The 10 Best Places in the United States for Budget Travel

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You don’t need to spend a lot to have a great time on your next trip.

Key points

  • Americans are spending more on travel due to increased demand due to the pandemic, but you don’t have to break your budget to enjoy a vacation.
  • San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque are just a few surprising places where you can have a great time without spending a ton of money.
  • Many outdoor activities are free, and many cities offer interesting neighborhoods where you can take in the sights without spending a lot of money.

Americans are spending a lot on travel these days. With pent-up demand from the pandemic, some of the big increases in personal spending this year have been in travel and leisure. But you don’t have to shell out all your hard-earned savings to enjoy your next vacation. To find the best places to travel on a budget, we’ve used Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, Restaurant Index and Local Purchasing Power Index for each city in our list below. .

These ratings are relative to New York City, which means that for New York City, each index is 100%. For example, if a particular city has a restaurant index of 120, it means that on average, costs in that city are 20% more expensive than in New York.

Now that the technical aspects are out of the way, here are the 10 best spots for traveling on a budget.

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1. San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is a large city in south central Texas with a rich heritage. The city is known for the Alamo, the mile-long River Walk with a promenade of cafes and shops, a Japanese tea garden and much more. In addition, San Antonio has many other museums, restaurants and tourist activities.

Cost of living index: 61.33

Restaurant price index: 62.69

Local purchasing power index: 180.99

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $123

2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City is known for its cowboy culture, entertainment district, and museums. It has historical places to visit and even a place to go rafting. Plus, you can take a water taxi and visit the city’s waterfront restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions.

Cost of living index: 64.25

Restaurant price index: 50.27

Local purchasing power index: 128.80

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $98

3. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. Founded in 1706 as a Spanish colony, it is rich in history. Old Town Albuquerque is known for its historic adobe buildings, such as San Felipe de Neri Church, museums, and Native American shops. Additionally, Albuquerque is also the ballooning capital of the world, hosting the International Balloon Fiesta every October.

Cost of living index: 64.99

Restaurant price index: 66.18

Local purchasing power index: 162.53

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $167

4. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, known for sites such as historic Temple Square and the headquarters of the Mormon Church, the Great Salt Lake, zoos, gardens, and other attractions. The city has a strong arts and culture scene as well as plenty of outdoor activities, including skiing and golf. The region also offers year-round adventures with alpine mountains, lakes for fishing and rivers for rafting. And there are plenty of state and national parks nearby, as well as places to shop and enjoy the nightlife.

Cost of living index: 65.66

Restaurant price index: 75.59

Local purchasing power index: 140.73

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $154

5. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city, located on the Ohio River along the Indiana border. It is best known for the Kentucky Derby and is also home to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where Major League bats are produced. The city is also known for its bourbon and offers the Urban Bourbon Experience, where visitors can participate in distillery tours and tastings.

Cost of living index: 65.76

Restaurant price index: 65.83

Local purchasing power index: 146.41

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $147

6.Austin, Texas

Capital Austin is known for its live music scene. Musicians perform outdoors at seasonal events as well as at world-famous festivals. Austin is home to the University of Texas and has plenty of museums and historic sites to visit. The area enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine with an average temperature of 68 degrees, according to Visit Austin, making it a great place to enjoy outdoor activities.

Cost of living index: 68.44

Restaurant price index: 74.22

Local purchasing power index: 154.36

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $274

7. Orlando, Florida

Yes, Disney World and Universal Studios Florida aren’t cheap, but there are plenty of other things to do in Orlando. In addition to its well-known theme parks, Orlando has many water parks, the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, farmers markets, museums and other fun activities. And there are plenty of free activities too, like the outdoor Disney Springs, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal Citywalk, and Old Town Orlando and Celebration Town Center.

Cost of living index: 69.70

Restaurant price index: 77.62

Local purchasing power index: 140.53

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $155

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

As long as you don’t lose your shirt gambling, you can enjoy tons of free stuff while strolling the infamous Las Vegas Strip. You can even get a decent hotel in Las Vegas this fall for around $70, according to Priceline. And many of the top hotels tend to keep prices reasonable so they can attract people to spend money in casinos. Las Vegas is also home to the Mob Museum and plenty of outdoor activities. Plus, it’s close to the Grand Canyon.

Cost of living index: 70.28

Restaurant price index: 72.08

Local purchasing power index: 116.43

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $204

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is well known for its outdoor activities. The city sits at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, near glacier-carved Pikes Peak. And the Pikes Peak area offers many attractions, including trains, museums, parks and a zoo. Additionally, there are a number of hiking trails and a railway leading to the top of the mountain. Colorado Springs also has a vibrant downtown, perfect for city lovers, especially those on a budget.

Cost of living index: 71.70

Restaurant price index: 79.77

Local purchasing power index: 167.21

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $141

10. Tampa, Florida

Tampa is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast and offers a wide range of activities for those on a budget. The area is full of outdoor water activities, a bustling downtown area, and plenty of interesting architecture. You can also explore zoos, an aquarium, a river walk, and a host of restaurants and shops in Tampa.

Cost of living index: 73.94

Restaurant price index: 80.41

Local purchasing power index: 135.97

Average hotel room (October 2022, per Priceline): $167

Families may be cutting back on big-ticket items due to inflation, but there is no sign that travel spending will decline in the near future. These 10 places are perfect for a quick trip to enjoy the sights and sounds while keeping the expense down.

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