Travel

Which US destinations offer the most bang for your buck in 2022? | eTurboNews | TravelIndustry News

Almost 80% of Americans are planning on taking a trip this year. The only question is: Where should you go?

Most travelers might already have a few destinations in mind, but their checkbooks might disagree with them, especially after the financial hardships of COVID-19 pandemic period. 

Industry experts analyzed 100 of the largest metro areas based primarily on the cost and convenience of traveling to each location as well as its affordability and came up with a ranking of the cheapest U.S. destinations that are also the easiest to reach.

2022’s Best Summer Travel Destinations

Rank  Destination
(Metro Area)
Total Score  Travel Costs & Hassles  Local Costs  Attractions  Weather  Activities  Safety 
1 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area 69.97 35 25 6 62 1 8
2 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area 67.10 9 76 13 19 12 15
3 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area 66.84 18 50 25 40 10 2
4 Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area 64.37 32 27 11 21 23 38
5 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area 63.85 5 72 32 11 31 32
6 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area 63.51 28 94 2 49 9 18
7 Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area 63.16 11 98 19 1 2 33
8 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area 62.97 3 59 31 75 20 14
9 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area 62.95 2 28 34 48 13 72
10 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area 62.06 29 6 20 38 38 55
11 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area 61.94 55 77 14 67 3 10
12 Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area 61.84 66 16 61 3 14 37
13 Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area 61.43 49 18 41 22 59 23
14 Jacksonville, FL Metro Area 61.14 60 19 29 61 25 16
15 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area 61.10 12 69 18 42 19 51
16 Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area 60.91 27 4 44 17 80 48
17 Tulsa, OK Metro Area 59.67 51 2 60 18 78 44
18 Knoxville, TN Metro Area 59.65 36 7 75 36 50 54
19 San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area 59.58 30 96 7 80 5 6
20 St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area 59.56 63 21 28 12 24 66
21 El Paso, TX Metro Area 59.42 76 13 73 10 76 12
22 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area 59.32 31 12 65 9 83 74
23 Columbia, SC Metro Area 59.11 42 9 68 28 63 64
24 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area 58.87 50 85 4 66 7 77
25 New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area 58.62 62 60 15 39 18 49
26 Springfield, MO Metro Area 58.52 8 38 64 27 69 82
27 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area 58.45 15 32 17 15 11 98
28 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area 58.43 33 29 99 45 79 7
29 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area 58.38 16 92 63 7 73 13
30 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metro Area 58.22 34 74 70 N/A 15 9
31 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area 58.15 67 22 21 41 32 47
32 Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area 58.05 26 66 37 71 27 25
33 Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI Metro Area 57.89 13 57 54 76 52 31
34 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area 57.86 80 36 40 16 36 28
35 Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area 57.51 7 46 45 79 39 41
36 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area 57.29 68 43 69 44 37 20
37 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area 57.23 21 58 16 70 21 76
38 Lafayette, LA Metro Area 57.04 19 37 83 47 87 43
39 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area 57.00 81 42 22 6 42 53
40 Wichita, KS Metro Area 56.91 47 5 78 33 89 60
41 Richmond, VA Metro Area 56.80 25 47 47 32 30 89
42 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area 56.68 54 3 66 29 99 78
43 Fresno, CA Metro Area 56.47 52 82 72 2 85 21
44 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area 56.24 93 83 1 55 4 59
45 Dayton-Kettering, OH Metro Area 55.69 6 14 88 65 67 90
46 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area 55.67 53 80 59 26 34 36
47 Columbus, OH Metro Area 55.46 74 31 56 20 57 39
48 San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area 55.44 10 95 5 95 8 27
49 Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area 55.24 72 89 30 31 45 11
50 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area 54.87 85 41 26 23 47 40
51 Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area 54.87 24 24 55 N/A 17 85
52 Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area 54.84 61 8 35 37 68 80
53 Albuquerque, NM Metro Area 54.71 38 17 36 5 41 99
54 Tucson, AZ Metro Area 54.24 22 61 23 57 33 94
55 Madison, WI Metro Area 54.09 14 53 49 87 40 70
56 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area 54.02 70 48 27 43 49 61
57 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area 54.00 83 35 38 52 54 26
58 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area 53.98 92 11 9 50 28 73
59 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area 53.84 69 34 100 59 91 4
60 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area 53.40 58 33 52 56 62 69
61 Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area 53.36 20 55 57 82 46 58
62 Corpus Christi, TX Metro Area 53.27 59 23 81 34 70 79
63 Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR Metro Area 53.24 41 20 90 25 92 92
64 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area 53.23 86 79 3 77 6 86
65 Akron, OH Metro Area 53.22 39 49 79 74 96 42
66 Toledo, OH Metro Area 52.86 43 30 76 63 90 67
67 Chattanooga, TN-GA Metro Area 52.80 82 40 51 14 51 83
68 Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area 52.64 40 62 92 68 74 50
69 Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area 52.23 65 45 77 35 88 65
70 Boise City, ID Metro Area 51.15 78 75 48 30 64 57
71 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area 50.68 37 93 43 88 56 19
72 Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area 50.64 46 71 33 78 66 71
73 Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Metro Area 50.63 75 56 80 N/A 77 22
74 Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area 50.61 23 84 42 93 22 34
75 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area 50.38 79 73 91 N/A 71 5
76 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area 50.27 73 87 10 90 16 46
77 Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area 50.23 71 44 46 13 82 95
78 Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area 50.14 91 54 39 51 44 52
79 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area 49.83 95 67 98 64 43 1
80 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area 49.69 87 63 87 60 61 29
81 Rochester, NY Metro Area 49.53 64 68 50 85 35 68
82 Baton Rouge, LA Metro Area 49.04 98 15 62 46 53 56
83 Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA Metro Area 48.65 1 100 89 91 60 17
84 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area 48.33 17 70 53 89 81 87
85 Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA Metro Area 48.19 57 86 95 81 93 24
86 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area 48.19 77 91 12 73 29 75
87 Syracuse, NY Metro Area 47.93 48 65 67 84 55 91
88 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area 47.89 4 97 8 94 26 81
89 Bakersfield, CA Metro Area 47.08 90 90 82 4 98 30
90 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area 46.93 97 39 86 53 95 35
91 Lexington-Fayette, KY Metro Area 45.40 89 51 58 54 84 88
92 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area 44.85 100 1 94 58 97 84
93 Jackson, MS Metro Area 44.82 84 10 97 8 100 96
94 Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area 44.09 88 78 71 24 72 93
95 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area 43.61 96 64 74 86 75 45
96 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metro Area 42.38 94 88 84 69 58 62
97 Lansing-East Lansing, MI Metro Area 42.12 99 26 93 82 94 63
98 Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area 41.59 56 81 85 72 65 97
99 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area 41.37 45 99 96 95 86 3
100 Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area 41.29 44 52 24

