The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel's resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She's always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
Elke writes, "Looking for a vacation the last week of September [costing] up [to] $1,500 per person anywhere in the world. The vacation place has to offer activities, things to do. Thank you."
This is my favorite type of question, because it gives me free rein to explore possibilities all over the world—and do a bit of daydreaming on the side about each one. The fun part is that the options are endless. I could send you somewhere exotic, romantic, historic, adventurous, or entertaining, or mix and match all of the above. Before I get too far ahead of myself, however, we must remember we are working with a budget, so I will begin by searching for places that fit the (literal) bill.
Traveling at the end of September will help cut down on costs, because many destinations offer discounted prices due to a decline in tourism after Labor Day. Not to mention you'll get to take advantage of the added perks like fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. However, with the end of September right around the corner, we have to act fast.
First up is a leisurely nine-day tour of the Greek Islands that starts at $1,399 per person (without taxes and fees). Go-today.com's package includes round-trip airfare from New York City to Athens; two nights' accommodations in Athens, three nights' stay in Mykonos, and three nights' accommodations in Santorini; ferry service between islands; daily continental breakfast; hotel taxes and surcharges; and airline fuel surcharges. You must book by September 17 for travel between September 16 and 30. You can save $100 per person off the total price if you can leave in October.
If you want something a bit more lively, how about visiting Munich during its famous Oktoberfest? EuropeASAP is offering a six-night Munich Fall City Special starting at $1,049 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal, which includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available for a higher cost), six nights' accommodations, daily breakfast, and hotel taxes and surcharges, will have you drinking a pint before you can say lederhosen. Travel is valid until October 25, but you must book by September 28.
If you want something more private, Pleasant Holidays' Fiji vacation might be just what the travel doctor ordered. The package starts at $1,089 per person (without taxes and fees), and includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, six nights' accommodations in Coral Coast, round-trip airport transfers, and daily breakfast.
If you'd rather skip the beaches and instead spend your vacation exploring history and culture, then Air France Holidays' Cairo Vacation will bring out the Indiana Jones in you. The package starts at $899 for travel between September 28 and October 25 (other travel dates are available for varying prices), and includes round-trip airfare from New York City to Cairo (other departure cities are available for a higher price), arrival meet and greet, round-trip private airport transfers, five nights' accommodations, daily American buffet, 24-hour customer service assistance, and hotel taxes and service charges.
Just in case Cairo isn't exotic enough, go-today.com is offering a package to Bali and Hong Kong starting at $1,249 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles into Bali and returning from Hong Kong (other departure cities are available for a higher price), three nights' hotel in Bali, flight from Bali to Hong Kong, three nights' hotel in Hong Kong, daily breakfast in Bali, hotel taxes and service charges, and airline fuel surcharges. Travel is valid through September 30, but you must book by October 1. Other travel dates are available for varying prices.
These are my top picks for vacations all over the world that fit within your budget; it's now up to you to decide where you'd like to go. I wish you the best of luck in all your travels.
To all my other readers, I know many of you are junior Deal Detectives in training, and have probably come across some deals that might be the perfect fit for Elke. Please share any tips, strategies, destinations, or deals below.
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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.