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The golden rule of affordable travel is to visit places when or where it isn’t busy. Even you don't have a lot of flexibility on the "when," you can always tweak the "where" — and even a small location change has the potential to save you big.
Here are some popular summer vacation spots in the United States, and their less-popular counterparts where you can find big savings on hotels. Here are some recommendations for affordable alternative destinations.
1. Kissimmee instead of Orlando
It’s not a huge surprise that Orlando, Florida, is a popular summer destination in the United States. After all, Orlando is home to some of the country’s most popular theme parks, which are unveiling new elements this year that are likely to produce even larger crowds than usual.
Disney World opened a highly anticipated new Star Wars-themed land in recent years, and Universal Studios recently added new roller coasters like “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure” in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
To save money on your Orlando vacation, consider staying in nearby Kissimmee, Florida. Kissimmee is less than 20 miles away from Disney and Universal, meaning you can have all of the fun without the expensive hotel rates.
Even when you factor in the cost of a rental car, staying in Kissimmee will likely still leave you with money left over for some theme park funnel cake.
2. Reno instead of Las Vegas
Las Vegas may have all the flashing lights of the Strip, but the northern alternative of Reno, Nevada, still has plenty of gambling and hotel pool parties to satisfy many travelers’ idea of letting loose for vacation. Reno is also close to Lake Tahoe, which offers incredible views, hiking and water activities during the summer.
3. Kill Devil Hills instead of Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a popular family-friendly beach vacation town, but if all you and the kids need for a quiet getaway is waves, sand and a cute little beach house, you might want to look into a vacation in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Kill Devil Hills offers several miles of sandy coastline that’s great for lounging on the sand, kayaking, fishing, crabbing or just going for a bike ride. There’s also a memorial to the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
4. Oahu instead of Maui
Maui is sometimes called the “playground of the wealthy” because of its upscale and expensive resorts. To make your vacation to this tropical paradise a little more affordable, stay on the island of Oahu instead, which caters to tourists of all budgets.
» Learn more: The cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii with points
5. Philadelphia instead of New York City
There's no city like the Big Apple. Let’s get that out of the way first. But if you’re looking for a big city with historic sightseeing, iconic food, world-class museums and lively nightlife, you can find that and more in Philly. Visit Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin Museum by day and explore the hip Center City District by night.