It’s a big world. In fact, there are 195 independent nations in the world according to the U.S. Department of State. If you’re country counting, you could potentially hit 15 European countries in three weeks this summer. But if you want an in-depth experience, you may want to stay put in just one place.
Where should you spend your precious vacation time this summer?
Before deciding on the “where” I like to answer the “why” first. If your goal is to indulge in unlimited food and stay in a comfortable environment without having to deal with logistics, I would recommend taking a Norwegian Cruise Line Alaskan cruise from Vancouver. If it is to go sightseeing and learn about WWI and WWII battlefields, I recommend joining a Trafalgar Tour special interest tour. For relaxation at the beach and nature walks, Hawaii would be at the top of my list. For a cultural hiking adventure, I would suggest going to Peru and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Getting away for three weeks is a luxury for most families. Per Fortune’s report, most Americans don’t take advantage of their days off. We on average only use 11 days out of 15 vacation days per year.
Don’t throw away your vacation days and go somewhere this summer. If you’re wondering where to spend three weeks, Trippy users have the answers for you:
Trippy user Uriel Triguel Pacheco recommended Indonesia for the beaches, rice fields, and wildlife. He said:
I would recommend you come to Indonesia. The advantage of the archipelago is you can stay in 3 different places in 3 weeks, as the islands are close to each other. From the iconic Bali to the desert Lombok, Flores and the Komodo dragons…. each island as a unique culture. And of course, the incredible beaches, rice fields, and 30° water…. Also, Bali is an incredibly romantic place, the best romantic dinners of Asia are on the island.
With the new Labuan Bajo Komodo Airport in Flores Island, an island in Indonesia to the east of Bali, it is easier than ever to get to Komodo National Park and see the giant Komodo dragons. Trippy user Alicia Haque from Vancouver also recommended Flores:
I recommend Flores Island and Komodo for adventure and wildlife — we based ourselves in Flores and did a couple of diving day tours around Komodo (the diving is A-mazing), a day trip to Komodo Island and a safari tour. The main town on Flores is very quiet – there isn’t a beach, and unless you have a vehicle you’re stuck in the small town so that I wouldn’t recommend it for your whole vacation. However, it’s a must-visit place. Nusa Lembongan, which is classed as Bali but away from the main island, is stunning and very relaxing. The Gili Islands are gorgeous too; I’d recommend Gili Air or Gili Meno island if you want somewhere quiet 🙂 have an amazing trip!!
Indonesia has over 17,000 islands and about 900 are inhabited. You can’t possibly see them all, but it’s reasonable to pick one or two islands to visit. Two summer vacations ago, I chose to visit islands: Java and Bali. I was in Indonesia for a month, spending most of my days in Jakarta with my sister, followed by a week in Bali.
For a three-week vacation, allocate five days in Jakarta, with a day trip to Bandung from Jakarta. Then fly or take the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta (also known as Jogja) for five days to visit historic sites like Borobudur, Prambanan, and Kraton palace complex. Lastly, fly from Jogja to Bali and spend ten days exploring Bali’s beaches, rice terraces, and beautiful natural landscape.
Despite its many crowded touristy sites, Bali still has its magic if you know where to go. Check out Balian Beach, one and half hours from Kuta on West Bali, Canggu also on the west coast, and Jemeluk Beach (good for snorkeling), located in the far east corner about a two and half hour drive from Denpasar Airport. I also recommend visiting Jatiluwih and Tegallalang Rice Terraces. If you only have time for one, go for Jatiluwih.
The fresh, floral air energizes you. The warm, tranquil waters refresh you. The breathtaking, natural beauty renews you. Look around. There’s no place on earth like Hawaii.
If you’re wondering which island to visit, local resident and Trippy user Terry Uemera wrote:
Kaua’i is the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. It is not as developed as O’ahu or Maui. Its main attraction is its natural beauty! Lots of outdoor activities to make you appreciate what this island has to offer.
There are several locations to choose from for accommodations. Poipu is the sunnier side of the island with swimmable beaches. This area is the more popular part where most guests choose to stay at. Accommodations range in this area from 3 to 5-star condos and resorts. On the North are Princeville and Hanalei. It is the lusher and greener side of the island and sometimes can get more rain. Resorts and condos are also from 3-star accommodations to luxury resorts. The center part of the island closer to the airport area is where you will find more affordable but still nice accommodations ranging from 3 to 4-star accommodations.
Inter-island flights will run around a hundred dollars each way. Hawaiian will start nonstop service from Lihue Kaua’i to Keahole-Kona, Hawaii. They also have several flights throughout the day to O’ahu. In 10 days I would recommend you combine Kaua’i and O’ahu and plan Hawaii island for a completely separate trip since there is so much on that island to see that is worth exploring. I would suggest fly into Honolulu, O’ahu and do a one way to Kaua’i, spend the rest of your time on Kaua’i then fly back home from Kaua’i.
I would also suggest a cruise like Norwegian Cruise Line’s seven-day four islands cruise embarking in Honolulu. It is the best way to see the four major islands of Hawaii. After the cruise, I would follow Terry’s suggested itinerary for a complete three-week vacation in Hawaii.
