Traveling is one of the most transcendent experiences that allows people from all around the world to experience new cultures, make new friends, and truly relax. Traveling has also historically been known to improve your mental health because of the change of scenery and diversity. So, as you can see, it’s important to set aside some time to travel whenever you can.
Unfortunately, for many travelers, it can be quite pricey. This is why we analyzed over 100 well-known vacation destinations and determined the most expensive and least expensive destinations in both the world and within the United States.
How We Conducted This Study
To gauge the most accurate information on the least and most expensive vacation destinations around the world, we took over 100 popular vacation destinations and gathered data around accommodations and average daily rate, average daily transportation cost, the average cost for the top 3 most popular attractions, the average daily food cost, and average flight cost.
- Gustavia, St. Barth is the most expensive vacation destination in the world — with an average daily meal cost of $58, an average daily (accommodation) rate of $1,700 per person or $3,783 for a family of 4, and an average daily transportation cost of $24.
- Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is the least expensive vacation destination in the world — with an average daily meal cost of $29, an average daily rate of $90 per person or $193 for a family of 4, an average daily transportation cost of only $1, and an average attraction cost of $2.
- The two most expensive US States to visit are Aspen, Colorado, and Park City, Utah — which are both known as popular ski and snowboarding destinations — coming in at $1,471 and $1,261 per person.
In addition, we have also calculated flight costs from the United States, but the most expensive and least expensive is without any flight cost.
Gustavia, St. Barth Labeled the World’s Most Expensive Vacation Destination in the Entire World
Barthelemy is a small but exceptional island known for its luxurious feel, upscale hotels, and pristine beaches. So, it’s no surprise that it’s the most expensive vacation destination. You’ll also find even more tropical destinations like the Maldives, Grand Cayman, and Maui on our list of most expensive destinations, with a few outlier winter towns like Gstaad and Aspen.
Gustavia, St. Barth is a quaint and charming island town with a luxurious feel. In our calculations, we found that the total cost of a single day for one person was $1,852 and that’s not even including the cost of airfare. A round-trip flight from a popular state airline like LAX to SBH (the closest major airport) costs $2,772 on average. Luckily, the attractions are all nature-based so it doesn’t cost a thing to peruse this beautiful town.
Gstaad, Switzerland is a heavy winter-based location. Who doesn’t want to visit Switzerland when it’s a snowy wonderland? While Gstaad has fairly affordable attractions, the average daily rate of a hotel room is a little pricey. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,316 to $1,841 for your nightly rate, and $177 on average for your daily food cost. Not to forget to mention, if you fly to this Switzerland town from a major state airport like JFK, a round trip ticket costs on average $1,281 on top of everything else.
Aspen, Colorado — another famously-known ski town made its way to the list of most expensive vacation destinations in the world. While Aspen has both a low cost of general attractions and transportation, the expenses rack up in average daily rate. The average cost for an individual or couple to get a room is a nightly rate of $1,385. Meanwhile, a whole family of 4 can expect to pay $2,274. On top of that, if you take the price of round trip tickets from 4 major airports like LAX, JFK, MIA, and DFW, you can expect to pay an average of $770 per round trip ticket.
Rounding up the ski and winter-driven towns, Park City, Utah has made its way just under Aspen for the most expensive cities in the world. The average of attractions is actually the most expensive out of this list, rounding out around $333. The second highest factor in this city’s price is the average daily rate for both individuals and families alike at $848 and $1,276.
Coming back to another luxury, tropical destination — Maui, Hawaii is the quintessential location that most of us dream about visiting. Let’s face it, everything about Maui is a bit pricey. The average daily rate for both individuals and families is near $1,000 or well-over, the average daily food cost is over $100, and the flights can be quite costly. While it’s worth it to live life luxuriously on this island, it puts a hurt on your wallet every time.
London, England is a sophisticated and historical vacation destination that’s a little different from every other location on this list. Known for its famous sites like Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, it’s also gained a reputation for being a little bit more expensive than most. The highest items are the accommodations, of course. An individual can expect to pay an average daily rate of $823, while a family of 4 can expect to pay $1,474.
