You Don’t Need to Win Powerball to Travel the World: This Week’s Top 20

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Deal Expert, New York
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This week’s record Powerball has the country fantasizing about the number of Learjets and islands they could buy with their windfall.

Good news for the millions of lotto losers out there: you can still travel the world — opulently! — without that big bump in your bank account. (And let’s not forget the best perk: you can do so without being hounded by the media.)

Here’s a look at some of my favorite deals this week in Top 20; perfect for anonymous jet setting while still feeling like a millionaire.

$639 — Iceland in Spring: Airfare, 4-Star Hotel & Tour

Iceland is among the most popular destinations for Travelzoo employees to cash in their vacation days. I’m joining the club next month and can.not.wait. What’s so great about Iceland? For east coasters, it takes just as long to get here as it does to get to California.  Plus viewing the Northern Lights has been on my bucket list forever. In grilling my colleagues who have been here, I’ve only been met with “I can’t wait for you to go – it’s AMAZING” and “make a reservation at Fish Market.”  What I love about this deal is:

  • It’s less than $700 from a number of cities to spend a long weekend in Europe
  • It would cost at least $300 more if you tried putting this package together yourself
  • There is a wide option of travel dates, from winter (the best time to catch the Northern Lights) to spring (when you’ll get more daylight to explore the countryside).

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$249 — Temecula Wine Country 2-Night Retreat (Reg. $519)

Speaking of Europe, just look at this photo. Tuscany or Temecula? Trick your friends, take a significantly cheaper flight to California, and check out what the ‘other’ wine country is all about: it’s further south, which means warmer weather; it’s widely available through June; you get mimosas with every breakfast (yes please); and you’re wedged right between San Diego and Los Angeles, so make a full road trip out of it. 95% of our members who have been there (and we’re talking upwards of a thousand people) gave this place a big thumbs up.

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$4995 — Publisher’s Fave: Ultimate South Africa Experience

Jonathan Jones, the publisher of the Top 20, called me and was beside himself with excitement over this deal, proclaiming “You know I don’t like animals and bugs (disclaimer: he has two dogs that he loves), but I’m probably going to book this deal – it’s too hot to pass up.” So why is Jonathan ok loading up on DEET to make his way to South Africa, when we see deals (hot ones, mind you) every month?

  • We’re not going to pretend, at nearly $10,000 a pop for two to go together, that this is an inexpensive deal. What we can stand by, is that it’s dripping in value.
  • One of the hotels is a constant award-winner, topping ‘best of’ lists annually. Most recently Conde Nast Traveler said it was one of the best hotels in Africa. It’s a bit off the beaten path outside of the city. Think: luxury beach resort vs. ideal location to pop out and explore Cape Town.
  • The other hotel takes the term glamping, and makes me want to call it extrava-camping (I know, it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely).  One of our other publishers stayed here and cannot stop talking about how incredible the place was.
  • Instead of wasting precious travel time flying between Cape Town and Johannesburg, this deal includes a ride on the Blue Train — a 5-star hotel on wheels. It’s old-school Hollywood rail glamour at its finest. This means you’re transferring destinations while having a top-notch experience, and not playing the hurry-up-and-wait game at airports.
  • This time of year is ideal to spot wild life: It’s winter in South Africa, so a lot of the brush is dead, meaning better chances of viewing animals (vs. attempting to find them among lush landscape)

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$1699 — Greece Island Hopping: 8 Nights incl. Airfare

I went to Santorini for my honeymoon in the summer of 2011. The weather was prime, the joint was jumping, the seaside Greek salads and Champagne were flowing, and we were two of 16 other American honeymooners who made their way to the same sunset catamaran one glorious night. So much for feeling special. The Greek Islands in summer is of course prime time — but what if we told you not to go until September or October? You’ll be met with a bit of a breeze off the water, the need to pack a few more tunics, and plenty of window shopping due to stores closing early for the season – but you will be blissfully free of the summer crowds, and have access to late-season savings.

One of the best parts of the deal: It includes a flight between Athens and Santorini — bypassing the 8-hour ferry that many other packages include.

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$1799 — Luxury Cruise w/Balcony, Credit & Air (Reg. $2899)

Bring up cruising and I’m always met with polarizing responses:  You’re either a cruiser or not. But for those toeing the line of becoming one and are nervous about what to expect from days at sea, Oceania  — a country club on water that includes a Canyon Ranch spa, martini tastings and some of the best food on the water — just released the lowest price we’ve ever seen from them.

So why is this good for novices and old sailing pros alike?

  • It includes roundtrip air from 26 cities, meaning this is as brainless as it gets: airfare, hotel and all meals are taken care of
  • This deal includes a balcony cabin – so you get fresh air and don’t have to worry about your first cruising experience being behind walls with no sense of what direction you’re heading
  • It includes a $350 credit per cabin to use anything your heart desires that doesn’t happen to already be included
  • The smaller ships dock in seaside villages and destinations that the larger mega-ships can’t reach, for a more authentic experience (vs. those tourist-filled ports)

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$199 — New Luxury Mexico Hotel thru April

I froze my behind off on this morning’s commute to work in NYC so therefore this brand-new Playa del Carmen hotel made my list. It allowed me a few precious minutes to daydream about being among the first to check-in (it just opened in November), with my welcome cocktail in hand at the rooftop infinity pool. Best part is that this is widely available through April: spring break! (or avoid it completely for an escape that’s actually relaxing).

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