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If you could go anywhere for one week...

...in January, where would you go?

Hubby and I have a week in January for our anniversary and are currently beginning the planning process. So far we’ve kicked around the idea of Colombia, Argentina, Morocco, or exploring a new European destination! (we have done the UK, France, Iceland, and Italy). We’ve thought about taking our kids to see Spain and Portugal this summer, and so I’m thinking Morocco is a natural addition to that trip.

We live in the ATL area so we can fly most places relatively easily. Where would you go with a week in January?

Posted by
1859 posts

Japan! It is a fantastic country, with friendly people, and is easy to get around, with a week you can split your time between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Otherwise, Chile is a great option too :)

Posted by
46 posts

Carlos, isn’t Japan the most lovely country? Your suggestion is spot on because we spent two weeks there this summer visiting Kyoto and Tokyo! We hope to return someday soon to capture all we missed, but our children would disown us if we returned without them. Japan was our best family vacation ever :)

You mentioned Chile - my husband mentioned it briefly as well. What do you like about it? We have never been to South America but really desire to go soon. Is it a good destination for first timers to the continent?

Posted by
11677 posts

If Japan is out, then I would suggest Patagonia ( Chile and Argentina) or New Zealand ( one Island, not both).

Posted by
13927 posts

Portugal may be okay in summer but much of Spain and most of Morocco will be super hot - expect temps hovering around 100F and little shade. And if you're thinking of a 2-week trip, one country is enough. Spain and Portugal surprisingly to not combine well. Morocco is fine in winter though the desert is bitterly cold and lots of snow may make some places inaccessible, you can have a fine time seeing in Marrakesh, Fez, and the Atlantic shore cities.

Tokyo is a 16-hour non-stop from ATL. That's a lot of travel time for a 1 week trip. Buenos Aires is only 10.5 and very little time change. Japan is cold in winter, South America is summer.

Posted by
1859 posts

Hi Jacey, glad you enjoyed Japan so much too! I can't wait to make it back there and explore some more.

I have traveled quite a bit around South America, and if it's your first time, I would highly recommend Chile, I feel it is the most accessible South American country to visit. It's a bit like California, with as much geographic diversity. With one week, you can set up nicely in the capital Santiago, in the shadow of the Andes. From there you can tour local wineries in the Maipo Valley, day trip to Portillo in the Andes, or make a relaxing side trip to Viña del Mar, on the Pacific.

For more adventure your could instead visit the Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego area, aka the most southern part of the world. The town of Ushuaia, in Argentina, makes for a splendid base to explore this area. There are direct flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, which takes about 3 hrs. This is the next level up from Chile, in terms of difficulty.

Also one more thing on South America, because it's in the southern hemisphere, remember that their seasons are flipped, so January is actually in the middle of their summer, just something to keep in mind :)

Posted by
2354 posts

I haven't been, but I think I've read that Costa Rica is nice in Jan

Posted by
4192 posts

In January I'd want to go south, but not necessarily as far south as Chile or Argentina. Costa Rica, Mexico, or somewhere in the Caribbean would be easy enough. I'd be reluctant to take long flights for just a week's trip. But it really depends on your interests.

Posted by
2652 posts

Santiago Chile, Quito Ecuador, or Buenos Aires Argentina are nice places to visit. Argentina is having its own currency crisis right now, so the currency exchange rate is great for us, not so great for them. I’d keep abreast of developments there before deciding on Argentina. Iceland is also nice.

For any S. America country, knowing some Spanish helps, since English isn’t widely spoken. In Santiago, we stayed at Hotel Plaza San Francisco and it’s within walking distance to most sights. When there, they were filming an episode of a telenovela at the hotel. The church of San Francisco is next door. Other sights included, presidential palace, cathedral and park across the street, central market, Casa Colorada, flower market, Vega chica market, Santa Maria hill, Costanera mall, Féria artesanal Santa Lucia, Los Dominicos handicraft village (took to subway to reach), and the funicular up to Cerro San Cristobol. We also took a bus to Valparaiso for one day, and took tours of Concha y Toro and Undurraga wineries. Fancy hot dogs (completos) are popular and a popular chain is Dominos. There are about 30 different options. If you’ve never been to S. America, there can be a level of culture shock because the architecture is somewhat different than Europe. In places, some buildings are not maintained like they might be in the U.S. or Western Europe. It’s hard to describe. I loved the parts of S. America I’ve visited and found it fascinating. Go to TripAdvisor or do a Google search on Santiago and you can look at images of the places I mentioned. We were there for a week. If you want to know what we saw in Buenos Aires, send me a private message.

Posted by
48 posts

We were in Colombia last year and Costa Rica the year before. Both amazing places and easy to get around. They have a well defined tourist trail. It is very cheap to fly to the different destinations within Colombia.

Posted by
65 posts

In January, my preference would be (assuming flying from USA) to fly to somewhere into Europe that Norwegian departs out of. Stay a day or overnight. Hop onto Norwegian flight to Tenerife. Stay there several days. Fly back from Tenerife on Norwegian to a different European city. Spend 24 + hours there, then fly back to USA.

Good luck and let us know what you end up booking.

Posted by
1698 posts

If you're willing to consider alternatives a little closer to home ... and with zero jet lag ... you might look at the colonial village of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico - the land of eternal Spring with daytime highs in the low 80's and overnight lows in the low 40's. Delightful place. Relatively cheap too.
For a brief "winter immersion" consider Quebec - a beautiful city which would be a true winter wonderland in January.

