2014′s Best & Worst Cities for Summer Travel

by John S Kiernan

Wallet Hub 2014 Best Worst Cities for Summer TravelIn 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.

Main Findings

 

  • 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
1 Chicago, IL 5 1
2 Washington, DC 6 3
3 New York, NY 7 2
4 Charlotte, NC 3 8
5 Philadelphia, PA 1 13
6 Atlanta, GA 2 15
7 Miami, FL 9 5
8 Orlando, FL 8 6
9 Detroit, MI 4 19
10 Boston, MA 10 7
11 Tampa, FL 13 9
12 Houston, TX 13 10
13 Cleveland, OH 25 4
14 Raleigh, NC 18 12
15 Pittsburgh, PA 16 14
16 Indianapolis, IN 11 21
17 Dallas, TX 17 18
18 New Orleans, LA 20 17
19 Milwauke, WI 21 16
20 Jacksonville, FL 19 22
21 Baltimore, MD 12 26
22 St. Louis, MO 28 19
23 Buffalo, NY 34 11
24 Hartford, CT 27 22
25 Nashville, TN 21 25
26 Columbus, OH 24 31
27 Cincinnati, OH 15 36
28 Austin, TX 25 32
29 Richmond, VA 29 27
30 Denver, CO 21 34
31 Kansas City, MO 30 29
32 Louisville, KY 30 30
33 Minneapolis, MN 32 28
34 Providence, RI 38 24
35 San Antonio, TX 36 35
36 Virginia Beach, VA 44 33
37 Birmingham, AL 33 42
38 San Francisco, CA 39 38
39 Phoenix, AZ 37 41
40 Las Vegas, NV 44 37
41 Los Angeles, CA 42 39
42 San Diego, CA 40 43
43 Seattle, WA 41 44
44 Portland, OR 43 45
45 Memphis, TN 34 50
46 Salt Lake City, UT 46 47
47 Oklahoma City, OK 49 40
48 Riverside, CA 47 45
49 Sacramento, CA 50 48
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

  • What is the outlook for the summer travel season?
  • What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money?
  • How can international travelers save money?
  • What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?
  • Back to All Experts

    Claudia Green

    Director, Hospitality and Tourism Program, Pace University, Lubin School of Business

    How can international travelers save money?

    Best way to save money with international air travel is to plan early. Use the fare watch software that will watch your planned trip and let you know when the prices drop. Some examples of these are AirfareWatchDog.com and FareCompare.com

    Notice whether the price quoted includes taxes and fees before purchasing. You may be better off going directly to the airline.

    Pack as lightly as possible. Balance your luggage. If you are allowed 2 bags at 50 lbs each, but you have 1 bag at 60 lb, you will get charged. I witnessed this last week on a flight from JFK to Rio de Janeiro. The customer had to pay $60 for the extra 10 lbs. Ouch!!!

    Try to travel on Tuesday and Wednesday when the rates are usually lower.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    Consider using TripIt to organize all of your arrangements in one spot and paperless. I have used it since 2006. Now I do not have to remember if I rented my car at Hertz or Avis.

    TripIt also tells me if my flight is delayed or if the gate is changed BEFORE the airlines does!

    Look for non-stop flight flights whenever possible. Consider the actual travel time and compare it to the difference in price. It is less stressful to pay a little more and not worry about missing connections of losing your luggage. Also consider the cost of hanging out in an airport and eating over priced food and over priced beverages!

    If you must make a connection in the US to get to your city of departure, fly to northern hubs in the summer to miss chance of hurricanes. In winter, try for connections in southern cities to miss chance of snow. But- with climate change, we may need to re-think that bit of advice!!
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    Sheryl Marie Elliott

    Associate Professor of Marketing and Tourism Studies, The GW School of Business

    How can international travelers save money?

