questionswhere are you going on vacation this year?

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My wife and I can't afford to spend too much on vacation. Around $1,500-2,000 on average. But to make the most of it, we have never flown together yet. So no more than a 10 hour drive until we have more money.

This year, we drove to Branson, MO. It's a tourist trap town but there's a lot of nice scenery and it's only a 5 hour drive from home. It took a lot of research to avoid all the crap, but we really didn't want to do much on our week off. There were hundreds of bad restaurants, but we managed to find enough good ones to make the trip interesting, and we found plenty of food deals to save money. Neither of us had been there since childhood, so it was still a new experience.

Just having a decent place to stay with a pool that's not always full is enough to make me feel like I'm getting away. In past years, I've tried to cram too many activities into one week. Once you go beyond a certain level of being busy, everything's forgettable anyway.

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By the way - underground tubing through a cave? That sounds awesome. Unless it's just pitch black all the time.

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@omnichad: I have a hotel stay voucher in Branson, but it's a $700 flight from here so I am unlikely to ever see it.

On cave tubing, have miner headlamps for the dark parts and the light from the openings at the ends reflects on the water quite a ways into the caves. There's a little waterfall in the middle of one of the caves.

Not my photo, don't have the laptop here today, but this is the same caves we've tubed in.

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Thanks for livening up the place.

At the end of the month, we are going here:

http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/photogallery.cfm?pagenum=1&viewphoto=443

None of the pictures do it justice. We try to get back as often as we can, it may not be the fountain of youth, but it certainly restores something in me. Note, we aren't certified cave divers, so we don't attempt the boil, which goes down some 130 feet.

And now I want to go cave tubing!

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The mister and I don't really take regular vacations. Up until last year, we had two large senior dogs that kept us from traveling much, and we both have jobs with responsibilities that make it difficult to take time off.

That being said, we are going to Boston for 3 days in a couple weeks. It's for a weekend wedding and we don't really consider it a vacation, but all our coworkers have been "Are you excited about your vacation coming up?"

You know, it kinda irks me that they consider my time off a vacation when it's more of an obligation! Because of the west coast to east coast flights, I had to take Friday and Monday off from work. It's just airport time. I'm sure that when I'm back in the office, folks will be thinking I'm now refreshed and renewed after my "vacation".

Humbug. I want a real vacation at some point. Some place tropical! LivingSocial has a lot of great vacation deals lately. Anybody ever do one?

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@pickypickypicky: I haven't been to Blue Springs in a couple of centuries, but I remember it as being absolutely beautiful. I'm glad to hear it's still lovely.

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@thewronggrape: They haven't offered anything I can't beat on my own. I gave up on packaged vacations to English speaking countries for the most part. We don't even use the excursions set up by the cruise lines anymore. With the world wide web, I can directly contact tour operators anywhere in the world. arrange for dock pick-up and delivery, and bundle activities to suit my group's interests without having to compromise as you must with mainstream deals. Of course, then it's on us to get back to the ship on time. But so far our tour operators have taken their responsibilities quite seriously and have seen to our safety, entertainment and scheduling with great efficacy. We tip generously to encourage this professionalism, and still end up spending a lot less to get exactly what we want.

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@magic cave: what is really nice is that it is still relatively uncrowded. The hard partiers tend towards Ginnie Springs (lake havusu south). That leaves this one relatively unscathed. They just redid all the cabins too, and we will check them out for future visits, although we decided too late to book one this year.

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We're driving to Murphy, NC for a week in early October; we always take a vacation that week to celebrate our anniversary. We map out routes that avoid interstates, rent a cabin in the mountains of NC, TN, or GA, and just let the world get along without us for a while. We do a lot of exploring back roads. ("Have we been down this one?" "No." "Okay! Let's see where it goes!") We never have an agenda other than one or two things we'd like to do or see; we'll probably day-trip to the aquariums in Chattanooga and Gatlinburg, both of which we like. Or maybe not. Who knows? After 15 years it's getting harder to find new places, but it's been five or six years since we were in the Murphy area, and we'll manage.

