VACATION IDEAS

11 Bucket List Adventures You Can Actually Afford

Think dream trips to Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China are financially out of your reach? Think again. We've got the inside scoop on these and other super-affordable bucket list items—like hot air ballooning in Albuquerque and taking a jeep safari ride through the buffalo herds in Custer State Park—that are great for every budget.

Driving among the buffalo in Custer State Park

Custer State Park is located just an hour's drive south of Mount Rushmore and is one of those places where reaching it is half the fun—there are plenty of twisting mountain roads, gorgeous views, and incredible wildlife encounters to keep you on your toes, and very few places on earth where you can actually get stuck in traffic because a herd of buffalo decided to cross the road, so keep those cameras handy! Once inside the park, opt to spend the night camping in the South Dakota wilderness or visit one of the Custer State Park Resorts-I stayed at The Game State Lodge, a beautiful historic property that once served as the "Summer White House" for President Coolidge in 1927 and was later visited by President Eisenhower in 1953. The best part: it's the launching point for Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours, a spectacularly intimate way to get up close and personal with the park's diverse wildlife—we drove right up to a grazing herd of bison, past fields of noisy prairie dogs, and ended the night with a traditional chuck wagon cookout. Admission to Custer State Park costs $4 per person per day, or pay $15 per vehicle for up to seven days. Children ages 11 and under get in free. Rooms at The Game State Lodge start at $115 a night. Adults pay $82 each-children ages 12 and under pay $62-for the Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour plus Chuck Wagon Cookout. Prices for just the Jeep Safari are $43 for adults, $36 for kids 12 and under. Prices for just the Chuck Wagon Cookout are $47 for adults and $37 for kids 12 and under.

UNDER $150 (per person, per day for packages)

Dog-sledding in Mont Tremblant, Canada

One of the best ways to really get out there and experience nature at its finest is by dog-sledding through the wide open wilderness of the Laurentians in Canada's Québec province, about a two-hour drive from Montréal. At outfitters like Pourvoirie Mekoos in Mont-Laurier, you'll get to meet the dogs before you ride along with (or drive) the dog-sledding team through the Canadian wilderness. You'll have a beautiful cabin-in-the-woods style cottage to stay in (or opt for a room within the main lodge), delicious home-cooked meals in the main lodge, and a wealth of activities to choose from no matter what season you're visiting in—choose from hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, volleyball, bird watching, berry picking, and nature hikes during spring, summer, and fall, and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and dog-sledding during the winter. If you can't make it out to the Canadian countryside, you can also try dog-sledding in the ski resort town of Tremblant, located about an hour and forty minutes from Montréal. Visit this website to view additional dog-sledding options in the Upper Laurentians region. Dog-sledding at Pourvoirie Mekoos costs $100 per person for a half-day adventure, and $200 per person for a full-day adventure. Two people are required per sled and both options include lunch. Their accommodation and meals package includes one night at the lodge or in a cottage, dinner, breakfast, and use of the spa and sauna for $120 per person per night. Dog-sledding prices at Tremblant start at $95 per person for a two-hour ride.

Machu Picchu

One of the most popular bucket list spots on everyone's list is Machu Picchu, the mystical land once ruled by the ancient Inca tribes of Peru. It's definitely one of those places where once you bite the bullet and pay for the airfare to get to Cuzco, the rest is super-affordable. Our friends at G Adventures have several guided trips to Machu Picchu—choose to take on the four-day Inca Trail hike or simply take the train to the top, it's up to you. G Adventures is actually giving Budget Travel readers a special 30 percent discount off one of their most popular tours, Absolute Peru, a 21-day adventure that takes you to Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Colce Canyon, Lake Titicaca, Puno, Cuzco, the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, and into the Amazon Jungle, from $2,309 per person (after the 30 percent discount off the original price of $3,299), including 13 nights' accommodations, several guided tours, six breakfasts, six lunches, six dinners, all transportation within the country, and all taxes and fees. Translation: you get a whole three-week Peruvian adventure (excluding international airfare) for about $110 per person per day. Must use promo code G13BT30A when booking the Absolute Peru tour with G Adventures. Book by Nov. 30, 2013, for travel by Dec. 31, 2014. Valid for new bookings only. Cannot be combined with any other offers, promotions or discounts and are subject to availability.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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