In the midst of all your holiday stress and travel plans, why not slow down a bit and take a look at some great destinations for your next real vacation? Now's the time to start making the decisions of where to go, so you can budget for it as soon as possible. This year we'll be headed back to Vegas for our annual trip in July, but we're also going to make our first trek to New Orleans. While those are popular choices for a lot of people, let's take a look at some other popular destinations and some lesser known cities for the next year to give you travel inspiration to ponder on when you just need to take a break from your family and all the end of year craziness.
Sometimes you just want to go where everyone else is going to see what all the fuss is about. Or maybe you're like me and want to know where the crowds will be so you can go elsewhere. Whatever your motivation, here are some of the most popular cities to vacation in based on booking trends over previous years*.
With one of the largest jumps in bookings from 2014 to 2015 (67%!), Gatlinburg is coming up as a new hip travel destination. While Memphis and Nashville get all the hype and glory, Gatlinburg is a fantastic place for those that love the outdoors. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is an unspoiled landscape that offers things for visitors year-round; however those that prefer the city life shouldn't discount this trip. Gatlinburg has a wonderful downtown with delicious dining, an observation tower and an aerial cable car that can take you to Ober Gatlinburg, the city's amusement park. Add in the fact that the average hotel can be booked for $110 per night and you've got a fun budget getaway.
Orange Beach, Alabama
You need to get to this lovely seaside town on the Gulf of Mexico before it gets anymore popular. With 91% more bookings in 2015 than 2014, this gem is becoming less hidden. If a beach vacation is on your list for 2016, skip those more popular and crowded destinations *ahem Cancun* and check out Orange Beach. The city has less than 6,000 residents, sandy white beaches and heaps of fresh seafood. What else could you ask for when looking to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. Oh right! An affordable hotel. Average off-season rates go for a little more than $100 per night.
You read that right. More and more people are finding the gorgeous landscape of Anchorage a place they want to spend their vacation time in. In fact, 34% more people booked last year to get in on both the winter activities as well as the summer ones. It may not seem like the most traditional place to get away from it all, but Anchorage is a destination full of history, culture, amazing food, microbreweries and even a beach. Yup, a hidden beach that you can only get to by hike that is beautiful and sandy. Hotels average around $120 per night, but you can certainly get an even better deal by booking an Airbnb or other vacation rental.
Not all the up-and-coming destinations are in the United States. Moscow is a bright and vibrant city that is often overlooked when it comes to travelers finding an interesting place to spend a week or two. The city is full of historic buildings that serve as a fantastic backdrop for your vacation photos. The Kremlin is just one such place. It's easy to get around on public transport, there's the beautiful Moskova River to walk along and over 90 parks, too. With the modern mashing with the historical, it's sure to be a unique trip, plus hotel rates can run as little as $50 per night.
Brighton, United Kingdom
London is by far one of the most popular places to vacation, but it's also very expensive. Brighton, is a sweet little seaside resort town just about an hour away. The British weather isn't always perfect, but a trip to the beach is always a welcome getaway. With a 60% increase in visitors from 2014 to 2015, the iffy weather doesn't seem to be a deterrent to travelers. Brighton has some rocky beaches, but has wonderful arcades and historical buildings along the waterfront. It hosts many festivals throughout the year, has a thriving arts scene, cuisine to rave about and is a popular place for nightlife. Unlike London, you can find a hotel here for less than $100 per night, so you can spend more money on souvenirs and fun.
Have you already planned your vacation for next year? If so, where will you go?
*stats provided by TripAdvisor
*stats provided by TripAdvisor