We'll take our two elderly dogs with us; all four of us are unhappy when we board them. This year it's likely my son and his wife will join us for a day or two, which will be very pleasant.

Anyone within an hour or two of Murphy care to meet for lunch or dinner?

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I am with you guys on the elderly dogs thing. It's not as bad this year as Simba is still only middle-aged, but it was a problem for several years with my very long-lived Majiik and then even longer-lived Merlin. The friend that stays at my house with Simba loves him dearly and pesters me to go away for a few days so he and Simba can spend quality time together. He and Jasmine just tolerate one another, but Jasmine isn't very interested in anyone but me. But I miss my fur-kids dearly when we travel. One of the people coming with us is not coming on the cruise, she'll only be doing the New Orleans leg. We paid extra for the rental so she could bring along her 15 year old Golden mix, but he passed away last week. If she gets another dog between now and then I am sure she'll bring the pup along. It will be a little more dodgy to bring a new dog on a trip, though.

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@moondrake: We took one of our dogs on a weekend getaway up the coast of California last year (our other dog passed a couple months earlier at age 14). We specifically chose a dog-friendly inn.

I'm glad that she was with us, but we could tell that she'd rather be home in an environment she was comfortable with. It took a lot of coaxing to get her outside and to the beach. However, she enjoyed being in the car hanging her head out the window or cuddling on my nap. She passed away a few months later (bone cancer), so I'm so glad we brought her along for that trip.

We have been wanting to go on an international trip for years, but with those two around, we've stayed close to home. More freedom to travel now and there's just so many possibilities!

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Going to the Outer Banks of NC in early October, as we have for the past 30 years. Plan to climb Bodie Island Lighthouse for the first time since it's been open to the public for climbing. We wait all year for this trip, so relaxing in the fall, and we enjoy the wonderful local seafood.

Have been taking some local day trips this summer, small towns less than 2 hours away to explore antique shops and restaurants, or just driving around in the mountains. Trying to see as much as we can before we are too old to go anymore!

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Sadly my vacation was back in May. I went to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic with my two of sisters and three friends. We flew out of Newark so we spent some time in NYC before our flight. Times Square is pretty lively at 1 am. The DR was awesome, especially when you stay at an all inclusive resort. The food was amazing and there was an abundance of drinks. We went zip lining, did a little horse back riding, hiking to and through a river with cliffs to jump from and natural water slides, and spent plenty of time on the beach. We wanted to see the city and tour the Brugal rum factory, but unfortunately never made it.

I am looking forward to some camping and 4-wheeling in PA hopefully next month.

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I am going to Osaka, Japan in September. Mom has a conference to attend and I will go and explore the area while she works. We have a short guided tour lined up after the conference. We are trying to arrange a cruise to Alaska either before or after going to Japan. One of the flight options goes through Seattle and we would like to extend the layover and go. We have been talking about going to Alaska for years and it keeps getting put off. This time we would be adding very little to the flight cost to just do it. I need to finalize the tickets soon. I am starting in Pennsylvania and Mom is starting in New Mexico so getting tickets to try and meet up to fly together can be challenging/frustrating.

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@pattiq: In case you don't speak Japanese, I'll share something we learned on our visit: The only place we could reliably find someone who spoke English was at the handicapped gate at the train stations. We were surprised, as we'd found many people in China who spoke enough English to help out a tourist, but in Japan practically no one. We went just before the Olympics in Beijing and the Chinese government had a big push for everyone to learn tourist English and they'd done a very good job. The hotels gave us cards with the address in Chinese for cab drivers whenever we went out in case we got lost. Several times in China we were approached by very polite teens who told us that their school assignment was to find a foreigner to speak English with and would we talk with them for a few minutes? They'd whip out a little notepad and ask us where we were from (when we said Texas they always brightened up), why we came to China, how we were liking our visit. It was quite charming.

