This great country is full of stylish destinations but they aren't all as expensive as New York or Los Angeles. All it takes is a little creativity, a little research, and some finesse to make your dream vacation a reality. Whether you're in high school or college and looking for a graduation trip destination or you're a parent searching for an affordable getaway with your kids, you don't have to pay big money for a wonderful trip. Think about these stylishly affordable destinations for your upcoming student trip and breathe a sigh of relief - you're budget is safe.
Instead of New York, think Chicago
Chicago has increasingly become one of the top travel destinations for millennials, and for good reason. If you're like most of the U.S., you live closer to Chicago which would cut down on travel expenses. Over the years, good ol' Chicago has raised the bar, bringing in millions of tourists every year for its world-renowned museums (Field Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Science and Industry to name a couple), sophisticated shopping district to rival Fifth Avenue (the Magnificent Mile), and its exciting Navy Pier entertainment district extending out into beautiful Lake Michigan. Many of the city's attractions require a low-cost admission while others are free, like the Navy Pier and Lincoln Park where you can find a beautiful botanical garden and zoo among other features.
Instead of Seattle, think Portland
Recently, Seattle was named the most expensive city in the country and while there are ways to make a budget trip to Seattle work (check out how here!), Portland is just a jaunt away and is a more affordable choice. To rival Seattle's ecotourism reputation, Portland is itself a wonderland of gardens, natural beauty, and stunning landscapes. Home to the sensational Portland Japanese Garden, the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Hoyt Arboretum, and the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park among its other beauties. From an entertainment point of view, Portland is an amazing 41% cheaper than Seattle while still supporting the arts with such attractions as the 30-acre sports and entertainment district, The Rose Quarter, the historic Aladdin Theater, the Portland Art Museum, Providence Park, and others.
Instead of Los Angeles, think Orlando
If you're looking for theme parks, Orlando is your destination. From Walt Disney World, the number one most popular, most visited theme park in the entire world, to Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and others, Orlando is perhaps the most concentrated district for amusement. Also, transportation costs, housing, and entertainment are all cheaper in Florida than in California. If Disney Resorts are too expensive for an extended stay, there are several hotels located right outside the park grounds that are a fraction of the price and offer shuttle services to the parks daily. The same goes for Universal where you can stay at a hotel within walking distance of the park entrance.
Instead of San Francisco, think San Diego
The City by the Bay is extravagant when it comes to luxurious prices. Mainly, they'll get you in the room and board department and attraction prices can get quite pricey as well. However, head south a ways to one of California's most beautiful cities for a safe, clean, golden and shiny vacation under the Baja sun in San Diego. Golden sandy beaches, entertainment boardwalks, gorgeous city parks, excellent theaters, and one of the best zoos in the country await in sunny San Diego. Balboa Park, Sea Port Village, the Birch Aquarium, and La Jolla Cove are the perfect places for sunny summer days or mid-winter getaways. Also, take a side trip to Coronado located on the peninsula where you will find one of the last remaining American wooden Victorian resorts and a plethora of fun, touristy activities to while away the time.
Instead of Atlanta, think San Antonio
Both popular southern destinations, San Antonio beats out Atlanta in the affordable department by offering cheaper transportation and entertainment prices overall. If you like history, San Antonio brings you the Alamo as well as the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park where you can find four preserved Spanish Catholic mission churches built between the 17th-19th centuries. The King William historic district supplies not only exquisite historical sites like antebellum mansion museums but they also have discounted hotel prices, cheaper than those in the city center. Mixing history, culture, and pleasure, San Antonio is a vibrant destination for literally any travel group, young or old. Schlitterbahn water parks, zoos and aquariums, the River Walk district, and so much more await you in Texas.
Instead of flying, think cruises
If you live on the west coast, an easy trip is a week-long cruise to Alaska or Baja, Mexico. The same concept goes for those on the southern coast and the southeast for trips to the Caribbean. Even if you live in middle America, a road trip down to port will save you big money as compared to flying and hotel stays in big cities. Look for a cruise docking nearest to you and be flexible about the final destination - it's an adventure, after all!
On cruises, you can skip airfare and baggage fees, you won't have to pay for each activity or meal aboard an all-inclusive cruise, and you will, in all probability, see a greater variety of sites. Cruises are also, on average, more luxurious than your run-of-the-mill chain hotels and cheaper than many hotels in large urban centers. The cost of an average cruise can be as low as a couple of hundred dollars per person, less if you're sharing a cabin with multiple people. With hotels and city sightseeing and attraction hopping, the price raises dramatically while cruises are all-inclusive. Student cruises are a great way to depart from everyday life, get out on the open sea and see places you never thought you'd go. It's certainly something to think about when planning a trip.