40 Best Bargain Vacations
The Real Deals for May, June, and July
Read this first: All rates and packages are accurate and available as of press time. If we get consistent feedback that an operator is pulling a bait and switch, we'll drop them. Our deadlines make it impossible to include last-minute offers, so compare the rates listed here with those of booking engines and tour operators to be sure you're getting the very best price possible. And check BT's website (budgettravel.msnbc.com) for the latest specials.
What's not in the price: Service fees, security and passenger-facility charges, and visa costs are not included. Hotel, car rental, and airport taxes are generally not covered either. Such extra charges vary widely: $50 or less for a trip in the U.S., $50-$100 for the Caribbean and Mexico, $75-$125 for western Europe, $300 and up for spots where visas alone cost $100 or more (like Brazil and Russia). Also, most rates are based on midweek airfare; weekend travel can raise the price $100 or more each way. Port charges (for cruises) are almost always extra.
Be flexible: Prices depend on travel dates, and there's no guarantee your preferred dates will be available. (You can forget scoring a sweet deal around the holidays.) Once the least expensive options sell out, operators typically offer the next best price for the dates you've requested. Having a flexible schedule increases the odds of finding the lowest price.
Single travelers: Unless otherwise stated, all rates listed are per person, based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. Whenever possible, we list the single supplement--the fee you have to pay, in addition to the base price, taxes, and other charges, to get the total cost for going it alone.
Itinerary changes: Adding and subtracting nights is usually possible, for a price. The extra-night rate we list is per person, based on two people sharing a room. Also, most operators will adapt packages to suit your needs--bundling tours, excursions, meals, and entertainment--for an additional cost.
Take some responsibility: Hotels will be clean and safe, offering the basics for a basic price. Locations vary; the lowest-price hotels may not be in the center of town or right on the beach. We encourage you to do your own research to avoid disappointment. There are many websites (TripAdvisor and Epinions, for example) that offer reviews of hotels, vacations, and cruises. If you don't like what you see, upgrades to better hotels are almost always available.
Airfare: Where flights are included, we try to list prices from a variety of airports or gateways around the country, but we don't have space for every city.
Operators will often arrange connections from dozens of airports, but you have to call up or log on to their websites to find out the cost. Don't assume they'll always give you the best rate. It may make more sense to book your own connections using frequent-flier miles or a low-cost airline. Before you book, always check to see how many connections you'll have to make. Land-only prices do not include airfare. For international destinations, we've tried to give you the name of the airline wherever possible.
What all-inclusive means: As a general rule, all-inclusive resorts combine lodging, three meals per day, entertainment, and nonmotorized water sports (such as sea kayaking) into one price. Some, but not all, also include alcoholic drinks and gratuities.
Sun, Sand & Savings for $299
Nothing will cure the blahs faster than a couple of days in Miami Beach. Leisure Link International offers flights from New York and three nights in one of nearly a dozen Miami Beach hotels. The total price depends upon which hotel category you choose. Tier 1: Howard Johnson Dezerland, Howard Johnson Caribbean, Greenview South Beach, Ocean Surf ($299). Tier 2: Beach House in Bal Harbour, Albion, Riande Continental South Beach ($338). Tier 3: Shore Club, Loews South Beach, Royal Palm Crowne Plaza ($468). Tier 4: Ritz-Carlton South Beach ($497). When: April 11-Nov. 30. Blackout dates vary by hotel. Other Gateways: D.C. (add from $30); Boston, Chicago (add from $50); Dallas (add from $75); L.A. (add from $100); San Francisco (add from $130). Details: All prices are based on midweek stays. Extra nights from $35 (Tier 1), from $45 (Tier 2), from $95 (Tier 3), from $109 (Tier 4). Single supplement from $99 (Tier 1), from $129 (Tier 2), from $289 (Tier 3), from $325 (Tier 4). Contact: Leisure Link International, 888/801-8808, eleisurelink.com.
Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com
Budget Travel Real Deals