The real deals right now
What You Need to Know to Use This Section
All of the rates and packages are accurate and available as of press time, but these trips usually sell out quickly.
Additional fees: Any service fees, security and passenger-facility charges, and visa costs generally aren't included; neither are hotel, car rental, and airport taxes. Such charges vary widely--expect $300 (and higher) for spots where visas alone cost $100 or more.
Timing: Most rates are based on midweek airfare; weekend travel can raise the price $100 or more each way. Be flexible.
Singles: Rates are per person, for two people traveling together and sharing a room. The single supplement is the fee levied for going alone.
Itinerary changes: You can often add nights: The extra-night rate is per person, double occupancy. Most operators will bundle excursions, meals, and tours for an additional cost.
Research: Hotels will be clean and safe, offering the basics for a basic price. The lowest-priced ones may not be centrally located. As with any serious purchase, you should do some research. Many websites--TripAdvisor and Epinions, for example--post reviews of hotels and cruises. If you don't like what you see, upgrades to better hotels are almost always available.
Airfare: Where flights are included, we list prices from several airports ("gateways"), but we don't have space to show them all. Operators may arrange connections from other airports, but don't assume they'll always give you the best rate. It might make more sense to book your flights using frequent-flier miles or a low-cost airline. Also, check to see how many connections you'll have to make.
All-inclusives: All-inclusive resorts usually cover lodging, three meals daily, entertainment, and nonmotorized water sports. Some also include alcoholic drinks and gratuities.
Florida Keys for $435
Air from New Orleans to Miami or Key West and three nights on Islamorada at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa, with a golf course, two pools, and a private beach. When: Monday--Thursday departures July 5--Sept. 30. Other Gateways: New York ($455), Kansas City ($465), Chicago ($479), L.A. ($555). Details: Extra nights $56. Single supplement $196. The resort is 72 miles south of Miami or 90 miles northeast of Key West; add a round-trip car rental starting at $128. Contact: Leisure Link International, 888/801-8808, eleisurelink.com.
Los Angeles for $164
Southwest Airlines flights from Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Tucson, and two nights at Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn, with free shuttle service to Universal Studios Hollywood, one mile away. When: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday departures July 2--Sept. 10. Other Gateways: Austin, Oklahoma City (from $284); Chicago, Philadelphia (from $314). Details: Extra nights from $45. Single supplement from $95. Contact: Southwest Airlines Vacations, 800/423-5683, swavacations.com.
New Orleans for $260
American Airlines flights from Dallas and three nights at the Fairmont New Orleans, a block from the French Quarter. When: Monday--Thursday departures July 4--Sept. 5 ($260) and Sept. 6--Oct. 21 ($375). Other Gateways: L.A. ($383/$498); Chicago ($400/$515); Boston, New York ($409/$524). Details: Extra nights from $60. Single supplement from $105. Contact: AmericanAirlines Vacations, 800/321-2121, aavacations.com.
Oahu for $570
Delta Airlines flights from L.A., transfers, and five nights at the Ohana Maile Sky Court, near the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and within walking distance of Waikiki Beach. When: Daily departures until Nov. 11. Other Gateways: Denver ($801), New York ($830), Chicago ($845). Details: Extra nights $67. Single supplement from $199. Land-only price is $204 until Dec. 16. Contact: Pleasant Holidays, 800/448-3333, pleasantholidays.com.
Palm Springs for $309
American Airlines flights from Chicago to Palm Springs and three nights at the Doral Desert Princess Resort, with a large pool, full spa, 10 tennis courts, and 27 holes of championship golf. When: Daily departures until Sept. 30. Other Gateways: Dallas ($328), Boston ($387), New York ($426). Details: Extra nights from $41. The rate for a single starts at $255 (single room). Contact: AmericanAirlines Vacations, 800/321-2121, aavacations.com.
