When scouring the internet for holidays, it's easy to find yourself looking at dream breaks in a far-flung location and then promptly closing the window when you see the price. Flights can be expensive, accommodation can empty your wallet and when you finally arrive you also need to arrange food and entertainment. For those who want a taste of luxury but without the hefty price tags need look no further - take a look at our top luxury backpacking and holiday destinations that won't break the bank!
You'd be forgiven if you thought that African safaris are just for those with a bigger budget to blow -and it's easy to see why, with Africa's rich wildlife preserves and breath-taking scenery (mountains so big they could easily overshadow the Lion King's Pride Rock) you'd expect to pay astronomical prices to see Simba and Mufasa relatively close. South Africa is usually the safari holidaymaker's first choice. The Kruger National Park has more than 2 million hectares of wildlife reserve where Africa's extensive natural wildlife coincides with some of the greatest historical and archaeological sites, and the entrance fee is £9 a day - which is hard to beat.
If you want to book a luxury African safari for less, look for countries in Africa that have a weak currency. When the economy isn't going so well, they're more likely to offer hugely discounted prices in order to fill up vacancies in hotels and lodges across their safari parks. The former French colony of Guinea-Bussau tends to have a poorer exchange rate to the pound as their currency is linked to the Euro.
Going off-season means you can save up to 40% on your safari, accommodation and flights without compromising the quality of the animal viewings. Because it's wet season, animals have their young with them, the countryside is lush because of the wet weather and the sunsets are infinitely better. It won't constantly be raining either - as rainfall tends to be intermittent in the morning and evening, leaving the entire day for you to explore the park.
Choosing to drive and camping at the park reserves sites allows you the freedom to dictate your own itinerary and pull over once you see something. There are fixed camps all over the parks where you can drop for the night, or stay on a more permanent basis if you prefer. The easiest place to self-drive is Kruger, South Africa, which has 17 camps, or KwaZulu and Pilanesburg National Parks. Those who have more safari experience could try Namibia's Etosha National Park. Car hire costs range from £130 per week. If you decide to camp out at one of the designated drive-to campsites on the reserves, a campsite pitch costs as little as £8 a night providing you bring your own tent. Permanent tents cost around £10-£15 per person per night, and you can use the communal showers and toilets.
Rome is often associated with luxurious city breaks and many people expect to shell out a small fortune for decent accommodation and food. Try avoiding the exclusive shopping districts and dining in the most central, touristy spots (don't expect that by having lunch opposite the Pantheon it will be cheap). Most of the main attractions in Rome are free, and like other European cities of culture, Rome has so much to see in every street, so long as you know where to look. Churches, like St Peter's Basilica are free to enter and as in keeping with other Roman Catholic architecture of their time, is one of the most extravagantly decorated and beautiful monuments in the whole of Europe. The Vatican museums run a scheme which allows free entry on the mornings of the last Sunday of the month, so as long as you're prepared to queue to see the Sistine Chapel, you don't have to spend a penny. The Pantheon is also free to enjoy (unlike the lunches in the plethora of tourist trap restaurants around it), and the Largo di Torre Argentina - the spot where Julius Caesar was killed - and the spot where poet John Keats and author Mary Shelley are buried is free to visit too.
Transport in Rome is pretty straight-forward - both the metro system and the tourist-specific hop-on hop-off buses are fairly cheap, and buying a multiple day pass can save you a lot of money. If you don't even want to splash out on a day fare, walking is the alternative free way of getting around, with many attractions not far from each other - if it's a nice day, why not? Large parts of the city have been pedestrianised for this very purpose.
There are a great range of good quality hostels in the city, including the Friends Hostel located in the heart of the city, not far from the Colosseum, which offers single bed private rooms from £21 a night. Alternatively, if you wanted to spend less but compromise with being further out of the city, convents and monasteries could offer you the thorough Roman Catholic experience.
Hollywood is commonly associated with the rich, famous and beautiful, and it's still worth a visit. The atmosphere there is so different to any other part of the world, and it basks in sunshine with 21°c temperatures almost all year round. You don't have to splash out to get the full Hollywood experience. You can spend £17 a night for a twin room with a private bathroom, TV and air conditioning in Inglewood, South of Hollywood and which is only ten miles from Hollywood Boulevard. Close to Los Angeles Airport, transport shouldn't be a problem for star-struck tourists, with the Metro serving all areas of the city. A day pass on the Metro is $5 (£3) or a seven-day pass for £12. Attractions include the Forecourt of the Stars at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard t measure your hand and feet prints against the prints of the stars that graced our screens. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is also free, and takes up a good hour walking the path.
The Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park has a free astronomy museum and offers visitors a free glimpse at the cosmos with their incredibly strong telescope, and you can drive up to Beachwood Canyon for an up-close look at the famous sign - which is actually fenced off from the public, so there's no legal access to the physical letters, but it's good to see up close anyway.
Hollywood wouldn't be Hollywood without the presence of studios. TV show tickets are always free, and although you might not have heard of the show in particular, it's worth a visit just to absorb some of the Hollywood spirit. The La Brea Tar Pits are next to the LA County Museum of Art and is the biggest source of prehistoric fossils ever excavated, and the collection of the majority of fossils found here are on show at the Page Museum. It's free to wander the park and look at both the tar pits and the outdoor exhibits.
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