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I'm leaving 5 weeks from today. First, I'm flying to Rapid City, SD. I'm spending 2 nights. I'm going see Mt. Rushmore and the surrounding areas. I'll leave there and fly to Sacramento, CA. I'll immediately drive to San Francisco, where I'll spend one night so that I can drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and see Fisherman's Wharf. The next morning, I'll head south down the Pacific Coast Hwy. and end the day at the Yosemite Lodge. Around midday the next day, I'll head back to Sacramento to visit family for the weekend. That Saturday, my cousin and I are going to a San Francisco Giants game and an Oakland A's game. That Monday, I go home.

In December, I'm spending 3 nights at Disney World. Next March, I'm going to Memphis for an NCAA basketball regional. Next May, I have tentative plans to go to Las Vegas, Southern Utah, and the Grand Canyon.

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@moondrake: Good to know. I have been a little worried about the language thing. I do not know any at the moment although I plan a crash course in polite and helpful phrases. I have been getting some information from a Japanese lady who lives near me. She says most touristy places have someone who speaks English. The conference is being held at a cultural center and will be mainly in English. The conference provides translation services to allow a wider range of attendees.

Did you visit Osaka? I am reading guidebooks and checking out city maps to plan where to go.

Interesting about China. I would like to go there sometime in the future. I explored going that direction this time but it added a bunch to the travel dollar requirements. I am more likely to strike out on my own if I know I am likely to find an English speaker when travelling internationally.

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@pattiq: We just stayed in Yokohama and took the train into Tokyo. We were there for the World Science Fiction convention. We planned most of our trip in China because it was about 1/4th the cost per day compared to Japan, and that was even finding incredibly cheap "hotel rooms" (maybe 5x7 with a 2x2 bathroom) at $65 per night in downtown Yokohama. Food was terribly expensive, finding anyplace we could eat for under $15-20 was very difficult. I was especially put out at the price of tea. I drink probably ten mugs of tea a day and it was $4-5 per teacup of tea, no refills. But Japan was sparkly clean and most everything was shiny and new. We did go on a tour boating on Lake Hakone and took a cable car up Mount Fuji, but it was pea soup fog and we saw almost nothing. We have a running joke about Mount Fuji being invisible. We had a similar experience recently at the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica, so now we are collecting mountains we have walked on but never seen.

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Wow. Everyone's vacation(s) sounds so very nice. I'm going to a very exotic local -- Cleveland. ;-)
We are also setting up a day trip to take my 85 yo father for a glider ride. Thinking of trying it myself. Not sure. I don't do well with heights. Anyone been in a glider ?

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At the end of next month, my wife and I are taking a 10 day trip to Orlando. We will be going to Disney World, Discovery Cove, Sea World, Aquatica, and maybe a few beaches there. Never been, but we have wanted to go for a while. We met a couple from the area while vacationing in Jamaica a couple years ago, and will also be planning to visit them for a day or two while there. As with any vacation, we pretty much just want to get away for a bit and not have to worry about work etc.

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@magic cave: Do you live in NC? We're in the Triangle area but we grew up in the western part of the state. I'd love to come back that way but the job selection is slim. Anyway, if you haven't been in a while the Capital is a great place to visit and have some great food as well. Let me know when you're coming and I'll show you around :-)

My wife and I are going to Beaufort, NC in a month or two. It is currently tied for the best small town in America :-) I love it there. The seafood is amazing and the B&B we stay at is on the waterfront at the inlet. We don't go there to do anything instead more to do nothing.

Earlier this summer we hit universal studios in Fl as my wife finished her Masters degree (on to PhD!) she really wanted to see Harry Potter World (Started reading them at age 11 I think). We also saw Seaworld. It was a great trip. The best part was how happy and excited she was.

