10 Places You Never Thought You Could Afford in 2012
What's keeping you from embarking on that big dream vacation kicking around in the back of your imagination? If money is your answer, we have the solution. Big-ticket trips can be had for unexpected cut-rate prices—that is, if you know where to go. We discovered 10 thrilling destinations where fantastic bucket-list getaways can be bought for run-of-the-mill rates, from cruises through the wilds of Alaska to urban explorations of historic European cities.
The Galapagos is a land of fearless sea lions, game-changing scientific theories, and expensive vacation packages. The destination is best explored by boat or guided tour, and one of the easiest ways to plan a trip is by booking a one-price-covers-all vacation package—but these aren't cheap. Published prices for Galapagos packages on Intrepid Travel, a small-group adventure-tour operator, start at $2,020 for five nights, no airfare included—and we won't even get into what luxury packages cost.
So consider the alternative: Plan your own journey. SmarterTravel editor Caroline Morse did just that and saved a bundle. Morse details her incredibly affordable Galapagos trip: "We ended up walking into one of the numerous tour operators that line the streets on the main island and booking ourselves onto a four-day, three-island tour with everything (meals, accommodations, tours, snorkeling, boat transfers, etc.) included for just $200 per person." Putting on your travel-agent hat and conducting a bit of research could really pay off when planning a Galapagos getaway.
What does Greece's recent economic turmoil mean for travelers? As of publication, there are no warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State against travel to Greece, and this year could, in fact, be an excellent time to go, as Greece travel deals are popping up like olive trees. Our sister site TripAdvisor reports that hotel rates in popular Greece destinations have fallen by as much as 20 percent in the past year. The influx of bargains is a win-win for both locals and visitors, as a healthy tourism industry could help Greece revive its economy. According to Catharine Hamm of the Los Angeles Times, "Greece needs tourist dollars now more than ever to find its way out from under lest it default on its loans. Tourism is one of its leading industries, and that means you are apt to find bargains."