Planning the next big trip: Destination short list for 2015

Our biggest trip of the year usually happens in May. We’re lucky that The Kid’s school have a 2 week spring break, and that allows us to travel to further destinations. Two weeks may not sound like much, but for a family with a school-age child who prefers to do several trips in a year (instead of one 5-week vacation), it is the longest we can be away without paying premium high season prices. It is still early October, but I am already researching for places to go, before getting into the actual logistical planning. Our travel wish list is always long, but taking many things into considerations, here are our top choices for 2015:

1. Costa Rica

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The tropical rainforest makes the bulk of the list this year, and we feel Costa Rica is the best place at the moment to experience that. The country offers a good balance between natural preservation and infrastructure and safety for family travel. It is getting more popular as a travel destination, but we don’t think it has reached a saturation point yet, and there’s ample possibility for independent travel. It will be a new travel environment after our past ones. The Kid will be 9 next year, and she is already excited about going to see the jungle, go zip lining and walking on a canopy bridge. We also think it’s high time we go see the Americas, since we usually travel East.

Estimated return airfare from Amsterdam: Around €800 per adult.

Cons:

  • There’s no direct flight from Amsterdam. The best connection is Amsterdam – Panama City – San Jose.
  • Compared to other countries in the region, costs in Costa Rica are relatively higher.

 2. Japan

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Japan has always been high on our list. It’s a country with beautiful landscape and fascinating culture you don’t get anywhere else on the planet. It’s got the reputation of being an expensive destination, but I found out that it actually costs less flying to Japan than going the same distance to the Americas. Accommodation is not cheap, but the further you go outside of the busy districts of the biggest cities, the more affordable it gets (and we don’t usually fancy being in the busy cities anyway).

Estimated return airfare from Amsterdam: From around €650 per adult.

Cons:

  • I’m not sure how easy it is to travel independently outside of the big cities without speaking the language.

3. Mauritius

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Mauritius is officially an African nation, but the island lies to the northeast of Madagascar, and like Madagascar, it’s a melting pot of Africa and Asia. I’m always drawn to these remote island nations, and I have been drooling over pictures of Mauritius, with its beautiful beaches and imposing mountains. It’s only 3 time zones away, and while not close by, it’s got good flight connections to Europe. If we don’t get to go there next year, it will definitely make it back to the short list.

Estimated return airfare from Amsterdam: From around €1100-1200 per adult.

Cons:

  • The airfare is the most expensive of all the other choices, and since there is no direct flight from Amsterdam, the flight time is the longest as well, at around 20 hours each way.

4. East Kalimantan, Indonesia

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East Kalimantan is a province is the Indonesian part of Borneo. While we’ve been to Indonesia many times, I’m attracted to this part of Indonesia because it’s different from other places we’ve been. For a start, East Kalimantan has got rain forests, with orangutans reserves, islands surrounded by clear water, lakes full of non-stinging jellyfish which will be heaven to snorkel in. While tourist infrastructures are still in its infancy, the region has a good international connection via Balikpapan’s international airport. I foresee a challenging trip, but it may be worth it.

Estimated return airfare from Amsterdam: From around €1000 per adult.

Cons:

  • There’s no direct flight, and the spots we wanted to go to may be quite remote that we need all kinds of connecting transportation methods to reach it.
  • Lack of infrastructure and choice of accommodation.

5. Panama

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Another tropical rainforest country, I am including Panama because it seems to have everything that Costa Rica has, for lower prices. There is also a direct flight between Amsterdam and Panama City. It is also not as well developed as Costa Rica, which may or may not be a bad thing.

Estimated return airfare from Amsterdam: Around €800 per adult.

Cons:

  • The country is less developed and larger than Costa Rica. Some destinations can only be reached by air from Panama City, such as Bocas del Toro.

Which one would get your vote?

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15 thoughts on “Planning the next big trip: Destination short list for 2015

  1. I vote for Panama! (Partly because it’s on my list too)… but the direct flight, less developed, less money than Indo and warm climate swing my vote. I look forward to seeing where you go!

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  2. I would vote for Costa Rica, I have heard so much great stuff about this wonderful tropical paradise! I haven’t heard much at all about Mauritius but you have made it sound very inviting as well. I’m sure whatever destination you chose, you will all have a fabulous time.

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    1. That’s exactly why we put Costa Rica so high on the list. It seems wonderful. Mauritius is currently still low on the radar, which make it even more appealing to us, and it seems to have more character than resort islands like the Maldives.

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  3. I admit to being biased, but have you looked into visiting Korea? It has unique culture and food from Japan, but it’s still East Asia, so there are similarities. It’s quite inexpensive to travel here, easy (all signage is in english, plus there is lots of support for foreign tourists – free translation, special taxis, hotline), and May is a perfect time to be here. Gorgeous weather and spring flowers blooming everywhere…. 🙂

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    1. At this point, we don’t know either. 🙂 Usually the practical matters will decide it in the end… or, we may go to a completely new and irresistible destination (it happened before).

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