Last-Minute International Vacation Ideas for the Spontaneous Traveler

It’s always a good time for these unplanned adventures


There’s nothing more exciting than a spur-of-the-moment trip, and the cities on this list won’t disappoint. With mild weather year-round and budget-friendly options, these destinations are easy. Like no-planning-necessary easy. And with tips on what to see, you won’t even need to make an itinerary.

Vancouver, Canada: Short Flights on Short Notice

For a trip that takes almost no planning, you can’t beat Vancouver. It’s easily accessible via major airports and home to some of the calmest weather out of all the big cities in Canada.

Famous for: The iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Gotta do: Spend an afternoon finding your way out of the twists and turns of an Elizabethan hedge maze in the VanDusen Garden—it’s 1 of only 6 in North America.

Gotta see: Douglas Coupland’s pixelated Digital Orca statue in Jack Poole Plaza.

Gotta try: An Asian twist on an American hot dog at Japadog, one of the city’s most popular food trucks.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Worry-Free Weather All Year

Another easy escape: Mexico. San Miguel is an up-and-coming destination for American travelers (not the spring-breaker crowd) with Old-World charm and warm weather nearly every day.

Famous for: Cobblestone streets and churches from the 17th century, such as La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.

Gotta do: Visit the renowned studios and galleries, and then create something truly unique by taking a workshop taught by local and international artists.

Gotta see: The La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum, or head to Cañada de la Virgen, an archeological site just out of town.

Gotta try: Truly authentic Mexican food at La Posadita or Hecho in Mexico.

San José, Costa Rica: An Adventure in USD

If you’re looking for tropical last-minute vacation ideas, look no further than Costa Rica. The national currency is the colón, but U.S. dollars are accepted in most places. Plus, nearly everything is within a 4-hour drive of the capital, San José.

Famous for: Ornate buildings from Spanish Colonial times, like the National Theatre of Costa Rica.

Gotta do: Walk the trail to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. You just might see a toucan or two-toed sloth.

Gotta see: Poás Volcano National Park. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the country.

Gotta try: Freshly grown coffee beans from the bustling Mercado Centrale make a great souvenir.

Lima, Peru: More Adventure, Less Jet Lag

Whether you’re looking for ancient archeology or adventure sports, you can find it all in Lima. Though it might seem like it’s a world away, the city is still in the central time zone (CST), so you won’t lose a day of your spur-of-the-moment trip to jet lag.

Famous for: Gorgeous Spanish/French Colonial architecture, bustling nightlife and paragliding over the Miraflores Boardwalk.

Gotta do: Take a ferry out to the nearby Palomino Islands to bird-watch and swim with sea lions.

Gotta see: The basement of the Convento de San Francisco Ossuary. It holds a haunting collection of 70,000 decoratively arranged skeletons. While you’re exploring the city, don’t miss the Huaca Pucllana, an ancient pyramid located right in the Miraflores district.

Gotta try: Chicha morada. This slightly sweet drink, which has been around since the start of the Incan Empire, gets its flavor from boiled purple corn, fruit and spices. You can also seek out some of Peru’s trademark ceviche. It’s one of the international foods.

Dublin, Ireland: Easily Accessible, Even at the Last Minute

Across the pond is the land of green hills and lively pubs. Though Dublin is a major city, it somehow maintains the quaint charm and walkability of a smaller town. With cheaper direct flights than many other U.K. cities, it’s an easy European destination to check off your list.

Famous for: The legendary Guinness Storehouse.

Gotta do: Hop on a bus to Glendalough. Here, you’ll find easy hikes, sweeping views and a monastic settlement from the 6th century.

Gotta see: If you’ve seen the Book of Kells at Trinity College, skip the line and head straight into the Long Room Library. This enormous collection contains 200,000 historic books shelved in two-story alcoves that seem like perfect reading nooks.

Gotta try: A traditional meal at Searsons—if it’s Sunday, you’ll dine to the sounds of their weekly jazz session.

Singapore: Pack and Go on a Budget

Even though it’s known as a luxury destination, compared to other Asian cities, Singapore is one of the most affordable last-minute vacation ideas. As an added bonus, most people speak English, so you don’t have to worry about mastering a language in advance.

Famous for: The spectacular Gardens by the Bay. Their distinctive Supertrees are huge, vertical gardens that collect water and generate solar power.

Gotta do: Take a walk on the twists and curves of the Henderson Waves bridge. It has a view like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Gotta see: The city from a seat in the Singapore Flyer. At 42-stories tall, it’s Asia’s largest observation wheel.

Gotta try: Chinatown’s famous street-food stall, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. It’s the only place in the world you can enjoy a Michelin-starred meal for under $2.

One Last Note for the Impromptu Explorer

The next time you’re looking for a last-minute vacation idea, consider paying one of these cities a visit. And speaking of paying, remember that you can save money abroad by using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. It’ll help stretch your budget, so you can do more of what you want, whenever you want.

There’s nothing more exciting than a spur-of-the-moment trip, and the cities on this list won’t disappoint. With mild weather year-round and budget-friendly options, these destinations are easy. Like no-planning-necessary easy. And with tips on what to see, you won’t even need to make an itinerary.


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