Doppelgangers: How to Have a Dream Caribbean Vacation on the Cheap

This is a guest post by Tony from LandingStanding.com

Croatian Sunset
Croatian Sunset

Crisp blue water, living above a tiny bar with ocean views, Bob Marley and Jack Johnson on the bartenders playlist, and we’re the only foreigners within 2 miles of this 300 person village…

What could be better?

How about the rock bottom prices?

Try $22 USD per night for our one bedroom apartment 15 meters from the beach, Half liters of beer for $1.70, and less than $10 for dinner on the water for 2 people.

So where were we?

The Caribbean? The Greek Islands? Bali? The Italian coast?

Probably the last place you would guess if you are like most people.

We were actually on the lovely Dalmatia coast in of all places… Croatia!

Why Croatia?

Never near the top of our must-visit list for our one year trip around the world, it slowly grew more interesting to us based on a few trusted recommendations and our need to get out of the Schengen Zone for a few weeks.

But our few weeks quickly turned into FIVE as we fell in love with everything the Southern Coast of Croatia had to offer.

Since it shares the same sea as Italy and is at the same latitude, you are getting almost a perfect mirror of the Italian coast.

Plus, because Italian civilizations (like the Venetians) have a history of ruling both coasts of the Adriatic, much of that loved-for-a-good-reason Italian food can be found on the Croatian coast.

Time for some gratuitous food pics!

Homemade pasta in Croatia
Croatian pasta that would rival any Italians!
Succulent Croatian Meat
Succulent Croatian beef with amazing herbs & spices…
Antipasto plate Croatian style
Antipasto plate Croatian style!
Delicious Croatian Bread
Bread so good it will make you look like me in this photo…

We sampled homemade pastas, fresh fish, meats, cheeses, and breads that easily rivaled the best of Italy.

But because it has none of the hype that Italy has accumulated over the years, there is still a great off-season where prices are low, the weather is good, and you will find very few tourists roaming around.

Now, much of what I described might sound like you get the food of Italy with the experience of the Caribbean… and that is partially correct.

But in order to be totally transparent, our five weeks on the Croatian Coast were not an exact copy of a Caribbean vacation.

The water was colder and the beaches weren’t sandy (think smooth pebbles half the size of a golf ball). But a combination of 85% of a Caribbean vacation, 95% of amazing Italian food, and at only 50% of the price… we could overlook a few things.

Yachts in Croatia?
Yachts & Palm Trees in Croatia? Yes!

But this got us thinking… if we could find an amazing Caribbean/Italian hybrid beach vacation in Croatia, what other ideal vacations could we find doppelgangers for?

Dream Vacation Doppelgangers

Europe = Buenos Aires

Caprese in Buenos Aires
Caprese in Buenos Aires that would make Italian’s jealous.

It is hard to pin-point, but no matter where you go in Buenos Aires, will you most likely turn to your travel companion and say in astonishment, “this feels just like Europe!”

Between the architecture of Recoleta, the late nights in Palermo, or the rich history of San Telmo, Europe shines from every pore of the city.

Much more expensive than 5-10 years ago, but still cheaper than most of its European cousins, Buenos Aires is the perfect way to live it up like a European without putting a Euro-sized hole in your wallet.

Caribbean = Southern Thailand

Where in the world are we?
A beautiful Thai beach on the island of Koh Mak.

If you are thinking of a Caribbean vacation, then look to the beaches of Thailand.

Not only are the beaches stunning, but the food in Thailand is arguably the best cuisine in the world. BOLD statement… But after spending one month here, we won’t argue it. What makes it even better is that you can have a delicious meal for roughly $1 USD.

Between the cheap food, gorgeous scenery, and crystal blue warm water, you can get everything the Caribbean has to offer with an even more exotic feel.

The trick (depending on where you live) would be to find inexpensive flights, but if you are flexible on dates, you can find some great deals.

Try to fly into a big international airport like Kuala Lumpur and then switch to a more regional flight to get the best price.

Patagonia = Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, Yosemite

Patagonia is beautiful...
Us in Patagonia, but we’ve seen equally great sites in many US national parks.

This is for people in the US, but this advice can be generalized for anywhere.

Many people often dream of visiting faraway locales for hiking and camping while forgetting what is in their own backyard.

No matter where you live in the world, you can almost always find great mountains to climb much closer than some of their more famous hard to reach cousins.

Patagonia is incredible, but part of that beauty is how remote it feels. It is a LONG way to go for most people and the weather can fluctuate a great deal. Plus its remoteness means increased prices for food, tours, and park entrance fees.

If you want a cheap South American vacation or an inexpensive hiking trip… visiting Patagonia is not the way to do it.

