When the daily routine becomes a bore or the holidays roll around, we all dream of packing our bags and taking a trip to a fun, new destination. But with so many wonders to see, you might be contemplating which location is best for you.
The first thing to consider is your budget. Even if you’re willing to splurge on a nice hotel or book a first-class flight, you should still have enough money saved to have the time of your life on your vacation and to resume the habits of your everyday life once you return.
Depending on the season or certain holidays, some cities are more expensive to fly to. Add in food, drinks and fun attractions, and some of the most popular destinations can cost you a pretty penny. Using data from Trivago and the U.S. Department of Transportation, we calculated which cities are pricier than others.
Check out these expensive travel destinations to decide if and when they’re worth the trip.
One of the most expensive destinations in the U.S. is also home to a very popular American tourist stop with more than 18 million visitors each year: Disneyland. On the surface, Anaheim, California, sounds like the perfect place to visit with the entire family. There’s the magical world of Disney to explore, breweries, water parks and more for everyone. But the average total for a leisure stay in Anaheim is approximately $730 per person with the daily rate for a hotel averaging around $178 a night. And if you do plan on visiting Disneyland, a day pass is priced at $129 per person for anyone 10 years of age or older on a regular day and $149 on a “peak” day.
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Alaska might not be the first location that pops into your mind when you hear the word “vacation,” but with a myriad of national parks, museums and wildlife tours, Alaska stands out among the list of places worth visiting in your lifetime. If Anchorage, Alaska, is on your list, be sure to budget accordingly. The best time to visit Alaska is during the summer when temperatures are higher and the days are longer, but this summer vacation could cost you up to $3,000 per person, according to Alaska’s tourism bureau.
If you’re a fan of winter sports, Aspen, Colorado, is a perfect place to vacation. According to U.S. News and World Report, the city is at its best between December and February when nearly 200 inches of snow hit the ground and the slopes become a paradise for skiers and skateboarders. It’ll just cost you a pretty penny or two to enjoy the city to its fullest. The average price for a four-star hotel in Aspen is over $400 per night. A classic pass to ski on the city’s mountains is $299. Altogether, it could end up being a hefty price for a fun trip.
A common misconception is that summer is the best time to travel. But if you prefer cooler days or, better yet, game days with the entire family, there’s no better time to vacation than in the fall. If you’re traveling to Austin, Texas, the average price for a domestic flight is around $358.00. And if you’re hoping to catch your favorite college team in action, be prepared to pay extra. Texas Longhorns football tickets have a face value of anywhere between $40 and $100 before tax depending on seat location.
According to a survey by cheaphotels.org, hotel prices reach their peak in October. In 2019, Boston was second on the list of cities with the highest rates during that month. The average price of a one-night stay in a minimum three-star hotel was $221. And the average price of a domestic flight in 2019 is $350.36. Die-hard fans of the New England Patriots hoping to catch the team at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxboro should be prepared to spend quite a bit extra. A fun game day with snacks and drinks included will cost close to $500.
According to a GoBankingRates study that calculated the airfare, hotel and food and drink costs in every city, Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the most expensive locations to visit. While hotels are relatively affordable — the overnight price for a standard double room is less than $170 a night in 2019 — you’ll make up the difference with flights. The average domestic fare to the city is more than $400 per person. And with more than 85% of NASCAR teams located in the area, you might want to stop to watch a race or visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, adding a few extra dollars to your total.
The Windy City is a historical gem with plenty of sites to see. But if you’re vacationing during the summer months when festival season is at its peak, the price to visit is high. The average domestic flight price in the latter half of 2019 was $343.60. And hotel rates in the summer months exceeded $200. Luckily, most festivals, like the Chicago Blues Festival, are free for locals and tourists alike.
If Maui, Hawaii, is on your vacation bucket list, you’re not alone. According to TripAdvisor, it’s one of the 10 most popular U.S. destinations. It’s also one of the most expensive. The average nightly rate for a hotel in the summer in Maui is a whopping $533. And even the cheapest flights to Maui cost more than $300. Maui is a beautiful location with a beach you’ll have to see to believe, just plan accordingly.
Jackson, Wyoming, is a great destination for fans of winter sports and the great outdoors. But it gets a bit costly. Only three airlines fly into Jackson, so flights are generally expensive. The average flight can range from $250 to more than $900 in January and February, the peak skiing and snowboarding months. And rates to stay in lodging near the slopes can also be high. A double-bed room can start around $250 a night. And if you’re hoping to grab a case of beer in the state, be prepared to pay the highest prices in the nation. The average price of a 24-pack of beer in Wyoming is $26.68.
Las Vegas is a relatively inexpensive trip to take as long as you’re not visiting during the summer. According to Trip Advisor, it’s one of the nation’s most popular destinations during summer months with the average rate for a hotel starting at about $167 a night. The average domestic rate for a flight was $260.37 in 2019. And if you’re not feeling lucky, be sure to stick to a budget before visiting a casino and spending more than your wallet can handle.
A trip to Long Beach won’t harm your pockets when you’re booking a hotel — rates rarely surpass $130, even in the warmer months — but flights paired with daily activities can put a dent in your wallet. A visit to one of the city’s popular destinations, Aquarium of the Pacific, will cost more than $30 per person for adults. And Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park for the entire family, is $49 per person before tax. The average domestic flight rate was $230.61 for the latter half of 2019.
Los Angeles is a great location to visit with the entire family or solo if you’re searching for a bit of adventure. But it does get pricey. The average price to live in Los Angeles is 17.7% higher than the national average. So be sure to budget for the cost of food and drinks. Flights are also expensive, with the average fare costing $355.42 in 2019. And if you plan to take public transportation in hopes of saving the money you’d spend to rent a car, think again. Los Angles is one of the least affordable cities for public transit.
