The budget bucket list: How to see the world's greatest wonders in 2022 – from £250

·27 min read
budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

Budget and bucket list sound like unlikely bedfellows. In fact they sound like badly zipped-together sleeping bags, with “a million star” hotel in the shape of the night sky.

But, even if you’re not keen on camping, you can still see the world’s wonders without spending luxurious amounts of money. A bit of planning and research goes a long way. Choose your season carefully, be as flexible as possible about departure times and avoid high-margin accommodation and you can see and experience all you dream of without emptying your savings account.

In 2022's cost-of-living challenges and high inflation, any kind of economising is a great help. It’s also worth noting that while the pound in your pocket won’t go as far at home on food, drink, travel and leisure, that’s not necessarily the case elsewhere. Moreover, Britain is infamously pricey for most things and just going abroad can represent a sort of saving. Stay away longer and you can save more, potentially.

I’m a big believer in low-cost luxury. In my case this can mean a beachfront shack, a good urban hostel, or a tent with a view. I once spent a week hitchhiking and camping around Patagonia. I’d been there before, staying in plush hotels and lodges and enjoying fancy dinners, but the no-frills trip was like a joyous flashback to how I used to travel – and why I began to travel in the first place.

I went overland, slowly, independently. The accent was on authenticity and fun – basic, healthy, grin-inducing fun. When, as part of the trip, I found myself among groups of guided tourists ogling the Perito Moreno glacier, I felt two things: one, my low-key approach was so much better; two, I was seeing a world-famous “sight” in a Unesco-listed national park for the price of an entrance ticket, a matter of a few pesos.

It felt like cheating in a good way, to be bagging a bucket-list experience without busting my budget.

The luxury travel market wants us to spend a lot on comfort and consumables, items such as king-size beds in designer hotels, gourmet grub, champagne and cocktails, and bespoke service – ideally a private guide, private car, and private experiences. But luxury comes in many guises, including holidays that are social and shared, hotels that are not starred but packed with personality, and fresh air and tranquility.

Who wants a flatscreen TV when the view is amazing? Who needs aircon when you can open a window? Money only buys certain things. Sometimes, you get the most incredible experience by putting in effort – hiking up a hill, going down a road rarely taken, taking your time.

So here’s a bucket list with a twist. Our pick of the world’s biggest, boldest, knock-out trips – holidays you’ll love and remember forever – and how to do them on a shoestring and, where possible, with a reduced carbon footprint, too.

Note on prices: These are ballpark “per person” figures. Fares for transport vary hugely according to seasons. Rates on the so-called “dynamic” booking sites such as Trivago and Booking.com change all the time. Currency conversion rates will also influence the final overall price, as will, ultimately, food, drinks and additional local costs.

Take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – from £1,400

Machu Picchu budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Machu Picchu budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Walking on Inca stone pathways and staircases is an exercise in empathy as well as a lung-busting adventure. You can but imagine the chasquis – Inca runners – doing the same to deliver an urgent message or a tribute to the supreme ruler at Cuzco.

The emerald-green hills, the crisp blue skies and camping under the Southern Cross add to the accumulation of awe. Then, you arrive at Machu Picchu via the lofty Sun Gate and peer down on the extraordinary citadel. It’s for fairly fit walkers, mind you. The trip usually starts in Cuzco, with a transfer to the Sacred Valley by van or train either to KM 82/Ollantaytambo or the KM88 rail station where the hike begins. The distance is 44km (33.7 miles) from the former or 38km (23.6 miles) from the latter and it takes between two and four days. As the route is at more than 6,000 feet, so it pays to go slowly and rest often.

Booking in the UK

The straightforward but more expensive option – it’s trustworthy, allows time for acclimatisation, and if anything goes wrong you will get back-up. The best deal on this is probably the G Adventures (gadventures.co.uk) four-day Cuzco to Cuzco group tour for £569pp, plus flights.

