Strapped for Cash? Take a ‘Fakecation’

Laura Sullivan, MINT: Now more than ever you’re lusting after a vacation that will take your mind off all the gloom and doom in the news. The trouble is you just can’t afford it. But exotic travel doesn’t have to be expensive. That is if you’re willing to suspend disbelief and consider a variety of travel alternatives that can stand-in for the real thing. There are some real deals on the fake deal.

If you want to go to Spain, fake yourself out with St. Augustine, Florida.

You’d like to be baking in the sun off the coast of Spain in oversized sunglasses which reflect the villas lining the beach, a glass of sangria in hand. Go to St. Augustine Florida instead. The minute you feel those rays bearing down on you, you’ll be glad you got away and the feel of the place will quickly transport you to another time and place. Since the Spaniards were the first explorers to set foot in the US, it only makes sense that the oldest US city’s got that distinct flair; it was settled on the heels of Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 landing.

Why you will be transported: The balconies overlooking narrow streets in the Old City smack of Barcelona. Stop by the whitewashed Basilica of St. Augustine, a great example of old-school Spanish Colonial architecture. Grab a pint at the ancient Taberna de Gallo, where you can listen to Spanish folk tunes by torch or candlelight-this place is so staunchly old school that they’ve shunned electricity, too. If it is the posh beaches that you still dream of, there are plenty to go around in the nearby national parks, which you can get into for just $6. For a more close-up and personal encounter with Spanish history, check out the ghost tours, including the Ghost of the Matanzas boat tours.

All that and you’ll also get: A sip from the very Fountain of Youth the Ponce de Leon was looking for when he set out on his expedition. Oh, of course it’s here, in an orange grove with men in tights.

How much you’ll save: Buckets. Hotel rooms are very reasonable, as are the things to do. You’ll save many hundreds on the air ticket alone.