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 Post subject: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summer?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:28 pm 
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Any suggestions for where to go and where to book? Julialegume and I want to fly somewhere exciting and travel on a budget for a trio of weeks this summer.
I've been scouring all the usual sights (Hotwire, Expedia, Vayama, Kayak) seeking travel deals - is there another one I should add into the mix? It's to my understanding that Tuesdays & Thursday on the 1st and 15th of the month are usually the smartest times to buy a ticket...any other advice on that? I've also been looking for cheaper flights out of LA or Seattle vs. PDX but it's been looking like it makes more sense to fly from here so far.

As for where to go, we're leaning towards somewhere we can stretch the US dollar and take in fresh flavors and beautiful scenery (but, of course). I'd love to visit SE Asia again but have yet to see any tempting fares into Bangkok or Malaysia for the times I'm looking.
Any advice for South or Central America for vegans on a budget? Chile pops out at me...

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:03 pm 
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can't say anything about chile but here in brazil inflation is through the roof, it is not the budget destination it used to be.
argentina might be a good bet as 1) delta (i think) has just started some kind of new direct service to miami and they are marketing cheap fares from BA to there- maybe not delta, but maybe that new merger company? and 2) argentines have all sorts of bizarro currency restrictions on them right now and are desperate for dollars. of course, it's probably the worst place for vegans in south america, even worse than here....

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:35 pm 
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Consider me intrigued! Flights to South America are looking a lot more likely for us...thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:10 am 
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keep in mind that if you do fly to argie and have a US passport there is some kind of entry fee that they spring on you, i don't know off the top of my head but it's either 100 or 400 US. i think they call it a reciprocation fee. i know i personally have avoided going to AR because even though i am a legal mercosul resident (and in theory, one of them) they insist that the fact that i hold a blue colonialist american pig passport means i pay the "tit for tat" tax on every entry, even if I live next door to AR and drive my car over the border to get gas, for example. anyway, my own grumpiness aside, do a search to find that out because it adds a good chunk to your ticket price.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:53 pm 
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I just returned from Costa Rica, and Frontier flies there from PDX (via Denver) for significantly cheaper than flights to Asia, Europe, and even South America. It's not dirt cheap, but is safe, vegan-friendly, gorgeous, has tons of wonderful animals, and beaches beaches beaches.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:04 pm 
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Okay, now I'm obsessively researching Costa Rica, thanks! It definitely seems do-able and gorgeous.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:46 pm 
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Seriously, it's just amazing. I specifically recommend the Osa Peninsula, and Boca Sombrero in particular.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:42 pm 
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Thank you!!

Any thoughts on Nicaragua? It seems like it may be a little easier to travel on a budget there?

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:55 pm 
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where can I hold a sloth or two?

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:03 pm 
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sloth sanctuary bed and breakfast! http://www.slothsanctuary.com

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:23 pm 
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Costa Rica is great! You can definitely do it fairly cheap and vegan, especially if you're willing to poke around off the tourist recommendations and know some Spanish. Nicaragua is right next door so I imagine it has similar food to CR-which means relatively easy for vegans.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:32 pm 
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OMG sloth sanctuary!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:42 pm 
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I'm all over the place right now, this afternoon was spent contemplating Nicaragua (and then I read some possibly scary stuff about the closing of a gay hotel) and this evening, I'm all about Panama. The sloth sanctuary, however, is definitely on our minds!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:43 am 
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If you're thinking about Panama, I'd definitely stay in the Casco Antigua neighborhood and not in the newer modern part of the city. Casco is under construction, basically, but it's a great neighborhood with little cafes, restos, opera house, presidential palace etc. We stayed in a fabulous apartment. It wasn't exactly budget, but they also have a bachelor apartment with kitchen. http://www.loscuatrotulipanes.com/
I think I'd choose Nica over Panama for a first time visit.

We're a gay couple. Never had any trouble with any places we stayed. Didn't shout from the rooftop in Nicaragua or Panama but nobody seemed to care. We're looking at Colombia right now. Going to Panama and Nica really stoked our interested in C. and S. America.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:35 am 
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For what it's worth, I'm going to Costa Rica this October (and Puerto Rico in July... I went a bit insane on Hipmunk, if you know what I mean). I'm going pretty much specifically because it's cheap as hell to fly to both places. And I'm crazy excited about seeing a bio bay in PR.

