I just found out that I have 13 vacation days to use before the end of the year.  Thirteen!  My new job is very generous with the vacation days (in part because the company originated in Europe), and the vacation days may not be carried over to the next year (in part because they think that people work better when they get to take vacations).

I’ll be using three vacation days on my trip to Las Vegas in a few weeks, so I’ll have 10 days to spread out over the next six months.

And that got me thinking.

I’ve been planning to visit my friend Jen in Chicago for a three-day weekend, most likely in mid-to-late September.  I’ve never been to Chicago before, and of course, I’d love to see her and her awesome friends.

I only get the basic six U.S. holidays off (and I honestly prefer it that way — I’d rather not have MLK Day off and have tons more vacation time to use whenever I’d like), so I’ll use one vacation day for Christmas Eve, and likely one for the day after Christmas, too, because it’s a Friday.

That leaves me with 7 vacation days left.  I should keep a few in reserve, so I could probably take a week off — or, better yet, I could take Thanksgiving week off, so I’ll only have to use four of my vacation days!!

It would be perfect timing — especially if I went somewhere outside the U.S., which I would definitely do.

Now, the best part: where to go?

My dad got me the Where to Go When book for Christmas last year.  It’s a fantastic coffee table book filled with gorgeous photographs from around the world.  While the itineraries are geared toward an older, more affluent clientele, the book provides you with great destination ideas.

The book has about a dozen destinations for each month of the year, either because of weather (the Florida Keys are perfect in February), local festivals or holidays (Oaxaca for Day of the Dead in October), or because this is the time when the tourist crowds start to calm down (Santorini in September).

I’ve been to the following places at the perfect time of year, according to the book:

  • In April: Paris; Florida
  • In May: Boston (obviously)
  • In July: Washington, D.C.
  • In October: Budapest; Tuscany
  • In November: Venice

If I were to take a trip during Thanksgiving week, it would be somewhere in either Europe or Latin America.  This would also be my first entire trip on my own, so I’d like to go somewhere with a well-worn backpacker trail.  Also, it would be somewhere I could get a lot out of a week.

Here are the destinations that they recommend for November:

  • Nariz del Diablo, Ecuador
  • Burgundy, France
  • Sicily
  • Yucutan Cenotes, Mexico
  • Margarita Island, Venezuela
  • Tysfjord, Norway
  • Barbados
  • Mar del Plata, Argentina
  • Monart, Ireland
  • Venice, Italy (I’ve already been there in November!  I highly recommend it.  It was cool, foggy and ethereal, the way Venice should be seen, as opposed to when I saw it in June: hot, sticky and crawling with tourists.)
  • Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Le Crotoy, France
  • Bahamas
  • Costa Rica

And, just for good measure, October:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Budapest, Hunary (Already been there in October!)
  • Eden Project, England
  • Piedmont, Italy
  • La Rioja, Spain
  • Loire Valley, France
  • Tuscany, Italy (Already been there in October!)
  • Soomaa National Park, Estonia
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Rhodes, Greece
  • Eureka! Halifax, England

And, just in case, December:

  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Vienna
  • Lille, France
  • The Amazon
  • Glacier Express, Switzerland
  • San Blas Islands, Panama
  • Falkland Islands
  • Tortola, British Virgin Islands
  • Country homes in England
  • Dominica
  • Torres Del Paine, Chile
  • Geilo, Norway
  • Lapland, Finland
  • Cayman Islands
  • Vieques, Puerto Rico

I’ve bolded the destinations that interest me.

How about Costa Rica?  That’s the most visited country in Central America, it’s very safe, and it has so much to offer.  I’ve only read about package deals there, but if I look at some shoestring guides, I bet I could find the hostels and the day trips.

I would absolutely love to visit Buenos Aires…but I’m looking at flights and the cheapest I can find is $1500 and three flights each way — plus an overnight in New York, switching from LaGuardia to JFK.  No thanks.  Too bad; that would be a great weeklong destination.

Spain…Mexico…SICILY!  I’d be visiting a country where I’ve already been, but I’ve been wanting to go to Sicily and especially visit Castanea delle Furie, where my family comes from.  That would be so wonderful.  I’m a bit wary of being a single female in Sicily, though, especially off the backpacker trail.  I know I can handle it; I’m just not sure if I want to spend my entire vacation shoving men off me.  (Now, Friday night, that’s something else altogether!)  Seriously, though, it can be very frustrating trying to get around in Italy while men want nothing but to hit on you.

There is so much to research…I’m excited!

Okay, now I think I have to take this vacation…