My husband and I are planning our first "big" trip outside of North America. We don't really have a firm destination in mind, and that's part of our problem. There are too many places we want to go and see.
We've got a two week block at the beginning of July 2012 booked out for travel. We want to go somewhere that's got some cultural history (I'm a history teacher) to it as well as also having interesting scenery (my husband's an amateur photographer).
We've been looking at places like Chile, Croatia, India, Thailand, and Egypt, but can't make up our minds.
I was wondering if anyone has advice for us first-timers, out in the world. We've got a bit of a budget (who doesn't?) and know that we definitely want overseas travel, or at least outside of Canada and the US.
With only two short weeks in my opinion you should only be considering destinations that can be easily reached in one day of travel, with preferably only one airport connection. You're in Saskatchewan so flying via Toronto (for Central/South America and the Caribbean) or Vancouver (for SE Asia) gives you loads of options.
India is too far and too complicated for first time travellers. I'd suggest a Latin culture in Central/South America or if you are interested in Asian culture then SE Asia (in particular Thailand) is simple too.
Lastly, as a dark horse in the race... consider Cuba. 1.) You're a history buff and Cuba is in a VERY unique historical/cultural situation, and 2.) Your husband is a photographer and he'll go crazy there - you can't find a bad place to point a camera lens, and 3.) At this point in time there are still not many traditional American tourists which adds a bit of mystic as well, especially for a Canadian.
A short run-down on Cuba: It's no longer an exotic destination... there are loads of excellent guide books like Moon, Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, etc... there are several Internet forums/blogs that make it an easy place to research... the whole country is very safe and non-threatening... it has a very defined Gringo Trail with decent transport and accommodation options... tourist scams are simple and no big deal, almost to the point of being naively innocent (compared to most other developing countries)... if you're still nervous it's easy to have a local guide/resolver/travel agent give you a really nice comfort zone by setting you up with a semi-arranged itinerary so you're not completely on your own... etc.
Have fun with your research and good luck no matter where you decide to go.
Thanks! The flying out of Toronto and Vancouver is definitely something we've considered. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan isn't the most metropolitan of all Canadian provinces.
We hadn't thought of Cuba, I guess because I thought of it as a winter vacation spot.
I appreciate your advice!
It's a winter vacation spot for hordes of Canadians looking for cheap 1 and 2 week all-inclusive resort vacations - Cuba is a "Wal-Mart of the Caribbean" for those people - but outside of the all-inclusive tourist enclaves the remaining 95% of the Island is fascinating and a great destination for independent travellers.
Much will depend on your own personal travel style and this can be difficult to judge if you've never traveled before. For my husband and I, our first big trip was the big trip, 12 months around the world with a back-pack that stretched out to five years but we did spend two weeks in Malaysia and Singapore as a bit of a practice run for our honeymoon. Questions you need to ask yourself may include:
- What standard of accommodation will you accept? Do you mind "roughing it"? What do you term "roughing it"? We stayed in very basic one and two star lodgings in India in order to keep within our budget. I have friends who I know would never consider staying in places we did. This allowed us to occasionally splash out and we did spend one night of our five weeks in India in a converted Palace.
- How will you travel? Are you prepared to take trains and buses as used by the the locals and put up with crowded carriages, noise, assorted baggage, long waits to get to where you are going or do you prefer to bypass these and fly or travel by private car or taxi?
- Are you happy to eat where the locals eat or will you expect a certain standard at mealtime?
There are many destinations in South-East Asia which offer cultural experiences and a multitude of photographic opportunities on a very small budget provided you can adapt to the drastically different lifestyle.
Here is one suggestion: =snip=
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]