I was dead-set on hitting up the sloth sanctuary, but then I read that the place is a little bit like a zoo, and they're really only in it for the money. I was devastated when I found out, but I REALLY do not want to go there and find sad sloths in small cages (which is what I read). Some searching here led me to find this place http://www.jaguarrescue.com/, and I am totally going to go there instead. They seem way more legit, and care for their animals.

No judgment if you do go to the sloth sanctuary, of course, but thought I'd let you know before you got all hyped about it!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:58 am 
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Oh no! You're breaking my heart, Alice1drland. I hadn't heard that about the sloth sanctuary. It's on my list of must-dos for next time, but I'll have to look into that a bit more because what you report is worrisome.

On my visit, we went here: http://osawildlife.org It was really nice. The animals do live in cages (big cages) because the sanctuary is in the rain forest, and they'll get eaten by other animals if they don't. We saw six sloths, a toucan, a kinkajou, a kyra, peccories, maccaws, and Sweetie the monkey was our tour guide. We were given the tour by a trained biologist who works there--it was a pretty great place.

JDF: my friend lives in Managua, and reports that it's pretty unsafe and unpleasant though other parts of Nicaragua are better.

One nice thing about Costa Rica was that it felt really safe. And they have no standing army, and the put their money into environmental preservation and education. The country has a 96% literacy rate.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:24 pm 
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Sign up for the travelzoo top 20 they usually have pretty amazing deals.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:54 pm 
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You guys rule!

Smurfy, you know I so want to do everything on your Costa Rica posts!

I think we're leaning towards Panama or Costa Rica right now since it's been shortened to a two week trip and price wise, Central America makes the most sense vs. SE Asia (alas) or elsewhere we've been daydreaming about (there were some tempting NZ prices floating around, whaaaaat). This is so exciting. I like the notion of being around less tourists (which makes Panama a bit more appealing according to some research?), so if anyone has any off-the-beaten-path type of recommendations for either, please do share!

Any thoughts on vegan dining options in Panama?

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:55 pm 
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alice1drland wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm going to Costa Rica this October (and Puerto Rico in July... I went a bit insane on Hipmunk, if you know what I mean).


I don't but I am intrigued and wish your trips were before mine so you could share all the details!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:56 pm 
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Oh, yeah! I get the travelzoo emails, but I'm actually the most obsessed with Skyscanner.com right now - especially the 'fly everywhere' option...http://www.skyscanner.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:50 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:
Oh no! You're breaking my heart, Alice1drland. I hadn't heard that about the sloth sanctuary. It's on my list of must-dos for next time, but I'll have to look into that a bit more because what you report is worrisome.

I broke my own heart, trust me. My dream for the past 3 years has been to hold Buttercup, but I can't bring myself to go now. Maybe it's fine! I just didn't want to take the risk of making a reservation at their b&b and being horrified once I got there.

jdfunks wrote:
alice1drland wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm going to Costa Rica this October (and Puerto Rico in July... I went a bit insane on Hipmunk, if you know what I mean).


I don't but I am intrigued and wish your trips were before mine so you could share all the details!

Oh, I only meant that I kept browsing around hipmunk.com (my preferred flight looker-upper site) and finding deals that I could not resist. Both my flights were something like $350 round-trip, each.

I also took advantage of a LivingSocial getaway deal for this place http://www.samasati.com/, which is where we'll be staying for 6 nights. Jungle bungalow that's vegan friendly, with yoga!! I can't really contain my excitement. Keep an eye on LivingSocial and Groupon, because they both frequently have deals for resorts and such in the Caribbean.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:19 am 
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If you go to Costa Rica in the off season there won't be anyone there and everything will be super cheap!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:48 pm 
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When's the off season?

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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:50 pm 
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jdfunks wrote:
Oh, yeah! I get the travelzoo emails, but I'm actually the most obsessed with Skyscanner.com right now - especially the 'fly everywhere' option...http://www.skyscanner.com/

That's awesome. I've found a new favorite place to waste time. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to fly (& book) on a budget for 3 weeks this summe
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:26 pm 
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jdfunks wrote:
When's the off season?


the rainy season is late may-late october/mid-november. most everything is cheaper, but one thing to consider is that many of CR's already shaky roads can become impassable, and some more remote areas become impossible to reach. on the osa peninsula, even in the dry season you have to drive through rivers on the main roads. in the rainy season, much of the area becomes closed off due to inaccessibility.

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