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.
Now that it's official—Punxsutawney Phil, the great foreseer of seasons, has predicted another six weeks of winter—there's no better time to start planning a vacation that will help you bid adieu to these gloomy days. And many vacation providers seem to agree: There are plenty of deals to choose from.
With this as my inspiration, I'll forego answering a travel quandary this week—keep those questions coming for next week's column though—and instead devote my time to finding you the most affordable, exotic, relaxing, adventurous, and all-around best spots for a spring trip. After sifting through the bad and the ugly, I came up with a list of not just the good, but the best.
Top 10 Deals
1. Sceptre Tours offers a Tuscany in Spring vacation, which is sure to melt away any remnants of the frosty winter. The deal starts at $799 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel through mid-May, and includes six nights' accommodations at the Fattoria degli Usignoli—a home base that will make it easy for you to explore Italy at your leisure—round-trip airfare from New York, Boston, or Newark (other departure cities are available for a higher cost), and a manual car rental.
2. Go-today.com makes it easy to shed the winter blues with its Barcelona at Its Best deal starting at $699 per person (without taxes and fees) this spring. The package includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost), six nights' accommodations, daily continental breakfast, and hotel taxes and service charges. Plus, you can add sightseeing tours or other entertainment activities for a bit extra.
3. Expedia's All-Inclusive Air and Four-Night Sale warms even the coldest of days with packages to sizzling destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas. Prices start at $560 and include round-trip airfare from New York City to the Caribbean and Los Angeles to Mexico, Central, and South America (other departure cities are available for a higher price), four-night's accommodations, meals, entertainment, and activities. You must book by February 18 and travel by April 22.
4. DooleyVacations.com is bringing a bit of luck into the new season with its Ireland Three-City Package, which includes visits to Dublin, Kinsale, and Limerick. The deal starts at $599 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel through March 10, and comes with round-trip airfare to Dublin from New York City, Boston, or Chicago (other departure cities are available for a higher cost), two nights' accommodations in each city, and a weekly manual car rental with unlimited mileage.
5. Have you been itching to wake up to chocolate croissants for breakfast and go to bed after a full meal of fish and chips? If so, then EuropeASAP's London and Paris Spring Special is just what your tummy needs. The six-night package starts at $919 per person (without taxes and fees), and includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost), three nights' accommodations in Paris and London, flight connection between cities, daily continental breakfast, and hotel taxes and service charges. You must purchase by February 22 for travel between April 1 and May 14.
6. Southwest offers a great way to blow off a little steam after being cooped up all winter with its Stay Seven Nights Pay for Four in Orlando promotion. Through March 1, when you book a flight and seven-night package at select hotels in Orlando, you'll get three of those nights absolutely free. Plus, a seven-day Disney Magic Your Way ticket will only cost you the price of a four-day ticket. Packages start at $38 per person per night (without taxes and fees), and include round-trip airfare from New Orleans (other departure cities are available for a higher price) and seven nights' accommodations. Travel is valid through May 7, and a five-day advance purchase is required.
7. For those feeling a bit S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder), Funjet's Sunsational Sale has the cure with a strong dose of sunny destinations, including the Caribbean, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Mexico. The deals start at $239 per person (without taxes and fees) and include round-trip airfare and three- or four-night stays. Plus, you can get perks like discounted room upgrades, free nights, two-for-one tours, kids stay free, or 20 percent off a car rental if you book now. Prices vary by departure city, travel dates, and destination. Travel is valid through August, but you must book by February 18.
8. If you really want to get away from it all—i.e. the other side of the world—Qantas is offering a One Week Walkabout special. Round-trip flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane start at $998 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel through April 30 (prices drop to $798 for travel during our summer months) from Los Angeles or San Francisco (other departure cities are available at a higher cost). These prices don't include lodging, but this is still a great price on airfare if you want to visit Australia.
9. Pleasant Holidays can turn your daydreams of luaus, hula dancing, and warm sandy beaches into reality with its Hawaii package deals to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii's Big Island, and Lanai starting at $349. The prices include round-trip airfare from San Francisco or Los Angeles depending on your final destination, three nights' accommodations at select hotels, and hotel taxes and services. Travel dates vary by location.
10. If you've always wanted to travel to Asia but thought it was out of your price range, Gate 1 Travel just put it within your reach. Its Seven-Day Bangkok Vacation starts at $799 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel in the spring, and includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles (other departure cities are available for a higher cost), five nights' accommodations at select hotels, daily breakfast, and airline fuel surcharges. Plus, you can book optional tours for a bit extra.
What do you think of this list? Is there a particular destination I've overlooked? Have you stumbled across a not-to-be-missed spring deal you'd like to share? Please leave a comment 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.