Suzanne Cohen, 33, unemployed, with 7-month-old Marc
“I’ve been unemployed since last March—I used to work in an asset-backed-securities department. The layoff was a complete shock: I was five months pregnant and it was the first round of layoffs. Now everyone’s getting laid off. But I have to say, it’s been fantastic staying home every day with Marc. My husband and I could still use an escape from this economic gloom. I know absolutely nothing about Tahiti—except that their bug season is in November—but the simplicity and beauty of the island attract me.”
The Escape: Tahiti
There’s no better cure for economic gloom than Tahiti. Bad news is, there’s no budget way to get there. Save some money by booking one of Tahiti Nui Travel’s air-hotel combos, all of which depart from Los Angeles. Bora Bora’s a classic beach-stay, but for something even less developed, try a barefoot retreat on the private island of Vahine at one of three overwater bungalows at the Hotel Vahine Island (from $3,500 for six days and five nights; slh.com). Navigate the island’s aquamarine lagoon in a free kayak or traditional Polynesian oar boat, called a pirogue. Paddle to the nearby Champon pearl farm to watch necklace-bound jewels extracted. Sample Tahitian-style shrimp and lobster in vanilla sauce at Chez Louise, a quick boat ride away on the island of Tahaa.
Laksmi Cruz, 23, music producer and vocalist
“I’m escaping ex-loves. I was at a party, and there were two ex-boyfriends in the same room. I was like, ‘Is my social circle that small?’ I would go to Thailand. My father’s a philosopher and my mother’s an artist, so Eastern philosophy and Buddhism are very much in my blood. It’s good to put things in perspective when you have all these material ambitions.”
The Escape: Thailand
It’s about 9,000 miles from New York, teems with 64 million people, and has some of the most venerable Buddhist temples in Asia, so Bangkok is an ideal place to put past lives behind you. Go to the Wat Phra Kaew to see the famous but tiny Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho to see the famous and enormous golden reclining Buddha. At the Chang Pier, take a water taxi along the Chao Phraya River to meditate on the intriguing yet peaceful coexistence of hulking modern freighters and rickety-looking wooden boats. Instead of a mammoth soulless hotel, stay at the colonial-style all-suite Eugenia (from $165; theeugenia.com).