    Understand exchange rates and know countries/destinations where the dollar is strong. Be aware of currency values and use a currency calculator in all purchases including tipping. Research anything ahead of time of items you think might buy during your travels. For example, several Caribbean countries feature duty free jewelry shops which line the streets of port cities just waiting for you. Often, you could do better in your home country than you can abroad. If you have a smart phone with an Internet connection, double check prices through an auction house or www.froogle.com.

    Be careful about purchasing fine arts and antiquities when traveling. Know the policies/laws of the countries! Your prized item could be confiscated at the border, or even worse, you could be charged with a crime. Think about a travel insurance policy when traveling internationally. See if travel insurance is covered by the credit card you are using for your travel. You may find using a travel agent to book your travel for a fee may in the long run save you money, particularly on complex travel itineraries.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    Do try to think ahead and use frequent flyers miles when you can. Do over think what to pack when you travel. Try for less rather than more. Do your homework before you go. The more you know will not only make the trip more enjoyable but it may help you avoid problems. If you are traveling on business, do think of packing business entire on hangers covered with a dry cleaner's plastic bag. You won't have to send out items for pressing after you arrive at your destination. Don't travel with expensive jewelry, particularly if you are visiting developing countries. It not only lacks taste, but sets you up for being a potential crime victim.
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    Loredana Padurean

    Assistant Professor of Management, Lasell College

    How can international travelers save money?

    AirBnB is a great way to save on hotels. Public transportation cards; off season travel (so much better, less congested, better service, cheaper). Look for local restaurants and deals on Groupon and similar services.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    Don't pack too much; don't try to fit too many sight points on your schedule. Don't book every single activity in advance.
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    Gene Brothers

    Associate Professor, Equitable and Sustainable Tourism, North Carolina State University

    How can international travelers save money?

    PRE-TRIP: Book flights as early as possible, but from two to four months out for best results. Use ’price alert messaging’ (most search engines offer these) for emails on pricing changes. Some airlines don't charge cancellation fees if in advance by 7 to 30 days, so if the price changes cancel and re-book at the cheaper price. Stay an extended period if taking a long-haul trip so that the environmental impacts are minimized and benefits are maximized. Offset carbon load by using online carbon footprint calculator and purchase offsets. The only costs are not just the travel costs but also the environmental costs. Pay for these costs now so that society doesn't have to pay much more in the future.

    TRIP: Buy LOCAL! The cost of accommodation, food, and services may or may not be higher, but local providers tend to re-spend the money in the local economy. So, the traveler will be appreciated and provided a higher level of service. Chain/Corporate accommodations and services may hire local labor but the profits are taken out of the economy to corporate headquarters. If you want better value, service, and a feeling of supporting the local community, buy local products and services. Accommodation web sites provide access to local properties and services. For the adventurous, try couch surfing.

    POST-TRIP: Register with the destination management organization to receive special incentives to return in the future. Stay in touch with locals who you meet for special information feeds on when to return, activities coming up, or when to not return.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    The most important aspect of international travel is to remember that the traveler is a guest. If you act like a guest, rather than a customer, in most countries around the world you will be treated as a guest. Respect the host's culture, environment, and beliefs. Research these for each destination visited so that expectations are realistic.

    Do buy local products and services while in country rather than corporate hospitality offers. Spread spending around among numerous providers so that the economic impact is broadly felt. If price is negotiable, negotiate and then pay the higher price if that is what the product or service is worth to you. You will be repaid in service and appreciation. Tip for services when expected. Don't tip when it is viewed culturally as an insult – know the difference.

    Behave as if you were a guest visiting your own country, neighborhood or home. Don't intrude where you are uninvited, and don't assume that because you are a visitor you have been invited. There are sacred places in destinations which may be exciting to experience which are off limits to travelers. Don't seek these out for an intrusive voyageur experience. These go beyond religious sites. These can include local pubs, neighborhood parks, sunset overlooks, etc.
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    Joseph Lema

    Associate Professor, U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Hospitality & Tourism Management, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

    How can international travelers save money?