San Juan Islands for $899
Six days of sea kayaking in northwest Washington State, departing from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Includes eight to nine miles of paddling per day, five nights of camping, guides, meals, use of a double kayak, and camping gear (tents, cooking equipment; bring your own sleeping bag). When: July 17--22 and Aug. 21--26 ($999); July 31--Aug. 5 ($999, women only); Sept. 4--9 ($899). Details: Airfare is not included. Add $15 for the one-time REI membership fee. Single supplement $59. Contact: REI Adventures, 800/622-2236, reiadventures.com.
Banff for $688
Alaska Airlines flights from San Francisco or Seattle to Calgary, Rocky Mountain Sky Shuttle transfers to Banff (two hours away), and three nights at the Banff Caribou Lodge. When: Wednesday and Saturday departures until Sept. 30. Other Gateways: L.A. (from $753), New York (from $818), Orlando (from $927). Details: Extra nights from $104. Single supplement from $298. Contact: Alaska Airlines Vacations, 800/468-2248, alaskaair.com.
Canada Cruise for $440
Four nights aboard the Carnival Triumph on a round-trip sailing from New York, with two full days at sea and a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When: Aug. 18 and Sept. 1 ($440 inside cabin, $510 ocean view). Details: Price does not include port charges (add about $156) or airfare. Call for the single rate; it varies, but could be as high as 200 percent more. Contact: American Discount Cruises, 866/214-7447, americandiscountcruises.com.
Maritime Canada for $1,366
A seven-night train and car trip that begins in Montreal, Quebec, and ends in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The package includes one night's hotel in Montreal and a tram tour of the city; an overnight on VIA Rail Canada's Ocean train to Moncton, New Brunswick (new Easterly service, with full dinner and breakfast; double bedrooms have bunk beds and an en suite washroom with toilet and sink); a six-day car rental; five nights' hotel (one each in Moncton, Digby, and Halifax, two in St. Andrews); and more. When: Daily departures until Oct. 7 (except Mondays). Details: This is a land-only price; add flights to Montreal, returning from Halifax, starting at $409 from Boston. Contact: Canada à la Carte, 877/977-6500, canadaalacarte.com.
Cancún for $749
Air from Atlanta, Dallas, D.C., Miami, New York, or Philadelphia and seven nights at the beachfront Omni Cancún Hotel & Villas, with three pools, three restaurants, and a full spa. When: Monday--Thursday departures July 1--Sept. 30. Other Gateways: For the same price, you can depart from 34 cities, including Albany, Baltimore, Buffalo, Fort Myers, Hartford, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Savannah. Add-ons are available from more than 100 other airports. Details: Extra nights $86. Single supplement $375. Contact: SkyAuction, skyauction.com/budgettraveljuly, book only over the Internet.
Cozumel for $668
Air from Miami, transfers, and seven all-inclusive nights at the Casa del Mar Cozumel, with an outdoor restaurant, poolside bar, and a beach club within walking distance. When: July 1--Aug. 6 ($721), Aug. 7--Oct. 31 ($668). Other Gateways: New York (add $120), L.A. (add $129), Atlanta (add $149), Chicago (add $156). Details: Extra nights from $57. Single supplement from $388. Contact: Caradonna Dive Adventures, 800/328-2288, caradonna.com.
Mexican Riviera Cruise for $649
Seven nights aboard the Carnival Pride on a round-trip sailing from L.A., with three full days at sea and stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas. When: August 28 ($649 inside cabin, $799 ocean view, $949 balcony). Details: Prices include port charges but not airfare. Call for the single rate. Contact: GalaxSea Cruises and Tours, 800/662-5450, cruisestar.com.
Aruba for $818
American Airlines flights from Miami, transfers, and seven nights at the Talk of the Town Beach Club in Oranjestad. Just across the street from its own beach, the resort has a pool and a poolside bar and grill. Complimentary passes to a nearby health club are included. When: July 1--Oct. 10. Other Gateways: New York, Philadelphia (add $99); Atlanta, Charlotte (add $174); New Orleans (add $206). Details: Extra nights $58. Single supplement from $375. Contact: Caradonna Dive Adventures, 800/328-2288, caradonna.com.
