Domestic vs. International Travel from the US this Summer

At BootsnAll we aim to be your one-stop indie travel guide, helping you plan everything from where to go and what to do, to where to stay and how to find the cheapest flights. That’s why we’re always listening to what travelers have to say, both about the trips they just took and the trips they are planning. More and more, we have been hearing that the price of international airfare is rising, making trips abroad harder for some travelers to afford.

With these comments in mind, we decided to do our own investigation, to find out how much more expensive international travel is becoming compared to domestic travel, whether there are still good international deals out there to be had, and where travelers can find the best value – here or abroad.

What we learned

Depending on your departure city, you can still find good value fares to international cities, yet the deals aren’t always on the routes you might expect. For those who can’t fork out the cash for an international trip this summer, we also looked at the prices for some popular domestic trips and found that there are even more deals to be had when it comes to traveling within the US.

Here are some results of our study, and some recommendations, for travelers leaving from six major American cities spread throughout the country.

Leaving from New York (and the Northeast)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
New OrleansJune$219 rt
Las VegasAugust$289 rt
AnchorageJune$483 rt
HonoluluAugust$690 rt
ParisJune$807 rt
Rio de JaneiroJune$905 rt
BeijingJune$1136 rt
SydneyAugust$1191 rt

If you’re heading to Paris, or other main hubs in Europe, New York is the cheapest departure point in the US to get there. The sheer size of New York’s population also gives New Yorkers a leg up in terms of domestic airfare. Even the farthest domestic destinations, Hawaii and Alaska, are cheaper from New York than from smaller cities with shorter trips.

Standout deal: Surprisingly, the flight from New York to Sydney in August is only about ten bucks more expensive than the flight from San Francisco – a much closer city – to Sydney in June. Though it’ll be winter Down Under, there’s still plenty to see and do so if you’re itching to get to Australia, consider booking this great deal.

>> Search for flights to Sydney, book budget accommodation in Sydney, and learn about things to do in Sydney

Leaving from Miami (and the Southeast)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
New OrleansAny$249 rt
Las VegasAugust$302 rt
AnchorageJuly/August$668 rt
Rio de JaneiroJune$798 rt
HonoluluAugust$801 rt
ParisJune$945 rt
BeijingJune$1389 rt
SydneyAugust$1609 rt

Not surprisingly, Miami is the best departure point for trips to Rio and the rest of South America, but what you might not have guessed is that the city also offers one of the lowest prices for flights to Paris, at only $945 round trip in June. For a weekend trip, New Orleans is an affordable destination, but if you’re looking for a longer vacation and thinking about Hawaii, you may want to consider that you can get to Rio for $100 less in June.

Standout deal: At less than $800 round trip in June, this is a great price for flights to Rio. Though it is winter in South America during our summer, off-season prices mean you can explore more for less. And it’s not like you’ll be freezing. Winter temps in June in Rio are generally in the 70’s, which may be a welcome change from the intense Florida summer heat.

>> Book a Rio hotel, find flights to Rio de Janeiro, and learn about other places to go in Brazil

Leaving from Houston (and Texas / South-Central US)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
New OrleansAny$198 rt
Las VegasJune$321 rt
HonoluluAugust$587 rt
AnchorageJune$629 rt
ParisAny$1118 rt
BeijingJune$1189 rt
Rio de JaneiroJune/August$1239 rt
SydneyAugust$1397 rt

Despite being a large hub and relatively close to South America Houston doesn’t compete all that well when it comes to airfare to Rio de Janeiro. Houston does offer cheap regional flights to New Orleans, for travelers looking for a budget trip to a great destination, and actually offers the rhird-cheapest flight to Hawaii.

Standout deal: At $587 round trip, the Houston to Honolulu fare in August is a pretty good deal. Though August is the hottest month in both destinations, a beach vacation in Hawaii sounds a bit better than a hot, sticky summer in Houston.

>> Book your flight to Honolulu, find a Honolulu hotel, or read about the best beaches in Honolulu

Leaving from Chicago (and the Midwest)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
New OrleansAny$249 rt
Las VegasJune/August$254 rt
AnchorageJuly/August$450 rt
HonoluluAugust$624 rt
ParisJune/August$1051 rt
Rio de JaneiroJune/August$1153 rt
BeijingJune$1261 rt
SydneyAugust$1382 rt

With its central location Chicago, is a Midwest hub and home to one of the busiest airports in the country. Because of that, it comes in about middle of the road in every international destination on this list. With New Orleans and Las Vegas reachable for about $250 roundtrip, there are some great domestic options from the Windy City.

Standout deal: For only $450 in July and August, you can change your view from the towering skyscrapers of Chicago to the majestic mountain peaks of the Alaskan wilderness. Given the length of the flight (and comparable cost of flights from Chicago to Seattle or Portland at around $400 this summer), a flight from Chicago to Anchorage is quite the score at $450 round trip.

>> Find flights to Anchorage, book an adventure tour in Alaska, or search more deals from Chicago

Leaving from Seattle (and the Northwest)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
Las VegasAugust$237 rt
New OrleansJune$344 rt
AnchorageAny$476 rt
HonoluluAugust$480 rt
BeijingJune$841 rt
Rio de JaneiroJune/August$1237 rt
ParisAugust$1323 rt
SydneyAugust$1382 rt

Seattle is by far the best of these departure points for a trip to China, with the only airfare to Beijing under $1000. The fact that San Francisco, a larger hub no farther away from China, is consistently $200 more shows that the rules of airport size and location don’t always tell the whole story. Flights to Alaska and Hawaii are quite reasonable as well.

Standout deal: Airfare from Seattle to Beijing is a steal at only $841 round trip – nearly $500 less than it would cost you to get to Paris from Seattle. Even if Beijing isn’t your final destination, it may be worth the savings to book your flight there and the connect via a low cost carrier to your ultimate destination in Asia.

>> Find airfare to Beijing, book a hotel in Beijing or learn about lesser-known places to go in China

Leaving from San Francisco (and California)

DestinationCheapest MonthCheapest Fare
Las VegasJune$159 rt
New OrleansJune$339 rt
AnchorageJune$428 rt
HonoluluAugust$530 rt
BeijingJune$1082 rt
Rio de JaneiroAugust$1134 rt
SydneyAugust$1182 rt
ParisJune$1320 rt

Obviously, San Francisco is going to be a pricey departure point for a trip to Europe, just based on distance. SFO makes up for this with the cheapest flights to Sydney, some good fares to Asia, and relatively cheap flights to Alaska and Hawaii.

Standout deal: Even if your summer travel plans are modest, who could resist a $159 round trip flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas? Keep your gambling in check and you could plan a great weekend getaway on a very small budget.

>> Find romantic hotels in Las Vegas, learn about visiting Vegas on a budget, and discover free things to do in Las Vegas

Our airfare survey findings

It’s true that summer airfares are rising, but there are still some great deals to be found. To save money on your summer travels, follow these tips:

  • Compare the cost of flying from your airport with that of a larger hub, and think outside the accepted “rules” of airfare deals. Sometimes a flight from a farther airport is actually cheaper than one from a closer, larger one.
  • Look at the cost of other nearby destinations to determine if what you see is a deal. A $450 flight from Chicago to Alaska for example, may not immediately seem like a deal, until you find out that flights from Chicago to Seattle are only $50 less at the same time.
  • Act fast. As prices continue to fluctuate, you’ve got to be quick to grab the best deals; they could disappear at any time.

Learn more about stretching your travel budget this summer:

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