Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Sure you can get stacks of toilet paper and massive bags of dried mango at Costco. But your vacations? That’s not something you usually pick up in an oversize shopping cart. Still, hear us out: the travel branch of the giant retailer has been around since 2000, and unlike other travel agencies, it can get trips to coveted destinations at even lower costs due to its massive customer base. And thanks to an increase in off-the-beaten-path destinations and luxury packages, you might want to consider the wholesaler for your next getaway. For instance, deluxe seven-day safaris in South Africa can start at around $5,500, but Costco’s excursion, below, runs just $4,000 and, better yet, covers your international airfare as well.
You’ll need a Costco membership ($60 a year) to be eligible, and then you can start scoring deals on rental cars, hotels, cruises, and all-inclusive trips where expert travel agents handcraft the itineraries and perks include massage and excursion credits. After doing a deep dive through its offerings, we’ve rounded up six of the most epic trips the company has on deck.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Spend six days in a private villa in the Cook Islands, a nation of 15 isles in the South Pacific, where you’ll scuba-dive coral reefs, kitesurf calm waters, paddleboard secluded lagoons, and hike volcanic peaks that tower above white-sand beaches. The package includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, a rental car, daily breakfast, a bottle of wine as a welcome gift, and five nights at Sea Change Villas (from $1,749). There’s also an extended 12-night deal where you get the 12th night free.
Punta Mita, Mexico
You’ll stay at the swanky W Hotel in the laid-back surf town of Punta Mita, 30 minutes south of bustling Sayulita. With cabanas on the beach, well-appointed private rooms set into the jungle, and a surf shop with free daily clinics, you might never want to leave the hotel grounds. Prices vary depending on length of stay and departure city, but if you book through Costco, your package includes the hotel, airfare, ground transportation to and from the airport, breakfast, and kids’ club access, plus a $100 resort credit.
Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Explore the jungles and beaches of Costa Rica during this six-night trip (from $1,285), which includes lodging at the boutique, oceanside Lagarta Lodge and a private bungalow neighboring thermal hot springs at the Rio Perdido Hotel. Spend your time hiking to waterfalls, stargazing in telescopes, mountain biking rainforest singletrack, kayaking through mangrove forests, or floating in an inner tube down Rio Blanco Canyon below the Miravalles stratovolcano. Guided outings, indulgences like a volcanic-mud skin cleanser, and a $25 massage credit are included in the trip.
Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos, Greece
You’ll start in the heart of Athens with a stay at the ultramodern Athenaeum Grand Hotel before heading to the stunning island of Santorini. The picturesque Santorini Hotel Ambassador has 40 vaulted rooms overlooking the Aegean Sea, each with its own private pool. Finish your ten-day trip with three nights on the island of Mykonos, staying at the 17-room Apanema Boutique Resort, where you’ll drink cocktails while watching the sun set over the water. The package includes airfare, ground transportation, hotels, a ferry between the islands, and food and drink specials. (Prices vary based on dates and airfare.)
Cape Town, South Africa
Stay four nights at Cape Town’s five-star Twelve Apostles Hotel, right on the edge of Table Mountain National Park, where you’ll tour the Cape Peninsula and its local wine scene. Next it’s off to three nights in a luxe safari tent within the 61,779-acre Shamwari Private Game Reserve at the Bayethe Tented Lodge, where rangers lead daily outings in search of the Big Five—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and Cape buffalo—as well as bird watching and guided nature walks. This seven-day trip includes airfare from New York’s JFK Airport, lodging, guiding, ground transportation, and many of your meals. (From $3,999)
Enjoy five nights for the price of four at Maui’s beachfront Ritz-Carlton, located in Kapalua in one of the island state’s largest nature preserves. The trip includes airfare, a rental car, daily breakfast for two, and $500 in resort credit for indulging yourself with spa treatments and sushi dinners. You’ll find miles of hiking trails through the rainforest, paddleboards and snorkeling gear for rent, and a guided 28-mile bike ride down the 10,023-foot Haleakala volcano. (Prices vary based on dates and airfare.)