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Places that are Cheap Now

There’s still time to take advantage of the warm weather! Don’t opt for a staycation: Instead, check out these seven affordable destinations.

By Miriam B. Weiner
Orlando is known for its budget-friendly

hotel rates.

Earlier this month, the New York Times announced the coming of a “double dip recession:” The United States economy seems to be approaching a financial danger zone for the second time since December 2008. That means the penny pinching is going to continue well into the foreseeable future. And when it comes to saving money, many of the sacrifices we usually make have to do with leisure travel.

But for those of you watching the summer breeze by without so much as considering a trip, we have good news for you: Bargains lie in wait for those who look closely. U.S. News Travel has teamed up with Hotwire.com to show you how to take advantage of these last weeks of summer. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of seven destinations that are cheap now. These vacation spots have shown the most significant drop in airline and hotel prices since this time last year, according to Hotwire’s Year-Over-Year pricing analysis.

Note: The average prices listed below and in the accompanying slideshow were calculated by Hotwire based on its analysis of all hotels and flights available for each destination.

Orlando, FL

Family-friendly Orlando is a regular front-runner on Hotwire’s Travel Value Index (which annually evaluates cities based on their rates, available “discounts, affordable entertainment and overall appeal”). While pricey Disney World is the main attraction, Orlando does feature a variety of cheaper — and even free — attractions. O-Town’s hotel and airfare rates haven’t dropped since this time last year, but the city’s already low prices continually allow thrifty travelers to stretch their vacation budget. And as the new school year draws nearer, more deals become available for last-minute getaways.

For more savings… Purchase combo tickets. If you must visit the theme parks, you can save several hundred dollars by investing in Flex Tickets that grant you entry to five or six parks — including Universal Studios and SeaWorld — for a little more than you’d spend on one individual entry.

Chicago, IL

As the summer dies down, so do the crowds, leaving plenty of hotel deals.

Courtesy of DieselDemon / Flickr

Chicago, IL

Late summer and early fall is a great time to visit the Windy City: The summer tourists are trickling out and the notorious Midwestern winter has yet to hit. According to Hotwire’s Year-Over-Year analysis, Chicago’s hotel rates have dropped nine percent since this time last year. And since Virgin America began air service to the city in May, airfare is experiencing a drop as well (prices fell eight percent since last summer). Plus, as the warm-weather convention season comes to a close, Chicago will boast great deals for leisure travelers.

For more savings… Invest in a Chicago CityPass or a Go Chicago Card. Both of these programs provide significant discounts on admission to some of the city’s top things to do, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Summer’s high temperatures and chance of showers keep Mexico’s Caribbean coast relatively tourist-free.

Courtesy of tristanf / Flickr

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Eastern Mexico is entering its annual tourism slump; most tourists are deterred by high temperatures and frequent rainfall. However, travelers who visit in August and early September can skirt the sprinkles while nabbing excellent deals to some of the country’s most popular destinations, including Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. According to Hotwire, hotel prices have dropped eight percent since 2010, with five-star rooms going for $135 a night, on average. And you can find flights from the U.S. for as low as $250. And to top it all off, you won’t have to pay a cent to enjoy this region’s miles of soft sand and Caribbean Sea views.

For more savings… Pay with pesos. Although many restaurants and shops in this region accept United States dollars, vendors are more willing to negotiate a lower price with you if you use pesos.

For MORE cheap travels, check these out…


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