One thing about private islands…they are exceptional to visit but also expensive. Cocoa Island is a resort on the water and unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. But, this exceptional living comes at a cost… To stay here, expect to pay a little under $1,000 for an individual and a little over $1,000 for a family of 4. If you’re thinking about flying, expect a $2,546 round-trip ticket cost on average.
When you want to get close to wildlife, Maun, Botswana is the perfect opportunity to do so. While it’s costly to get a round-trip flight there (an average of $2,690), the transportation and average food cost is typically very low. Where you might find you spend the most money is doing the amazing attractions that they offer… This average is over $100 per day.
Grand Cayman: the island you probably hear about often. Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands is one of the most tourist-driven destinations on this list and there is good reason why. If you love beautiful and well-kept beaches, then this is the destination for you… if you have about $934 to spend per day. While the average daily food cost isn’t too bad, the average daily rate sure is at around $1,066 for a family of 4 and $830 for an individual or couple.
Monte-Carlo, Monaco not only pays homage to one of the best-known casinos in the world, but it’s also a place where billionaires love to reside. It could be because of the stunning architecture and views or it could be because the casinos are just so much fun! If you took into account what you’d spend per day (without the inclusion of what you gamble in the casinos), expect to spend around $809 per person.
These locations all around the world are expensive but for good reason. There’s plenty to do, plenty to see, and they each offer something completely unique from the last. If you can’t afford to live this luxurious, however, we have the least expensive vacation destinations down below.
This Ski Town Might Break the Bank If You’re Planning on a U.S. Alpine Adventure
As mentioned above, Aspen, Colorado has made it onto the list of most expensive vacation destinations in the world (as in the U.S.) but there are other U.S. towns that have also claimed its fame of being pricier than most.
On the list, you’ll find tourist destinations like Lake Tahoe, Montauk, Carmel, New York City, Honolulu, and Palm Springs. California and Hawaii are the two states with more than one city on this list which comes as no surprise.
Places like San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Carmel, and Palm Springs are all known for their scenic views. While SF has city lights, Lake Tahoe has mountains, Carmel has the coast and beaches, and Palm Springs has the desert. If you averaged out the California destinations, the average daily rate for all California destinations would be $450 for an individual or couple and $614 for a family of 4. The average daily food cost is where the money really adds up at $104 between all 4 cities.
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: the World’s Top Budget-Friendly Destination
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is a multi-ethnic city, making it a truly diverse cultural experience with enjoyments like sculptures, fountains, and tasty eateries all around. Among this popular destination are others like Sri Lanka, Prague, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Bishkek is at the top of the list of the least expensive destinations in the world and still gets millions of visitors a year. In Bishkek, not only is the average daily transportation cost almost non-existent at $1, but the average cost of attractions and average daily food costs is one of the least expensive on this list (both at $1.71 and $29.)
Granada, Nicaragua is full of color, endless sunsets, and culture all around. When it comes to this inexpensive city, it’s an added plus that you don’t have to spend a lot to have an unforgettable experience. Expect to spend under $200 for your average daily rate for both individuals, couples, and families alike. When it comes to the average of most popular attractions, this is among one of the most expensive at $29 and is still a cheap vacation destination.
A destination like Warsaw, Poland gets millions of visitors a year and is still able to maintain an inexpensive experience. Warsaw, Poland is full of history and culture, along with stunning greenery and architecture. Not only is it full of history, but you’ve got access to some incredible taste of Polish food. When it comes to price, an individual can expect to only pay an average of $155 per day.
Kandy, Sri Lanka is home to a Buddhist relic, as well as other temples, and lake views. Fun fact: Kandy is also known to be Sri Lanka’s last royal capital. The average cost of attractions is only $2.34, the daily transportation sits at $4, and the average daily food cost is the lowest at only $15.
Bucharest, Romania is the place to stock up on trying all of the traditional Romanian dishes. This destination’s history along with its lively atmosphere makes it one fun and enjoyable vacation destination. As far as price goes, when you only spend $105-$127 average daily rate on accommodations, and $34.81 on attractions, you are surely saving your dollars.
