Seniors on the Go: Good value domestic destinations

Albuquerque

Balloons dot the sky over the Sandia Mountains at sunrise in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (WWW.MORIMOTOPHOTOGRAPHY.COM / PR NEWSWIRE HANDOUT / August 27, 2010)

Not many of you decide where to go strictly on the basis of prices -- after all, you'd "save" the most money by staying home, and you could find inexpensive hotels and restaurants in almost any nearby small town. Still, relative value is important to many of you, and the good folks in the travel industry are happy to guide you in your destination search.

The latest report comes from Hotwire, the large online travel agency, conducted with Harris Interactive. The overall finding was that, yes, "49 million Americans (21 percent) intend to be more deal-conscious when booking travel in 2014." And in support of this finding, Hotwire nominates the 10 "best value" destinations from a list of the country's 10 top leisure destination cities. Hotwire's ratings are based on a composite score for low prices on air, car rentals, and hotel accommodations (50 percent of the score), discounts on air, car rentals, and hotel accommodations (25 percent), and "affordable" entertainment (25 percent). The ranked list, in descending order, also notes which scoring category was outstanding for each destination:

-- Atlanta (low prices)

-- Orlando (low prices)

-- Tampa (low prices)

-- Phoenix (entertainment)

-- Dallas-Ft. Worth (low prices, discounts)

-- Raleigh (low prices)

-- Saint Louis (discounts)

-- Kansas City (discounts)

-- Albuquerque (low prices)

-- Nashville (entertainment)

As one of the country's largest online specialists in discounted travel services, Hotwire is in an excellent position to mine its vast database of actual sales for realistic price information. In addition to occasional reports such as this, Hotwire posts ongoing historical airfare and hotel price data on many popular routes and at many popular destinations. Even if you've already decided where you want to go, check out Hotwire's "Trip Starter" data at hotwire.com/tripstarter/index.jsp to determine the best times to travel.

Earlier this year, Trivago, another big online hotel search system, published its own list of the best-value destinations. Unlike Hotwire's list, Trivago focused on smaller cities and remote areas rather than major cities. Trivago's ratings were based on its own price search results, together with the area's "overall hotel reputation," as determined by traveler reviews. Trivago's top 10 destinations are quite a bit different:

-- Port Charlotte, Florida

-- Manitou Springs, Colorado

-- Logan, Utah

-- Brunswick, Georgia

-- Burlington, Vermont

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