You want an affordable vacation, but you also want to go somewhere exciting or exotic. Fortunately, you don’t always have to choose between your budget and your perfect destination. If you’re a price-sensitive vacation seeker, you may be surprised to learn that the best travel bargains can often be found in the most popular destinations in the U.S. and around the world. And in some cases, such as choosing a Caribbean vacation, knowing which destinations are affordable and which tend to cost a bit more can make all the difference.
To help budget-conscious travelers find the perfect place at the right price, we’ve identified destinations worldwide where rates for package vacations are consistently more affordable than similar locations nearby. If you want to save money on your next escape, it pays to look at the places where you can pick up an affordable air-and-hotel package. Whether you want to travel to the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, or South America, we’ll show you the ideal spots for great getaways on the cheap.
|Top U.S. destinations
According to Site59 spokesperson Pamela Johnston, popular cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., “have consistently dominated the top 10 list for many months.” This popularity often translates into bargains for the traveler, since a key factor in keeping prices low is competition among airlines and hotel companies. Because of their status as hubs of commerce, as well as tourism, you can easily find cheaper fares and better hotel rates in America’s largest cities.
For example, a recent search on Site59 yielded a low rate of just $153 for air-and-hotel packages from Los Angeles to San Francisco, including all taxes and fees. The same is true with other travel providers, such as Southwest Vacations, which offered a similar package from Los Angeles to Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco, for $174.
The king of all bargain destinations, at least in the U.S., is Las Vegas. ThereÃ?Â?s simply no place like it, and that singularity extends to the prices. Bryan Allison, Director of Marketing for Vegas.com, explains, “Vegas has always been known as the place where you can get amazing value for the dollar. Combine gaming, which offsets the cost of many amenities, with increased competition, and you end up with the ability to experience luxury at much lower prices. A traveler can enjoy a world-class room, spa or restaurant in Vegas for a lower cost than in New York, San Francisco, or another major destination. Another trend that will benefit travelers: packages, which bundle rooms, meals, spas, show tickets, and nightclub VIP passes for one low price.”
In Europe, the vacation price differential between the key hubs and less-connected cities can be significant. For example, for fall travel, Go-today.com offers six nights in London, with round-trip airfare for just $379. This compares favorably with rates to destinations such as Prague, which starts at $749; and Rome, which will cost you $929.
Jay Sorensen of OffPeakTraveler.com notes that we continually see the best prices to London because there is “real competition among multiple carriers” there, as well as a “healthy supply of seats and hotels.” Sorensen also recommends Paris, where we found prices to be just slightly higher than those in London, and as much as $300 per person less than even nearby Amsterdam. Sorensen says that Amsterdam is “a challenge because there is always a shortage of hotels there.”
Rates vary widely across the Caribbean, and you’ll generally find that prices are higher for food and entertainment than they are up north. However, there is money to be saved, particularly if you choose the right destination.
For an island adventure, locations closer to the U.S. are typically the best bargains. Situated less than 100 miles off the Florida coast, Grand Bahama Island is just one of a collection of eight groups of islands that make up the Bahamas and offer great values for the vacationer. For example, you can find seven-night packages that include airfare for as little as $399 from CheapCaribbean.com. When you look at the cost of a vacation to St. Croix, where Cheap Caribbean’s lowest listed rate is a full $400 more, the Bahamas look even more appealing.
Also a source of consistently good deals, US Airways Vacations’ packages to Jamaica had some of the lowest rates, $299 per person, at the time of our most recent price search. Mexican beach resorts are also overwhelmingly popular and very affordable. Cancun vacations from US Airways, for example, are priced similarly to those to Jamaica.
In South America, there are generally few independent vacation packages offered from the U.S. to locations outside of Brazil and Argentina, so a rate comparison between those two countries is the most useful.
The continent’s most famous destination, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is experiencing a price drop at the time of this writing, but it doesn’t compare to the rates you’ll find to an equally appealing destination such as Buenos Aires, Argentina. That country’s capital city has become an extremely affordable destination for North American travelers.