Dominican Republic for $609
American Airlines flights from Miami and five all-inclusive nights on Punta Cana's Bávaro Beach at the four-star LTI Beach Resort, with a pool, four restaurants, four bars, and a disco. When: July 7--Sept. 30. Other Gateways: New York, Philadelphia ($686); Baltimore, D.C. ($748). Details: Extra nights $56. Single supplement $116. Contact: Vacation Travel Mart, 800/288-1435, vacmart.com.
Costa Rica for $489
Air from Miami to San José and four all-inclusive nights at the beachfront Fiesta Resort and Casino, on the Pacific coast near Puntarenas. When: June 1--Sept. 30. Other Gateways: Dallas, New York (add from $175); L.A. (add from $199). Details: The resort is 90 minutes from the airport. Shuttle transfers cost $60 round trip; car rentals start at about $20 per day. Extra nights from $66. Single supplement from $180. Contact: Leisure Link International, 888/801-8808, eleisurelink.com.
Guatemala for $727
American Airlines flights from Miami, transfers, five nights at the four-star Hotel Princess Reforma in Guatemala City, a full-day trip to Chichicastenango market and Lake Atitlán (with lunch), and a half-day tour of colonial Antigua. When: Thursday departures until Dec. 9, except July 1--Aug. 15 (add $60). Other Gateways: L.A. (add $50), New York (add $60), San Francisco (add $130), Seattle (add $230). Details: Extra nights $35. Single supplement $241. Add $60 to travel on other days of the week. Contact: Tara Tours, 800/327-0080, taratours.com.
Nicaragua for $695
American Airlines flights from Miami to Managua, all transfers, and five nights' hotel. Spend two nights at the Hotel Los Balcones in León (home to the largest cathedral in Central America) and three nights at the Hotel Colonial in Granada, on Lake Nicaragua. When: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday departures July 1--Aug. 31 ($749) and Sept. 1--Dec. 9 ($695). Other Gateways: Dallas ($786/$731); New York ($917/$862); Chicago ($983/$928); L.A., San Francisco ($973/$918); Seattle ($1,112/$1,057). Details: Extra nights from $29. Single supplement $202. Contact: Capricorn Leisure, 800/426-6544, capricorn.net.
Buenos Aires & Rio for $879
Air from Miami to Buenos Aires (the return flight is from Rio), three nights in B.A. at the Embajador Hotel overlooking Avenida 9 de Julio, a half-day city tour, an onward flight to Rio, three nights at the Savoy Othon Hotel near Copacabana Beach, and breakfast daily. When: Until Aug. 4 ($1,079), Sept. 1--Dec. 9 ($879). Other Gateways: New York ($1,179/$899), L.A. ($1,404/$1,129). Details: Extra nights from $31. Single supplement from $210. Contact: FlySouthVacations.com, 800/234-5245, flysouthvacations.com.
Chile for $839
Aerolíneas Argentinas flights from Miami, transfers, five nights in Santiago at Los Nogales Hotel (in the Providencia neighborhood) with breakfast daily, and a half-day city tour. When: Until Dec. 1. Other Gateways: New York (add $50). Details: Extra nights $39. Single supplement $190. Add a half-day winery tour for $55 or a full-day excursion to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso for $90. Contact: Escapes Unlimited, 800/243-7227, escapesltd.com.
Peru for $999
LanPeru flights from Miami to Cuzco (via Lima), transfers, five nights at the Terra Andina Hotel with breakfast daily, one dinner, a half-day city tour, and a full-day guided excursion to Machu Picchu (train and lunch included). When: Daily departures July 1--Aug. 15 ($1,049) and Aug. 16--Dec. 9 ($999). Other Gateways: Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, San Francisco ($1,089/$1,039); L.A. ($1,129/$1,079); Boston, Philadelphia ($1,209/$1,159); New York ($1,229/$1,179). Details: Extra nights from $30. Single supplement $110. Contact: Marnella Tours, 866/993-0033, marnellatours.com.