Miami Beach is a hot spot for vacationers and spring breakers alike. The warm weather and sunny beaches are a popular attraction year-round, especially when other cities begin to face colder weather. During the colder months, the average nightly rate for a hotel exceeds $200. And while you may be able to snag a cheap flight here or there, the domestic rate for a flight in 2019 averaged more than $350.
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Tennessee’s capital has great food, and if you’re a fan of country music, even better tunes. But it’ll cost extra to make your way there, especially if you’re planning a trip in the fall. Nashville topped the list of the most expensive cities in the nation to book a flight to during the month of October. Hotel rates were around $223 a night in 2019. And the average domestic rate for a flight in 2019 was more than $350. If you’re hoping to stop by a location with the entire family, like the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum, be prepared to spend more than $20 per person.
It’s no surprise that the Big Apple can get a bit pricey. And according to Trip Advisor, it’s the second most popular city in the nation for summer vacationers. In 2018, 65.2 million people visited the city, according to the New York Times. Hotel and flight rates reflect the fact. The average rate for a hotel room on a summer night in New York City is about $329. And flights are no better. The average domestic rate for a flight in 2019 was $386.81, a price above the nation’s average. If you really feel like spending a few extra bucks, consider booking the most expensive one-bedroom hotel suite on earth. It’s located right in the city.
Orlando is the most popular destination for summer vacationers looking for family fun. Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort are located in the city, and those attractions alone can get pricey. The average nightly rate for a hotel room in the summer is around $216, and the average flight price in 2019 was $276.08 per person. If you’re hoping to hop around parks during your time at Walt Disney World, be prepared to spend more than $160 per person ages 10 and up.
Palm Springs, California, is the perfect trip to take year-round. During the winter months, temperatures are fair and in the high 70s. And in the spring, temps are warm and sunshine is plentiful. Unfortunately, if you head to Palm Springs during spring break season — typically between March and April — not only will you be surrounded by families and college students on break, but you’ll pay extra too. The average price of a hotel room in Palm Springs increased to more than $200 a night during those months in 2019. And the average airfare was well above the nation’s average at a total of $386.49.
Winter is peak season for Park City, Utah. In January, the city hosts celebrities from around the world at the Sundance Film Festival, and when the snow finally falls, there are winter activities like skiing, skateboarding, dog sledding and more to add to the list. Participating in these activities alone will cost you — a ski pass starts around $130 — but hotel rates reach their peak during the winter. In January 2019, the average nightly rate for a room was $439. Vacationers will have to fly into Salt Lake City to reach Park City, and the average flight price in 2019 was $384.42. Between hotel and flight, that’s already more than $800 per person, food and drinks not included.
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Pennsylvania’s top city to visit is also one of the most expensive. In 2019, a flight to Philadelphia topped the nation’s average at $402.98 per person. Visiting the city between March and May means you’ll catch events like the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Philly Black Parade. Another good time to go is in the summer because of the milder weather. But beware: Tourists also flock to the city during this time to discover its rich cultural history. In 2019, hotel prices were at their highest in the summer and early fall.
Portland, Oregon, is a beautiful city to explore the great outdoors. But be prepared to spend a fair amount of cash on accommodations alone. In 2019, during the summer months, a popular time for tourists, the average nightly rate for a hotel room was well above $300. And the average rate for a domestic flight was around $344. If you plan to travel with a family of five for three nights, that’s already more than $2,000.
If you’ve always wanted to visit sunny San Diego during the summer months, you’re not alone. A study by Trip Advisor found that the city is the ninth most popular summer destination in the nation. Events like Comic-Con, a four-day celebration honoring all things entertainment, draw a large crowd in July, and in June, the world-famous San Diego Zoo keeps its doors open well into the night. If you plan to venture to San Diego in the summer, be prepared to spend a hefty amount. The nightly rate for a hotel averaged around $283, and flights were $339.23 per person in 2019. If you do plan to visit Comic-Con, be prepared to spend more than $400 for a pass.
The San Francisco Bay Area is not only a top tech-hub of the nation, it’s also one of the most expensive cities, with living expenses 28% higher than the national average. It only makes sense that a vacation in this city would come with a substantial price tag. Whether you’re visiting during the summer or fall, you’ll need a smart budget to get by. The average price for a hotel in September was $260 a night. And the flights are just as pricey. The average domestic fare rate in 2019, $360.84, was only a few dollars below the national average. Data compiled by GoBankingRates found that a five-day trip to San Francisco would cost more than $900 before including airfare and attractions.
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Seattle has a lot to explore including the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture and even famous film locations. But it will cost a few extra dollars to live it up in this city. More than one million passengers have set sail from The Port of Seattle on a cruise in 2019, and with an influx of tourists comes a spike in flight and hotel rates. The average price for a flight was more than $300 in 2019, and a hotel room for one night during the summer months exceeded $200.
With attractions like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., is a popular destination for history buffs and vacationers alike. But a trip to this city can occasionally get pricey. In 2019, according to Trivago analysis, hotel rates fluctuated between a low of $127 in January to a high of $205 in April. And the average price for a flight in 2019 was higher than the nation’s price at $383.09. Beer and wine drinkers can also expect to spend a bit more: Washington, D.C., has the highest average beer and wine prices of any city in America. If you’re creating an itinerary for a tour of our nation’s capital, make sure to factor traffic into your planning. Here’s what the commute time looks like in this city and around the nation.
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