The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations, and rental car from $1,679 per person — plus taxes of about $160.
When: May 1-31, Aug. 1-31, 2008; add $300 for April 1-30, June 1-8, July 26-31, Sept. 1-21; $500 for Feb. 1-March 31, June 9-July 25, Sept. 22-Dec. 8; $1,100 through Jan. 31.
Gateways: L.A.; add $220 for Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., Seattle; $250 for Houston; $280 for Chicago; $300 for New York City; $360 for Miami; additional cities are available.
The fine print: The rates quoted here reflect a 3 percent discount for purchases made by cash or check. Hotel taxes, taxes for the five-day midsize automatic-transmission Hertz car rental, and unlimited mileage are included. Breakfast is not included. Rental car insurance is an additional AU$26 (US$23) per day ($400 deductible) or AU$35 (US$30) per day (no deductible) to be paid in Australia upon vehicle pickup. Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are an extra $160 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is approximately $600. To enter Australia, U.S. passport holders must obtain an Electronic Travel Authority, equivalent to a visa, just without the stamp, for up to three months. It can be purchased here for AU$20 (about US$17). Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: June 30, 2008.
Contact: ATS Tours, 888/781-5170, atstours.com.
Why it's a deal: In comparison, according to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip fare between L.A. and Hobart, Tasmania, departing on March 1 and returning on March 8, is $1,175 (multiple carriers). For an additional $504, or about $100 a day, ATS Tours provides accommodations divided between three different hotels on the island and a rental car for five days — plus the time-saving bonus of being able to book everything at once.
Trip details: The Tasmania West Coast Discovery package includes a round-trip multicity fare on a Qantas Airways carrier to Sydney or Melbourne and a connecting Qantas flight to Hobart. It also covers five nights' accommodations divided between Hobart, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, and Launceston. A midsize automatic-transmission Hertz rental car will give you the freedom to easily navigate the island.
You'll stay the first two nights at the 140-room Mercure Hotel, located in the heart of Hobart, a few blocks from the historic waterfront. Within walking distance is Salamanca Place, where you'll find most of the restaurants, cafés, and bars, as well as the Saturday market.
Next you'll hop in the car and drive two-and-a-half hours northwest to the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park for an overnight stay at the cozy Cradle Mountain Lodge, which has a restaurant with a walk-in wine cellar. You'll stay in a Pencil Pine Cabin, which features contemporary furnishings and a queen-size bed and offers views of the lake. The lodge lies on the edge of the World Heritage-listed park and makes a convenient jumping-off point for exploring Tasmania's wilderness.
For the last leg of the trip, you'll drive another two-and-a-half hours to Launceston. You'll stay two nights at the 130-year-old, 24-room Old Bakery Inn. You'll have access to complimentary guest laundry, a garden area with a barbecue, and off-street parking. The inn is right near the Cataract Gorge Reserve, which offers hiking trails, lookout points, and the world's longest single-span chairlift.
If you wish to put off that long flight home for a little while longer, ATS gives you the option to extend your stay in Tasmania without any extra airfare fees. Additional nights start from $136 per room at The Old Bakery Inn, $142 per room at the Mercure, and $224 per room at the Cradle Mountain Lodge.
For more tips on what to do in the area, visit Australia's official Web site for travel and tourism. Before you go, check the latest exchange rate, the local time, and the weather forecast at BudgetTravel.com.