Need help tracking down a great travel deal? Then put our expert investigator on the case. The Deal Detective will sleuth out the best bargains that fit your needs.
Dear Deal Detective:
Are you ready for a challenge? I’m searching for an ideal family vacation centering around our 13-year-old daughter. She aspires to become a marine biologist.
Beginning high school this September she will be on the volleyball team, water polo team, swim team, concert choir, and carry three honors classes. She prefers to vacation with her dad and me but tends to miss her friends after five or six days. I enjoy adventure, her dad enjoys naps, and she’s right in between. Any fantastic ideas?
When I was a teenage Deal Detective, my parents took me and my sister on a family vacation to the Mayan Riviera. We spent a week scrambling around ancient ruins, relaxing and sipping drinks (non-alcoholic ones for me, of course) on the beach, and renting a car and driving up and down the Yucatan Peninsula. It was a vacation rife with adventure, beaches, water sports, and naps, so perhaps a trip to Mexico may be just what your whole family is looking for.
The best deal I found is CheapCaribbean.com’s recently extended Mexico Mania Sale, which features free nights and kids-stay-and-eat-free packages to Acapulco, Ixtapa, Huatulco, Manzanillo, and Mazatlan.
One particularly good offer I noticed is an all-inclusive deal at the Sandos Caracol Beach Resort & Spa in Playa del Carmen. Seven-night summer and early fall deals start at $649 per adult, while five-night fall packages go for $599. You can save an additional $100 off the total price if you book by June 30 and use the promotional code “MEXICOMANIA” when you book.
Dear Deal Detective:
I am looking for cheap air travel to London in July. Please help find me a great deal.
Wow, London in July. Not an easy task. That’s pretty much the most expensive time for transatlantic flights to London, so my first word of advice is to modify your expectations of what “cheap air travel” means. At this late date you’ll be hard pressed to find a great London fare, but my usual recommendations apply: Avoid flying on weekends, and if you see even a moderately reasonable price, jump on it.
The news is better for those who can wait until August to fly. If you’re lucky enough to live near New York, Boston, Baltimore, or Minneapolis, take a look at Expedia’s new exclusive summer travel offer from Icelandair. These rates are for travel to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Stockholm, and Amsterdam right in the middle of Europe’s very expensive high season (August 20 to October 31) and, even better, are good for any day of the week. Book by June 30.
I found flights from New York to Stockholm for $505 round-trip, Boston to London for $609, and Baltimore to Paris from $649. You’ll be getting a real bargain if you can snag one of those prices during the sale’s earliest travel dates, specifically August and September. I’d be more skeptical of paying in the $600 range for an October flight, though.
Once you’ve landed on the Continent, one of the great ways to see Europe is by renting a car and simply driving somewhere. I’ve often found my best days are the ones spent exploring the countryside. Hertz is offering two special discounts for North American travelers that are worth noting.
The first is 15 percent off non-prepaid “Affordable Europe” rates, valid on any car class at locations throughout Europe. Use rate code “WEG” at the time of booking to get your discount. The offer is good through June 30. If you’re heading to Germany, you can save up to €50 on select German rental car models (BMW, anyone?) at Hertz locations. Use promotional code “101474” at the time of reservation. The offer is good through September 30 on rentals of five days or more at select airport locations.
Dear Deal Detective:
How about a good Italy deal?
There must be something about la dolce vita that has my readers particularly excited this month, because you’re not the only one to ask about Italy.
While Eurofly bills itself as Italy’s “leading carrier” (a wholly subjective term if ever there was one), one thing that isn’t subjective is the airline’s claim that it offers direct flights to more cities in Italy than any other carrier. And this fall, it’s combining those direct flights with vacation packages that represent pretty good value, particularly for those who like to have a lot of their vacation activities prepaid and pre-planned for them.
My favorite of Eurofly’s five new packages is its seven-night “Amalfi Coast Discovery” offer, which starts at $1,599 per person for departures on November 2. The same packages costs $100 to $200 more per person for travel on select dates in October. But here’s what you get: round-trip airfare from New York, accommodations and daily breakfast at the five-star Hotel Raito, one dinner with wine included, lunches with wine in Pozzuoli and in Naples, half-day excursions in Sorrento, Naples, and Ravello, a full-day excursion in Cuma/Pozzuoli, the services of a tour host, and airport transfers. This price does not include airfare taxes (which could bump the cost up a few hundred dollars), but it does cover hotel taxes and service charges. Eurofly is also offering similarly priced packages to Sicily, Rome, and Tuscany.
These packages are best suited for those who like structured vacations and don’t mind traveling with a group, and on very specific dates, in order to save some money.
That’s it for this month. Need help finding a deal for your next trip? Email me your requests. Please be aware that due to the volume of requests I receive, I cannot always personally respond to every email. The more compelling your question—and the more specific you are with your departure city and desired travel dates—the better the chance you’ll be selected for an upcoming case.
All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.