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Which US destinations offer the most bang for your buck in 2022?

Which US destinations offer the most bang for your buck in 2022?
Which US destinations offer the most bang for your buck in 2022?
Written by Harry Johnson

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 
1Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area69.97352566218
2Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area67.1097613191215
3Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area66.8418502540102
4Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area64.37322711212338
5Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area63.8557232113132
6Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area63.512894249918
7Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area63.161198191233
8Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area62.9735931752014
9Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area62.9522834481372
10San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area62.0629620383855
11Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area61.9455771467310
12Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area61.8466166131437
13Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area61.43491841225923
14Jacksonville, FL Metro Area61.14601929612516
15Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area61.10126918421951
16Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area60.9127444178048
17Tulsa, OK Metro Area59.6751260187844
18Knoxville, TN Metro Area59.6536775365054
19San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area59.58309678056
20St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area59.56632128122466
21El Paso, TX Metro Area59.42761373107612
22Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area59.3231126598374
23Columbia, SC Metro Area59.1142968286364
24New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area58.875085466777
25New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area58.62626015391849
26Springfield, MO Metro Area58.5283864276982
27Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area58.45153217151198
28Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area58.4333299945797
29Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area58.3816926377313
30Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metro Area58.22347470N/A159
31Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area58.15672221413247
32Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area58.05266637712725
33Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI Metro Area57.89135754765231
34Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area57.86803640163628
35Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area57.5174645793941
36Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area57.29684369443720
37Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area57.23215816702176
38Lafayette, LA Metro Area57.04193783478743
39Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area57.0081422264253
40Wichita, KS Metro Area56.9147578338960
41Richmond, VA Metro Area56.80254747323089
42Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area56.6854366299978
43Fresno, CA Metro Area56.4752827228521
44Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area56.249383155459
45Dayton-Kettering, OH Metro Area55.6961488656790
46Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area55.67538059263436
47Columbus, OH Metro Area55.46743156205739
48San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area55.441095595827
49Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area55.24728930314511
50Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area54.87854126234740
51Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area54.87242455N/A1785
52Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area54.8461835376880
53Albuquerque, NM Metro Area54.7138173654199
54Tucson, AZ Metro Area54.24226123573394
55Madison, WI Metro Area54.09145349874070
56Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area54.02704827434961
57Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area54.00833538525426
58Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area53.9892119502873
59Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area53.84693410059914
60Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area53.40583352566269
61Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area53.36205557824658
62Corpus Christi, TX Metro Area53.27592381347079
63Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR Metro Area53.24412090259292
64Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area53.238679377686
65Akron, OH Metro Area53.22394979749642
66Toledo, OH Metro Area52.86433076639067
67Chattanooga, TN-GA Metro Area52.80824051145183
68Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area52.64406292687450
69Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area52.23654577358865
70Boise City, ID Metro Area51.15787548306457
71San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area50.68379343885619
72Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area50.64467133786671
73Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Metro Area50.63755680N/A7722
74Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area50.61238442932234
75North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area50.38797391N/A715
76Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area50.27738710901646
77Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area50.23714446138295
78Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area50.14915439514452
79Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area49.8395679864431
80Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area49.69876387606129
81Rochester, NY Metro Area49.53646850853568
82Baton Rouge, LA Metro Area49.04981562465356
83Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA Metro Area48.65110089916017
84Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area48.33177053898187
85Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA Metro Area48.19578695819324
86Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area48.19779112732975
87Syracuse, NY Metro Area47.93486567845591
88Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area47.894978942681
89Bakersfield, CA Metro Area47.0890908249830
90Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area46.93973986539535
91Lexington-Fayette, KY Metro Area45.40895158548488
92McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area44.85100194589784
93Jackson, MS Metro Area44.82841097810096
94Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area44.09887871247293
95Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area43.61966474867545
96Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metro Area42.38948884695862
97Lansing-East Lansing, MI Metro Area42.12992693829463
98Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area41.59568185726597
99Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area41.3745999695863
100Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area41.29445224

WTM London 2022 will be taking place from 7-9 November 2022. Register now!

Best vs. Worst

*    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.”

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).”

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

About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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