Going local

Booking in Cuzco could save you quite a lot of money – three-day hikes start from around £450. Talk to other walkers recently returned for their tips; you’re bound to meet them in hotels, hostels or restaurants. Chat to local agencies – a list can be found at aatccusco.com. Check that guides speak English. For the hike, take energy bars and fruit with you as the food may be basic, as well as warm gear and a three-season sleeping bag (local firms rent them out) for the chilly nights. If you’re taking your own tent, use it as it will almost certainly be better than the budget operators’.

Make sure to allow three days at altitude (Cuzco is ideal as it’s higher than Machu Picchu) before starting the trek in order to acclimatise. You can’t walk the Classic Inca Trail alone, only with a guide. Numbers are limited to 500 per day (250-300 of whom are guides) so book well in advance.

Flights

There are currently no direct flights between the UK and Lima. A return flight via Frankfurt with Lufthansa (via Skyyscanner) stars from £752. Lima-Cuzco return starts from £70 with Sky or Viva.

Where to stay

Camp on the trail; stay in one of the many hostels in Cuzco.

Visit the rock-hewn city of Petra – from £350

Petra budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Petra budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Petra is one of those places that is even more impressive in real life than in artfully composed photos. The Unesco-listed site is Jordan’s number-one tourist attraction, hitting 1m visitors in 2019, but is big enough not to feel cramped.

Tombs, temples and a Roman-style theatre evoke how important and affluent Petra was during its apogee between the 1st centuries BC and AD. The eastern entrance leads you through a narrow cleft in the rock known as the siq (the “shaft”). On exiting, you’re greeted by Petra’s centrepiece, the Treasury, with its elegant facade carved out of red sandstone.

Most people see Petra on a hurried day trip, but it’s worth a couple of days, and can be combined with Wadi Rum and Aqaba, or Amman, Jordan’s underrated capital. Avoid midsummer, when it is busiest.

Booking in the UK

Loveholidays has 2022 package deals to Petra from UK airports, from £295pp, including flights with EasyJet and seven nights room only in the Abraham Hostel. It’s also easy to add Petra to an Aqaba beach holiday.

Going local

Take a bus from Amman (148 miles) or Aqaba (80 miles). Local minibuses are cramped, inconvenient and slow, so opt for the air-conditioned JETT buses (jett.com.jo; JD10 (£11.29 one way), departing Amman at 6.30am and reaching Petra in 3-4 hours hours. Catch the return bus at 5pm or, better still, stay a night or two. From Aqaba the JETT takes three hours hours (JD15 one way).

Flights

British Airways flies direct to Amman from Heathrow, from £394 return (summer); EasyJet flies Gatwick and Manchester to Aqaba, from around £220 return in low season.

Where to stay

A hostel or hotel in Wadi Musa, the closest town. A twin room at the basic Rafiki hostel (via hostelworld.com), less than a mile from the site, costs from £32.81.

The Taj Mahal without the crowds – from £750

Taj Mahal budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Taj Mahal budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

The cost of building the Taj Mahal is said to have been 41,848,426 rupees, 7 annas and 6 magpies. That’s a lot in old money, but it bought a lot: the ivory-white marble mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan, on the south bank of Agra’s Yamuna river is a universal symbol of romantic love and a sublime example of Mughal architecture.

Visit at sunrise to get a moment of peace, and the best light for admiring the harmonious forms and reflecting on Jahan’s gesture. If you want a Princess Di-style shot of yourself – alone – in front of India’s most famous building, cross the river to the historic Mehtab Bang Gardens. Admission is only around 100 rupees, and you get a less cluttered, less photographed view.

Booking in the UK

Most holidays which include the Taj Mahal are sold as Golden Triangle packages, visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, prices typically upward of £1,000. Trailfinders (trailfinders.com) has a seven-day holiday for £982pp, plus flights.

Going local

Take a train from New Delhi to Agra Cantonment, Raja-ki-Mandi, or Agra Fort (returns from approx £12; irctc.co.in); then a taxi to the West Gate. Entry costs R1,100 (£11.28), or R1,300 (£13.33) for the mausoleum too. To book or for opening times visit tajmahal.gov.in.