    Doing research on the destination and the mode of transportation to get there can help international travelers to save money. Traveling during low-volume or off-peak times may provide the best value in terms of the typical big ticket items such as airfare and accommodations. However, if you need to travel to a special event then looking at prices and availability in advance may help to gauge supply and demand which is largely how prices are determined. It is worthwhile to compare online distributors (such as Expedia for example) to a direct service provider (ex: hotel or airline) website itself. Travel agencies can also be worthwhile to connect with since they have access to large distribution systems (ex: Sabre) and software that may provide more efficient pricing in addition to their specialized knowledge and familiarity with current promotions which may not be as accessible to the general public's knowledge. New airline carriers expanding to new markets and routes are worthwhile to consider since they may be offering new entrance or promotional pricing which may result in bargain airfares to entice travelers.

    With greater transparency in pricing for travelers as a result of increased technology, shopping for the best price takes an investment in time, yet can also yield opportunistic deals on not only prices, but extras such as possible upgrades or special promotions even up to the last minute. Starting the research process in advance may be the best strategy so that you can follow some of the patterns of pricing that may emerge and be more easily recognized.

    In terms of the destination, it is helpful to know the currency exchange rate and what is happening in the area at that time – such as events, festivals, conferences, or even weather and climate patterns. Saving money in the shoulder seasons is more likely to happen or if you are willing to endure higher levels of risk then this may also be reflected in consumer prices.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    International travel can provide great opportunities to overcome many of the stereotypes and myths that may exist for both the traveler (guest) and host. Financially, having a plan of the logistics for your travel can minimize the uncertainty and risks without taking away from having a valuable experience. Part of the whole notion of traveling abroad, especially from a leisure perspective, often conjures up an excitement of escape and along with this comes high expectations and emotions. Understanding that your trip and experience may start before your leave house through the planning that you do in looking for the best mode of transportation, accommodation, or activities allows you more opportunity to enjoy the journey, along with getting the best value for your time and money.

    Spontaneity and ‘moments of magic’ that are often elicited with higher emotion activities such as travel and hospitality may become more easily recognized and appreciated when the logistics and associated risks of your travel is understood in the context of your time and place. From packing an appropriate level and type of clothing to securing your finances such as forms of payment of cash, foreign currencies and conversion rates, acceptable credit cards, cash advances or transfers, ATM access, and providing travel notices to your credit or debit card providers can be important considerations to prepare in advance. Travel warnings for the destination and understanding the entry/exit requirements is useful for visa waiver time constraints, if a visa is required in advance or if available upon entry which then may require you to have passport photos ready or enough acceptable currency for entry and/or exit to the country.

    Available transportation upon arrival such as taxis for example should be understood in advance to know how the system works and what are the relative amounts of time, costs, and levels of safety. Using credible ground transportation may save you time, money, and frustration even if the initial cost may be slightly higher considerations such as safety, time of day, efficiency, and level of comfort are important in getting off to a good start and in understanding how to negotiate the best up front rate with an acceptable form of payment. Bookings that are further in advance often allow for greater selection of seats and positioning in addition to loyalty program promotions that may exist depending on your form of memberships. Positioning your accommodations depending on your primary activities is an important consideration for budgeting your time and costs. Pricing can vary from the period of stay or location however, your time, safety, comfort, and convenience should also factor into your decisions.

    Immersion into the local culture is a popular trend that provides great opportunities for a unique experience. Such areas as food safety for example, may be overlooked when in the moment of excitement upon arrival after a long flight perhaps, your immune system can be under stress, tired, then when coupled with indulgence in alcohol and under-cooked street food or contaminated water or ice, may be a recipe for danger and increased risks that can easily wipe out your whole trip in time and expense. Knowing the type and level of health care available or having acceptable insurance coverage is worthwhile to secure in advance.

    International travel can be a powerful force for positive change and learning in the world along with life enrichment experiences therefore a thoughtful approach to preparation is essential.
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    Rachel Chen

    Director of the Center for Sustainable Business and Development, University of Tennessee

    How can international travelers save money?

