Bucket List Trips You Can Actually Afford
Bucket trips are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but they also cost buckets of money. Here's how to afford your dream vacation...
Everybody wants to see the pyramids at Giza, but with the hefty cost of airfares (and political changes in Egypt), you might want to consider a swap for the equally inspiring Mayan pyramids, suggests Kelly Regan of Frommer's Travel Guides
, particularly those on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Rent a bungalow on the beaches of Tulum and tour the ruins. Then venture west to the famed El Castillo of Chichén Itzá or south to lesser-known Cobá, which Regan says is hidden within "a seemingly impenetrable jungle. It feels like discovering something no one has seen."
The opera, the fountains, the croissants with slabs of dark, gooey chocolate inside—there's just no substitute for Paris. But the little-known secret about this world capital is that—unlike, say, London—there are plenty of affordable, lovely accommodation options. Skip a night at the famed George V
and go for a smaller, family-run hotel de charme. If you're aching for some palatial digs, spend the last three or four days in the Loire Valley (a 35-minute trip by high-speed TGV train to Tours), where you can pass the night in an honest-to-God castle for $150
or even less if you choose one officially deemed a "guesthouse
" instead of a "hotel."
Most of us long for a cruise up the Inside Passage, complete with massive glaciers, bald eagles, wild bears and whales. To do it affordably, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic
, "avoid the most expensive time of year, from the beginning of June through the middle of August." Though colder, April, May, late August and early September offer the best deals. Also, be sure to pay attention to your departure point: Boarding in a larger port like Seattle is typically cheaper than smaller, less-frequented ports. Another option for the frugal-minded: a trip on a ferry
instead of a cruise ship.
The Grand Canyon
A river rafting trip through the gorges of the Colorado River is one of those quintessential American dreams, and it can be within your budget if you shorten the length of your trip, says Eugene Buchanan, editor-in-chief of Paddling Life
. The deluxe trips are usually eight to 11 days. Shortening that to three slashes the price. One way to do this is to join a trip that's already in progress at various midroute locations, called "take-outs" and "put-ins", where operators who have extra room in their rafts may allow you to hop on board. Another option is to consider going on one of the larger motorboats. "The 30-foot rafts are motor-powered, so it's a quicker trip but more affordable," says Buchanan.
Choose your location wisely, and just about anybody can afford the awe-inspiring landscape and wildlife of Africa. Kevin Turner of Kayak.com
suggests visiting South Africa because Cape Town, as the largest commercial city in Africa, often has the lowest fares. Not to mention that Kruger National Park
has entry fees for less than $15 as well as camping and tour options for every budget. If you have an adventurous spirit, you can even rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle and drive yourself.
Next: 8 things every budget traveler should know