VACATION IDEAS

Dream Trips You Can Actually Afford

Think dream trips like Europe and Hawaii are totally out of reach? You'd be surprised how many affordable packages are out there to help. Here's our ultimate list of dream trip adventures—plus, the travel deals to help you get on your way.

China

The Great Wall is not as far away as you think, thanks to these great travel deals by companies like World Spree. For starters, there's the Timeless Beijing tour, giving your six nights in China's capital city and round-trip airfare from San Francisco or L.A. from—are you ready for this?—$988 per person! You'll also get three days of escorted tours—visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, the "Bird's Nest," home of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and enjoy a full-day trip to the Great Wall of China and Sacred Way of Ming Tombs, including entrance fees—and have two-and-a-half days to explore the area by yourself. World Spree also offers a 9-day tour of Beijing and Shanghai (from $1,129 per person including airfare from San Francisco or L.A.) and a 12-day tour of Beijing, Xian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai, from $1,619 per person.

Book it: Timeless Beijing, from $988 per person. A Tale of China's Two Great Cities, Beijing & Shanghai, from $1,129 per person. 12-day tour of The Middle Kingdom, from $1,619 per person. All tours are offered by World Spree and include international airfare from San Francisco or L.A.

South Pacific

As we've said in the past, yes, you CAN afford the South Pacific! We've often been surprised by how affordable the South Pacific can be, if you keep an open mind and are willing to travel during the shoulder season. Travelscene is offering a deal to the Cook Islands (book now thru Mar. 22, 2015) where you can fly from L.A. to Rarotonga on Air New Zealand, spend five nights at the Rarotonga Edgewater Resort, and enjoy complimentary breakfast and use of the hotel's snorkeling equipment. The best part: the package starts at $1,549 per person!

Book it: Cook Islands—Off The Grid, Travelscene, from $1,549 per person including airfare from L.A.

Europe

While the idea of visiting Europe might already make your wallet nervous, keep in mind that there are always ways to get around the big-ticket items like airfares, hotels, and activities. Check for airfares on sites like AirFastTickets.com or Hotwire.com for flash sales, or keep an eye out for seasonal sales by Irish airline Aer Lingus, a great budget-friendly option that I use every time I travel with my family to Europe—we even mentioned them on our list of Best Budget Airlines. If you're up for spending more money on what you do outside the room, versus spending heaps on a fancy hotel, opt for Generator Hostels, a revolutionary new style of affordable accommodations that's taking Europe by storm. You'll end up spending about half of what you'd expect to pay normally, stay in a great location not far from the city's main attractions, have access to hostel-only activities like movie nights, live music in the lounge, and have the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world without leaving the lobby. The old way of thinking about hostels has changed—Generator's biggest percentage of clients are actually a mix of families who rent out an entire dorm room and business travelers of all ages who yearn to mingle rather than stay cooped up in a fancy schmancy hotel. Buildings and rooms are stylish, and if you really want to avoid sharing a room with your new friends, single and double private accommodations (with your own washrooms) are always an option. Generator Hostels can now be found in London (I stayed there in March and will definitely keep these in mind for future European travels!), Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and Venice—they also just opened a new location in Paris.

SEE THE PLACES!

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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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