We are down to those final school days. 19 to be exact, not that we’re counting or anything. The last few before those glorious words “summer break” are a reality and days that aren’t chock full of instructing, grading, lesson planning, pencil sharpening, test writing, hall monitoring, lunch duty-ing (and so on) are the norm, for a couple of months at least. As an educator, vacations can seem daunting because it’s just one more thing to plan, one more thing that costs precious dollars, one more thing that must, of course, come to an end. But, also as an educator, vacations, self-care, a chance to unplug are so deserved and needed. So let’s find a way to make this more attainable and realistic, shall we?

Not all vacations mean traveling to the ends of the earth, spending oodles of dollars, or getting stressed over planning the details. Below are five travel ideas that I would consider doable, plannable, and bookable for an educator yet also exciting, somewhat exotic and definitely worth showcasing on social media (if it isn’t on Instagram, did it even happen?).

1) Marfa, Texas

El Cosmico, Marfa

El Cosmico, Marfa

Not only is Marfa one of the most Instagrammable places ever, it exists in our very own great state and is totally drivable! No, I-20 isn’t the most scenic going through the western part of Texas, but once you arrive in the charming village of Marfa, all thoughts of tumbleweeds and oil rigs will be a distant memory. Art, shopping, delicious meals and easy access to Big Bend National Park set this little desert town apart as an oasis worth visiting. If New Yorkers are coming down to experience it, you know it has to be something, right? Not to mention the variety boutique hotels - Hotel Saint George, Hotel Paisano, Thunderbird Hotel, or if you really save those pennies, El Cosmico - to name a few. And, of course, who wouldn’t want to catch those eerie Marfa Lights?!

2) San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sunshine, beach, colonial town and no need for a passport? Sign me up! Puerto Rico, despite the tragedy from Hurricane Maria, has recovered so nicely and is anxious for visitors, allowing for a very affordable beach vacay. Old San Juan, the oldest settlement on the island, is home to a ton of history, fabulous restaurants and super quaint lodging. All of this coupled with some really great beaches (Isla Verde, Dorado, Rio Grande) make for a wonderful getaway that doesn’t take hours or lots of $$$ to get to from Dallas. Some of my favorites for boutique lodging include El Convento (think old world charm meets contemporary elegance), Olive Boutique Hotel (definitely ideal for a romantic stay!), La Terraza de San Juan (happy hour on that rooftop terrace is a must), and The Gallery Inn (the ultimate bed & breakfast experience). There’s also quite the bar and casino scene, if that piques your interest!

3) Pacific Northwest

The Burrard Hotel, Vancouver

The Burrard Hotel, Vancouver

Summer time in Oregon, Washington and western Canada is tough to beat, especially when we are constantly waging war against the heat here in Texas. Cooler temps, gorgeous scenery, hiking, wine tasting, whale watching and just a general sense of the outdoors? How could anything be better?! With direct flights on a variety of airlines to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, the PNW proves to be a perfect escape from the triple digits and insane A/C bills. Pick one and do a long weekend, or pick all three and turn it into a road trip marked by national park after national park, one insanely good cup of coffee after another, and a stamp on that passport upon entering Canada. Airbnbs and super cool boutique hotels (i.e. The Society Hotel in Portland, Hotel Five in Seattle, The Burrard in Vancouver) are not hard to come by in any of these spots, and neither is delicious food (Portland - Pine State Biscuits and Pok Pok, Seattle - Spinasse and Matt’s in the Market, Vancouver - Uva and Rodney’s Oyster House) and a variety of activities. Breakfast in PDX, morning photo op at Cannon Beach, an afternoon hike in Rainier National Park, and an evening spent at Pike Place Market equals the perfect PNW day in my book!

4) Contiki Tours

The mission statement of Contiki is to plan travel for the “young, wild and free” (AKA those who are between 18 and 35 years old) to places all over the world and within a moderate budget. The idea here is to bring people from a variety of backgrounds and homes together and introduce them to new places, new cultures, new ideas. Their philosophy is to change perspectives and open eyes to see what is out there and to do it with some new friends - and I LOVE this philosophy! They plan the nitty gritty of over 300 trips to six different continents all throughout the year, yet you get to make many of the decisions (transportation, activities, lodging, how you spend your time, etc.). Being able to filter trips by destination, length, cost, etc., there is something out there for everyone. The world is truly your oyster with Contiki!    

5) U by Uniworld

U by Uniworld

U by Uniworld

When you first hear the words “river cruise”, your mind probably automatically says “no thanks, that’s for people my parents’ age”. And that isn’t completely inaccurate. However, Uniworld, one of the leading river cruise companies, decided it was time to tap into the millennial generation and get us cruising in a way that still kept us feeling young and adventurous. Enter: U by Uniworld. Originally designed as river cruises for 21 to 45 year olds, U by Uniworld is the perfect way to experience some of the greatest gems of Europe with an all-inclusive part hotel/part yacht homebase. They max out at 120 guests per cruise, which offers a unique and intimate experience. Not to mention, these boats can squeeze into the tight river spaces that larger ships cannot, equating to a truly all encompassing experience. Money wise, this isn’t as budget-conscious as Contiki, but you are getting an all-inclusive five-star experience for a fraction of what it typically costs. Bon voyage, my friends!

If you found yourself saying “YES SIGN ME UP NOW” to any of these or want to know what else is out there (just the whole of our planet, really), shoot me a line (contact info below)! 

Hillary Taylor

Our guest blogger, Hillary Taylor, is a luxury travel designer and advisor based in Dallas. She is part of The Simple Sol team (www.thesimplesol.com) in Dallas, an affiliate of SmartFlyer (www.smartflyer.com, a leading agency of independent advisors) and a member of Virtuoso (www.virtuoso.com). She designs highly curated and personalized luxury travel experiences for clients of all kinds to places all over the world. Most recently she has traveled to Portugal and Morocco, and next up on the schedule is Northern California. Interested in learning more? Contact her at hillary@thesimplesol.com and follow along on Instagram (@the_foreignanddomestic).