5 Affordable and Unique U.S. Travel Experiences 

by Sean Bryant on August 29, 2017

Travel is one of the many joys of life — with it brings opportunity to experience a different place, learn about a new culture and enjoy the people and atmosphere of somewhere new. But with so much to account for when traveling, including transportation, accommodation, food and sightseeing, taking a good vacation can give your bank account a real hit. In 2016 in fact, a massive $683.1 billion was spent on leisure travel in the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association, highlighting just how much money is spent by families when going on vacation.

What if you could go on a vacation that didn’t hurt your bank account too much, and was worth every penny? Let’s take a look at some of the best experiences you can have in the U.S. without breaking the bank:

But before we get started …

It’s no secret that the key to a successful vacation is preparation. According to Adobe, 82 percent of U.S. consumers reported that a domestic trip would be their main summer vacation in 2016, but please don’t think that domestic travel takes any less preparation. Each state has different laws and methods of governing, so it’s important to do your research and stay safe. To do that, look up the laws and rules for the place you’re going to, especially if you’re driving, as these can vary significantly by state. As a quick tip, driving manuals can be accessed easily through the Driving Tests website.

1. St. Augustine, Florida

Have you ever craved that relaxing beach vacation but been distracted by the high prices? As the oldest city in North America, with the Spanish claiming it in 1565, St. Augustine is packed with history, pristine beaches, golf, fabulous restaurants, fine art and boutique shopping. And relative to other popular Florida destinations, it’s a bargain. With average flight prices being less than $300, and hotels coming out as close to $100 less than Miami, St. Augustine is the place that really offers you the biggest bang for your buck.

Also Read: How to Travel The World For Free

2. Grand Canyon National Park

With roughly 4.5 million visitors per year, according to U.S. News, The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world and it delivers on all its promises. The great thing about it is you can choose how much you’d like to spend on your experience. For $30, you can obtain a vehicle permit fee to enter the park and you’ll have access to the canyon and be able to walk around and take pictures. Or you can choose to spend a little bit more on walking tours, river trips down the Colorado River, or a helicopter ride over the canyon for about $200. These options can get a bit pricey, but the breathtaking views will be well worth the money.

3. Albuquerque, New Mexico

With a blend of Native American and Spanish history, Albuquerque offers tourists a rich cultural experience. With more than 100 museums, street murals and public art that dates back centuries, as well as cheap delicious food and amazing architecture, this New Mexico city is a unique travel destination. You can stay at 4-star hotels for less than $200 a night, or even find great accommodation for less than $100. Try and come in October during the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is the largest of its kind, where more than 600 hot air balloons fill the sky for an amazing portrayal of color over the city.

4. Highway 1, California

This infamous road trip through California offers so many different experiences, making it worth every penny you spend. Start off in diverse and culturally-rich San Francisco, and then spend a few days driving along the beautiful coastline through picturesque beach towns. Make sure to stop by the Hollywood sign, grab lunch on Sunset Boulevard and explore the heart of entertainment in Los Angeles before heading south to San Diego to experience great surf and sand. With so many options on this trip — from taco trucks and 5-star restaurants to beach camping and sea-side resorts — you can choose to spend as much as you want on food and lodging, knowing that you’re getting so many varied experiences along the way.

5. New Orleans and Memphis

If you’re a fan of history and music then visiting the cities of New Orleans and Memphis are a must. As the home of jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, these two cities are affordable destinations where you can enjoy cultural experiences and music every day. Visit Graceland and Elvis Presley’s hometown before hopping on a train to New Orleans to enjoy a delicious meal and vibrant nightlife.

While traveling can be an expensive endeavor, the U.S. offers many destinations that cater to various budgets while still offering a rich cultural and enjoyable experience.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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