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.
Kimberly B writes, "Dear Deal Detective, I would like to ask for your suggestions of affordable, adventurous trip suitable for celebrating my 40th birthday. This is a birthday I didn't always think I'd live to see and I want to rejoice and explore more of the amazing world. I'm hampered by a very small budget (under $1000 and lower is better) but perhaps traveling in November would help keep some costs low. I haven't been outside the country much at all, though did get to go to Greece & Venice once. I'm open-minded about my destination and enjoy everything from walking, visiting heritage sites, soaking up the feel/sights/sounds of everyday life in a place, kayaking, snorkeling, etc. Thanks for any suggestions you might have."
Let me begin by wishing you a very happy birthday and welcoming you into a new decade. There's no better birthday gift than a trip to someplace out of the ordinary, and I think we can find the ideal spot for you to celebrate.
You were right in your assumption that many destinations are less expensive during the off-peak months such as November. We should be able to find a few options that not only fit your budget, but may even leave you a little extra for birthday cake. I could send you to Ireland, Italy, Barcelona, Cancun, Costa Rica, and beyond for less than $1,000 this November, but instead I've selected three places which exemplify the best of the best for a birthday bash.
Paris, with its many museums, historical sites, and shops, is an ideal city to spend time getting to know. Luckily, go-today.com is making it easy to do just that with its six-night Paris at its Best package starting at $629 per person (without taxes and fees) in November. The deal includes round-trip airfare from Philadelphia (other departure cities are available for a higher price), six nights' accommodations, daily continental breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges, and airline fuel surcharges. Book by October 14.
If you're looking for something a little more low-key and tropical, CheapCaribbean.com's Bahamas vacation package may be the perfect fit. The deal starts at $569 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel in November, and includes three nights' accommodations at the Atlantis Paradise Island Beach Tower, round-trip airfare from Miami (other departure cities are available for a higher price), TripMate weather insurance, and $100 coupon if it rains during your stay. You must book by September 29.
Hawaii, on the other hand, combines a tropical escape with a cultural experience, where you can explore heritage sites as well as snorkel. Pleasant Holidays is offering vacation packages to the Big Island starting at $609 per person (without taxes and fees) in November. The deal includes round-trip airfare from San Francisco, three nights' accommodations at a hotel like the Royal Kona Resort, and hotel taxes.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is only the cream of the crop. Keep an open mind—and Internet connection—and browse until you find exactly what you're looking for.
To all my other readers, can you help Kimberly celebrate in style? Is there a particular destination which you think may be more fitting? Or have you discovered a great deal that you are dying to share? 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.