With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and rapid tests, Americans who shunned travel in 2020 and ’21 seemingly are more willing to hit the road in 2022. And with demand going up, online travel agency Priceline reports that in the first quarter of 2022 travelers can expect to find hotel rates that are 18% higher than this time last year, with the average flight tickets up 32%.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t find vacation deals out there, whether you fly or drive, or travel domestically or internationally. When putting together your 2022 vacation, you’ll want to take into account hotel and transportation prices, the cost of activities and meals, and the COVID-19 restrictions and policies at your destination.
Affordable Domestic Hotels
The cost of lodging could help to steer you toward one destination over another. Priceline found these to be the 10 most affordable domestic destinations, based on hotel average daily rates.
Laughlin, Nevada ($79)
Page, Arizona ($86)
Rapid City, South Dakota ($90)
Buena Park, California ($93)
Florence, South Carolina ($107)
Albuquerque, New Mexico ($110)
Reno, Nevada ($111)
Tulsa, Oklahoma ($111)
Tallahassee, Florida ($112)
Niagara Falls, New York ($115)
Several of these locations are well-known for their attractions. Buena Park is the home of theme park Knott’s Berry Farm, Reno offers gambling and a host of outdoor activities and Niagara Falls, which straddles the Canadian border, has awe-inspiring scenery.
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Affordable International Locations
KAYAK, another online travel site, lists these 10 cities as “international wallet-friendly destinations,” with the cheapest months to book travel.
Mexico City (May)
Bogota, Colombia (February)
Vancouver, British Columbia (January)
Cancun, Mexico (January)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (January)
San José, Costa Rica (May)
San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico (January)
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (January)
KAYAK also offers its Travel Restrictions page, which details the countries that are open to visitors from the United States, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. The U.S. State Department has a web page dedicated to sharing guidance on the safety of countries both in terms of COVID-19 and civil unrest.
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Additional Cheap Travel Destinations
GOBankingRates reached out to travel and tourism experts for guidance on other affordable locales in 2022 and came up with these suggestions.
Washington, D.C.: The capital city’s tourism website Washington.org lists more than 100 free things to do, which include world-class museums and cultural institutions. Because of the slow recovery from the pandemic, hotel occupancy is below half full most weeks now, leading to reduced rates that will free up money to eat in some of the city’s finer restaurants, according to Julie Marshall, the domestic media relations manager of Destination DC.
San Diego: A five-star resort on the beach might not fit your budget, but the Mission Valley section of San Diego is an affordable home base for travelers who want to take in the city, said Jordana Boyland, the communications coordinator of the San Diego Tourism Authority. The area has family-friendly budget hotels and easy access to the region’s major attractions, as well as inexpensive food, including farmers markets and streetside vendors. The area offers plenty of free events, too.
Tucson, Arizona: The city is nestled between a national park and surrounded by five mountain ranges, giving way to a number of free hiking, biking, running, walking or climbing activities. A seven-day pass to Saguaro National Park is just $20 for a carload. In downtown Tucson, a city of culture and art, you’ll find a thriving restaurant scene, with what Cindy Aguilar of Visit Tucson called the “best Mexican food north of the border.”
Cody Yellowstone, Wyoming: The region offers easy access to Yellowstone National park and a variety of authentic Western experiences for families, couples, history buffs, music aficionados and those who want a solo adventure. “Fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune in Yellowstone Country,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of the Park County Travel Council, the region’s marketing arm. “With a variety of free and moderately priced adventures, the region offers incredible value for budget-minded travelers.”
Bali, Indonesia: “Bali has always been an affordable place to travel, but there are also lots of great new hotel deals in the works for 2022, and the Indonesian government is talking about completely removing quarantine for travelers before long,” said David Leiter, a travel blogger at The World Travel Guy.
Alika Barnsley, who runs the Alika in Wanderlust blog, said hotels in Bali start at $20 a night, food can cost as little as $2 a meal and transportation is $5 a day.
“Bali is one of the cheapest places in the world for traveling. A luxurious stay in Bali is affordable,” she said. “You can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want to. Since Bali is struggling with the lack of tourism during COVID, they have special deals on hotels even though it’s already so cheap.”
Panama: Melissa Middlestadt, the traveler behind the My Beautiful Passport blog, listed Panama as her budget-friendly destination for 2022.
“With affordable accommodations, cheap food and transportation, you can travel through Panama on a budget or splurge on luxury,” she said. “Panama has many attractions with fewer crowds. Visit the Panama Canal, snorkel in the Caribbean Sea or hike a volcano. Examples of Panama’s prices include $22 for a private hostel room in El Valle de Anton or $95 for a nice hotel with a rooftop infinity pool in Panama City. In eight days, we spent around $600 for two people, excluding flights, with a mixture of budget and affordable luxury travel. You can easily spend less money and still enjoy your vacation in Panama.”
Lisbon, Portugal: Antonina Pattiz, who blogs at Embrace Someplace, said Lisbon is on her 2022 agenda, where she plans “to spend a full month basking in the sunshine because it’s cheaper to visit Portugal than to find some place in the U.S. for sunshine.” She said she is drawn there because “they take COVID precautions very seriously,” too.
“As for budget-friendliness, you can easily find hotels for less than $100 per night and decent restaurant meals start at $10. I last visited in April 2019 and split a whole octopus with my husband for $15. These prices are unheard of in the USA.”
She said train transportation to neighboring cities also is inexpensive, as is admission to places such as museums.
Now is the time to start planning 2022 travel. Check the prices, COVID-19 regulations if traveling abroad, and set your itinerary for adventure.
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