    • Avoid tourist peak season

    • Use accumulated mileages from credit cards'

    • Utilize packaged tours/deals

    • List the must-see/experiences

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    Theresa Belpulsi

    VP Tourism, Destination DC

    What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money?

    Washington, DC differs from many U.S. destinations in that weekend hotel stays tends to be less expensive than weekday hotel stays. Since Washington, DC is a very business-oriented city, most business travelers tend to occupy the hotel inventory during the weekdays. Therefore, it is advised to select extended weekend stays during non-peak seasons such as in late winter and late summer. Washington, DC is also unique in that it offers more than 100 free things to see and do. Free attractions include all 17 of the Smithsonian Museums (including the National Zoo!) as well as the National Gallery of Art and guided tours of the U.S. Capitol Building. The National Mall with its iconic monuments and memorials is also free to the public and some companies even offer free guided walking tours.
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    Carter Hunt

    Assistant Professor, Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University

    What is the outlook for the summer travel season? What trends do you see being most prominent?

    Travel is no longer about just leisure, and decisions about travel should no longer be based simply on the expenses involved. Travel and tourism have immense social, cultural, political, and environmental impacts. As readily available as information is these days, those planning travel have an obligation to seek out tourism ‘products’ that are created in the most responsible, sustainable, and ethical way possible.

    Just as you would read a food label to determine its source, contents and nutritional value before consuming it, travelers must also investigate the companies, the countries, and the social and environmental conditions in the destinations they plan to visit prior to traveling there. Not doing so, in this day and age, is simply irresponsible.
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    Stan McGahey

    Director & Professor of International Tourism, Saint Leo University

    How can international travelers save money?

    Planning helps! Buying a current guidebook that is written for your style of travel will save you money and provide the information you need to plan a wonderful itinerary and not miss something important because you were unaware of it. Travel blogs and tourism web sites are also valuable sources of information that can be printed and taken along on the trip. Once at the destination, look for a tourist office at the airport or in the city center. Get maps, sightseeing brochures, and assistance booking a room that fits your budget.

    Traveling during low season, or even the shoulder season, saves lots of money based on simple supply and demand. Avoiding crowds and receiving a warmer welcome are nice bonuses too.

    The biggest expense is normally transportation, so finding a bargain from home to the destination can save considerable money that can make a trip affordable and allow more time and fun at the destination. Using frequent flyer miles earned on the job or from making purchases on an airline-issued credit card can result in free flights.

    If we are talking about a trip to multiple destinations within Europe, then transportation beyond the long-haul flight is another major consideration as an expense, but also for time and comfort. Rail passes are exceptional for saving money and for their convenience. Low-cost carriers have made intra-Europe flights a very fast and affordable way to travel also.

    Once at a destination, the biggest expense is accommodations. Hotels are expensive, especially name brand, international chains in major cities or resort areas. Hostels are open to everyone, regardless of age. But they best suit the backpacker mentality. Home stays are great alternatives and surprisingly good values, especially in Eastern Europe. Overnighting in small cities and villages is normally less costly also.

    Money spent on meals adds up fast. Try to get accommodations with a free breakfast. Then have your big meal at lunch, perhaps a buffet. In restaurants, lunch prices are often cheaper than the same meal for dinner. Be careful not to order more food than you really need. Sharing with friends is fine also. Stock up on snacks and “picnic” items at supermarkets and open-air produce markets. The food will be cheaper and fresher, and you can enjoy a nice picnic with beer or wine in a park or along a river bank and mix with the locals. Keep your plastic water bottle and fill it up for free whenever possible.

