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By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance
The February issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine features a collection of ideas for spending $1,000. Among the suggestions are ways to add a little excitement to your life through travel. Here are 12 out-of-the-ordinary trips you can take for about $1,000. See 32 Smart Ways to Spend $1,000 for more ideas on how to put a grand to good use.
Indulge your fantasy at a camp
If you've always secretly wondered what it would be like to be, say, an astronaut or captain of a sailboat, get a taste by going to camp. At the Adult Space Academy, in Huntsville, Ala., you can train in simulators, launch model rockets and more. The price for four days, including meals and lodging, is $599, plus a $50 registration fee. Or spend time on the ocean instead of in (simulated) orbit.
The Offshore Sailing School has locations in Florida, New York, New Jersey and the British Virgin Islands. The two-day Intro to Sailing Vacation teaches the basics; depending on the season, you'll pay $695 to $895 (including double-occupancy lodging) to take the course at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Wine connoisseurs can sample the Wine Lovers Boot Camp from the Culinary Institute of America, learning about tasting techniques and wine varietals. The two-day Taste Like a Pro course, in St. Helena, Calif., runs $895.
Splurge on a spa
You don't have to spend a fortune to go to a romantic spa. Here are three where the pampering comes in at $1,000 or less (prices are based on a one-night stay and vary depending on the services you choose).
Balboa Bay Resort, in Newport Beach, Calif., is a waterfront hotel with a full-service spa that includes skin treatments, massages, a eucalyptus steam room, a sauna and a lounge with a fireplace. Try the body scrub paired with a massage, and then explore the bay in a kayak.
Travaasa Austin, an all-inclusive resort on the edge of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Austin, Tex., offers spa treatments as well as more-strenuous activities, such as sunrise horseback riding.
Mohonk Mountain House, in New Paltz, N.Y., is a historic Victorian castle near the Catskill Mountains. It has 16 treatment rooms, a solarium with a stone fireplace, an outdoor heated mineral pool and an assortment of services.
Book an off-season cruise
Score deals on cruises for $1,000 or less per person by avoiding peak season, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of travel website Cruise Critic. In the Caribbean, that means sailing during portions of the spring and fall. Norwegian Cruise Line recently offered a seven-day western Caribbean cruise departing in late March from New Orleans on the Norwegian Dawn for $777 per person (with two guests sharing an interior cabin); upgrade to a room with a view for $957. Or look for Alaskan cruises in April, May or September. Recently, two adults could depart from Vancouver on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas ship in mid-May for a seven-day Alaska tour (interior cabin) for $857 per person.
Take a language-immersion trip
Learn a foreign language by going straight to the source. During the low season, La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco-Hotel, in Nicaragua, charges $450 plus tax per week for a hotel stay (or stay with a host family for $380). Included are Spanish classes, meals and afternoon outings to explore and practice your language skills. That leaves room in a $1,000 budget for airfare. Look for other programs at www.studyabroad.com.
Rent an RV
Cheaper gasoline is fueling a resurgence in RVing. Rental fees generally run $200 to $250 per night and include full insurance coverage. No special driver's license is required. Most RV rental companies offer housekeeping packages with dishes, pots and pans, and linens, or you can bring your own. A standard 25-foot RV rental from Cruise America sleeps five people. Factoring in rental costs and gas, you could take a seven-day trip in mid-July from Charlotte, N.C., to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for about a grand. A trip around the same time from Denver to Pike's Peak for five days costs about $860. Find information about rental companies and camping at GoRVing.com.
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This column was printed in the January 25, 2015 - February 7, 2015 edition.