Flights

Fly London to Delhi non-stop with Air India BA, Virgin or Vistara, from around £590 return. Manchester-Delhi with Qatar, via Doha, also starts from around £590 return.

Where to stay

Hostels in Agra start from as little as £7 per night (hostelworld.com).

Sun-up at the Grand Canyon – from £800

Grand Canyon budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Grand Canyon budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

To see the sun rise on the Grand Canyon is to connect what we call “America” with an older, unnamed landscape – raw, untouched by cowboy myths, impossibly beautiful. At Desert View, off Highway 64, you get smaller crowds than at the main Grand Canyon village.

Afterwards, as you drive the 20 miles to the latter for breakfast, be sure to pull over a few times as you skirt the South Rim, as there are several overlooks.

The canyon is deeper and more impressive than any photograph can ever convey. In summer, the North Rim is open, and gets far fewer visitors. Monument Valley, the less-visited Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto, Flagstaff and Winslow – on Route 66 – can be easily worked into a self-drive road trip.

Booking in the UK

Virgin Holidays (virginholidays.co.uk) has some competitive deals, including flights, from £855 for a five-night trip staying at the unpretentious Yavapai Lodges, room only.

Going local

Driving yourself around Arizona is a wonderful holiday in itself. Pick up a car at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (from £440 for a VW Jetta or similar for six days via travelsupermarket.com). Distances are pretty significant – 233 miles from Phoenix to Desert View – so consider that when planning a route. Entrance to the park costs $35 per car. Or there are bus tours ($20 entry per person).

Flights

British Airways flies non-stop from Heathrow to Phoenix, from £594 return.

Where to stay

Rooms at the Grand Canyon Lodges (grandcanyonlodges.com) on the South Rim start from $126.

Be blown away by Patagonia – from £1,000

Patagonia budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Patagonia budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Patagonia is a natural theatre of space and sky and a visual fantasia of glaciers and icefields, dun steppes and great, green-hued lakes. It has some of the most photogenic of all the Andean peaks and, along its coasts, extraordinary marine life such as the southern right whales, orcas and penguins found around the Valdés Peninsula.

Straddling Argentina and Chile, the region was named in 1520 by Magellan and since then has built a storied history as layered as the strata that conserve the world’s biggest dinosaurs. Patagonian got posh in recent decades; the opening of the Explora in 1993 Torres del Paine kicked off a trend for luxury lodgings. But the region’s main draw remains its wildness, and there’s great camping all along the Andes.

Booking in the UK

Most packages – group or tailor-made – will set you back £2,000 or more. G Adventures has a six-day small-group trip to the trails Torres del Paine from £1,499, plus flights.

Going local

Patagonia is big, so journeys can be very long, and accommodation, in the remote parts, quite thin on the ground. Use budget flights or comfy long-distance buses, and local buses out to the national parks. Stay in hostels in the main hubs such as Bariloche, El Chaltén, Ushuaia, El Calafate, and Puerto Natales. It’s $35 to enter Torres del Paine National Park and $49 for a 3-day pass (lastorres.com).

Flights

Delta flies Heathrow to Santiago from £561 return and all the way to Punta Arenas, using Latam for domestic flights, from £680 return (via opodo.com); going via the US tends to be cheaper.

Where to stay

Camp whenever possible. There are lots of lovely sites (with barbecues) around the north Patagonian lake districts. Hiking around Lago Puelo in Argentina and Pucón in Chile is easy to arrange, and local firms rent out mountain bikes and kayaks. From Puerto Natales, Navimag (navimag.com) runs a fun, no-frills boat trip to Puerto Montt in the Chilean lakes, with berths from $590 in a shared compartment, $840 in a double.

