In the U.S., we spend over $600 billion a year on leisure travel, or vacations. As of 2013, the travel industry supports nearly 15 million jobs: around 8 million that are directly related, and 7 million that are indirectly related to the travel industry. Workers in the industry earned a combined total of $209.5 billion in salaries and wages, and local, state, and federal governments earned around $134 billion in tax revenue as a result of our travel spending. Because of earnings from travel and tourism, each American household saves an average of $1,093 in taxes, per the U.S. Travel Association.
Historically, the more money a household has, the more money they’ll spend on travel and vacationing. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 20% of earners spend around $455 per year on travel and vacation while middle earners spend around $970. The highest 20th percentile spends much more, with spending close to $4,100 annually (these are 2008 amounts adjusted to 2014 dollars). These estimates, however, may include households that spend little or no money on vacationing.
If you simply cannot afford to put out thousands of dollars for a vacation, there are many affordable options. Seek out a vacation destination where costs are a bit lower, but you don’t have to give up beautiful sights, an abundance of activities, or great food. Using data from a publication by U.S. News & World Report, combined with an AARP report on budget-friendly trips and supplemental data, we created this list of inexpensive vacation destinations.