Posted by
663 posts

Brazil!! Rio de Janeiro for beaches and more. Salvador for more beaches and colonial history. Foz do Iguaçu for a beautiful natural site. Ouro Preto for baroque architecture and more history. And excellent food anywhere. Have a good trip!

Posted by
109 posts

I second the Chile recommendations. We were there more than a week, and did a three day flight to Easter Island, but if you do 2 days, it is still worth it. We also flew to Punta Arenas and took a 3 night cruise around the Straits of Magellan, Isla de los Pinguinos and that whole area on the Australis small ship (136 passengers). It was educational and scientific and thrilling. The food was excellent and drinks were all part of the service. We spent 5 days in Santiago, one of which was taken up by a superb tour of the Colchagua Valley wineries. (Picked up at our hotel, visited 3 wineries and had a magnificent lunch with excellent wines. If you have a full 7 days in Chile, I recommend spending either 2 days at Easter Island (arriving day 1 midday and leaving day 3 late morning), That leaves 4 days in Santiago. Or 4 days in Punta Arenas and three days in Santiago (day 1 fly down, overnight in town) Embark day 2, return day 5 and fly back to Santiago. You can arrive early enough to visit their spectacular Museum of Precolombian Art and stroll around that area, which is near the central plaza. You then have all the next day to visit the market, churches, parks, etc. That is bracketing your 7 days in Santiago with a day of travel on each end (the pre trip Saturday and post trip Sunday). There is plenty more to do in Santiago if you just want to spend the whole week there...day trips to wine valleys, Valparaiso, 2-3 days at the Atacama Desert. Wherever you go, have fun, but we really enjoyed our rip to Chile. Of course, January is mid summer there, so maybe too hot?
I loved Morocco and January will be great weather then. Sicily will be having nice weather in January. It deserves a whole week. So does Provence in France. Stay in a smaller town and use a car for day trips. Slow pace, good food, a world of lovely sights.
Wherever you go, have fun!

Posted by
46 posts

Hi!! A little update on our planning...

So, it appears as though child care has fallen through for our trips dates so the kiddos (10 and 6) are coming along! That being said, our adventurous South American jaunt might have to wait. Reading through all of your incredibly helpful replies, it seems as though maybe my idea for Spain, Morocco, and Portugal for the summer might not be a good one due to high temps in Spain and Morocco. This has us leaning towards breaking that trip up and considering Morocco for this January trip. We can now swing 10 days, so our thought is to devote the 10 days to Morocco and then return to Spain and Portugal (either together or separate) another time.

My question now becomes this: Having spoken to a few people (some who have visited Morocco, as well as a native Moroccan), we are getting mixed reviews in terms of the safety of the country. The gentleman we met who is from Morocco originally could not have painted a better picture of how beautiful and safe the country is. On the other hand, another friend said we should never venture out without a guide and that the food was horrible and she experienced stomach upset the entire trip.

I am all for adventuring and seeing all the things, but I certainly don't want any added stress of worrying about safety or gastro issues.

Does anyone have any experience visiting Morocco?

Thanks again!!

Posted by
109 posts

Regarding Morocco. We only spent a day there (coming in from Spain on the ferry) and loved Tangier! We hired a licensed guide at the pier and he took us all around for a wonderful day., full of educational and cultural experiences! No food problems,and we felt very safe as well. Friends who have spent a week or two, both on guided tours and on their own, have not experienced the problems mentioned by your friend. She maybe just had horrible luck there, or maybe she had difficulty being in a very different culture from the North American/European one. For some travelers, an expectation of the worst in an exotic culture becomes self-fulfilling. We have spent one to two and a half weeks in places like China, Kenya, Turkey and Egypt, as well as most countries in Europe, and Mexico and Chile, and have found that each country has its own good and bad aspects, as does the United States,in all its diversity. Please don't let a fearful traveler deter you from your exploration of the world. Use common sense and have a spirit of adventure and openness to life, and you will have wonderful memories, as will your children.
Bon voyage wherever you decide to go!

Posted by
2647 posts

I agree with Judy about how concerns may become self fulfilling prophecies for some travelers. It may also be harder as a single traveling woman. It just is in some parts of the world....though that wouldn't address the 'always sick' part. Some people get sick landing in a new US city. Tummys vary. If you have done an exotic country, then you should be able to gauge how your kids will do. Morocco is like many countries in the tropical zones - dirtier, poorer and sicker. This doesn't have to be a negative thing, as it also tends to mean kids are loved and fawned over, things are different, exotic and interesting.
You need to embrace any medical recommendations for preventative shots and meds to take with you; but that is taken care of with a visit to a travel med specialist. Embrace the 'cook it, peel it; or forget it' eating school and introduce them to the fresh peelable fruits, the tasty tajine and rice; the foods that just scream 'Morocco'.

Not sure whether that time of year makes it available, but there are often tours like Exodus, G Adventures, or Nat Geo that are family based and may be considered. Alternatively you may prefer to have a private guide for the beginning of each city to get you oriented and to hire a driver for transit between cities. You don't need every minute guided, but to help with jet lag, culture shock and somewhat rudimentary or unusual public transport, it wouldn't hurt.

If you are only going to be in one city or at a resort, it becomes much more low key. ...but it won't be like UK, France or Iceland. However, Morocco in January can be colder than expected, so whether resorts are even open needs to be reviewed....as well as any of their religious or country holidays as this may close down the a lot of smaller towns and resort regions.

Posted by
4113 posts

I agree with all the posts about Argentina and Chile. Love those places. I have been to Chile three times.

Peru and another wonderful place, but January is rainy season to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco. You can do Lima.