Go wild in the Galapagos – from £1,300

Galapagos budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Galapagos budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

The Galapagos Islands dazzled Charles Darwin. They dazzle anyone who loves nature, the sea, volcanoes, wildlife, and all the other Edenic wonders on show here. The archipelago of 21 islands, 560 miles west of Ecuador, deliver curious creatures galore, from Santa Cruz’s sea turtles to Isabela’s giant tortoises and the flamingos of Floreana.

Booking in the UK

Most UK tour operators sell expensive cruises or tailor-made stays in posh lodges; Responsible Travel (responsibletravel.com) has an eight-day tailor made cruise aboard the Daphne, taking in no fewer than eight Galapagos islands and islets, from £2,538.

Going local

Fly into Santa Cruz’s Baltra Airport and stay at nearby Puerto Ayora. You might feel you’re missing out by not seeing other islands and not being at sea, but this will be compensated by having time to really absorb the wildlife around you – and your carbon footprint will be far smaller than a cruise passenger’s. You can do excursions inland, go on boat trips, and don a snorkel to share the cool Pacific with flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and hammerhead sharks.

Flights

Flights to Baltra typically involve two changes, in, say, Madrid or Bogotá and again at Guayaquil, Ecuador. Returns on Opodo (opodo.co.uk) start from £1,153 with Avianca.

Where to stay

Puerto Ayora has hostels and small hotels from as little as £12pp.

Journey up the Amazon – from £1,200

Amazon budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Amazon budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Brazil offers the archetypal Amazon trip – a voyage from tropical Belém on the Atlantic to mythical Manaus, travelling slowly on a public riverboat, allows you to get a sense of the scale of the river and of the jungle on its banks. It’s also way to connect with locals, over a beer on deck or, even, during a samba at an impromptu dance.

Once in Manaus, after taking in the famous opera house and markets, you can book an excursion up the Rio Negro to see the pink dolphins, caimans and amazing birdlife that cluster around the anavilhanas (freshwater archipelago). Tourists with deep pockets tend to head for the headwaters of the Amazon, where they stay on lodges or smart cruise vessels with a dozen or so rooms, but this cash-savvy option is far more original.

Booking in the UK

Few UK firms push cheap riverboat tickets, preferring the tidy margins on luxury cruises. But for advice and to assist with booking, it’s worth chatting to a member of the Latin American Travel Association (lata.travel) as these firms have ground agents in Belem and Manaus. Book a flight, hotel or a trip with them and they may be able to supply a riverboat ticket as an add-on.

Going local

Lots of firms ply the river. For the full five-night Belem to Manaus transit, Manaus Jungle Tours (manausjungletours.com) charges from R350 (£58) for a “rede” (hammock). From Manaus, Amazon Eco Adventures (amazonecoadventures.com) has full-day tours by boat into the Rio Negro for R350pp (£58).

Flights

Fly from Gatwick to Belem via Lisbon with TAP Portugal from £900 return. Manaus-Belem single from £96 with Azul.

Where to stay

A hammock on the riverboat or an air-conditioned cabin if you want more privacy. In Belém and Manaus there are hostels and budget hotels.

Embark on a Big Five safari – from £700

budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Seeing Africa’s Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo – is actually not about ticking off a list. It’s about being in their landscape, sharing their space, feeling the heat and smelling the earth where they roam. That the term “Big Five” comes down to use from big game hunters adds a poignancy, as we aim our binocs or camera lenses and are surely far more rewarded than any lion-slayer.

For most people, a safari experience is as close they’ll get to being inside an Attenborough show – but that’s no small thing, and people often report their first close encounter with wild animals as life-enhancing, even life-changing. Given all this, it’s bizarre we feel the need to add to this potentially transfigurative experience a fancy lodge, gourmet food, boutique this and that (spending as much as £300-400 per day in the bargain).

Booking in the UK

The Big Five can be seen in as many as 13 countries, including Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) has a six-night Kenya Big Five safari departing November 16, 2022, priced at £2,095, including flights with BA.