Now It’s Your Turn

Next time you consider spending the big bucks to have that dream vacation, think extra hard about you want to get out of it. Is it just the cache of telling people you visited a cool place or do you want to actually enjoy what the experience has to offer?

Write down why you want to go that exotic locale and see if you can find an alternative that is closer to home and costs less.

Do you have any ideas already? I’d love to hear some great alternatives to some classic dream destinations.

I will get you started: What are some Dream Vacation Doppelgangers for Hawaii, the Gold Coast in Australia, and the Inca trail?

Let’s get creative people!

Tony Rulli LandingStandingBio: Tony quit his job in commercial banking to travel around the world for one year with his wife, Meg. They are working hard to turn their travels into a permanent lifestyle and write about their adventures at LandingStanding.com.Besides a love of new places and a sense of adventure, Tony and Meg travel to sample as many cuisines as possible and can often be found eating themselves into a blissful stupor. You can also follow them on Twitter.

 

 

 Can you think of a Doppelgangers vacation?

guest writer

25 Comments on “Doppelgangers: How to Have a Dream Caribbean Vacation on the Cheap”

  1. Thanks for letting us share our thoughts, Caz & Craig!

    We have been amazed at the incredible places we’ve been that are half the cost, but just as beautiful, as some of people’s classic dream destinations.

    Price really shouldn’t stop people from traveling if they can get creative!
    Tony recently posted..Europe Is Cheaper Than South America For Travelers… And We Have The Numbers To Back It Up
    Tony recently posted..Europe Is Cheaper Than South America For Travelers… And We Have The Numbers To Back It Up

    Reply
  2. Love the photos! It seems we have had a similiar journey :) Buenos Aires feels like Europe to so many people but, after spending close to two months in the city, it felt to me more like a concrete jungle.. Keep having fun!
    Tal Gur recently posted..Masterminding Forward
    Tal Gur recently posted..Masterminding Forward

    Reply
  3. Thanks for some good insight into alternatives. I have been repinning a lot of photos on Pinterest lately (see http://www.pinterest.com/pretraveller) and one thing which has stuck me is how similar the photos of some regions are. As you have said, there have been many photos of Patagonia which look very similar to Iceland and Canada.

    I think the doppleganger for the Gold Coast would have to be Southern California (south of LA). I spent some time last year in the Long Beach (very similar to Surfers Paradise), Huntington Beach (a bit more like the Sunshine Coast) and Newport (the millionaire mile) areas. And this area is only a short drive to Anaheim where Disneyland is (anyone for Gold Coast theme parks?)
    Pretraveller recently posted..How to Confidently Change or Cancel Your Trip
    Pretraveller recently posted..How to Confidently Change or Cancel Your Trip

    Reply
    • Great Doppelganger! We’re heading to the gold coast in one month, but from the pictures we’ve seen it reminds me a lot of So Cal.

      San Diego is one of our favorite places, so if the Gold Coast is similar we’re going to have a hard time leaving!

      Excellent point about Pinterest. Going through photos of different places really surprises you sometimes when you’re expecting Patagonia and get Iceland instead!
      Tony recently posted..Introducing The “All Things Ridiculous” Newsletter
      Tony recently posted..Introducing The “All Things Ridiculous” Newsletter

      Reply
    • Great Doppelganger! We’re headed to the Gold Coast in one month and from the pics we’ve seen, it looks a lot like So Cal! That could be trouble for us because we love southern california… San Diego is one of our all-time favorite cities!

      Excellent point about Pinterest. I am shocked sometimes when I see a picture of a place that is obviously from somewhere in the Greek islands, but ends up being Croatia or somewhere else I never would have guessed!
      Tony recently posted..Learning To Cook Thai Food Like A Pro
      Tony recently posted..Learning To Cook Thai Food Like A Pro

      Reply
  4. What great way to bring some exposure to lesser known areas. I like how you made the comparisons to larger much more expensive areas. We’ll have to really look into some of these locations! Thank You
    Kenin – The Constant Rambler recently posted..New Orleans: A Taste of Voodoo in the Bayou
    Kenin – The Constant Rambler recently posted..New Orleans: A Taste of Voodoo in the Bayou

    Reply
  5. [...] check out our guest post over at YTravelBlog and leave one of your standard amazingly awesome [...]

    Reply
  6. Ooh! Yes, BA = Europe. Sometimes, depending on what neighborhood you’re in, you’d swear you were in Rome/Paris/anywhere in Italy…

    Turkey was my vacation doppelganger for Greece when I was a broke college student. Similar food, beaches, liquor, all while paying lira instead of euros…it was fabulous.
    Callie recently posted..CORREFOC
    Callie recently posted..CORREFOC

    Reply
    • Oooo, great doppelganger with Turkey! We never made it to the Turkish beaches but have heard amazing things. We desperately want to go to the greek islands but keep finding so many cheap places that people say are similar!