A Splurge on Italy's Amalfi Coast for $2,299
With its craggy cliffs, sea-view trattorias, and bougainvillea-covered hotels, the dramatic peninsula south of Naples is the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. No wonder it's always been a favorite for honeymooners. With a full week and a car, you can explore at your own pace. Visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, take a hydrofoil to the island of Ischia and soak in a thermal bath, catch an outdoor concert at Villa Rufolo in Ravello, hop a ferry to Capri and visit the Blue Grotto, and have a sundowner at the famous Il San Pietro hotel in Positano. TourCrafters has partnered with the Italian airline Eurofly to offer a package that'll have you traveling in style. It includes nonstop business-class flights from New York to Naples, a seven-day car rental, seven nights in Sorrento at a four-star hotel (your choice of either the Bellevue Syrene or the Villa Garden), and breakfast daily. When: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday departures until Aug. 31, except Aug. 17. Other Gateways: None. Details: Extra nights from $113. Sorry, no rate for singles. A similar package to Sicily costs $2,590. Contact: TourCrafters, 800/482-5995, tourcrafters.com.
Austria for $899
Austrian Airlines flights from D.C. or New York to Innsbruck (via Vienna), three nights in Neustift (in the Alps; Hotel Bellevue or similar), two nights in your choice of either Innsbruck (Tourotel Breinossl) or Vienna (Atlantis Hotel), and breakfast daily. The package also includes private round-trip transfers from Innsbruck Airport to the Stubai Valley, and an onward flight from Innsbruck to Vienna, if you choose to spend your last two nights there. When: Until Aug. 31 ($1,109), Sept. 1--Oct. 15 ($899). Other Gateways: None. Details: Extra nights from $120. Single supplement $189. Contact: Austrian Airlines Vacation Center, 800/790-4682, austrianair-vacations.com.
England for $779
Air from New York, a seven-day car rental, six nights of vouchers good at your choice of 400 B&Bs throughout the country, and breakfast daily. When: Until Aug. 31 ($979), Sept. 1--Oct. 31 ($779). Other Gateways: Boston ($1,009/$839); Chicago, Miami ($1,129/$959); Houston ($1,169/$979); Seattle ($1,199/$999); L.A. ($1,259/$979). Details: Extra days with car and voucher $70. Single supplement $110. Contact: EuropeASAP, 415/750-5449, europeasap.com.
Istanbul for $679
Air from New York, transfers, and six nights at the Nazar Hotel (in the Laleli district) with breakfast daily. When: Until Aug. 25 ($949), Sept. 1--Oct. 31 ($679). Blacked out Aug. 19--22. Other Gateways: Philadelphia ($979/$709), Baltimore ($1,019/$729), Chicago ($1,099/$769), Miami ($1,129/$759), Denver ($1,189/$909), L.A. ($1,199/$859). Details: Extra nights from $18. Single supplement from $200. Contact: Go-today.com, 800/227-3235, go-today.com.
Malta for $1,040
Virgin Atlantic and Air Malta flights from Boston, D.C., or New York to Malta (via London), transfers, six nights with breakfast daily at the waterfront four-star Kennedy Nova in Sliema. The hotel is near the city center, and has a rooftop pool overlooking Sliema Creek and the harbor. When: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday departures July 4--27 ($1,216), Aug. 1--31 ($1,330), and Sept. 5--28 ($1,040). Other Gateways: Miami, Orlando ($1,287/$1,400/$1,135); L.A., San Francisco ($1,416/$1,530/$1,170). Details: Extra nights from $34. Single supplement $144. Add dinner daily for $120 total. Contact: Amelia International, 800/742-4591, ameliainternational.com.
Mediterranean Cruise for $1,155
Ten days aboard Celebrity Cruises' Century on a round-trip sailing from Barcelona. The itinerary includes two full days at sea and stops in Marseille and Villefranche, France; Livorno and Civitavecchia, Italy; and Palma, Ibiza, and Valencia, Spain. When: Sept. 2 ($1,480 inside cabin/$1,790 ocean view) or Sept. 23 ($1,155/$1,525). Details: Prices do not include port charges and taxes ($215) or international airfare. Call for the single price. Contact: CruiseBrothers.com, 800/827-7779, cruisebrothers.com.
