5 Affordable Travel Alternatives for Summer 2024

There are several cheaper alternatives where your vacation budget can stretch further.
Meghan Coyle
By Meghan Coyle 
Updated
Edited by Mary M. Flory
Skyline of Reno Nevada at Dusk

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The golden rule of affordable travel is to visit places when or where it isn’t busy. Even if 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 is celebrating the company's 100th anniversary this year, so there are new shows and attractions for visitors. Universal Studios is also adding on to a new Minions-themed land with a new attraction called "Villain-con Minion Blast."

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.

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 bars in Fishtown by night.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-5%

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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