The Top 5 Budget-Friendly U.S. Cities for Solo Travel

Rachel Smith
By Rachel Smith 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Have you been thinking about traveling solo but aren’t sure how to pull it off?

And what about budget? Can you afford a trip when you don’t have someone to share the expenses?

Retail Me Not surveyed 2,000 Americans to uncover the top budget-friendly U.S. cities for solo travel, so grab your calendar and start planning some 2019 solo trips.

The top 5 budget-friendly cities to explore solo

  • Asheville, North Carolina

  • San Antonio

  • Washington, D.C.

  • New Orleans

  • Jacksonville, Florida

Were you surprised to see some of the cities on this list?

It’s true that the cost of living in some of these areas isn’t cheap, but each has plenty of free activities available. Keep your accommodation costs down in the larger cities on this list by looking into a single-room vacation rentals through Airbnb or VRBO.

»Learn More: Beat your travel budget: Find cheap activities in any city

If you like nature

You could hike some of the hundreds of trails the Blue Ridge Mountains offer in Asheville, or spend some time on the beachfront in Jacksonville. If you want a big-city feel mixed in with your dose of nature, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington is a great mix of both.

If you like great food

The French Market in New Orleans is a huge open-air market that sells produce, along with arts and crafts. And no trip to New Orleans is complete without gumbo and beignets. San Antonio is home to delicious cuisine — think beyond just Tex-Mex.

If you like museums

Washington is full of free museums and monuments to enjoy. From the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to the National Zoo, solo travelers can enjoy a lot for free. Get some fresh air and exercise by walking around the monuments.

Whatever it is you enjoy, you’re bound to find your own adventure in one of these cities. Still not totally sure about traveling solo? Here are four reasons why you should try it.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.


Intro offer


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

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Unlimited Matched Cash Back

Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


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.


Intro offer


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.

See more travel cards
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