Welcome! Climb atop the pedestal we’ve hot-glued together with all the quarantine Lone Stars, tired dildos, and half-used poppers that carried us through the 2020 tides of depression. Now, we’re vaccinated and ready to plan a vacation that’s more than just a short drive away, or just another economically feasible stay at Mom and Dad's (no shame; ILY) house. We’re ready to hop on a plane and say, “Halló, Reykjavík,” (or whatever your Main Character City is) with a superfluous hat on. We’ve done the $500-and-under vacations (they’re rad!), and planned others trips at $800 (that means: Airbnbs that aren’t just a tent in the backyard of a ‘friendly couple’). All have pluses and minuses, and it’s always a privilege to travel literally anywhere. But now, we’re ribbon dancing with big cats [air horn] with three different vacations you can take for under $1,000.
What does $1,000-ish get you? Distance. Nice Airbnbs. Steak and Stetson cowboy hats. It means you can drink sparkling wine in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, or make it up to Alaska to blow kisses at all the bears. It means kicking up your boots at a Texas honky tonk bar, and developing a new addition to your carousel of summer personalities.
Whether you’re departing from New York City, Los Angeles, or somewhere more in the middle of the country like Houston, we’ve ~curated~ three trips for you and your 15 friends (see: the psychedelic Austin Airbnb) for under $1,000.
If you want to leave NYC…
Where to go? Reykjavík, Iceland. There are round-trip long weekend flights on Expedia right now for around $360.
What to do? Iceland was one of the first countries to start welcoming fully vaccinated Americans back, and we’ve written an entire guide on how to visit its moody, mossy landscapes for the first, second, and even third time. If you’ve never been, Reykjavík is a must; the flight from New York is about five or six hours, and the respite from NYC’s toaster oven of a summer (the high in Iceland in June/July is about 57 degrees Fahrenheit) will feel so good. Book a steaming sesh in the Blue Lagoon, one of 25 natural wonders of the world, and enroll in a class at an Elfschool dedicated to Icelandic folklore; visit an active volcano, the Church of Hallgrímur (go to the top for the view), and sip a nice stout at Bryggjan Brugghus Bistro & Brewery. Go with the whole J&J crew; make it a post-lockdown brouhaha.
Where to stay?
Cozy Apartment a Stroll from the Harbor; sleeps up to 3, $80/night at Airbnb
Beautiful Reykjavik XL Studio; sleeps up to 4, $177/night at Airbnb
Reykjavík Villa; sleeps up to 6, $421/night on Vrbo
If you want to leave Houston…
Where to go? Anchorage, Alaska. There are five-day, round-trip flights on Expedia right now for around $400.
What to do? You’d be right to picture Alaska as the last great frontier of America—there’s ample hiking, backpacking, kayaking, fishing, hunting, climbing, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, and pretty much every other outdoor activity you can think of. However, Anchorage, Alaska also has a lot to offer within the city limits. For learning more about the city and state, try taking an Anchorage Trolley Tour to get your bearings, visiting the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center to immerse yourself in the town’s history, and checking out the Alaska Native Heritage Center to familiarize yourself with Alaskan native culture. Finally, after you’ve hiked everything there is to hike (which will literally never happen), soothe your aching bones with a few pints at breweries such as Arkose, Midnight Sun, and Anchorage Brewing Company.
Where to stay?
Urban artsy scenic foothills townhome; sleeps 1, $60/night at Airbnb
Cozy Private Space in Large House; sleeps 1, $75/night at Airbnb
Quiet, private, 1 bedroom guesthouse with 1/2 bath; sleeps 2, $126/night at Airbnb
If you want to leave Los Angeles…
Where to go? Austin, Texas. There are round-trip flights on Expedia ranging from $130-$170.
What to do? Honky tonk that badonkadonk off! Go dancing at the White Horse, which has been called a “spit and sawdust kind of place” on Tripadvisor (be still our hearts) for line dancing and the like. Get a fresh Stetson at Allens Boots, which has been in business since the 1970s, and catch a show at the Mohawk (pictured) or the legendary Poodie’s Roadhouse (a favorite of Willie Nelson), Dry Creek Cafe, and the smorgasbord of great dive bars. Eat a flat-top griddle burger at Dirty Martin’s Place (also Austin’s oldest restaurant), and take one of those bat-watching boat tours at night with your sweetie before getting a fancy cocktail at The Driskill.
Where to stay?
South Congress House; sleeps up to 2, $144/night at Airbnb
Luxury SoCo Retreat with Pool; sleeps up to 2, $208/night at Airbnb
Historic Casa Cartel with Pool; sleeps up to 16, $1,040/night at Airbnb
Bon voyage, and don’t forget to pack your cactus
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