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@lichme: You can catch a 3-4 day cruise out of Orlando (Port Canaveral) for next to nothing. For example, 3 nights on a Carnival ship to the Bahamas is $159 each in September. That's cheaper than most hotel rooms, and includes food, entertainment and the Bahamas.
http://www.cruisecheap.com/c/src.php?SortBy=LowestPrice&portid=346&ShipID=&VendorID=&cruise_month=9&cruise_year=2013

I have never sailed with these guys but the price is good:

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I'm going to Paris for two and a half weeks at the end of August. My mother and I vacation together once a year, and our normal M.O. is to go somewhere new every year and only stopover in Paris for 4-5 days. But this year we're lazy and just decided to spend the main vacation in Paris (we're going to Aix for 5 days in the middle of the trip, to revisit more old haunts and maybe get a bit of sun). We go every year because we lived in Belgium for a bunch of years in my youth and we used to go to Paris at least once a month then (it's only a 4 hour drive). Alas, we can't go once a month anymore, so we settle for once a year. It's not just an amazing, complex city on its own--it's also a city full of family memories and personal feelings. It's both emotionally exhausting and exhilarating and I love it. Walking 'til your legs hurt then eating 'til your stomach hurts is the best kind of relaxation.

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@moondrake: I think a trip on carnival is more a survivalist trip lately. I'm a fan of those just not in the middle of the ocean. :-) I'd rather be stranded on an island instead of a carnival cruise line.

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@nmchapma: Because it's big and there are a lot of people involved it makes the national news. And unlike a plane crash, a cruise ship failure is a slow motion disaster so it lingers in the press forever. There are 230 cruise ships in operation, and one or two have a serious problem a year. Carnival is being hit hard, but I hope that means that they are going to reinvest in their fleet to ensure they don't have more bad press. This fall we'll be having our third sailing on Carnival Conquest; it's one of our favorite boats. One of our sailings on Conquest we were chased all over the Caribbean by Hurricane Ivan and they had to cancel most of our ports (as they were smashed flat by the hurricane) and draw in the stabilizers to conserve fuel so it was like a week-long roller coaster ride, but we still had fun. Got to see Chichenitza, one of the Wonders of the World, which isn't a usual cruise tour as it's so far inland but they were struggling to give us things to do.

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@ceagee: Not been in a glider (although I've always wanted to... soaring silently, like a bird....), but maybe this will help? When I used to travel on business, I was mortally afraid to use those little 6-9 seat planes. Then one trip I had to use one. It was still dark when we boarded, so we flew dark-into-dawn, which has always been my favorite time to drive or fly. That took a lot of the edge off the flight for me. On the way back, again after dark, I sat right behind the pilot, practically as close as that old school bus first seat used to be to the driver. As we descended over my city, I suddenly realized the damned plane wasn't flying straight at all!! We were moving straight ahead but the plane was oriented to 11 o'clock instead of to 12!! OH NOES!!!

Then I realized the pilot was totally relaxed. Caught my breath before I could shriek. And had a great descent and landing. A perfectly good worry, totally wasted.

Try the glider. Soar silently like the birds!

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@nmchapma: Oh, rats! I would so enjoy getting to meet you, but I live in NE Florida, and since we'll be driving to Murphy we won't be within 300 miles of you. Perhaps another time when we're headed closer to you?

Beaufort sounds lovely and peaceful, just our kind of place to vacation. I hope you have a wonderful time.

Did you enjoy Universal Studios? I grew up in Central Florida, about 50 miles east of Disney, and I got Disneyed-out a long time ago. I haven't been to the Parks since the late 80's. The Spouse and I talk about going down to Universal one of these days. Perhaps this winter, with a side trip to the Ikea store down there.

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this year I've been on a cruise - miami - key west - grand turk - nassau.. spent a few add'l days in miami.

I live in NH but we spent a weekend up north in north conway area. Going back to north conway one or two more times for long weekends..

next year, maybe mexico and probably disney for a family trip.

Work wise, india and chicago this year, probably another trip to india next year too.

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Rincon, Puerto Rico is a fantastic hidden jewel of a vacation spot, with a Caribbean feel and Island attitude without all the expense, or even need for a passport. The flight is a breeze, especially if you live in a hub city. I highly suggest flying into Aguadilla, which is a red-eye and only lands every other night, but puts you right near Rincon and you don't need to face the rigors of driving on the island...which requires an Offensive Driving license and 5 years of practice in Boston to do.