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The 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities for Business Travel

How much should you expect to spend to visit each of the largest 100 U.S. cities?

Business Travel News has released its 2016 Corporate Travel Index, computing realistic per diem amounts for 100 U.S. cities, based on prevailing prices for hotel and rental-car rates and restaurant prices. (While leisure travelers can expect to spend less, by staying in budget-friendly hotels and eating frugally, the report’s travel costs are a good indicator of relative costs in the covered cities.)

The 10 most expensive cities, including the total per diem and a cost breakdown:

  1. San Francisco: $547.34 (hotel $370.78, car $56.01, food $120.55)
  2. New York: $523.05 (hotel $327.63, car $77.35, food $118.06)
  3. Boston: $502.69 (hotel $344.18, car $62.59, food $95.92)
  4. Seattle: $418.88 (hotel $253.22, car $49.40, food $116.25)
  5. Washington, D.C.: $411.10 (hotel $245.81, car $44.07, food $121.21)
  6. Santa Barbara: $409.32 (hotel $224.68, car $52.87, food $131.77)
  7. Honolulu: $403.92 (hotel $237.97, car $38.29, food $127.67)
  8. Los Angeles: $402.79 (hotel $245.46, car $46.22, food $111.11)
  9. San Jose: $398.28 (hotel $246.78, car $47.22, food $104.28)
  10. Hartford: $387.11 (hotel $218.02, car $48.92, food $120.17)

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At the other end of the cost spectrum, Norfolk, Virginia, was the cheapest of the 100 ranked cities, with an estimated per diem of $248.15.

With the per-day costs at the top end of the list totaling more than twice those at the bottom end, there’s the potential for substantial savings by taking the contrarian road and spending your travel dollars in less-pricey cities. While they might lack some of the obvious appeal of San Francisco and New York, a fine time can be had in cities like Tucson, Albuquerque, and Corpus Christi.

The complete list (PDF file) is here.

Reader Reality Check

Do you have any favorite off-the-beaten-track cities that are visit-worthy and budget-friendly?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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