Cheap Places to Travel During the Summer

FT Contributor
Colorful beach chairs sit on the sand at a summer travel destination.
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If you’re ready to plan an inexpensive vacation, there’s no better time to book it than the summer. The kids are out of school, you’ve made it about halfway through the year, and the weather is usually the best in the summertime.

Keeping your travel expenses to a minimum while still having a fun and memorable vacation seems like a feat. However, there are many inexpensive places in the U.S. and abroad you can travel to for a great vacation. If you focus on saving money while you travel and if you pinch every penny during the planning process, you can afford a great vacation in the summer.

Cheap Summer Vacations in the U.S.

If you’ve been relentlessly saving your money for a vacation, keep in mind you don’t even have to leave the country to have a great and inexpensive summer trip. Some of the most budget-friendly destinations are right here in the U.S.


If you want to explore the beautiful scenery in your home country, take a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Over 285 species of birds and 67 species of mammals can be found throughout the park, so you’ll have no shortage of wildlife to observe. Go hiking, biking, picnicking, and exploring throughout the park’s 3,472 square miles.

With so much to do, you’ll need to spend the night. The park offers 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 sites. Pitch a tent and you’ll only pay $27 to $32 a night for lodging. While summer is the most crowded time to visit Yellowstone, the weather is great for outdoor activities and you’ll be comfortable sleeping under the stars. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, lodging prices are generally the lowest in the area during the spring and winter, since these are the coldest months. The average cost of a one-week trip to Yellowstone for a couple is about $1,200.

Bar Harbor

Bordered by Acadia National Park and Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor, Maine is a great, inexpensive summer travel destination. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll stay busy throughout your stay. You can enjoy free activities to save money on your vacation, such as hiking or walking around to tour the local sites and town. Summer is the perfect time to visit because of the dry and warm weather. However, the winter months are generally the least costly for tourists since it’s considered the “off-season.”

The best part about a Bar Harbor getaway is that you won’t have to save a hefty vacation fund to plan your visit. A one-week vacation for a couple to Bar Harbor only costs an average of $1,700, including lodging and food.


If you’re ready for the summer adventure of a lifetime, it’s time to plan a trip to Moab, Utah. This destination is nestled between two national parks, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. For a cheap entrance fee of $10, you can visit Arches National Park and marvel at the red rocks and beautiful scenery for seven consecutive days. A quick $5 entrance fee and you’re in Canyonlands National Park, where you can enjoy a few free hikes or pay for a wild whitewater rafting experience.

Moab is a great destination if you’re having trouble saving money for your vacation fund because it won’t cost you much. While summers in Moab are hot, you can find great deals since it’s considered the off-season. Motels and camping are readily available and a week-long couples trip will cost an average of $1,700, not including transportation.

Myrtle Beach

Located along the Atlantic Coast in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach offers 60 miles of sandy beaches, which are free to enjoy. With such a long coastline, beachfront motels and hotels offer competitive prices. Enjoy an affordable oceanside vacation in the late fall to early spring since summer is considered “in-season” for the area.

Save money on your vacation by renting a vacation house and cooking meals in the kitchen. You can also hunt for inexpensive restaurants in the area you’re visiting. If a beachy vacation to the South Carolina coast is right up your alley, a week-long trip for two people will set you back an average of $1,900 for food and lodging.

Grand Canyon

You can visit one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., the Grand Canyon, for a low cost. If you want to stay on-site, you can camp near the Canyon overnight for as little as $15 per night. This price doesn’t include water or power, but there are restrooms nearby. Explore the park on your own or opt for a mule trip into the canyon for $90 to $150 per person.

Camping rates stay the same year-round, but flights to the Grand Canyon and other lodging options are generally the least expensive between November and February. The cost of your vacation depends on where you stay and when you go, but the average week-long trip for two costs about $1,800 per couple.

Cheap Out-of-Country Trips

If you’ve saved money all year and you’re ready to travel abroad, there are some inexpensive foreign destinations you should consider. Keep in mind, if you’re traveling outside of the U.S., you’ll need a valid passport.


Antigua is a tropical island located in the eastern Caribbean that offers beautiful weather year-round. Enjoy beach views and explore local sites, including forests, volcanoes and historic landmarks. Lodging can be pricey at an average of $360 per night for a hotel, but the countless free activities and scenery you can enjoy can keep your trip inexpensive.

Find local, inexpensive restaurants to get affordable yet authentic cuisine. You can also save money by engaging in free or low-cost activities during your trip, such as hiking or sightseeing.


If you’ve had your eye on popular foreign vacation destinations like Cancun or Cabo, consider the similar yet less expensive choice of Tulum, Mexico. This area attracts fewer tourists but offers a similar feel to the other more popular destinations in the country.

Not only will you deal with fewer crowds in Tulum, but you’ll also be treated to inexpensive dining and lodging. You may even be able to snag a hotel on the beach for about $75 a night. Enjoy free or low-cost attractions, such as a visit to the Mayan ruins, a beach day, or a snorkel cruise.


If you choose a vacation destination in neighboring Canada, you may be able to make it a road trip so you can avoid a costly flight abroad altogether. However, take the time to crunch the numbers when it comes to driving, gas, time off work, and a potential flight to this Canadian destination.

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, so it offers plenty of opportunities to learn about the country’s culture and history. In the spring and fall, the weather is usually chilly and unpredictable, so this may be when you find the least expensive flights and lodging. A week-long trip to Ottawa for a couple costs an average of $2,000, which is fairly inexpensive for a trip abroad.


Beautiful Buddhist architecture and a breathtaking countryside wait for you in Laos, a nation in Southeast Asia located northeast of Thailand and west of Vietnam. Visiting Laos is unbelievably inexpensive, with a week-long trip for a couple costing an average of about $399, including food and lodging.

Additionally, there are many free or low-cost attractions to see in the area, such as Buddha Park, the National History Museum, and the Mekong River. Between October and April, the weather is warm and dry, so it’s generally the best time to visit Laos.


While an Italian countryside getaway sounds exotic and expensive, you can do it affordably in Abruzzo. Unlike the hustle and bustle of other Italian cities, Abruzzo is focused on nature and includes ski resorts, beaches, and national parks. You can rent a house in the Abruzzo area for an average of $55 per night. If you’re looking for something more luxurious, rent an Italian castle for just $114 a night.

With this vacation destination, you’ll be southeast of Rome, nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains. Enjoy spectacular views for free, take a hike, or hop on a ski lift. Local wine and cuisine are well-known in this region, and a casual meal will cost you $20 to $25 per person.

Summer is the perfect time for a vacation and you can take the whole family to an inexpensive yet exciting destination if you do your research. Explore one of these great locations and enjoy a memorable vacation while staying within your budget.

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