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The 12 Deals of Christmas

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.

The holidays are here! While I would have loved to send each of you a brightly-wrapped package with an oversized bow, I will settle for giving you your gift (travel-related, of course) via the online “chimney.” Hum along as we begin, “On the first day of Christmas, my Deal Detective gave to me…”

  1. If you find yourself dreaming about exploring Prague’s cobblestoned streets, listening to Mozart in Vienna, or standing in awe of Budapest’s architecture, then’s Central Europe Journey can make those dreams come true. The nine-night package starts at $1,199 per person (without taxes and fees) for select travel dates in January through March and includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available); two-nights’ accommodations each in Budapest, Salzburg, Prague, and Vienna; second-class open rail between cities; daily continental breakfast; hotel taxes and service charges; and fuel surcharges. You must book by December 17.
  2. Virgin Vacations is offering a Six-Night London Fling, which starts at $679 per person (without taxes and fees) and promises a jolly good time. The deal includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, daily continental breakfast, and fuel surcharges. Travel is least expensive in January and February, and you must book by December 17.
  3. If your kids (and your kid at heart) have been so good this year that they deserve something extra special, Southwest Vacations has just the ticket with its Disneyland Stay Five Nights, Pay for Three package. If you book a five-night stay at a Disneyland hotel resort by April 1, you will get two-night’s accmmodations free. Plus, the same applies for a Bonus Park Hopper ticket, where a five-day ticket is the price of three. The deal is valid for travel between January 5 and April 29. Air-inclusive packages are also available with this deal, which starts at $99 per person per night (without taxes and fees or flight).
  4. A vacation can mean different things to different people, but if your idea involves not having to lift a finger or travel too far for your basic needs all in a tropical locale, Expedia’s All-Inclusive Vacation Deals are ideal for you. Packages start at $602, with some resorts offering savings of up to 50 percent. Destinations include spots in Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and more. Travel is valid through March 27, but you must book by December 28.
  5. EuropeASAP provides packages to places all over Europe, but its Madrid Winter Special is particularly enticing with a $669 per person (without taxes and fees) price tag. The deal includes round-trip airfare to Madrid from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost), six-nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast, and hotel taxes and service charges. Travel is valid between January 6 and March 25, and you must book by January 18.
  6. If you want to take the legwork out of planning, but still enjoy your freedom, Sceptre Tours’ Emerald Ritz Package brings together the best of both worlds starting at $599 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal includes round-trip airfare to Dublin, a one-night stay at the Croke Park Hotel in Dublin, four-nights’ accommodations at Irish farmhouse B&Bs (with more than 450 to choose from), one night at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, and a seven-day manual shift rental car with unlimited mileage. There is no booking deadline, but prices are least expensive during January and February.
  7. Now until December 17, you can save up to 60 percent off packages to warm locales like Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida with Funjet Vacations. Prices start at $399 per person (without taxes and fees), and include airfare and hotel. Travel is valid through April 30.
  8. Sometimes we need a vacation after the holidays, and PleasantHolidays’ Waikiki Winter Blowout is the perfect way to get away from it all. Packages start at $369 per person (without taxes and fees), and include round-trip airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco and three-nights’ accommodations. Travel is valid between January 8 and March 12, and you must book by December 27.
  9. If you’re dreaming about a trip across the Pond, AerLingus’ European Sale is a great place to start. The airline is offering flights starting at $364 round-trip from New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Orlando to Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, and Manchester. Travel is valid through March 31.
  10. Sceptre Tours is making it a breeze to get to know Italy from a local’s perspective with its Buongiorno B&B Vacation package. The deal starts at $659 per person (without taxes and fees), and includes a weekly manual shift car rental and six nights’ accommodations at B&Bs throughout Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria, Campania, Venice, and Sicily, including popular cities like Rome, Florence, and Naples. Airfare is optional, and many different itineraries can be created with four gateway cities to choose from.
  11. Tahiti may seem like a distant travel dream, but Qantas Vacations is narrowing the gap with its Six Days Beautiful Tahiti package starting at $1,349 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, a five-night stay at the Manava Suite Resort, all transfers, flower lei on arrival, and shell lei on departure.
  12. If you’d rather spend your days lounging about on a boat, saving your energy for specific stops, Norwegian’s seven-night repositioning Alaskan cruise might just be the perfect fit. The cruise departs its winter home in Los Angeles in May to travel to the Alaskan coast, stopping in Juneau, Ketchikan, and the Inside Passage before ending in Vancouver. Prices start at $409 per person (without taxes and fees), or about $58 per night. This deal is only good until tonight (December 15), so book now.

I hope one of these 12 deals fits in your holiday budget, and I also wish you nothing but good deals and safe travels in the upcoming year.

Have I overlooked a particularly good deal for 2010? Or can I help you plan a trip in the upcoming year? Please share your top deals and travel questions in the comments field below.

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