    Much of the most memorable experiences are free. Enjoy strolling on the beach, hiking in the mountains, walking through the Old Town, listening to an outdoor concert, or attending a local festival. Many cities offer a city sightseeing card that includes numerous attractions and public transportation for a fraction of the cost you would spend paying individual prices each time. Some museums offer discounts on certain days or hours of the week. And, many famous sights, filled with history, romance, and atmosphere are totally free. Take a bus or tram ride through the city or from one end to the other. See some neighborhoods, poke around, meet some native people, immerse yourself in the local culture. As the old saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Cherished memories are created that way.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    Do your research and shop around for the best deals. Buy airline tickets in advance for the best prices. Try to arrive no later than mid-afternoon or early evening in a new destination where you will need to find a place to stay. The earlier you arrive, the better options await you. Certainly arrive before the tourist office closes.

    Use you smart phone or tablet to find information and make reservations, especially at popular places and during peak times. Ask other travelers and locals you meet while in transit or at a destination for their advice. Then make an informed decision, or at least an informed guess. Inter-city buses are much better abroad (in advanced countries) than most tourists expect. They often provide better prices and more frequent scheduling. Students can often do well using student travel services, especially if they have some type of student identity card. Traveling is like anything else; the more you do it, the better you do it.
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    Robert Li

    Associate Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center, University of South Carolina

    How can international travelers save money?

    • Do your homework and know your destination better. Social media is particularly helpful in this as you can find other tourists’ tips and experiences.

    • Technology helps—Go to tourism (destination, hotel, online travel agencies) providers’ websites and search for deals. Some APPs are quite helpful.

    • Be flexible—a bit flexibility on the time, itinerary, and arrangements of your trips can make big differences.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    • Know your destination and be culturally sensitive. Ideally learn some words in local language. Respect the local culture, lifestyle, dressing code, and particularly, religion

    • Understand the travel process (Do you need a visa, or some form of registration to visit a foreign destination? Any vaccine requirements by your own and the host country? Any major natural, social, political incidents in your destination—check the travel alarms)

    • What’s the exchange rate and where to exchange money (airport and hotels certainly offer such services, but some local banks’ ATM or credit card companies might offer a better deal).

    • Learn the local traffic if you plan to drive (and make sure you drive on the ‘right’ side)

    • Know your insurance, particularly medical insurance policy outside your home country

    • Little things like voltage converter, sleep pills, earplugs help

    • Always carry some cash with you.
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    Ken Neibaur

    Manager, Cardoza Bungey Travel

    What is the outlook for the summer travel season? What trends do you see being most prominent?

    Demand is up. Airlines are not adding domestic capacity this year so flights are filling up now. Space is very limited in key destinations for June and July, and anyone planning now should be flexible and be ready to book right away. August is typically softer. Cruising remains popular this summer, but capacity is strong and there is still space to be found if you’re flexible.

    What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money?

    Fly midweek, Tues- Thurs, for the best airfares and be willing to take very early flights – use routes with connecting flights or even redeyes. Contrary to popular myth, there really is no ‘best da’” to secure air tickets – as soon as you see a good deal, take it. If you plan to use a particular airline often, obtain their affinity credit card to get money-saving perks such as free checked bags. Google’s ITA Software is an easy-to-use air research tool that isn’t paid by airlines to bias results in a favorable way. Once you see the fare and route that works for you, book air directly with the airline or a ‘live’ travel agent.

    Cruises are less expensive earlier or later in the season; for example, a late May or early September Alaska cruise can be much less expensive than June or July. Caribbean cruises are the best value in the summer but beware that hurricanes can spoil a whole trip! Look at pricing on a cruise line’s ‘older ships’ that may lack all the latest gimmicks but are usually kept in great condition and are priced hundreds less.

    How can international travelers save money?

    Demand is up. Airlines are not adding domestic capacity this year so flights are filling up now. Space is very limited in key destinations for June and July, and anyone planning now should be flexible and be ready to book right away. August is typically softer. Cruising remains popular this summer, but capacity is strong and there is still space to be found if you’re flexible.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s?

