Americans spend about $1,145 per person each summer to take a road trip with family, cross oceans with friends and explore new countries and cuisines. The typical trip lasts about seven days, while about 26 percent of all summer travelers hit the road for two weeks or more.
To make your summer travel plans as cost-effective as possible, consider going somewhere off the beaten path where the U.S. dollar can go far. For domestic travel, visit new cities without going into debt by looking for online deals, checking out budget-friendly sites such as Airbnb.com and reading up on your air carrier's policy to avoid extra baggage and other fees.
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam are both ranked among Asia's top budget options, according to the Price of Travel’s Index, with the cost of food, lodging and other expenses totaling about $20 a day.
2. New Mexico
America's Southwest offers sweeping wildlife views, spicy tacos and Albuquerque’s famous "Breaking Bad" tour. Because many of the outdoor attractions are free, including hiking in alpine forests and visiting hot springs, a visit to New Mexico doesn't have to break your budget.
3. Galicia, Spain
Tour the rocky coastline and feast on seafood tapas in one of Spain's most affordable regions. Visit in July and enjoy the annual "Rapa das Bestas" event in the village of Sabucedo, when hundreds of wild horses are rounded up, trimmed and groomed.
The warm summer climate means it's a good time to visit London and tour some of the world's top outdoor and indoor attractions, including the crown jewels, Buckingham Palace, Camden Market, the Tate Modern and Oxford Street's shopping. There's also Abbey Road and the Sherlock Holmes Museum for pop culture fanatics.
5. New York City
It's true that hotels in New York City can be on the pricey side, but use Airbnb.com to score good lodging deals and then indulge in the city's many free summer events, including concerts and dance lessons in parks throughout the five boroughs. Other attractions include pay-what-you-wish admission prices at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum.
Seattle's expanding streetcar and light rail system will take you where you want to go and we suggest your visit include a little culinary indulgence. Seattle's food scene is exploding, and good options include Lionhead, a Sichuan-inspired restaurant, and Soi, which puts the focus on Thai food from the Isaan region.
With Washington loosening travel restrictions to Cuba, Havana has become a must visit for many U.S. travelers. After decades of failed economic policies, Havana remains a low-cost option for summer adventure, and American Airlines and JetBlue operate nonstop charter flights to Havana from Los Angeles and New York City.
8. Antigua, Guatemala
This historic city is a popular cruise ship destination, but it's also a safe and affordable option for backpackers and families. Don't miss the nearby Mayan villages circling beautiful Lake Atitlán.
Cheap flights to Toronto, especially from New York City or Washington, D.C., aren't hard to come by, while a visit to Canada’s premier city means touring newly opened bike and pedestrian paths that link green spaces and promenades with public art. The Toronto International Film Festival each September is also a top attraction.
10. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Explore Puerto Rico's picturesque beaches, shops and waterfront military forts. Eating local food will help keep the prices down and introduce you to delicious treats such as rice and beans.
11. Rio de Janeiro
This August, Brazil's white beaches will be the place to be as the South American giant hosts the Olympic Games. Learn to surf with the locals and shop for area-made goods such as clay figurines and woven palm mats.
12. Bogotá, Colombia
Colombia is a budget traveler's dream, with cheap lodging, food and museums. Bogotá has largely shaken off its once dangerous drug reputation and become a colorful, vibrant city filled with hip bars, boutiques, restaurants and Spanish colonial and art deco architecture.