by , SmarterTravel Staff
If you're lucky, you may spot kangaroos sunbathing on the beach in Cape Le Grand National Park near the town of Esperance on the southwestern coast of Australia. Esperance is about an eight-hour drive from Perth along the stunning South Coast Highway  (within Zone 3 of the Aussie AirPass). (Photo: Richard Powers, Tourism Australia)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 12, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Asheville, Australia, camping, Cheap Caribbean, Christine Sarkis, Delta, destination, Disneyland, Dominican Republic, Expedia, hotel, JetBlue, Los Angeles, national park, Southwest, Spirit, summer, Sun Country, United, vacation package, Virgin America, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite Natl Pk.

This summer is a particularly good time to save money on an Australia vacation. The U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is reporting that travel to Australia is 20 percent cheaper now than it was a year ago. Plus, competitive pricing from airlines and other promotions such as discounted vacation packages and air passes make Australia an intriguing choice for travelers who can spend a little more but are still on a budget this summer.

The flight time from Los Angeles to Sydney is about the same as between L.A. and Rome. And this summer, it may actually be cheaper to fly to Australia than to Europe. A spot-check of flights from San Francisco in July puts a round-trip flight to Sydney at $763 versus $1,040 to Rome. Even from the East Coast, Australia flights are competitive with airfare to Europe.


Sale fares and vacation packages bring Australia's affordability into better focus. Qantas is running a sale with round-trip flights between L.A. or San Francisco and Brisbane, Melbourne, or Sydney from about $620, or from New York starting at $820. V Australia recently ended a similar deal, and may offer more sale fares to stay competitive. Qantas also has a four-city Australia air pass from $999, which allows travelers to visit multiple cities on a single airfare. For $999, the airline has an air-and-hotel package with six nights' accommodations as well.

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