    Do: Allow two hours between connections even on domestic flights, especially at delay-prone airports such as ORD, JFK or IAH. Just because the airline will sell you a ‘legal connection’ of 30 minutes doesn’t make it a good idea.

    Do: Check online airport maps when timing connections as terminal changes can add extra time, especially from commuter airlines which are often relegated to the far reaches of the airport.

    Do: Call a professional travel agent for help with complicated itineraries involving multiple airlines. Their air booking tools can still outsmart the online travel sites, and a modest fee can save hundreds of dollars.

    Don’t: Over-rely on online review sites. Read professional reviews in trusted media or ask a travel advisor for an objective recommendation.

    Don’t: Book deluxe hotels, groups of rooms, and resorts yourself. Use a travel advisor with an affiliation such as Virtuoso, which provides clients with valuable amenities such as free breakfast , upgrades and hotel credit and VIP status -- remember, you can’t ‘VIP’ yourself!

    Don’t: Book the cheapest room prepaid online and arrive expecting the best room assignment. Hotels prioritize customers just like every other business.
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    Kate Sullivan

    Professor and Senior Internship Advisor, Dept. of Hospitality Management, San Jose State University

    What is the outlook for the summer travel season? What trends do you see being most prominent?

    When you consider the word ‘travel’ comes from the French word for ‘work,’ it gives perspective to the experience of leaving home and venturing into the world around you. Americans are still at about a 50/50 crossroads of who will go and who will not bother or not be able to afford to go. With the economy on the upswing, and gas prices reducing a small percentage, travel predictions are optimistic for this summer.

    A personalized, 2-4 day vacation is still the norm, where consumers are looking for reasonable safety and a comfortable destination. The majority of Americans still travel by car, and most over the July 4th holiday timeframe, but air and cruise packages are also experiencing rising bookings this summer.

    Some trends include the ‘making a difference’ vacation where travelers give back to a community while enjoying their stay, more personalized packages from tour companies especially those including adventure travel, and the rising mystique of the Air B and B company, where travelers can book a room in personal homes rather than pay rising hotel fees. This ‘off the beaten path’ is appealing to many Americans who are still cost conscious but curious.

    What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money?

    The Internet has given us a window on the world view of our expenses and what we will receive for our vacation dollars. Using the wide range of software and phone applications available free is saving time and money for consumers. Research and plan!

    One of the best ways to save money is by using currently existing loyalty programs where miles or points may have been accumulated throughout the year and are available for use in the leisure market season.

    Cruises (bookings at a 5-year high) can also be cost protective with an all inclusive package with family programs built in.

    Booking mid-week or off-peak season brings in great value. Hotel websites often offer the best price for a hotel room and many hotels will negotiate a lower rate if you see it on any of the travel search engines, depending on their demand rates. Using association memberships to lower rates is another excellent way to save money.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s? <,b>

    Read the fine print on any reservation you make. Keep receipts! Document any bad experience with pictures or video to be used later for refund purposes. Manners count with many travel service businesses and will often give you your best opportunity for a positive experience. Remember that most locations are eager for repeat guests or word of mouth advertising!
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    Drew Martin

    Professor of Marketing, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

    What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money?

    In Hawaii, we are experiencing a slight dip in visitors and we expect the same over the summer months. For visitors to Hawaii, booking hotels that include free breakfasts saves a ton of money.

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    John Clifford

    Leading International Travel Expert and Advisor, Founder of International Travel Management.com

    How can international travelers save money?

    There are many ways travelers can save money when traveling.

    First and foremost is using a Travel Advisor (no, they’re not called Travel Agents any more) who is an expert in crafting your trip.

    Traveling in the off (slow) season can save lots of money, but check with your Travel Advisor if off-season means site, museums and restaurants are shuttered and/or it’s rainy and/or hurricane/typhoon/bad weather season, etc.

    Traveling right before or after ‘busy’ season also called ‘Shoulder Season’ can save you some money while giving you the advantage of generally better weather and more services available. For example, Shoulder Season in Europe is typically April, May, September & October.

