13 of the Worst US Vacation Destinations for Those on a Budget

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Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.

Everything—including travel—is getting more and more expensive. And if you’re vacationing on a budget, then there are certain areas in America that are a no-go.

From big cities to coastal escapes, here are 13 US vacation destinations to avoid if you don’t want to break the bank.

Anaheim, California

Anaheim California
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California is an expensive place to be, which you’ll see over the next four destinations. But Anaheim, in particular, thanks to the world-famous Disneyland, is one of the most expensive. 

Even for travelers who don’t plan to visit the two Disney parks, accommodation and meal prices in the city are high. Plus, you’ll also find yourself forking out money on travel as the city is a fair distance away from California’s popular landmarks.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco California
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San Francisco—home to the Golden Gate Bridge—is an expensive place to live and visit. With expensive hotels, expensive restaurants, and expensive airfare, taking a trip to San Fran will cost you an arm and a leg.

San Diego, California

San Diego
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San Diego is another of California’s most expensive areas—especially during the summer months. Millions of people flock to San Diego each year to see the city’s sights, and with hotels costing over $250 a night, you can expect a huge dent in your wallet. 

Traveling outside of summer does bring overall prices down. But San Diego still ranks as one of America’s most expensive cities.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles California
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Taking the top spot for the most expensive city in California—and one of the most expensive in America—is Los Angeles. Los Angeles’ close proximity to the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Universal Studios means only one thing—extortionate prices for both tourists and locals alike. For this reason, if you’re vacationing on a budget, you probably want to give Los Angeles a miss.

Key West, Florida

Key West Florida
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Key West is absolutely breathtaking. With its soft white sand, turquoise blue water, and tropical island feel, it’s no wonder so many people vacation to the island city each year.

Key West’s popularity, however, brings with it a high demand for accommodation. And what do vacation rentals do when there is a high demand? Put up their prices.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas
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It probably comes as no surprise that Las Vegas makes it onto the worst US vacation destinations for those on a budget. After all, there are many a story of people heading to the city that never sleeps and losing it all in the strip’s world-famous casinos. 

But even for non-gamblers, Las Vegas’ restaurants, and accommodation prices—especially those nearby the strip—can do a lot of damage to your bank account. 

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans
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New Orleans is known for its nightlife, music, and festivals which draw both Americans and tourists into the city. Although it isn’t impossible to do New Orleans on a budget, if you were to attend the city’s most popular festival—Mardi Gras—you can expect to pay a lot of money for very average hotel rooms.

Miami Beach, Florida

Miami Beach
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Decent hotel rooms in Miami can cost over $250 per night, and transportation costs aren’t much better. Miami is popular with tourists because of its beaches, nightlife, restaurants, and culture. But what really hikes prices in the city are the festivals. 

Festivals like Ultra Music Festival bring over 150,000 people to Miami. And, of course, all those 150,000 people need a place to stay and food to eat, so prices in the city soar.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando Florida
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Orlando sees over 74 million visitors each and every year—and it has Mickey to thank for that. Being home to the biggest Disney Park in the world, Orlando’s surrounding restaurants and hotels can charge more than average, as people are simply willing to pay. 

And yes, there are plenty of other things to do in Orlando, but the theme parks are the biggest attraction. And as I’m sure you can imagine, they certainly aren’t budget-friendly.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C
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America’s capital, Washington, D.C., like any country’s capital, is an expensive place to visit. Granted, many of the monuments, museums, and galleries won’t cost you a dime, but eating, drinking, and accommodation make up for the money that you save.

Austin, Texas

Austin Texas 2
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Austin, Texas, is known for having higher-than-average hotel and food prices, meaning you can cross it off your budget-friendly destination list. Thanks to its live music and festivals, Austin is always busy, so there really isn’t a time when prices drop significantly.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Pennsylvania
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Unless you want to be sleeping in hostels or far away from the city center, Philadelphia can be an expensive vacation destination. Being Pennsylvania’s busiest city, a flight to the Philadelphia International Airport is only the start of the expenses—especially if you travel in peak season from summer to early fall.

New York City, New York

New York City
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And last, but by no means least, is New York City. New York City is America’s most expensive city to both visit and reside in, and New Yorkers themselves will tell you how much of a financial struggle it is to spend time in the Big Apple. 

As business travelers and those on vacation head to the city all year round, hotel prices can be upwards of $400 a night, making New York one of the worst US destinations for those on a budget.

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Lake Tahoe
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Are you planning a day trip from Reno, Nevada, and looking for some exciting options? Look no further than this article, which highlights the best day trips from Reno. There’s something for everyone, from skiing in Mount Rose to relaxing in Steamboat Hot Springs. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains and beyond!

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Arches National Park
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