A tango through Buenos Aires and Argentina's countryside

By K.C. Summers
Sunday, May 2, 2010

Who: Tanisha Townsend, 33, of Suitland, and her friend Lamar Brown

Where: Argentina

Why: Romantic getaway

When: One week in late summer or fall

Budget: $1,500 per person

"We'd like to visit Buenos Aires but would love to tour the countryside as well. We want to get to some wineries and see some vineyards. Oh yeah, and we just have to have an Argentine tango lesson."

Like Thailand, Peru and Malaysia, Argentina is one of those countries that offer fantastic bargains for Americans -- once you get there.

Alas, airfares to Buenos Aires are not cheap. Unless Suitland's Tanisha Townsend and her friend Lamar Brown are lucky enough to hit a sale, they'll pay upward of $1,250 round trip for the nonstop 11-hour flight from Washington to B.A. As if that weren't enough, all U.S. visitors must now pay a $131-per-person "reciprocity fee" to enter Argentina -- payback for the United States' decision to charge residents of Argentina and other countries the same amount to visit here.

Since those combined charges will just about wipe out our couple's travel budget, and we haven't even looked at lodging yet, let's talk about a few ways to cut costs:

-- Start tracking fares now on such sites as Kayak.com, Farecompare.com, SmarterTravel.com and Airfarewatchdog.com so that you can pounce when a deal is offered. Be flexible with travel dates to get the best price; you'll find better fares in October, for example, than in July. Bonus: October is Argentina's spring, and a particularly lovely time to visit.

-- Look into package deals offered by online discounters that bundle air and hotel costs. Gate 1 Travel, for example (http://www.gate1travel.com), is offering a seven-day trip with nonstop air from Washington to Buenos Aires and five nights in a three-star hotel for $1,733 in October, including most fees and taxes (but not the reciprocity fee).

That works out to about $100 a night for lodging, a good deal by any standard. Other vacation packagers to check: Travelzoo (http://www.travelzoo.com), Expedia.com (click "Vacation Packages"), American Airline Vacations (http://www.aavacations.com).

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