Travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be. Taking a short weekend trip can ease your wanderlust without breaking the bank. Whether it’s a quick road trip to another state, or a short flight, you can easily find a destination within your price range. If you want to take a cheap trip, there are plenty of options for cutting costs. Hostels offer cheap dorm rooms around the country, and campgrounds have dirt cheap prices for travelers with tents. Cheap eats can be found in every state, and free activities won’t be difficult to find. And, if you take trips during the off seasons, you can score even cheaper prices around the country.
Be careful when you choose which weekend to get away though, because not every time of the year is cheap. Peak tourist seasons, holidays, and events can cause ticket prices to skyrocket. So, be prepared to give the calendar a good once over before making any plans. Summertime can be costly since it’s the time of year that most people want to travel. Holidays cause gas prices and flights to soar. This is the time of year when everyone is traveling home to see family, so prices hike up. Festivals and events make certain destinations raise their prices too. Good luck finding cheap accommodations in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or Philadelphia during the Fourth of July. If you want to travel to America, some times are better than others. So, here’s the cheapest and most expensive weekends to travel in the United States.
20 Expensive: The First Weekend in July
The weekend closest to the July 4th holiday is always pricey to travel. The travel industry takes advantage of the family nature of this weekend, and shoots up the prices. People are often traveling to be with their families for Independence Day and are willing to pay extra fees to fly and stay in hotels. This is the case across the country, no matter where you’re flying to or from. Gas prices are inflated as well, so driving may not be the cheapest option either. Certain cities like Philadelphia and New York get more visitors during this time of year, so you may want to steer clear.
19 Expensive: The Fourth Weekend in November
The Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S is a major time for travel. This family-centric event gets people to travel from all over the country and the world to be with their loved ones. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is notorious for being the biggest drinking evening in the country. This is because everyone is home for the holiday and off from work the following Thursday. Gas prices and flights are extremely pricey and hotel accommodations can be difficult to find for a reasonable price. The hefty prices spill over into the following weekend as everyone needs to eventually travel back home.
18 Expensive: The Third Weekend in December
This is usually the closest weekend to Christmas and people are traveling constantly. Flights, hotels, gas prices, and travel activities are through the roof. The stores know that people have a spending mindset during the Christmas holiday, and most of them are traveling to be with family. Expect flight prices that are three times the normal amount. And, if you’re able to find a hotel, you’ll be paying at least double for a room. Many international travelers come to experience Christmas in the U.S. And, locals are making long journeys to be with their loved ones. Just stay home on this weekend if you don’t want to burst your entire budget.
17 Expensive: The Fourth Weekend in December
Although Christmas is officially over, the spirit has not yet died down. This is the interim between Christmas and New Years, and plenty of people are still traveling. Stay away from popular party destinations like NYC, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Prices surrounding these destinations may be even higher as people venture there to get ready for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Even the shopping sales are not yet in full swing, so avoid traveling far if you don’t have a big budget. If you do happen to have money to blow, you can find some pretty swanky holiday parties and events all over the country.
16 Expensive: The Third Weekend In January
While prices may have died down around the country once the holidays are over, some destinations are still quite expensive. January is the middle of winter and one of the best times to hit the slopes. Destinations like Colorado, Nevada, and Vermont are well known for their skiing and snowboarding, and are in high season. To experience these activities during the most ideal time of year, you’ll need to have a lofty budget. Flights can be pricey and resort fees can get quite steep. Between lift tickets, hotels, and gear rental, you can spend hundreds of dollars aside from the flights and food. If you must travel during the winter, choose destinations that aren’t as popular for winter sports.
15 Expensive: The Third Weekend in August
This is the last weekend of summer before college students start heading back to class. It’s also close to the end of summer, and many people are trying to squeeze in one last vacation. August is also the height of the tourist season in many locations. Places like Maine see the most visitors during this month, which ensure the prices will be high. Many of its festivals like The Maine Lobster Festival, take place during this time and draw in large crowds. Popular beach destinations like California, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina can be more expensive during August as well.
14 Expensive: The Third Weekend In April
The Easter holiday usually falls on a Sunday around this time of year. While the holiday is always changing, the third weekend in April is typically a pricey time to travel because of it. Many Americans are crossing state borders to be with family, causing flight and gas prices to rise.
Accommodations are few and far between as travelers book them early to beat the crowds. Many states up north are still quite cold in April anyways, so it might be a good idea to skip these destinations altogether, even if you can pay the Easter prices.
13 Expensive: The Fourth Weekend in May
The fourth weekend in May comes right before Memorial Day. Most people have off from work and school on this Monday, turning the whole weekend into a celebration. This holiday typically signifies the start of summer (more like a summer mindset) and many locals head to the parks or the beach to celebrate. Road trips are popular on Memorial Day, so gas prices can get extremely high. Weekend warriors usually plan getaways well in advance so hotels can get pricey, especially in coastal towns. The beach towns on the east coast, especially around Delaware and New Jersey, will be absolutely packed with people paying big money to be there.
12 Cheap: The Third Weekend in January
Once the chaos of Christmas and the new year settles down, life in the US becomes more quiet. Prices for nearly everything goes down, including travel. There are major sales in stores, entertainment, and flights. January is also a great time to travel to beach destinations in Delaware, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. While their beach towns thrive in summer, January is when many places close up shop. Visitors can usually find pretty scenery, activities, and extremely low prices on accommodation. Plus, the beach in the haze of winter can be romantic, especially if you booked a cozy cottage to travel to.