Paris & Barcelona for $999
Air France flights from Boston or New York to Paris (the return is from Barcelona), three nights in Paris at the Comfort Hotel Lamarck Caulaincourt in Montmartre, an onward flight to Barcelona, three nights at the Expo Hotel near the Plaça d'Espanya, and breakfast daily. When: July 1--Aug. 31 ($1,199), Sept. 1--6 ($1,289), Sept. 7--Oct. 31 ($999). Other Gateways: Miami ($1,329/$1,419/$1,049), Chicago ($1,339/$1,429/$1,049), Houston ($1,379/$1,469/$1,099), L.A. ($1,449/$1,539/$1,379). Details: Extra nights from $41. Single supplement from $230. Contact: Air France Holidays, 800/237-2623, airfranceholidays.com.
Africa & Middle East
Cape Town & Kenya Safari for $2,005
South African Airways flights from Atlanta or New York to Cape Town (the return is from Nairobi, via Johannesburg); two nights in Cape Town at the City Lodge V&A Waterfront; an onward flight to Nairobi; one night each at the Nairobi Safari Club, the Samburu Game Lodge (Samburu Game Reserve), The Ark (Aberdare National Park), Lake Elementaita Lodge (Lake Nakuru); and two nights at the Mara Simba Lodge (Masai Mara Game Reserve). This 11-day, 8-night package includes all transfers, a half-day tour of Cape Town, breakfast daily in Cape Town and Nairobi, and all meals and activities while on safari. When: Thursday departures until Oct. 31. Other Gateways: Boston, Miami, Philadelphia (add $180); L.A. (add $260). Details: This is a discounted rate for BT readers (regular price is $2,239). Single supplement $250. Contact: South African Airways Holidays, 888/777-1138, saaholidays.net.
Egypt for $999
EgyptAir flights from New York to Cairo; transfers; five nights at the deluxe Sheraton Royal Gardens Hotel in Giza with breakfast daily; and two half-day guided tours of the Pyramids and Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, and the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. When: Sunday departures until Aug. 7 ($1,274) and Aug. 14--Dec. 4 ($999). Other Gateways: None. Details: Single supplement $125. Add three nights on the Red Sea in the resort area of Sharm al-Sheikh for $400 (includes flights, transfers, hotel, and breakfast daily), or a three-night Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor for $450 (includes flights, transfers, accommodations, meals, and shore excursions). Contact: Misr Travel, 800/223-4978, misrtravel.org.
Morocco Tour for $1,099
Air from New York to Casablanca (the return flight is from Marrakech), transfers, local transportation by private bus, six nights' lodging with breakfast daily (one in Casablanca, two in Fez, and three in Marrakech), five dinners, all entrance fees, and guided sightseeing throughout. The itinerary includes visits to Casablanca, Rabat, Moulay Idriss, Fez, Meknès, Beni Mellal, and Marrakech. When: Sept. 3, 24 ($1,099); Oct. 8, 22, and Nov. 19 ($1,199). Other Gateways: D.C. (add $216), Boston (add $238), Chicago (add $260), L.A. (add $378). Details: Extra nights in Marrakech from $56. Single supplement from $251. Contact: Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com.
Zambia for $3,399
South African Airways flights from Atlanta or New York to Johannesburg, all transfers and local flights, one night at the Grand Hotel near Johannesburg airport, and seven nights in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park (three nights at Mfuwe Lodge and four at Bushcamps), all game drives/walks and meals while on safari, and park entry fees. When: Until Aug. 20 ($4,199), Aug. 22--31 ($3,899), Sept. 1--30 ($3,399). Other Gateways: D.C., Miami (add $140); Chicago, St. Louis (add $180); L.A., Seattle (add $260). Details: Single supplement $575. Add three days at Victoria Falls for $799. Contact: Lion World Tours, 800/387-2706, lionworldtravel.com.