    Don’t do it yourself. As the saying goes, ‘Without An Agent, You’re On Your Own.’ Travel Advisors not only save money, but they save you endless hours web surfing, reading reviews, etc., and give you relevant, personalized recommendations based on your needs. Online reviews are generally made by laymen which are not necessarily pertinent to your trip and often result in ‘Internet information overload.’

    As well many top Travel Advisors belong to exclusive buying groups such as Travel Leaders or Virtuoso and by booking through them you can receive hundreds or thousands of dollars of free upgrades, meals, hotel credits, early and late check in/check out and much, much more. As well their buying power can save you 5-20% off the lowest rate you can find by booking directly online.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s? <,b>

    Talk to an expert Travel Advisor, don’t book online. They are your advocates before, during and after travel and also have influence to make you get recognized vs. the masses who book online.

    Consult www.travel.state.gov for Country briefs, entry requirements, important facts & laws and use the site to take advantage of the State Department Travel Registry so if something does go wrong you they have access to your itinerary & information while you’re traveling abroad.

    Don’t think that good reviews on Trip Advisor or other review sites mean it’s right for you. These are written by non-experts and their perspective doesn’t necessarily apply to you.

    Check directly with each country’s Consulate Visa Section months prior to arrival to see if an entry visa is required to visit.

    Keep an open mind and respect the local country’s laws and customs and take the time to learn about them prior to arrival.
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    Ignatius P. Cahyanto

    Associate Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center, University of South Carolina

    What is the outlook for the summer travel season? What trends do you see being most prominent?

    Americans plan to travel more this summer domestically, closer to their home, yet they are not planning to increase their travel budget. This is pretty much the major trend that the travel industry sees these upcoming months. Traveling closer to home is one way to save money.

    Additionally, with a lot of emerging destinations in the US, travelers have so many options to choose. It seems to me discovering your own ‘neighbor states’ is the current trend. I see a couple of destinations start airing ads to their main markets to increase visitation. South Dakota, for instance, has launched a major travel marketing program since earlier this year in our main markets.

    Another trend that we see is going mobile and staying connected. With the current technology on mobile technology and the Internet, travelers will use their smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices for most of their travel decision making and for connecting to the social media.

    What are the best ways for domestic travelers to save money? Choosing flights on weekdays and in the early morning will save a few bucks. Traveling with a carry-on bag also helps (unless you want to pay $25 for a check bag or if you have an airline affiliated credit card). Flights that depart from any regional airport will give you a complementary check slip, as they use a small airplane. On a busy route, airlines will always look for volunteers to check their carry-on luggage. You can give your carry-on bag and the airline will check it through your final destination for free.

    Another way to save money is to use an alternative website for accommodations, try airbnb for instance, to get cheaper accommodations. Getting travel insurance is also important to avoid extra expenses if something goes wrong.

    TSA expanded their Trusted Traveler programs earlier this year, so consider enrolling in one of these programs. TSA pre-checked helps a lot to speed up the airport line. It is only $85 for five years.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s? <,b>

    Any traveler should do their homework before traveling. Make sure you know about your destinations beyond where to stay, what to do, or where to eat.

    For instance, if you plan to travel to Florida during summer months, then you should also familiarize yourself with hurricanes as the summer tourist season in Florida collides with the Atlantic hurricane season. Having travel insurance will help if there’s hurricane warning or tourist evacuation order.
    Back to All Experts

    Joel I. Deichmann

    Associate Professor of Geography, Global Studies Department, Bentley University

    How can international travelers save money?

    • "International travelers can get the best value for their budget—whatever that may be—by planning ahead and sticking with those plans. Even if permitted, reservation changes can be costly. Transportation and accommodations providers need to fill seats and beds, so travelers are ‘rewarded’ with lower rates by booking 3-6 months in advance, and penalized for creating a new vacancy. In the past, last minute deals taught travelers to procrastinate, and as a result most providers no longer offer them, although hotels can be an exception (for example, the Hotels Tonight app)

    • Use portals like Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, or Expedia to shop for the best prices, then make reservations directly with airlines and hotels, so that it will be easier and less costly to make changes if they are necessary. Remember that not all companies participate with every web site.