Going local

To keep things affordable and “real”, consider a self-drive – the way locals generally do safaris. Fly into Nairobi in the shoulder season (Apr-May and Nov) and explore Nairobi National Park. Despite being a few miles outside the city, it has grass plains and acacia bushes – the classic East African landscape – and is home to endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and great birdlife. It has picnic sites, three campsites and walking trails (the entry fee is £40).

If you prefer not to drive so you can enjoy the watching, there are guides and drivers available at the gate, or book a trip from Nairobi. Since its foundation in 1977, David Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage (sheldrickwildlifetrust.org) – on the edge of the park – has raised 247 elephants orphaned usually due to poaching.

Where to stay

Camping and/or staying outside a safari park will always be much cheaper than luxuriating in a so-called “tented camp” (essentially a four-star hotel with canvas walls) with waiters, chefs, private guides, 4WDs and sundowners all neatly arranged to make you feel the British Empire is still very much in place.

Flights

Consider flying on non-direct routes (eg with Ethiopian, Turkish or a Gulf carrier; European countries tend to have more routes to their former colonies). Shop around and you can get to East or South Africa from around £500.

Wondrous whale watching in the Azores – from £250

Azores budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Azores budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

There are whales swimming all over the planet but seeing them can be difficult and/or expensive for several reasons, including small numbers (England) or iffy weather (Scotland), unsustainable numbers of tourists (Mexican Gulf) and long-haul flights (Argentina). The island of Faial in the Azores is a sure bet, year round, for seeing sperm whales as well as bottlenose, common and Risso’s dolphins. From March to May, blue, sei and fin baleen whales can also be spotted.

The Azores also abound in great coastal and hill walking, innovative winemaking, with windbreaks built from volcanic stones, and lush subtropical vegetation. The beaches are beautiful, though best experienced in late summer when the ocean warms up.

Booking in the UK

Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk) offers seven-day trips to São Miguel in the Azores from £692pp, including flights. Trips to Faial are typically more expensive (£1,000-plus) as they involve domestic flights.

Going local

From São Miguel or Faial – the latter is the ideal base – it’s easy enough to arrange a whalewatching outing to see sperm whales; the season is April-October as wintry weather makes boat trips unfeasible. Stay three days and your chances of seeing other species are much better. CW Azores (cwazores.com) has whale and dolphin-watching excursions from €69pp. Whale Watch Azores (whalewatchazores.com) has expert-led five-night tours from €1,175pp.

Flights

Ryanair has weekly direct flights from Manchester to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel from £30 return. TAP Portugal, codesharing with Azores Airlines, previously Sata, operates flights from the UK via Lisbon and Porto to Ponta Delgada, with onward connections to other islands.

Where to stay

Airbnb and small hotels are readily available across the Azores. Horta is the main town in Faial.

Admire Antarctica – from £2,000

Antarctica budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Antarctica budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

The world’s most pristine, extreme, serene continent is a once-in-a-lifetime high point for most travellers. The crazy formations of the drifting bergs, the glass-calm waters along the snow-covered coasts, the penguin colonies, the heroic histories, and the fact that you belong to a tiny group of privileged people, make a holiday there different from any other. Antarctica is not about luxury in any normal sense, but is rather a stirring, and somehow solemn, reminder of how beautiful nature can be.

There are, basically, three ways to go there. Firstly, on a large cruise ship, which will be a “sailing by” experience in that you’ll be limited to seeing the bergs and ice from the deck; the firms call it “scenic cruising”. On the upside, big ships, carrying thousands of passengers, tend to be competitive on price. Secondly, you could undertake an adventure or expedition cruise (sail or motored) out of Ushuaia in Argentina (which handles about 90% of the Antarctic cruise market), which will allow you to disembark, stretch your legs, ride in zodiacs and see penguins and landscapes up close. This is expensive, costing anything from £4,000 for a short trip across the Drake Passage and 4-5 days cruising the icy channels to £11,000 for a 2-week voyage via South Georgia; for a 4-week semi-circumnavigation you should double that. Thirdly, you could fly down and see a few sights around a Chilean base – this is pricey and aimed at the time-poor rather than the cash-strapped.

