40 Best Bargain Vacations
In April, May, and June
Read this first
All rates and packages are accurate and available as of press time. If we get consistent feedback that an operator is pulling a bait and switch, we'll drop them. Our deadlines make it impossible to include last-minute offers, so compare the rates listed here with booking engines and tour operators to be sure you're getting the very best price possible.
What's not in the price
Service fees, security and passenger-facility charges, and visa costs are not included. Hotel, car rental, and airport taxes are generally not covered either. Such extra charges vary widely: $50 or less for a trip in the U.S., $50-$100 for the Caribbean and Mexico, $75-$125 for western Europe, $300 and up for spots where visas alone cost $100 or more (like Brazil and Russia). Also, most rates are based on midweek airfare; weekend travel can raise the price $100 or more each way. Port charges (for cruises) are almost always extra.
Prices depend on travel dates, and there's no guarantee your preferred dates will be available. (You can forget scoring a sweet deal around the holidays.) Once the least expensive options sell out, operators typically offer the next best price for the dates you've requested. Having a flexible schedule increases the odds of finding the lowest price.
Unless otherwise stated, all rates listed are per person, based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. Whenever possible, we list the single supplement--the fee you have to pay, in addition to the base price, taxes, and other charges, to get the total cost for going it alone.
Adding and subtracting nights is usually possible, for a price. The extra-night rate we list is per person, based on two people sharing a room. Also, most operators will adapt packages to suit your needs--bundling tours, excursions, meals, and entertainment--for an additional cost.
Take some responsibility
Hotels will be clean and safe, offering the basics for a basic price. Locations vary; the lowest-price hotels may not be in the center of town or right on the beach. Cruise prices are usually based on inside cabins. We encourage you to do your own research to avoid disappointment. There are many websites (TripAdvisor and Epinions, for example) that offer reviews of hotels, vacations, and cruises. If you don't like what you see, upgrades to better hotels are almost always available.
Where flights are included, we try to list prices from a variety of airports or gateways around the country, but we don't have space for every city. Operators will often arrange connections from dozens of airports, but you have to call up or log on to their websites to find out the cost. Don't assume they'll always give you the best rate. It may make more sense to book your own connections using frequent-flier miles or a low-cost airline. Before you book, always check to see how many connections you'll have to make. Land-only prices do not include airfare. For international destinations, we've tried to give you the name of the airline wherever possible.
What all-inclusive means
As a general rule, all-inclusive resorts combine lodging, three meals per day, entertainment, and nonmotorized water sports (such as sea kayaking) into one price. Some, but not all, also include alcoholic drinks and gratuities.
Philadelphia's Surreal Spring for $149
The City of Brotherly Love has rolled out the red carpet for one of Spain's most famous sons: Salvador Dalí. Timed to coincide with the 2004 centenary of Dalí's birth, the exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art features more than 200 works by the famed surrealist--including Premature Ossification of a Railway Station (above, right). The Boston Globe called it "the most comprehensive retrospective since the artist's death in 1989." All of Philly is joining Dalímania: Restaurants have created Dalí-themed menus, shops have designed special window displays, and hotels are offering packages that include V.I.P. tickets to the show (so you can skip the lines). Among your choices are the Best Western Center City (doubles from $149), the Latham Hotel (doubles from $169), the Radisson Plaza (doubles from $225), the Sofitel (doubles from $300), or the Rittenhouse Hotel (doubles from $325). The free Dalí Deals card offers premiums and discounts at more than 150 shops, restaurants, and attractions. Download it from the website below or find it on brochure racks around the city. When: Until May 15. Contact: Greater Philadelphia Tourism, gophila.com/dali.