If you're one who likes to visit foreign English-speaking countries for the accents, you might challenge your assumptions as to which places you can afford, especially since spring flights to London are running in the $600 and $700 range for flights alone. By choosing Australia, your dollars will travel much further. Down Under, in fact.
Speaking of fabulous accents, South Africa is another destination to have on your list this year, especially since the city is gearing up for 2010 FIFA World Cup events (that's for soccer, in case you didn't know) in a few months. While South Africa rarely (if ever) makes it on bargain basement vacation lists, particularly when factoring in airfare, this might just be the year to go if you've ever thought about it.
Currently, South African Airways Vacations is offering a nine-day air-and-hotel package from $1,899 (not including taxes and a $300 fuel surcharge), based on departures from New York or Washington, D.C., that includes air, accommodations in Cape Town and Pilanesberg National Park, transfers, breakfast and some dinners, and various tours and game drives. Travel is valid through May 31 or between August 15 and December 15. For a list of more tours, visit South Africa Tourism.
If you're more interested in seeing World Cup action than sightseeing, Emirates can help with your vacation planning. And if you book by April 15, you can get up to three complimentary group match tickets to the games.
You'd think larger-than-life Dubai would come with larger-than-life prices, but that's not necessarily the case this spring. With Friendly Planet's Dazzling Dubai package, you can spend six days in the city known to some as Vegas on Steroids, from $1,499. The package includes round-trip airfare from New York on Emirates Airlines (Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco departures are also available), transfers, accommodations, breakfast, tours, and add-on options to visit Cairo or Kenya.
If you have some dough, and happen to being flying in first or business class on Etihad Airways through June 30, you can receive two free nights at the iconic and super-luxe Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai. Not for everyone, but I thought I'd mention it.
For more down-to-earth deals, you might want to keep tabs on the Emirates website, which often posts sale fares to Dubai and other destinations in the East.
I realize that's it's still a tough economy and many of us can't spare a grand or two for a trip. For those who want to go somewhere that feels hard-to-reach but is more affordable, I can recommend a couple of options.
On June 13, Delta will launch new service from Atlanta (with more than 40 connecting cities) to The Exumas in The Bahamas, starting at $258 round-trip. While most Bahamas-bound sun seekers escape to either Nassau or Grand Bahamas Island, The Exumas are considered "Out Islands" and have a more exclusive feel, especially since many wealthy yachtsmen and celebrities (like the ultimate pirate of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp) vacation there. Additionally, you can go to Nassau and then explore other Bahamian islands with free companion airfare if you book a package of at least four nights by May 10 for travel through December 22.
Hawaii has also been on many budget travel lists the past two years, most recently this spring at SmarterTravel.