11 Cheap: The Second Weekend in September
When kids go back to school in September, vacations come to an end. The weather is still beautiful in most places, making this a prime weekend to score some deals without sacrificing on experience. This weekend would be a great time to visit Florida, especially Disney World. Prices drop steadily for everything from hotels, car rentals, and shows to park prices, and dining out. The parks and their surrounding shops want to squeeze every last penny they can out of the summer season, and give out deals to draw people in. Your kids might have to miss out on some school, but it may be worth it for a chance at an affordable Disney experience.
10 Cheap: The First Weekend in February
At this point, the joys of the holidays are officially gone. Winter has crept in and is here to stay for most states. The northeast, and midwest part of the country are facing cold, snow, and overall bad conditions. However, if you’re okay with the cold, this may be the cheapest time to visit. Spend time roaming the museums of New York City and Chicago. Warm up by exploring the historical buildings that are scattered around Philadelphia. And, stay out of the cold by hopping from restaurant to restaurant in Cleveland. If you can plan a trip that keeps you indoors, you can win big when it comes to flights and hotel prices.
9 Cheap: The First Weekend in November
This is the off season for many U.S states. Summer is over but winter hasn’t officially started, making November a month in limbo. Visitors can head up north to Maine where the leaves are still changing colors. The nights are colder and days are shorter, so it’s not a destination at the top of the list for most. However, the scenery looks beautiful and the weather is tolerable, so visitors can still enjoy the landscape for a lower price.
This is also the month when flights are cheapest to midwestern states like Kansas, and northeastern states like Rhode Island.
8 Cheap: The Third Weekend In August
August is one of the hottest and muggiest time of of the year for most U.S states. The cities in the southern region gets hit hard with heat waves, making places like Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia quite unbearable. However, if you thrive in the heat and don’t mind a little sweat, this weekend is full of travel bargains. Round trip flights and hotels are more affordable to southern states than during any other time of year. Check out the Spanish moss drooping from the trees in Savannah, walk the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas, and wander Bourbon street in New Orleans. Just try to stay cool while doing it.
7 Cheap: The Third Weekend in September
With school back in full swing, the top family vacation spots will be hurting for customers. Destinations like Hawaii tend to lower their prices during this time, as they need all the business they can muster. Travelers can fly to Hawaii on the cheap during this weekend, with flights costing around $600 in total. Hotels tend to be around $200 a night, and the small size of the crowds is priceless. Destinations like Idaho, known for its winter and summer sports, are experiencing a shoulder season during this time. In between these two seasons, prices go down to attract tourists.
6 Cheap: The Fourth Weekend in January
Popular tourist destinations like to draw in as many visitors as possible before winter fully hits. They lower hotel prices to compliment the meager gas and flight costs during this time. Destinations up north or in the midwest are particularly cheap because it’s cold. Try visiting places like Iowa, to which flights cost an average of $400 round trip. Average flight prices to Louisiana are $300. Since Mardi Gras isn’t happening around this time, everything else will be cheaper too. And, states like Maryland are cheap to get to with flight prices averaging around $300. Check out Baltimore and its harbor without the usual crowds.
5 Cheap: The Second Weekend in February
In most of the U.S, the weather in February is not ideal. East coast cities and mid-western national parks are frigidly cold, and not many people are visiting. Because of the poor weather, flights and hotel prices drop drastically. Try flying to Massachusetts, as the flights are $260 on average. Stay warm in the Boston museums and book a hotel for around $200 a night. This weekend is a great time to visit southern states like Mississippi. Flights average around $400 round trip and the weather stays between 50 and 60 degrees. It’s not awfully cold but is comfortable enough to do some sightseeing.
4 Cheap: The First Weekend in May
As Spring makes it way around the country, the weather conditions get better across the board. A cheap place to visit during this time is Michigan. Located up north, the weather hasn’t completely warmed up yet, making flights and accommodations affordable. Plane tickets average around $300, making it affordable to visit Detroit and The Great Lakes. States close to Michigan are great options in May too. Wisconsin and Minnesota are both in between warm and cool weather. It’s not a popular time to visit either of these states, except for budget travelers. The scenery is just starting to come alive, so there will be things to do and see for half the cost as usual.
3 Cheap: The Third Weekend In September
With kids going back to school and the weather cooling off, this weekend is ideal for cheap travel. Round trip flights to Montana cost around $450, making it a great time to explore the national parks here. There won’t be as many crowds as in summer, and the weather won’t be unbearably hot. New Hampshire is another popular destination in September as flights average $400. The fall foliage and colors are just starting to come out, so you’ll see the beauty of the state without the massive crowds. Accommodations during this time are affordable as it is in between the summer and fall influx of tourists.
2 Expensive: The First Weekend in September
The Labor Day holiday usually falls around this weekend in September. It is the very last chance for Americans to get in one more summer vacation. With school starting and the imminent cold weather, everyone seems to scramble to get to the beach one last time. Prices go up for nearly everything during this weekend, especially because people seem happy to pay them. This month tends to have nice weather, so places like Alabama and Texas can get really expensive to visit as well since they’re often too hot in the summer. And, for anyone with kids, a trip to Disney World might be really costly as families try to squeeze in a trip before school starts.
1 Expensive: The Third Weekend In June
This is the weekend when school is officially out. After a long year of work, parents and their kids typically head out on vacations and summer road trips. The best vacation spots around the country start to fill up with hotel bookings and travel tours. Places like Wyoming start to draw in giant crowds of tourists who want to view the national parks before the weather gets too hot. South Dakota has great weather during June, bringing in tons of roadtrippers who want to see Mt. Rushmore. And, flights to Iowa are quite expensive due to the Star Trek Festival and strawberry fests that take place during this month.