Visit Sri Lanka and Make a Real Difference for $2,195
The village of Ahangama, on the southern coast, had always been the final stop on Djoser's Sri Lanka tour. After two weeks of exploring the tea plantations and temples inland, travelers came to snorkel, relax on the beach, and marvel at the locals' unique skill of stilt fishing. But last year's tsunami devastated Ahangama, and Djoser has been forced to take its groups elsewhere--though it hasn't abandoned the town. With an initial donation of $4,000, it joined the "Bring Back to Life" program, a coalition of individuals and companies who have pledged to rebuild homes for 50 families. Participants in Djoser's trips to Sri Lanka can now make an active contribution themselves by extending their stay and helping in the cleanup and construction (Details: are on its website). The regular 18-day tour itinerary includes visits to the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya, the cultural center of Kandy, and the western beach town of Negombo. The price covers Singapore Airlines flights from L.A. to Colombo (via Singapore), transfers, transportation by private bus, 14 nights' lodging, and guided sightseeing throughout. When: July 1, Aug. 12 ($2,445); Sept. 2, Oct. 28, Nov. 25 ($2,195); Dec. 23 ($2,545). Other Gateways: New York (add $55). Details: Add roughly $225 per week for expenses. Single supplement $275. For every Sri Lanka trip booked in 2005, Djoser will donate $100 to the relief effort. Whether or not travelers participate in the Ahangama project, they're encouraged to bring items from home to give to local families, such as much-needed cookware, cups, and plates. Contact: Djoser, 877/356-7376, djoserusa.com.
Bali for $829
Cathay Pacific flights from L.A. or San Francisco, transfers, five nights' hotel with breakfast daily, and a half-day temple tour. Spend five nights in one place or in a combination of three: Sanur Beach (Ari Putri Hotel), Kuta (Bakung Beach Cottages), and Ubud (Sri Bungalows). When: Until Aug. 15 ($1,029), Aug. 16--Dec. 9 ($829). Other Gateways: Portland, Seattle (add $50); New York (add $100); Denver, Salt Lake City (add $160); Dallas, New Orleans (add $280). Details: Extra nights $20. Single supplement $120. Add $50 to travel on the weekends. Free stopovers are available in Hong Kong. Contact: Escapes Unlimited, 800/243-7227, escapesltd.com.
China Tour for $1,699
Air China flights from L.A., transfers and all local transportation, 10 nights of four- or five-star lodging (three in Beijing, two each in Xi'an, Suzhou, and Shanghai, and one in Hangzhou), all meals, fully guided sightseeing and entrance fees (including the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace), an acrobatic show in Beijing, and a cruise on the Grand Canal. When: Wednesday departures until Aug. 24 ($1,779) and Sept. 7--Nov. 2 ($1,699). Other Gateways: New York (add $100; nonstop Air China flights). Details: Extra nights from $120. Single supplement from $435. Contact: Champion Holidays, 800/868-7658, china-discovery.com.
Hong Kong for $999
Cathay Pacific flights from L.A. or San Francisco, transfers, five nights at the Kowloon Hotel on the "Golden Mile" of Nathan Road, breakfast daily, and a half-day city tour. When: Until Aug. 15 ($1,299), Aug. 16--Sept. 14 ($999), Sept. 15--30 ($1,099). Other Gateways: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia (add $250--$300). Details: Extra nights from $100. Single supplement from $250. Add $100 for weekend travel. Add three nights in Beijing starting at $260 (includes air, transfers, hotel, and tours). Contact: Ritz Tours, 800/900-2446, ritztours.com.
Japan for $1,250
Singapore Airlines flights from L.A. to Tokyo; arrival transfer; three nights at the Sunshine City Prince Hotel in Tokyo's Ikebukuru neighborhood; breakfast daily; a half-day city tour; and a seven-day Japan Rail Pass (valid on railways, bus lines, and ferries), which allows you to explore the rest of Japan on your own. When: Until Aug. 20 ($1,498), Aug. 21--Dec. 5 ($1,250). Other Gateways: San Francisco (add $75); Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle (add $165); Dallas, Oklahoma City (add $285); Albany, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Minneapolis, New York (add $355); Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Richmond (add $400). Details: Extra nights from $180 (per room) in Tokyo. Single supplement from $441. Upgrade to the Century Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku for $100 more. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on all Shinkansen (bullet trains) except Nozomi. Add $190 for a 14-day pass; $335 for 21 days. Contact: Globotours, 800/988-4833, globotours.net.