Known for its volcano, delicious eats, and stunning scenery, La Antigua is a must for every vacation bucket list (no matter how much or little you want to spend.) For the average daily rate, families and individuals can both expect to pay less than $200. Meanwhile, the average daily food cost only ranges around $43, and (not to forget to mention) the flight cost from the U.S. only averages around $435.
While the flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia from the States can be costly at $998, everything else is quite low in numbers. The average cost of attractions and the average cost of transportation is still less than $35, along with reasonable prices for the average daily rate.
For Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the total for one per day is under $300 (compared to the least expensive out of the most – Monte-Carlo – which is over $900.) While Oklahoma City may not seem as exotic as these other destinations, an ideal location to wind back, explore, and stroll around botanical gardens.
Windhoek, Namibia has the second highest average daily rate of locations on our inexpensive list at $125 and $205, but still rounds out at only $184 per person. Windhoek has a great mix of African and European cultures and is known for its well-maintained beauty.
Another famously known destination for its cheap prices and great ambiance — Prague, Czech Republic is one of the most visited cities in the world. The total cost per person hovers around $188, with the average cost of transportation standing strong at $11 and the average cost of most popular attractions at $2.61. As far as flight cost goes, expect to pay a little bit more money for a round-trip ticket at an average of $748 per person.
An honorable mention is New Dehli, India. Another unique location that’s surprisingly cheap. When it comes to inexpensive trips, it’s important to pay attention to all of the factors.
Oklahoma City: Booming with Affordability in the States
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma made our top inexpensive destinations in the whole world, so it makes sense why it would be at the top of our inexpensive U.S. destinations. Other famously-known destinations include Little Rock, El Paso, Raleigh, Pensacola, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City!
Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and Raleigh all have the most inexpensive average daily rate for an individual or couple ranging around $127-153. As far as the most inexpensive average daily rate for families, head to Oklahoma City, Little Rock, or Kansas City ($132-187)
In order, the most inexpensive U.S. cities by total cost per person for one day is: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Albuquerque, Raleigh, El Paso, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Sedona, Pensacola, and then San Antonio.
We researched quite a few U.S. destinations that didn’t make the official list of 10, because they are more of a mid-expense trip. These include cities like Nashville, Chicago, and New Orleans.
Who Pays the Most, Who Gets the Best Deals: Individual Travelers, Couples, or Families?
It’s safe to say that families pay the most for travel because they have more than one person to account for, but individuals would still be better off splitting costs with another individual unless they found special deals, did volunteer work at these locations, or rented out a hostel. Whichever way you travel, there are deals that you can find anywhere by using tips and hacks to get the best bang for your buck like using special airfare sites or third-party deal sites.
Qualifier Section/What We Gather From This Information
Originally, Musha Cay (a private island) made it on our top list of most expensive in the world, but there currently isn’t enough data on surrounding attractions and accommodations to back this analysis up beside the 50,000K per day price.
While we used a few varied booking resources for all of the included data and aggregated our own numbers from these other verified resources.
Methodology & Conclusion
Through common knowledge and Google Search, we found the most talked about vacation destinations around the world and thoroughly researched them through several booking data resources.
In order to find the average daily rate, we searched by 4 & 5-star ratings of top-reviewed properties during the most expensive times of the year to travel based on the destination (Christmas/Summer) – Dec. 21-27 or May 19-25 for all locations), taxes not included. To find the average meal cost, we took the average of one meal at a popular “inexpensive” restaurant per day and two mid-range restaurant meals a day.
For the flight cost, we went to Google Flights and averaged out the top 5 flights from popular Airport destinations like LAX, DFW, and MIA. Finally, for the top three attractions, we looked at the most reviewed attractions in each area according to several unique resources. After we found the top 3 then we went directly to the attraction websites to find the exact pricing cost for an Adult admission or ticket and continued to find the average of the three.
All data was found in 2023.