Thursday, June 20, 2024

Travel Agents: Here’s Where We’d Travel This Summer on a $1,000 Budget

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Summer’s just around the corner, which means now’s the time to iron out those travel plans, buy plane tickets, reserve hotels and gear up for what should be an amazing trip. If you’re still on the fence about taking a trip this summer because of budgetary reasons, you might need to get a little creative.

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And that means choosing places you can visit without exhausting your savings account or taking on credit card debt.

The good news is that there are quite a few such places — many of which are within the continental U.S. Depending on where you’re starting from and how much time you’ve got, you could very well have a wonderful vacation without spending more than around $1,000.

GOBankingRates spoke with several travel agents and professionals about where in the country they’d go on a $1,000 budget this summer. Here’s what they said.

Oxnard, California

“If an affordable domestic getaway is what you are after, I suggest exploring one of the many U.S. beach towns that offer way more than the sun and sea,” said Maya Kapoor-Miller, travel agent and travel manager at Dreamport.

One such place is Oxnard.

“Oxnard in Southern California is an idyllic and somewhat underrated vacation spot on California’s southern coast with a small-town feel,” Kapoor-Miller continued. “Located only 60 miles northwest of LAX and near other central destinations, including Santa Barbara, Oxnard is one of Cali’s best-kept secrets. It is home to miles of pristine golden duned beaches, including the famous Mandalay Beach, as well as historic Victorian-era architecture and some of the best taquerias in the state.”

It generally gets around 80 degrees during the summertime, so you won’t have to worry about the sweltering heat.

The beaches aren’t the only thing Oxnard’s got going for it, though.

“Its picturesque harbor offers kayaking and cycling opportunities while serving as the closest access point to the stunning Channel Islands National Park,” Kapoor-Miller continued. “The surroundings of the islands are protected so that you can experience truly diverse marine life. Rent a kayak for the afternoon or explore the park’s five islands on foot.”

And you don’t have to worry too much about going over your budget either as Oxnard is pretty affordable.

“Whether you are dining and shopping downtown or exploring the breathtaking coastline or one of the many maritime museums, Oxnard is an enchanting yet reasonably-priced beachfront destination to add to your bucket list this summer,” Kapoor-Miller said. “The average cost for a solo traveler to visit Oxnard on a budget is below $200 per day, including accommodation, dining, sightseeing and local transportation costs.”

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Florida Beaches

If you live on the East Coast or in the South, Florida’s another affordable travel destination this summer. Depending on how you go about it, and how much you need to spend on gas or airfare, you could enjoy a lovely beach trip for about $1,000.

“Florida is an excellent choice if you’re longing for a classic beach vacation,” said Tim Hentschel, the CEO and co-founder of HotelPlanner, one of the world’s largest group travel booking sites.

In particular, he suggested Miami, Tampa and Orlando — depending on what you want to do.

“Miami boasts a vibrant nightlife with trendy clubs, diverse dining options, and cultural landmarks like the Art Deco Historic District and Little Havana,” he said. “Tampa is known for its lively waterfront, featuring the Tampa Riverwalk, and thrilling amusement parks like Busch Gardens.”

In Orlando, you can also go to world-class theme parks like Walt Disney World or Universal Studios. You can book accommodations a little further out of the city to compensate for the ticket prices.

Waco, Texas

Another affordable summer travel destination for those in the Southwest or West Coast is Waco, Texas. It’s about halfway between Austin and Dallas and has a lot to offer.

“If you have the slightest bit of interest in the HGTV craze with Chip & Joanna Gaines at the forefront, Waco, Texas, is a great, under-the-radar destination that’s extremely affordable and offers a ton to do,” said Hans Mast, an agent with Golden Rule Travel. “You can allocate your $1,000 budget several different ways.”

To start, Mast suggested sticking with cheaper accommodations so that you have more money for shopping, food and sightseeing.

“You can expect to pay $65/night (including tax) for a highly-rated 2-star hotel like the Days Inn. Or $103/night for a gorgeous, unique tiny home experience like The Hacienda Container Tiny Home,” Mast said. “Or if you prefer to spend more of your budget on lodging, SkyBox Cabins in Glen Rose (close to Fossil Rim) is an amazing splurge for $250/night.”

The food in Waco is very affordable, he added, so you won’t have to spend much of your budget on dining out. Instead, you can spend it on unique experiences like the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center — a self-drive African safari that costs $30 per adult or $25 per child.

Any National Park Near You

There are some stunning national parks in the U.S., so if you happen to live near one — or even just a state or two away — summer’s the time to check them out.

Some national parks are free to visit, though you may have to pay for parking. Others have an entry fee of around $15 to $20 per person — sometimes a little more. Of course, if you already have an annual pass, which costs $80, you won’t even have to pay to visit.

“For those who love nature and crave adventure, a road trip to one or more of the stunning national parks in the U.S. can be incredibly thrilling,” Hentschel said. “Yellowstone National Park offers a unique geothermal landscape with geysers like Old Faithful, hot springs, and abundant wildlife, including bison, elk, and bears. Yosemite National Park is famous for its majestic waterfalls…The Grand Canyon provides breathtaking vistas of the Colorado River and layered rock formations, with challenging hikes like the Bright Angel Trail and opportunities for rafting and helicopter tours.”

New Orleans

If you’re not as into nature or the beach, you can always opt for affordable urban destinations instead. One such location is New Orleans.

“New Orleans is a city full of charm,” Hentschel said. “[It’s known for its delectable food — like beignets and gumbo — a lively music scene with jazz at every corner, and rich cultural heritage.” This includes the French Quarter and Mardi Gras celebrations.”

And if you don’t live near Louisiana or if you want to explore somewhere new, Hentschel suggested Las Vegas or Nashville instead. Both cities have a lot going for them, depending on your interests.

Keep in mind that popular urban areas like these tend to have higher accommodation costs, especially if you’re interested in staying in the city center. A weeklong trip to New Orleans in July, for example, could cost anywhere from about $350 to $800 for the hotel alone, though mid-range options hover at closer to $600 for the week.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Travel Agents: Here’s Where We’d Travel This Summer on a $1,000 Budget

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