5 Once-in-a-Lifetime Vacation Ideas (You Can Actually Afford)

Some travel providers are better than others when it comes to discounts on luxurious trips abroad.

No matter whether you're a seasoned traveler or a total homebody, we all have a once-in-a-lifetime trip on our bucket list. For most people, these trips are extremely personal. Golfers might dream of 18 holes at St. Andrews in Scotland, while adventure-seekers might plan to kayak on the Amazon.

Once you've figured out where to go on your special trip, the planning process requires some big decisions — especially when it comes to finding a trustworthy travel service that will provide a great trip at a reasonable price. So this week, we've compiled a list of the best travel agents offering luxury travel packages at a discount.


Kenya and Tanzania Safari With Abercrombie & Kent

Explore the majesty of East Africa's Ngorongoro Crater with Abercrombie & Kent's Kenya and Tanzania Wildlife Safari Package. It starts at $6,495 per person, which is about $900 less than other providers. The Ngorongoro crater is home to about 25,000 large animals, making it one of the best game-viewing destinations in the world, as well as the oldest wildlife preservation in existence.

This bucket-list small-group tour includes stays in Amboseli National Park at the foot of Mount Kilamanjaro. Plus you'll get a private tour of Olduvai Gorge where the first fossils linking man to his distant ancestors were discovered.

While most tours focus on the extreme beauty and abundance of the wildlife in this area, A&K's tour also includes socially responsible excursions such as a trip to the local school so that visitors can interact with local children. There's also a Masai Mara village to learn about the ancient nomadic tribe's traditions.


Plan Your Trip to Ireland With Gate 1 Travel

Many Americans with Irish ancestry dream of tracing their family's roots in the magical land of Eire. From the lively pub scene in Dublin to the raw and rugged west coast, Ireland blends the historical with the mystical so that you're never quite sure if the tale you're being told is fact or fiction.

Our pick for the best once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland is via Gate 1 Travel's 14-Day Deluxe Ireland Flight and Hotel Escorted Package, which checks in at $4,729 per person, a savings of about $1,200. This small-group package with roundtrip flights hosts guests in converted mansions and castles around the country, and includes guided tours of Trinity College, Kylemore Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher, and Giants Causeway. You'll learn how to make traditional Irish soda bread and attend a private recital of Yeats' poetry in his home town of Sligo. The price also includes all meals, transfers, and hotel porterage.


5-Star Venetian Luxury in Italy With Jetsetter

The Floating City of Venice is one of the most beautiful and iconic cities in the world. From the epic grandeur of Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Marco to the colorful exuberance of the gondolieri, Venice is a city that must be seen — preferably before it sinks!

We recommend checking out Jetsetter for luxurious and exclusive hotel stays anywhere in Europe; the site does hotels worldwide, but we've had particular success with Jetsetter in Europe. The site researches and curates the creme-de-la-creme of hotels so that you can be sure you're getting a list of properties that will elevate your trip into a luxury escape. On top of that, most of their deals include bonuses like champagne receptions, complimentary gondola rides, and even butler service in some cases!

Machu Picchu

Experience Incan Majesty With an Indus Travel Small Group Tour

The fascinating ruined city of Machu Picchu is one of the most awe-inspiring places on Earth. Going there feels like taking a trip back through history. Perched high in the Andes of Peru (8,000 ft. above sea level) the city offers visitors a unique perspective on both the surroundings and history.

A trip to Machu Picchu can be both dangerous and expensive if you don't plan it properly. You'll find hundreds of packages available, but we'd suggest looking into trips from Indus Travel such as this Royal Inca Path 6-Day Small GroupTour Package. It starts at $3,490 per person, an approximate savings of about $120. But the discount here isn't the impressive part; the biggest advantage to booking a ready-made itinerary is that your guides will help you bypass the crowds. They'll also provide any necessary equipment, and travelers will ascend by train on what has been called "the most luxurious railway service in South America."


Luxury Virgin Islands Cruise With Windstar Cruises

If you have a penchant for the open sea, then we advise you to head over to Windstar Cruises immediately. This luxury cruise site offers a selection of luxury private yacht tours in South America and Europe.

Our favorite cruise from the carrier is the Windstar 7-Night "Philipsburg to Philipsburg" Caribbean Cruise aboard the Star Legend. It checks in at $1,499 per person, a savings of about $200. This cruise sails to some of the most exclusive destinations in the eastern Caribbean, including St. Barts in the British Virgin Islands. Guests will also be treated to a private Windstar beach party event at the idyllic and uninhabited setting of Prickly Pear Beach.

Are you planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip? Tell us what's on your bucket list, in the comments below!

Paula Bradley
Contributing Writer

Paula Bradley has taught English in Japan and Italy, and she has written for several e-zines aimed at Westerners living abroad. She uses her experience across the six continents to inform her travel features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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These are way overpriced! In 2011, I went to Africa (6-day climb of Kilimanjaro followed by 7 days in Tarangire Park, Ngorogoro, Oldupai, etc) and it cost only $5000 including airfare. In 2012, 19 days in Peru/Ecuador (hiking Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, river rafting, Quito, Lima, and a week long cruise of the Galapagos) was only $5000 including all airfare.
These are all great trips, but not what I expected from a site that is geared to people looking for deals. You can go to all of these places for MUCH less and do just as much if you plan carefully. Unless I missed something and these all include airfare, they are all overpriced.
It does say "once in a lifetime" - so that means spend a lot for a one time bonanza.

$6500 for what all that it offers sounds reasonable. That said, the price goes down for each thing on the list I believe.
Headline: "5 Once-in-a-Lifetime Vacation Ideas (You Can Actually Afford)"

First trip: "It starts at $6,495 per person ...".

I guess the author is talking about trips without one's family, because $6,500 x 2 or 3 ($13,000 to $18,500) is not a vacation that most of us can actually afford. Admittedly, some of the other trips are more affordable, but it would make more sense to lead with the most affordable and end with the least.
Greg the Gruesome
>Plan Your Trip to Ireland With Gate 1 Travel

But do NOT plan your trip to Greece with Gate 13 Travel! :P