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Comparing the Cost of Peak-Time Travel Vacation Rentals Across Major U.S. Destination Cities

Introductory graphic for a blog about peak-travel time vacation rentals across major U.S. cities.

Table of Contents

It’s not always easy planning a summer vacation, but the thrills and unforgettable experiences make it well worth the effort. Despite the possibility of higher prices during peak travel times, there are still plenty of affordable options for those who plan ahead and do their research in advance. With some flexibility, creativity, and a little bit of luck, you can find a way to enjoy a summer getaway without breaking the bank.

Join us as we explore the U.S. vacation destinations with the most and least expensive peak-time vacation rentals. We’ll break down cost data around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day to let you know which cities you should expect significant price increases in when planning a summer trip.

Key Findings

  • Annapolis, MD saw the greatest price increases across all three 2023 summer holiday weekends, some upwards of 230%. Bend, OR and Nashville, TN also experienced substantial price jumps. 
  • Rental prices in Sanibel Island, FL and New York, NY fluctuate the least during summer peak travel times, with rental property increases of just 7.05% and 12.69%, respectively.
  • Southampton, NY has the most expensive nightly price for a peak-time rental, with vacationers paying $1,832 on average. Montauk, NY renters can also expect to pay over $1,800 per night. 
  • Visitors should be aware that vacation rental prices in New Orleans during Independence Day celebrations can increase by as much as 172% compared to their usual rates.
  • Travelers hoping to experience scenic Saratoga Springs, NY this Labor Day weekend should brace themselves as the cost of summer rentals rise above double (218%) their usual prices.

America's Most and Least Expensive Summer Peak-Time Travel Destinations

If you’re looking for summer fun that won’t break the bank, we’ve compiled a list of America’s least (and most) expensive summer peak-travel time destinations to help you plan your next getaway.

Topping the list are Oklahoma City, OK and Baltimore, MD. Both cities offer affordable Airbnb options during peak summer travel times, making them great destinations for cost-conscious travelers.

Nature lovers in Oklahoma City can partake in many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and kayaking at the Oklahoma River or exploring the city’s many parks and botanical gardens. OKC also has a flourishing arts scene, with museums and galleries showcasing local artists and a variety of music and theater performances throughout the summer.

The best part? Airbnbs cost $182.19 per night on average during peak travel times in the summer, making Oklahoma City perfect for those looking for an inexpensive weekend getaway.

Baltimore, MD is another excellent choice for summer travelers seeking affordable accommodations, with Airbnbs costing $188.81 nightly on average. Visitors can explore the city’s historic neighborhoods, including Fells Point and Federal Hill, or walk along the picturesque Inner Harbor. 

The National Aquarium is another must-see, featuring over 20,000 marine animals. Of course, no trip to Baltimore is complete without trying some of the city’s celebrated seafood, such as crab cakes or Old Bay-seasoned shrimp.

Next, let’s take a look at the cities with the lowest vacation rental property increases during peak travel times. Sanibel Island, FL, and New York, NY, are at the top of the list, with rental property increases of just 7.05% and 12.69%, respectively. 

Despite being popular destinations, these cities still offer plenty of affordable activities. Sanibel Island boasts over 15 miles of beaches and more than 25 miles of bike paths, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers.

In New York City, you can visit iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Central Park or take advantage of free admission to world-class museums on certain days of the week. The Big Apple also boasts a diverse food scene with no shortage of tasty street food, trendy restaurants, and classic pizza spots.

Top 10 Most Expensive Destinations to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Chart showing the 10 U.S. cities with the highest vacation rental costs for Fourth of July weekend.

If Fourth of July travels are on your horizon, be aware that costs can add up quickly. While not every destination will cost you thousands, there are several locations across the country that will.

With an average nightly rental cost of $1,886.75, Southampton, NY is the most expensive destination for celebrating Fourth of July 2023. Independence Day in the Hamptons will cost you 146% more than the typical nightly rate for this area.

However, Southampton isn’t the only New York destination costing a pretty penny this year: Montauk came in 2nd place with a steep nightly rental cost of $1,861.25. Martha’s Vineyard, MA and Newport, RI were the other northeastern destinations in the top 10.

But the West is also seeing some of the highest rental costs as well. Lake Tahoe has the third-highest rental costs of any destination in the study, at $914.25 a night, on average. Big Sky, MT, Jackson, WY, and Grand Tetons, WY took spots in the top 10 as well.

Two Florida cities also experienced steep rental costs: Key West is the fourth-most expensive destination for an Independence Day vacation rental, while Rosemary Beach came in at number six.

Top 15 U.S. Cities with the Highest Price Fluctuations During Summer Peak-Time Travel Weekends

Radial bar chart showing the 15 U.S. cities with the highest price fluctuations during summer peak travel times.

Annapolis, Maryland experiences the highest price increase during all three summer holiday weekends in 2023. 

Travelers interested in visiting this cultural hub in the Old Line State this summer should aim for Memorial Day weekend, as rental prices “only” increase by 177%. Alternatively, they could wait until either Independence Day or Labor Day weekend, when rental prices surge by over 190% and over 230% during this period, respectively.

Those traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Fourth of July, can expect a weekend full of fun and fireworks above the Mississippi River. 

Although New Orleans is renowned for its enthusiastic way of celebrating Independence Day, visitors should be aware that vacation rental prices will experience a surge during the weekend, with costs reaching 172% higher than their usual rates.

Similarly, travelers looking to explore scenic Saratoga Springs this Labor Day weekend should brace themselves as rental costs soar above double their usual prices. 

Saratoga Springs, New York is a popular destination among many travelers, and for good reason. The city is known for its horse racing, mineral baths, and vibrant nightlife – meaning there is no shortage of things to do for guests visiting for the weekend.

Full Data

Our study got much more granular than we could include in this write-up, so if you want to dig deeper into the data, check out our interactive data table below. Search for a city or click on the heading of each column to sort findings by each summer holiday weekend.

Closing Thoughts

Summer travel can be challenging and rewarding, offering the chance to create memories that will last a lifetime. While peak travel times can mean higher prices, there are still plenty of ways to find reasonable options for summer vacation rentals if you do your research and plan ahead.

And if you’re looking for an affordable and convenient way to get around once you arrive at your destination, check out the bus and train options on Wanderu. You can search and compare prices of bus and train tickets, and easily book a price-efficient option to get around and explore your next adventure location.

With some planning and help from Wanderu, you can enjoy a summer getaway that won’t break the bank. Safe travels!

Methodology

We determined the U.S. vacation destinations with the most and least expensive peak-time vacation rental properties by using Airbnb average nightly cost information. We collected and recorded these prices at the end of March and the beginning of April 2023. We first found the average nightly price for 100 U.S. vacation destination cities with no parameters. Then, we found the average nightly price for these same U.S. cities around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day weekends for 2023 with the only other parameter being +/- 1 day. From there, we could determine which cities travelers would see the biggest cost increases when planning their summer trips this year and which locations have the best and worst vacation rental property prices overall.

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