolution sites? Non-theme park Florida? Classic coast-to-coast drive?

I was there briefly on a business trip, and did the world’s fastest trip to Machu Picchu. It was well worth it, but I would have given my left arm to see more of the country. Seems like a bit of a traveler’s wonderland.

Added to that, the fine dining in Lima is superb. There is a very upscale little sushi restaurant, the name escapes me. One of the best meals of my life. We didn’t even crack the menu- we just asked the waiter to bring us whatever was good.

OK–I just bought a round-trip ticket to Lima, leaving Dec. 8 and returning Dec. 31. (Returning on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2 would have doubled the price of the ticket. Besides–it would be a good idea for me to have a couple of days at home before I go back to work on Sunday, Jan. 4).

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions! I’ll have to check out Cartagena, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Baja California some time.