BUDGET TRAVEL ADVICE
7 Out-of-This-World Trips Budget Travelers Found Here
We spend a lot of time choosing just the right deals to offer in our Real Deals section to make sure readers are getting the best trips at the best price. And we love to hear from readers who have scored the vacation of a lifetime. Here are seven true stories from those who found the perfect deal.
Do It Yourself: A similar seven-night trip with Untours starts at $1,459 per person including private accommodations, airport transfers, and the services of a local representative. 888/868-6871, untours.com.
Personal touches 9,000 miles from home
On her 55th birthday, Sandy Snowe received a cake in her hotel room—9,000 miles from her Merritt Island, FL, home. "It was absolutely gorgeous," she says. It was also one of many personal touches she came to call "Andrea moments," after Andrea Ross, whose Southeast Asia tour company Journeys Within arranged Snowe's Cambodia trip. Snowe found Journeys Within, then less than a year old, through its first Real Deal, and Ross has developed a fondness for Real Deals fans, too. "BT readers are the people I stay in touch with," she says. "They set us up for success."
Do It Yourself: A similar seven-night trip with Journeys Within starts at $1,500 per person, including time at Angkor Wat and in the cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, domestic flights within Cambodia, and many meals. 877/454-3672, journeys-within.com.
Home-cooked meals amid beautiful scenery
"My wife, Sarah, and I live in Manhattan. As lifelong big-city dwellers, a Knowmad trip to Chilean Patagonia was a 180-degree change for us. We wanted to be immersed, not pampered. Only twice did we eat in restaurants—instead, we ate with our hosts in local homes. We stayed with a couple in Cochamó Valley—at one point, we were eating fresh salmon the husband had caught the day before from the river that runs through their property. What I remember most: the wood stoves. There's one in everybody's kitchen, going 24 hours a day. The coffee's always on, and you can smell the wood smoke all throughout the house. I'm desperate to find a way to import the stoves to New York—I just don't know of too many landlords who would allow it." —Ben Sevier, New York, NY
Do It Yourself: A similar eight-night itinerary with Knowmad Adventures starts at $2,170 per person, including activities like biking, hiking, and horseback riding through Patagonia. 877/616-8747, knowmadadventures.com.
A private tour through hundreds of years of history
Fran and Bill Howard have braved their share of crowded bus tours—in Peru, Costa Rica, etc—-and they were all fine. After all, travel is supposed to be a social endeavor, right? So imagine the Howards' surprise when they signed up for a 10-day, seven-city vacation in Turkey with Foreign Independent Tours—and they were the only people in the group. "We were really surprised they didn't cancel," says Fran, of Laguna Woods, CA. The best part, aside from the fact that they could sit in any seat—or every seat!—on their VIP bus, "was that they had a personal tour guide. He was willing to stop anywhere they wanted, as long as they got to their final destination on time every day. "If it was there, we saw it," says Fran. "St. Mary's house, the city of Metropolis, Cleopatra's swimming pool—which people are still swimming in—the Trojan Horse, temples, stadiums. We certainly got our money's worth."
Do It Yourself: A similar nine-night itinerary with Foreign Independent Tours starts at $1,129 per person including ground transportation, guided tours of historic sites throughout the country, and overnights in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Kusadasi, and Canakkale. 800/248-3487, fittours.com.