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Cheapest U.S. Cities For A Holiday Staycation

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With Christmas just around the corner, the final travel season soon approaches to wrap up this tumultuous year. As many Americans are choosing to avoid travel, those looking for a holiday getaway are focused on staying within the borders.

The 2020 thanksgiving holiday travel period, spanning November 20 – 29, saw a total travel volume of 9.5 million passengers screened by the TSA. While the figure amounts to only 35% – 45% of total travel in comparison to the same time frame in 2019, American travelers set a pandemic era high during the holiday. 

Though the rising COVID-19 cases and CDC warnings may adjust plans for travelers, it is expected for Christmas travel to break the record set last month. 

According to the US Department of Transportation, the holiday season generates the highest amount of international travel, however, seasonal travel this year is heavily impacted by the global pandemic and closure of most international borders, resulting in an increase of interstate domestic travel.

Plane takeoff Denver Colorado winter

For those interested in cost-efficient domestic options this Christmas season, ETIAS recently conducted a study showcasing the best US cities, specifically based on cost, for a staycation this year. 

Staycations, which happened to gain notoriety this year, are a term coined to vacations spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, consisting of day trips to local attractions. 

The ETIAS index measured the top US cities based on metrics such as price of a meal, pint of beer, hotel per night, transportation and day trips to analyze the most inexpensive staycations in the nation. 

Rockefeller Skating Rink NY

With each city assigned a score out of 100, Omaha landed in first place with a total of 77. The largest city in Nebraska found to facilitate 10 unique day trips under $50.

Dominating 50% of the top ten ranks, the state of Texas appears to be a cost-friendly destination for holiday planners, and the warm southern climate certainly adds to the appeal.

Etias’ additional analysis of Google’s search volume data identifies frequently searched vacation cities within the US. 

The records found Arizona, Florida and Texas to be most popular among Google queries.

traveler at hotel with mask
US Staycation Cities


Cheapest US Cities For Staycations

1. Omaha, Nebraska
2. Houston, Texas
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
4. Fresno, California
5. Tulsa, Oklahoma
6. El Paso, Texas
7. Indianapolis, Indiana
8. San Antonia, Texas
9. Austin, Texas
10. Fort Worth, Texas

Grand Canyon Cliff

US Domestic Travel Increasing

With international travel restrained until the arrival of a vaccine, domestic travel in the US is subsequently on the rise. As evidenced by travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth, domestic trips witnessed a 19% increase this year. Relatively, the expense of domestic vacations in 2020 is similar to that of last year, with an average trip cost of $3,947. 

2020 travel trends further demonstrate a significant increase in the duration of domestic trips. The majority of American travelers stayed at their destination for more than seven days at a time as opposed to only 7% in 2019.

American road trip

Americans Prefer Road Trips Over Air Travel During Pandemic

Americans planning family getaways for the remainder of the year are likely to embark on a road trip as opposed to a flight. According to a survey from AAA, a vast majority of 80% planned trips will occur through road travel. Justifiably, more Americans are opting for outdoor recreational travel, entailing social distancing, than previous years. AAA reports top searches among the great American outdoors as:

1. Denver, Colorado
2. Las Vegas, Nevada
3. Los Angeles, California

State-wide Regulations

States mentioned in this article, with the exception of California, currently do not have any state-wide travel restrictions

California is asking all arrivals to quarantine for 14 days as well as check up on local restrictions of the jurisdiction in which they will be staying. More information can be found on the state website.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories