Mouthwatering Travel Packages

One of the things I love to do when traveling is to catch up the latest issues of several of my favorite magazines. Nearly each time I fly, I pick up a copy of magazines such as Frommer's Budget Travel, Men's Fitness, Outside, Men's Journal or a number of other publications. I get a chance to catch up some new destinations, pick up some ideas for taking care of myself or simply find something entertaining to pass the time on a long (or short) flight.

As mentioned, Frommer's Budget Travel is one of the first magazines I pick up. Unlike magazines like Conde' Nast Traveler (which I subscribe to) or Travel & Leisure, the magazine offers up great ideas for travelers who don't always want to drop $400 a night on a room. However, the part I absolutely flock to each and every issues is the magazine's monthly 40 Best section. Each issue, 40 great packages and travel offers are listed for the coming months for destinations in the U.S. and across the globe. It was thanks to the 40 Best section that in 2005 I first realized, while on a flight back from New York City, that Buenos Aires was more affordable than I had ever imagined.

The May issue has some mouthwatering offers including the "Sumptuous South Africa" tour for $1,999 a person (including airfare from DC or New York) that includes stays at both 3-star and 5-star properties. If you're looking for a unique adventure in an exotic location, here's this month's "pick of the litter"...

Seven Days in Mongolia - $2,199 - Every July, Mongolia celebrates Nadaam, a three-day festival devoted to the "three manly sports" - wrestling, archery and horse racing - which have hardly changed since the time of Genghis Khan. You can ride horses and watch the competitions on a seven-day trip from Escapes Unlimited that covers Cathay Pacific flights from L.A. or San Francisco to Beijing (via Hong Kong), an onward Miat Mongolian Airlines flight to Ulaanbaatar, all local transportation, most meals, guided sightseeing, two nights hotel in Ulaanbaatar, and four nights in Nomadic ger tents. Highlights include a visit to the Bogd Khan Palace Museum in Ulaanbaatar; a camel ride in the Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes; a tour of Karakorum, the ancient capital of Genghis Khan; and a chance to see wild Asian horses at Hustai National Park. WHEN: Wednesday departures May 1-31, Sept 1-30 ($2,199); June 1-Aug 31 ($2,599). OTHER GATEWAYS: Seattle, Spokane (add $50); New York (add $150); Boston, D.C., Miami (add $250). Escapes Ulimited, 800.243.7227, escapesltd.com.

Be sure to read the "What You Need to Know to Use This Section" sidebar in the magazine. Travel companies have varying deposit policies. One company that I researched required upfront payment via money order or wire transfer (a no-no with me) while others may simply required standard deposits or credit card payments. Tour operators range from airline-specific ones like Visit Southern Africa (visitonsaa.com) or package providers like The Vacation Travel Mart (vacmart.com). If you don't like the terms, do your own digging and you may find that you can put together a similar package for about the same price. Of course, this takes effort. For us, that's not a problem but some travelers opt to have everything pre-packaged for them. It's all a matter of preference.

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