    • Don’t overlook the opportunity to collect miles or points. Membership in frequent traveler programs is normally free. Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, if you use a credit card and take a little care, it is straightforward to earn free flights or stays.

    • Do not plan on using your US cell phone while traveling, unless you have an affordable plan. If you do bring your smart phone, be sure to turn it completely off or onto airplane mode while abroad. Also turn off any data access, or you might be surprised by an enormous bill when you get home. Currently, some Apple products can be used in wifi zones (common in hotels and restaurants) to send and receive free text messages from other Apple users while traveling.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s? <,b>

    • "When planning an itinerary, remember to account for time zones and the traveler’s need for decompression. Traveling can be difficult on the body, and can stress the dynamics of a group if it is too busy. Also, if you plan things too tightly and one event is delayed, you could cause a chain reaction in your itinerary that requires costly revisions or forfeiture of reservations.

    • ABSOLUTELY learn some of the language, starting with ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Hosts will be much more willing to help you—especially in English—if you approach them in their native language. Always remember that you are a guest, and that you are an ambassador of your home country and organization. Most Americans make the assumption that locals speak English. Even if they do, it is understandably offensive to them if you approach them in a language that is not their own. Put yourself in their shoes!"
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    Gail C. Lamberta

    Chair, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, St. Joseph’s College

    What is the outlook for the summer travel season? What trends do you see being most prominent?

    Here on Long Island, the Hospitality and Tourism industry is preparing for a busy summer season. Many of our downtowns have engaged in revitalization projects, and with this transformation, have become destinations for travelers. To this end many Long Islanders frequent these same towns and villages, and many choose not to vacation elsewhere.
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    Jan Louise Jones

    Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Southern Connecticut State University

    How can international travelers save money?

    My motto for travel is to ‘stay, play, and eat local.’ This is a broad question in that there are so many types of travelers but the best way to save money is usually to try to stay in locally owned hotels or bed and breakfasts, participate in recreational activities that are not designed only for tourists, and experience local food at local restaurants.

    It always boggles my mind when tourists travel abroad and seek out foods and places that are similar or replicate what they already have at home. These more authentic types of experiences actually can save you money, and you will leave having learning more about the places you are visiting.

    What are some logistical do’s and don’t’s? <,b>

    Do’s-

    • Be kind and make an effort to learn about the destinations you are traveling. If someone is rude to you, step back and think, why were they rude?

    • Try local food at least once. Don’t just ask where to eat in the hotels- they will likely have pre-made arrangements with certain restaurants. Branch out a little.

    • SMILE at people when you are traveling. Let them know that you are excited to be in their country. Strike up conversations with people.

    • Always have local currency and put it in different places. Getting from the airport to the hotel/accommodation is much simpler when you have local currency. AAA has small packages of money for most destinations if you need it.

    • Register with your local embassy. It is a horrible process if you lose your passport. Registering allows them to have it on file and makes it easier to get help.

    • Talk to friends who have visited a place, read some reviews and find out the do’s and don’ts for particular locations.

    • HAVE FUN and be flexible- who cares if plans change, sometimes those are the best experiences!

    • Respect the environment. If we don’t start to be more responsible travelers we soon won’t have destinations to travel to.

    Don’t…

    • Be rude … to anyone. Honestly, it only takes one nasty tourist from a destination to taint the image for local people.

    • Walk around flaunting money/stuff. If you don’t want to lose it, don’t flaunt it.

    • Assume that destinations will have all of the luxuries and amenities that you have at home. The point of travel is to see how different people live.

    • Litter or disrespect the local values/customs.

    Methodology

    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.

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    John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
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