Booking in the UK

Lots of big cruise lines go to Antarctica. The lowest prices tend to be with the big firms on their larger vessels. Princess (princess.com) has berths in the Coral Princess’s interior cabins on a 16-day December 2022 Buenos Aires to San Antonio, Chile voyage – with 4 days of “scenic cruising” in Antarctica, from £2,349pp (though if a family/group books, guests 3 and 4 pay £899pp), plus flights. This is pretty good, for a holiday that also lets you see Cape Horn and visit the Falklands. You have to factor in flights to Argentina and back from Chile. Also, entry-level cabins mean you sleep in the interior, so no dawn views of icebergs from your bed.

Going local

Argentine operator Antarpply (antarpply.com) has berths in shared triple rooms for its 9-night “Classic Antarctica” voyage to the peninsula and South Shetland Islands aboard its ice-strengthened ship, The Ushuaia, for $5,730 – that’s £4,550 and while it’s a lot of money it’s a good deal cheaper than most other firms. This is a November 2022 departure – the start of the season, so colder and a little darker. Similar prices are available for March 2023.

Flights

DAP Chile operates a Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop (six passengers, no loos) from Punta Arenas to Chile’s Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva base on King George Island (which has a 4,238ft gravel landing strip). A one-day return trip costs $5,500 (£4,363). Adding an overnight stay – in a “thermic tent” – pushes that up to $6,500 (£5,156). Flights from the UK to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego to catch a cruise ship or to Punta Arenas for this flight will set you back at least £1,000.

Where to stay

On the ship. There are no hotels or places to stay unless you are a scientist or worker at a base.

The awesome Aurora – from £350

Northern Lights budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
Northern Lights budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

The otherworldy Aurora Borealis fills up the northern sky like a towering army of divine spirits from Valhalla. The Eskimos say it’s the torches of the dead showing the way for new arrivals. Green, red, blue, violet, yellow sheets and waves ripple across the starry heights – magical and mysterious, no matter how many times scientists tell us its all due to solar winds and other factual phenomena. Best seen in winter, on dark nights, the Northern Lights seem to be an emanation of the polar horizon, as strange and unreachable as the icy beyond. That is, unless it’s cloudy, or rainy, or you’re unlucky.

When planning an Aurora adventure, it pays to spend wisely and keep an eye on weather and moon phases. The so-called auroral zone includes northern Scandinavia, Iceland, the southern tip of Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska and the northern coast of Siberia. The zone expands when geomagnetic activity is high which is why Scots sometimes see them.

Given that Greenland, Canada, Svalbard and Siberia involve long, pricey flights, that leaves Iceland and Scandinavia – expensive, but at least served by no-frills airlines. As the Norwegian counties of Troms and Finnmark are where Aurora occurrence is greatest, that nudges out the rest of the competition. The capital of Troms, Tromsø, is our number one choice for light-seekers on a budget.

Booking in the UK

Secret Escapes (secretescapes.com) has three-night winter holidays in Iceland from £370pp, covering flights from Luton, accommodation, breakfast and transfers. A Northern Lights tour is included in the price.

Going local

Tromsø-based Wandering Owl (wanderingowl.com) can arrange a 7-8 hour group “Aurora hunt” (8-15 passengers) for NOK1,780 £148pp, including guide, transfer, a meal of reindeer soup or lentil and carrot soup), cookies, hot chocolate, thermal suit, winter boots, mittens, tripod and head torch.

Flights

Norwegian flies Manchester to Tromsø, via Oslo, from £228 return. Opodo has Gatwick-Tromsø flights from £193, also via Oslo.

Where to stay

Norway is expensive. Use Airbnb or find a hostel. In Tromsø, Bed and Books (bedandbooks.no) has doubles for NOK950 (£79) per night (plus one-off NOK50/£4.15 bed linen fee).

