2014′s Best & Worst Cities for Summer Travel
In order to supplement the money-saving information already available to travelers through CardHub’s Currency Conversion & Best Travel Credit Card studies, WalletHub sought to determine the Best & Worst Travel Cities for Summer Travel in 2014.
More specifically, WalletHub analyzed flights listed on Kayak.com from the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States to the 8 most popular domestic and 10 most popular international destinations, using July 12 as the departure date and July 20 as the return date. We compared airfare costs, flight times, and the number of connections for each in order to determine:
- Which departure points offer the best combination of inexpensive flights and short travel times to the most popular destinations; and
- Which destinations are the most accessible – both logistically and financially – for U.S. travelers across the 50 largest metro areas.
- It makes sense that only 16% of U.S. travel expenditures are for international trips, as the average flight to a popular international vacation destination costs $1,154, takes 10 and a half hours, and has one connection, compared to $516, just over 5 hours, and 0.86 connections for the average domestic flight.
- Judging from the combined rankings for vacation destinations both foreign and domestic, the best overall departure points are Chicago, Washington, New York, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.
- California cities average a 44th place ranking for international travel affordability, despite LAX being the 3rd busiest airport in the U.S.. This is attributable to the popularity of European and Caribbean destinations among U.S. travelers, who seem relatively uninterested in Asian getaways.
- Atlanta – home to the busiest airport in the United States – ranks 2nd in terms of domestic flight affordability, 15th for international affordability, and 6th overall.
- Washington, D.C. is the most affordable East Coast city to fly out of, ranking second overall. Much of this can be attributed to the close proximity of three major airports: Washington Dulles, Reagan National, & BWI.
|Best Overall Departure Point Ranking||Metro Area||Best Domestic Departure Point Ranking||Best International Departure Point Ranking|
|3||New York, NY||7||2|
|18||New Orleans, LA||20||17|
|22||St. Louis, MO||28||19|
|31||Kansas City, MO||30||29|
|35||San Antonio, TX||36||35|
|36||Virginia Beach, VA||44||33|
|38||San Francisco, CA||39||38|
|40||Las Vegas, NV||44||37|
|41||Los Angeles, CA||42||39|
|42||San Diego, CA||40||43|
|46||Salt Lake City, UT||46||47|
|47||Oklahoma City, OK||49||40|
|50||San Jose, CA||48||49|
|Rank||Top Domestic Destinations||Top International Destinations|
|1||Orlando, FL||Cancun, Mexico|
|2||Virginia Beach, VA||Puerto Vallarta, Mexico|
|3||Las Vegas, NV||San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico|
|4||San Diego, CA||Montego Bay, Jamaica|
|5||Myrtle Beach, SC||Oranjestad, Aruba|
Ask The Experts: Tips for Saving on Summer Travel
WalletHub used TripAdvisor and Fly.com to identify the most popular domestic and international vacation destinations for summer 2014 and data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We then used Kayak.com listings to compare airfare costs, flight times, and the number of connections for round-trip flights from each MSA to the airport(s) serving each popular vacation destination.
We used July 12 and July 20 as the departure and return dates, respectively, since July was the most popular date for travel last summer, according to a Morpace Omnibus survey. And while the average American considers 12 days to be the perfect length for a vacation, according to American Express data, most of us can neither afford such a long getaway, nor spare the vacation time.
In determining ultimate rankings, WalletHub analyzed and weighted the following metrics for round-trip flights between each MSA and each popular vacation destination:
- Cost of the cheapest flight: 30%
- Duration of the cheapest flight: 15%
- Number of connections on the cheapest flight: 5%
- Cost of the shortest flight: 30%
- Duration of the shortest flight: 15%
- Number of connections on the shortest flight: 5%
For simplicity sake, we recorded only the longest leg for a flight’s duration. Given the often stark disparities in flight costs and travel times, we also chose the best deals for each metric within a $20 range and/or one hour window. For example, if the cheapest round-trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy cost $1,000 and the second cheapest fight only cost $15 more yet would save you two hours in total travel time, we chose the latter. Similarly, if the shortest round-trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy took six hours each way and the second-shortest took only 25 minutes longer yet saved you $200, we chose the latter.