Bora-Bora for $2,495
Air Tahiti Nui flights from New York to Papeete (new nonstop service), transfers and interisland flights, welcome and farewell leis, one night in an ocean-view room at the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti in Arue, and five nights in a garden bungalow at the Lagoon Resort and Spa on Bora-Bora. When: Monday and Thursday departures July 4--Oct. 31. Add $85 for Saturday departures. Other Gateways: The regular L.A. departures are $200 less. Details: Call for the extra-night price. Single supplement $930. Upgrade to an over-water bungalow for $1,560 more. Contact: Swain Tours, 800/227-9246, swaintours.com/nytahiti.
Moorea for $1,289
Air New Zealand flights from L.A. to Papeete, Tahiti; round-trip interisland ferry to Moorea; and seven nights in a bay-view room at the Club Bali Hai, a beachfront resort on Cook's Bay. When: Until Aug. 22 ($1,419), Aug. 23--Sept. 5 ($1,289). Other Gateways: None. Details: Extra nights from $58. Single supplement from $410. Upgrade to a beach bungalow for $235 more, over-water bungalow $500 more. Contact: Tahiti Legends, 800/200-1213, tahitilegends.com.
Sydney for $999
Air from L.A. or San Francisco and five nights with breakfast daily at the Southern Cross Suites in central Sydney, near Hyde Park and the Australian Museum. When: Until July 31 ($1,449), Aug. 1--Sept. 9 ($999), Sept. 10--15 ($1,249), Sept. 16--Dec. 2 ($1,599). Other Gateways: Seattle (add $146); Denver (add $194); Chicago (add $241); Atlanta, Boston, Miami, New York (add $288). Details: Extra nights from $59. Single supplement from $251. Add a full-day wine-tasting excursion with lunch for $109. Contact: Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com.
New Zealand for $1,389
Air New Zealand flights from L.A. to Christchurch (the return flight is from Auckland); a 13-day Spirit 2 camper-van rental (with two berths and a kitchenette); and tickets for the ferry crossing between Picton, on the South Island, and Wellington, on the North Island. When: Until Aug. 26 ($1,389), Aug. 27--Sept. 16 ($1,499), Sept. 17--Oct. 17 ($1,699). Other Gateways: San Francisco (add $125); Las Vegas, San Diego (add $135); Seattle (add $275). Details: Extra days with the camper-van start at $53. Single supplement from $260. Upgrade to a Spirit 2 Deluxe camper-van (it also has a toilet and shower) for $91 more. Contact: ATS Tours, 800/423-2880, atstours.com.
Traci Powell of Las Vegas reminds us that sometimes the smallest decisions in life bring the biggest rewards. Last April, on a whim, I bought a copy of Budget Travel for the first time. Scanning the 40 Best, I found a Sunspots trip to Fiji for $994 and booked it immediately. I'm a foster care social worker, and with such a high-stress job, I really needed a place to relax by myself for a week. My last day in Nadi, I decided to take a day trip to Malamala Island. On the boat, I met Alex, the cruise supervisor, who was born and raised in Levuka, on Ovalau (coincidentally, one of the "10 Great Islands You've Never Heard Of" in your May 2005 issue). The moment I saw him, I knew it was meant to be. We hung out for most of the trip, and by the end, I knew I wanted to spend more time with him. I skipped my flight home and stayed in Fiji four more days. After I returned to Vegas, Alex and I talked every day, racking up $100 a week in phone bills. I went back to see him in July and again in September. We were married in Nadi on September 3, 2004. I've now been back and forth a total of eight times. Alex is moving to the U.S. this month, and Fiji will be our favorite vacation spot. As for BT, we now have a subscription. Vinaka (thanks) for helping to bring us together!