Leaf-peeping in New England – from £700

New England budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
New England budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

New England turns autumnal between late September and December, with forests of cedar, maple, ash and beech turning all those shades we get to glimpse in our UK woodlands – russet, ochre, rufous, golden – but in a vast, view-filling spectacle. In the first instance, the road is as good a place as any to do “leaf-peeping”, as the asphalt creates a natural opening from which you can admire the hues. A walk is recommended, though, so you can lose yourself amid the fall foliage.

Booking in the UK

America As You Like It (americaasyoulikeit.com) has a 10-day autumn self-drive trip from £1,545pp including flights. For a fully guided or rail trip, you’ll pay around £1,000 on top of that.

Going local

To plan your own route, check out some itineraries offered by tour firms for ideas. For example, from Boston, head north towards Portsmouth and Portland, veering inland along the edges of the White Mountain National Forest. Turn back around Colebrook and wend south crossing Vermont and the Green Mountain National Forest and Connecticut’s Tunxis State forest, before heading for the coast at Harwinton. Pick up a handy peak leaf map (newengland.com) and a hire car (Avis offers Toyota pick-ups for a week for $500, from Boston Logan airport).

Guided bus tours can cost £2,000pp, so instead just hop on an ordinary public bus for around $50 return. Greyhound (greyhound.com) and Peter Pan (peterpanbus.com) connect main centres. Concord Coach Lines (concordcoachlines.com) links Boston to New Hampshire and Maine; C&J Trailways (ridecj.com) links Boston and Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth and Dover, New Hampshire. Or try Dartmouth Coach (dartmouthcoach.com) and the Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Co (p-b.com).

Flights

The UK is well connected to the East Coast US. Aer Lingus flies to Boston from London and Edinburgh or else you can do the tedious US passport stuff pre-flight by travelling via Dublin or Shannon. On arrival you’re treated as a domestic passenger and can breeze through the border. London Heathrow-Boston starts from £314 return on Skyscanner.

Where to stay

Use an inn or motor lodge; there are lots of double rooms at around the $100/night rate at the 300-odd properties featured on newenglandinnsandresorts.com. See also discovernewengland.org/travel-planning/accommodations.

Marvel at Milford Sound – from £1,400

New Zealand budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty
New Zealand budget bucket list global travel world greatest wonders summer 2022 affordable - Getty

The experience

Milford Sound is the oft-photographed icon of New Zealand’s South Island. All the elements that inspire UK travellers to make the long journey are concentrated in this pristine corner of Fiordland. Scenic backroads and well-marked trails, combined with pellucid waters, soaring mountains and temperate rainforests make it a peerless place to hike and bike. At the centre of it all is the majestic 5,560ft-high Mitre Peak (Rahotu in Maori), actually five separate peaks clustered around a single arrow-headed summit. While cruises and lodges are aimed at the luxury market, you can actually “do” Milford Sound for almost nothing, once you’re there.

Booking in the UK

Travelbag (travelbag.co.uk) offers eight-day escorted tours from £1,591, plus flights.

Going local

Fly to Queenstown and hop on an InterCity bus (intercity.co.nz) to Milford Sound (around six hours, £45 one way). The 33-mile Milford Track hike has become almost too popular, but it’s still a great introduction for first-time visitors. A maximum of 90 walkers (book well in advance) can start the trail per day (40 independent, and 50 guided). Sutherland Falls is a 90-minute (return) walk from Quintin Public Shelter on the Milford Track. The track ends at Sandfly Point on the water’s edge, where there’s a 15-minute ferry ride to Milford Sound township. To book or for more information see newzealand.com.

Flights

The nearest major airport, Queenstown, is well served by flights from Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, as well as Australian airports. Return flights from London to Queenstown (via Singapore and Melbourne) start from around £1,345 with Singapore Airlines.

Where to stay

Independent walkers must spend the night at one of three huts: Clinton Hut, Mintaro Hut and Dumpling Hut, $110 or £56 per person per night in dorms; bring your own food). The season runs end of October to end of April (book at booking.doc.govt.nz). Camping is not permitted along the track. Note that out of season the trail is free, but, given the harsh conditions, only for experienced hikers.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.