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With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and rapid tests, Americans who avoided travel in 2020-21 seem more ready to hit the road in 2022. And amid surging demand, online travel agency Priceline reports that in the first quarter of 2022, travelers can expect to find hotel prices 18% higher than this time last year, with average airline tickets down 32% have risen.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find vacation deals out there, whether you’re flying or driving, or traveling domestically or internationally. When putting together your 2022 vacation, consider hotel and transportation prices, activity and meal costs, and COVID-19 restrictions and policies at your destination.
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Affordable domestic hotels
The cost of accommodation could help get you from one destination to another. Priceline found these to be the top 10 cheapest domestic destinations based on average daily hotel rates.
- Laughlin, NV ($79)
- Page, Arizona ($86)
- Rapid City, South Dakota ($90)
- Buena Park, California ($93)
- Florence, South Carolina ($107)
- Albuquerque, NM ($110)
- Reno, NV ($111)
- Tulsa, Oklahoma ($111)
- Tallahassee, Florida ($112)
- Niagara Falls, New York ($115)
Some of these places are known for their attractions. Buena Park is home to Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, Reno offers gambling and a variety of outdoor activities, and Niagara Falls, which stretches across the Canadian border, offers awe-inspiring scenery.
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Affordable international locations
KAYAK, another online travel site, lists these 10 cities as “International Travel-Friendly Destinations” with the cheapest months to travel.
- Mexico City (May)
- Toronto (February)
- Montreal (February)
- Bogota, Colombia (February)
- Vancouver, British Columbia (January)
- Cancun, Mexico (January)
- Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (January)
- San Jose, Costa Rica (May)
- San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico (January)
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (January)
KAYAK also offers its Travel Restrictions page, which lists the countries open to visitors from the United States, vaccinated and unvaccinated. The U.S. Department of State has a website dedicated to sharing guidance on countries’ security in relation to both COVID-19 and civil unrest.
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Other cheap travel destinations
GOBankingRates asked travel and tourism experts for advice on other affordable places to visit in 2022 and made these suggestions.
Washington, D.C.: The Washington Capital’s tourism website.org lists more than 100 free activities, including world-class museums and cultural venues. Due to the slow recovery from the pandemic, hotel occupancy is now below half full most weeks, resulting in discounted prices that free up money for dining at some of the city’s finer restaurants, according to Julie Marshall, Destination’s domestic media relations manager direct current.
San Diego: A five-star beachfront resort might not fit your budget, but the Mission Valley area of San Diego is an affordable home base for travelers looking to explore the city, said Jordana Boyland, communications coordinator for the San Diego Tourism Authority. The area offers family-friendly budget hotels and easy access to the area’s top attractions, as well as inexpensive groceries, including farmers’ markets and street vendors. The area also offers many free events.
Tucson, Arizona: Nestled between a national park and surrounded by five mountain ranges, the city offers space for a range of free hiking, biking, running, hiking, or climbing activities. A seven-day pass to Saguaro National Park is only $20 a truckload. In downtown Tucson, a city of culture and arts, you’ll find a thriving dining 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 lovers and those seeking a solo adventure. “Fun in Yellowstone Country doesn’t have to cost a fortune,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of the Park County Travel Council, the area’s marketing arm. “With a variety of free and great-value adventures, the region offers incredible value for budget-conscious travelers.”
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Bali, Indonesia: “Bali has always been an affordable place to travel, but there are also many great new hotel deals in the works for 2022, and the Indonesian government is talking about completely lifting traveler quarantine soon,” said David Leiter, a travel blogger at The World Travel dude
Alika Barnsley, who runs the blog Alika in Wanderlust, said hotels in Bali start from $20 a night, dining can be as little as $2 a meal, and transportation is $5 a day.
“Bali is one of the cheapest places in the world to travel. A luxurious stay in Bali is affordable,” she said. “You can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want. As Bali struggles with the lack of tourism during COVID, they have special offers on hotels even though it’s already so cheap.”
Panama: Melissa Middlestadt, the traveler behind the blog My Beautiful Passport, listed Panama as her budget-friendly travel destination for 2022.
“With affordable accommodation, cheap food and transportation, you can travel Panama on a budget or indulge in 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 prices in Panama are $22 for a private hostel room in El Valle de Anton or $95 for a nice hotel with rooftop infinity pool in Panama City. In eight days, we spent about $600 for two, no flights, with a mix of budget and affordable luxury travel. You can easily spend less money and still enjoy your vacation in Panama.”
Lisbon, Portugal: Antonina Pattiz, blogging at Embrace Someplace, said Lisbon is on her agenda for 2022, where she plans to “spend a whole month in the sun because it’s cheaper to visit Portugal than a place in the US for sunshine to find”. She said she’s drawn there because “they also take the COVID precautions very seriously.”
“In terms of budget-friendliness, it’s easy to find hotels for less than $100 a night and decent restaurant meals start at $10. I was last there in April 2019 and shared a whole octopus with my husband for $15. These prices are unknown in the US.”
She said train travel to neighboring cities is also cheap, as is entry to places like museums.
Now it’s time to start planning your trip for 2022. Check prices and COVID-19 regulations when traveling abroad and set your adventure itinerary.
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About the author
Jami Farkas has a degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor for newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor and more to GOBankingRates. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate license exam in her state and is still debating whether to take the plunge into selling houses — or just writing about selling houses.