      BA… recoleta was so much like Europe. Very Parisian.
      Tony recently posted..5 Minutes To Help Us?
      Tony recently posted..5 Minutes To Help Us?

      Reply
  7. Croatia sounds pretty fantastic to me! And I totally agree about Patagonia. I think parts of Nicaragua and El Salavador have a lot of the same great feature of the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Columbus rocks! My 4 music obsessions
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Columbus rocks! My 4 music obsessions

    Reply
  8. I had always wanted to see the Alps but at the time our funds were limited. A friend suggested we try the Canadian national parks – Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper. We went in the summer and flew into Calgary. Affordable hotels/motels can be found but many people camped or rented campers or RVs (large rental companies were on the way up to the parks in Calgary). The U.S. national parks are beautiful but the 3 parks mentioned above were either at the same level of “awesomeness” (or even better) as Yosemite and Yellowstone. The best part of the trip was the drive between Lake Louise and Jasper – absolutely spectacular, and the most worthwhile venture of our 2-week vacation.
    I have since been to Italy and Switzerland where I finally got to see the Alps. They were as beautiful as I expected but the Canadian parks were a great alternative in the meantime.

    Reply
  9. Wonderful post! Croatia is next on my “must see” list and I really enjoyed the tips you gave. Thanks!
    Liz recently posted..Tips From a Local – San Francisco
    Liz recently posted..Tips From a Local – San Francisco

    Reply
  10. ah I am LOVING this list!! Between the food and the beach… Croatia seems like a little slice of heaven. I WANT.

    Alright here’s a vaca doppelganger for ya face: The restaurant Terminal Gravity in Enterprise, OR. = the best hipster restaurant in Brooklyn, NY. Specific? yes. Spot on? YES.

    This place has an amazing selection of local brews, a great spread of organic food, an atmosphere filled with sparkly lights, a crowd of warm super nice people and even features great bluegrass bands from Portland. Did I mention the backdrop is Hell’s Caynon about a quarter mile away? That’s just a little added bonus. (http://www.terminalgravitybrewing.com/)

    Can’t wait to see the rest for your doppelgangers from your travels!! I expect big things :)
    Maggie recently posted..New Themes: Gigawatt and Pinboard
    Maggie recently posted..New Themes: Gigawatt and Pinboard

    Reply
    • You just took this up a notch!

      Love the idea of specific doppelgangers! Although, people from Portland might take umbrage as some say that Oregon is now the true home of hipsters. So maybe Brooklyn is the doppelganger?

      That place looks dynamite! We plan on being in Oregon this winter to scope out a place to live, so we will have to swing by Enterprise!
      Tony recently posted..Learning To Cook Thai Food Like A Pro
      Tony recently posted..Learning To Cook Thai Food Like A Pro

      Reply
  11. Great post. Loved the stark comparison also of Meg on a swing in Thailand vs. the two of you facing off in front of a glacier in Patagonia. Great concept discssing Doppelgangers. I can honestly say that is a first for me. Croatia is was on my list and now it has risen to the top. Thanks

    Reply
  12. The concept here is great!

    It isn’t a perfect parallel, but I think the Tajikistan Pamirs make a great doppelganger for the Annapurna/Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal. Far fewer people, still amazing mountain scenery, and prices are probably half or less.

    Croatia, now, is further up on my personal list as well. Thanks!

    Reply
  13. Budpest instead of Palm Springs, Wine Country (insert upscale mineral springs resort here). The open air bars, the incredible food and so many mineral springs to choose from. Seriously, I just sat in water all week for so little.

    Cartagena, Colombia instead of Spain. Amazing food (spanish + caribbean flavors). Spanish architecture, really friendly people, a rich history all for much less.

    Great post Tony!

    Reply
  14. The food in Thailand is really really the great. Here is Malaysia also you can find a ton of different cousines. I’m not an originally Malaysian, but I was surprised how important food here actually is. But the beaches of Thailand…. Amazing!!!
    Ali recently posted..PranaFood | Lettuce
    Ali recently posted..PranaFood | Lettuce

    Reply
  15. sue_parker

    Myself and my husband love the Caribbean and its amazing atmosphere . The piece was amazing and another top tip for anyone wanting a cheap vacation to the Caribbean is accommodation . If you use the correct people you can pick up a stunning Caribbean rental apartment for very good price . I would advise anyone looking for a holiday of a life time to visit here !

    Reply
Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge