The Real Deal: Fly roundtrip from Los Angeles and spend eight nights divided between Sydney and your pick of either Melbourne and sub-tropical Brisbane. You'll spend four nights in each spot.
When: July 7-Dec. 15, 2005
Gateways: Los Angeles; other gateways available
Details: Domestic airfare within Australia and airport transfers are included, but you'll have to pay extra for meals ($145 for full breakfasts every morning) and sightseeing excursions (from $170 for city tours and more).
Book By: June 17, 2005
Contact: Crown Travel, crown-travel.com
Right about now, temps are starting to rise Down Under. "High season" in Australia has officially begun, which means travel bargains are disappearing as fast as you can say "Goodday." There are, however, a few glimmers of hope for the budget traveler looking to disappear Down Under.
For $1,379, Connecticut-based Crown Travel is arranging flexible city combo vacations. The package price includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles and eight nights divided between Sydney and your pick of two other great Australian cities: Melbourne and sub-tropical Brisbane. You'll spend four nights in each spot. Domestic airfare within Australia and airport transfers are included in this grand total, but you'll have to pay extra for meals ($145 for full breakfasts every morning) and sightseeing excursions (from $170 for city tours and more).
Also, departures for the lead price are out of LA, Crown can arrange for add-on airfares from just about anywhere. The travel dates for this offer straddle two of the most desirable seasons in Australia; they are: Nov. 1-Dec. 9, 2004 (spring) and Apr. 26-June 17, 2005 (fall). We mentioned earlier that these are the times of year when we start to see airfares and the cost of vacations in Australia start to rise. Perfectly illustrating this is the fact that the lowest round-trip airfare from the West Coast (Los Angeles) to Sydney during the first travel window (Nov. 1 - Dec. 9) is a steep $903 (on United Airlines). If you were to piece together your own trip, you'd also spend at least $300 on two domestic flights between Australian cities. Need we say more?
Just in case you have a few hundred dollars extra burning a hole in your pocket, Crown Travel also has a $1,679 Australia vacation to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Kangaroo Island, home to the country's largest colony of koalas. This offer covers 12 nights of lodging, as well as domestic air and transfers. Again, it'll cost you extra to snuggle with the koalas.