Best vs. Worst

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*    The average flight to a popular summer destination costs $356, lasts 3 hours and 34 minutes and has 0.3 connections.

*    The Los Angeles metro area is the most attractive destination on the West Coast and the Washington, D.C. metro area is the most attractive destination on the East Coast.

*    Florida and Texas are home to the most top summer destinations in the U.S., each with at least two metro areas in the top 15. Oppositely, New York and California have the largest numbers of the most unpopular summer destinations, each with two metro areas.

*    The Wichita metro area has the lowest nightly rate for a three-star hotel room, $36, which is 4.6 times less expensive than in Santa Rosa, the metro area with the highest at $165.

Expert Commentary

What are your predictions for the 2022 summer travel season (percent of Americans traveling; most popular destinations; busiest travel times)?

“For the peak summer travel, I suspect 80-90% of American households will travel. However, I think National Parks, National Forests, and State Parks will see another increase in visitation given fuel prices, inflation, and continuing health concerns; the ‘staycation’ phenomenon spurred by the 2008-09 recession combined with pandemic-motivated trends of visiting outdoor recreation areas could combine for a lot of adventure recreation relatively close to home for many Americans. June-August is the normal peak season with more travelers hitting the roads or taking flights around holidays (July 4th, Labor Day). I think a really popular destination this year will be the newest National Park, New River Gorge NP in southern West Virginia because it has activities for all ages and abilities and is within 500 miles of 50% of the US population. Great Smoky Mountains NP will also likely see millions of visitors this year.”

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Joshua Roe – Lecturer, Arizona State University

“As many states in the U.S. and many countries have dropped the vaccine requirements and relaxed the COVID-19 restrictions, travel will go ‘crazy’ this summer. The most popular U.S. destinations would be Florida, Las Vegas, California, and New York. Some European countries such as Italy, Greece, UK, and France are also top choices for American travelers. June and July will be the busiest travel times as college students end their semesters, and many families will be on vacation.”

Jing Li, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Texas Tech University

Do you think the Federal government should block airlines from overbooking flights?

“While I do not necessarily think that the Federal government should mandate this, I do feel that airlines should be doing all they can to re-establish consumer confidence. People are very discouraged with air travel right now, and overbooking flights is not helping this situation. Transparency is very important right now for airlines.”

Jan Louise Jones, Ph.D. – Lecturer, University of New Haven

“Airlines definitely will continue overbooking flights because people are more than ever canceling flights or changing plans at the last minute and [at] the end of the day, the airline industry is a business. The government should really not get involved with blocking an airline’s choice to overbook; the airlines are aware of their choices and are also aware of the consequences of their choices (travel vouchers and decrease in customer satisfaction).”

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Eve Marie Ruhlman M.S. – Instructor, California State University, East Bay

What are the most-costly travel mistakes?

“I think the most-costly travel mistake would be not booking in advance. The closer the time to travel, the more costly the airplane tickets are and the more costly the rooms become due to increased demand and reduced supply. Also, traveling during the weekends (Thursday thru Saturday) when having the flexibility to travel during the weekdays (Sunday thru Wednesday) can be costlier, again due to increased demand during the weekends. Also, as it has most recently become viral, booking an Airbnb for shorter stays can be as expensive as if not more than booking a hotel room due to the cleaning fees and other fees associated with an Airbnb that is not reflected in the price. So, when deciding between an Airbnb and a hotel room, the length of stay should be considered along with the size of the Airbnb property being booked vs. the hotel rooms.”

Tarik Dogru, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Florida State University

“Failing to plan. Overpaying for rooms or flights, especially during peak travel times such as weekends and holidays. Paying exorbitant ATM and currency exchange fees and falling for tourist scams or getting robbed/pickpocketed. Also, booking last-minute train or air tickets.”

Joshua Roe – Lecturer, Arizona State University


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