Hike the Inca Trail and visit Peru
Summer in the northern hemisphere means winter in Peru, which is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu since it’s dry.
Inca Trail is one of the most famous trails in the world. The biggest tip before leaving according to Trippy member Amy Marie is:
My biggest tip is to book as early as you possibly can. As the most popular hike to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail can sell out several months in advance because it requires a permit; a maximum of 500 permits are allowed per day.
To check the availability of Inca Trail permits, visit Inca Trail Reservations.
Trippy user Jen Dudley said:
By law, you have to go with a guide company of the trail because they regulate how many people are on it each day.
It will take 3 night/4 days and 27 miles to do the Inca Trail and you will climb 4,000 ft in elevation and do an almost 13,800ft pass and 12,000ft pass. You need to be in good shape and realize that if you are from sea level–you will feel the altitude. Coming from Denver, Colorado and hiking 14,000 ft peaks all the time, it was easy…but definitely get into decent shape before hand.
There were a few members of our group that had a very hard time doing the passes. But it is so worth it! I went with Llama Path guides, and there were amazing! Here is what we did–Machu Picchu was the most touristy thing.
The ancient Inca Trail will take you from one Incan ruin to another over the course of a four-day journey. The highlight of the hike is when you walk through the gate of the “Lost City of the Incas” – Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu consists of the ruins of palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and over 150 houses and is surrounded by ancient agricultural terraces. This ancient lost city was not discovered until 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer.
Jen’s itinerary is worth noting. She wrote and shared her two weeks’ experiences:
• Flew into Lima, spent one night.
• Flew into Cusco, spent 3 days, then did the Inca Trail.
• Came back and flew to Arequipa and then drove to Colca Canyon and spent 3 nights there and explored all the tiny towns.
• Flew back to Arequipa and spent 2 more nights.
Jen’s travel tips:
1. I used Latin America for Less to book my in country airfare (which I highly recommend using an agency for this as they can get in-country airfare rates, etc–I can give you my gals name that I worked with) and transfers. Other than that we (2 couples) explored all on our own.
2. I picked the hotels and Latin America for Less booked them for us. All local and historic. I cannot say enough about the food–everywhere!! We ate at the best restaurants in Cusco and Arequipa (visit the city market –wow!) and it was about $40 USD per couple and that included wine and pisco sours!
3. Definitely try the Alpaca, Cuy (guinea pig), beef cheek, gooseberries, cactus fruit, and the fried dough from street vendors in the small town of Chivay near the Colca Canyon. I ate my way through Peru!
4. I’m happy to provide the names of the hotels, restaurants, etc. Do not try to pack in too much into 2 weeks. I think spending 3-4 days in the 3 main places we visited gave us enough time to enjoy the culture of each location, eat, talk with locals (yes, you need to know some Spanish–hardly anyone speaks English) and take 1,000 photographs.
5. Skip the tour groups—you won’t have fun or really see Peru and experience the culture. Hire taxi’s (very cheap), a private driver, take the collectivo from Yanque to Chivay for 2 Nuevo Soles each and explore on your own.
6. It is VERY safe, locals are so friendly and helpful. I recommend buying the Frommer’s Peru book and reading it inside and out. My trip would have been very different if I hadn’t.
7. Also, learn some basic Spanish and download a translator on your smartphone. You will need it if you are skipping the tour groups. You will be surprised at how much Spanish you will be able to speak by the end of your two weeks and it is so much fun speaking the language! Good Luck!
I explored Peru for five weeks with a tour guide, a driver as a part of a 12-traveler tour group. The trip started in Puno, followed by Lake Titicaca (island home-stay for a night), Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puerto Inka, Nazca, Huacachina, Ballestas Islands, and Lima.
Alaska Cruise with a stopover in Vancouver
Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Carnival, and Celebrity are some of the major cruise lines offering summer cruises to Alaska.
A 14-day cruise starting from Vancouver would allow you to explore Canada’s largest city on the west coast before the cruise and add a few more nights in Fairbanks, Alaska after the cruise. I like NCL’s itinerary that includes cruising the inside package, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Seward, Homer, Anchorage, Denali and disembarks at Fairbanks.
The NCL Alaska cruise offers tour opportunities like a visit with an Iditarod Sled Dog Musher, a 7-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour where you can explore Denali, a full-day Halibut and Salmon fishing excursion and more.
Trippy user Beth Brueggemann from St. Louis had this to say about her experience with Celebrity Solstice to Alaska:
It’s a beautiful ship and the food was amazing. The staff is from all over the world and were very nice and friendly. You will love the cruise and the scenery is beautiful. If your budget will allow, definitely do the dog sledding, its a bit on the pricy side but you will never forget the experience. If you have not booked a balcony, try to find someone who has and enjoy the view and relax. The spa was very impressive and worth the splurge. I think you can pay $100 for the entire cruise and be able to use the spa facilities, which includes these warm beds that look out over the glacier, it very surreal. Enjoy!
Unlike the couple from Florida who cruised 200 times in 15 years, I’ve been on only two cruises, one for seven days and the other for 11 days. Both were relaxing and hassle free, and now I’m considering the NCL 14-day cruise for next summer.
Photos and article by Claudia Looi