August means it’s time to get ready to go back to campus. But that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in one last adventure before heading off. Or, even take a quick trip with your college besties after you get there and before the school work really ramps up. Since you’ve got textbooks and tuition to pay for, you probably want the cheapest (but still funnest) trip you can get, right? These are the cheapest destinations for last-minute summer travel:

Cheapest domestic trips for end-of-summer

Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan on a sunny summer day.


Late summer is a gorgeous time to travel to Chicago and the midwest lakes. The weather is warm but not brutal and the city is busy with all sort of festivals. And with Lollapalooza behind us, you’ll be hitting the city after those tourists have departed meaning less crowds for you. Roundtrip flights to Chicago are starting at $61* right now and you can find plenty of good hotel deals too.

Los Angeles

Sunny LA with great food, beaches, shopping, maybe even a celebrity sighting? Why wouldn’t you want to make a last-minute summer travel plan to head to LA? Plus with flights starting at $61* roundtrip, you’ll have plenty of extra cash to splurge on things like a fancy dinner or an outing to Catalina Island.

Las Vegas

Vegas is easily one of the places in the US where you can get the most fun and excitement for the cheapest cost. You just need to stay responsible and not gamble it all away! But hotels in Las Vegas are like always cheap on StudentUniverse! We’re talking in the $8**/night range and not for far away hotels – but for the famous ones on the strip. Plus, flights right now are starting at $47* roundtrip so you can really do Sin City on a low baller budget.

Aerial view of Central Park, NYC - bright green in summer. New York is a perfect last-minute summer travel destination.

New York City

For a city that never sleeps, NYC has a reputation for not being cheap. And we get it. We’ve seen those menus with like $20 drinks, too. But don’t let the masses fool you because it’s not hard to make New York an affordable trip. Start with booking flights as low as $83* roundtrip and find a hotel room around $68**/night in the greater NYC area. Then go off and feast on the $1 slices of pizza, frolic through Central Park, and explore some free museums.


If you think you can handle summer-in-Florida heat, August is a great time to head there. With many schools (especially in the south) already back in session, there are less family vacationers now, meaning less crowds! Plus, it can even mean slightly cheaper tickets into those amusement parks as demand is lowering. Get to Orlando starting at just $51* roundtrip right now.


No one said a summer trip had to be waterfront. And in fact, Denver proves just how great some places inland can be! Whether you stay in the city and vibe or head our to the mountains for an escape, you’re guaranteed great views and great times. Flights to Denver are currently starting at $80* roundtrip.

Cheapest late summer international destinations

San Juan

Puerto Rico is the best way to get “international” without technically leaving the country. This means you can avoid customs and it makes it the perfect destination if you accidentally let your passport expire or you just don’t have one yet. Plus, flights are starting around $98* roundtrip right now! You aren’t getting international that cheap anywhere else.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France - an ideal last-minute summer travel spot.


At last peak summer Europe prices are going down. And because everyone else took trips to Europe in the height of summer and have gone home now, you’ll see that some of the tourist cities are much calmer and local feeling even though the weather is still blissful summer. So why not make a quick trip out of it (or score even cheaper options if you’re looking for one-way for your semester abroad!).

Find yourself, and maybe the love of your life, in Paris starting at $419* roundtrip.

Walk amongst the sun and the ancient ruins in Athens starting at $414* roundtrip.

Live and party it up in Barcelona starting at $400* roundtrip.

Experience Switzerland’s luxury without that lux price tag with flights to Zurich starting at $410* roundtrip.


Canadian summers are where it’s at. Of course the country is gorgeous in its snow covered months, too. But head to Canada this time of year and you can enjoy warmth and sunshine. There is literally endless options for what to do in Toronto. Plus, it’s a great starting ground for getting out into more wilderness-y places or even for heading to Niagara Falls. Right now you can fly to Toronto roundtrip starting at $194*.

How to have fun before school starts

If a flight away isn’t in the cards for you, there’s still plenty of ways to get your adventure on before being stuck in lecture halls. Our favorite suggestions are:

  • Be the tourist in your town. Your hometown probably isn’t as lame as you feel like it is. It’s only because it’s so normal to you. Go out and do those classic activities that visitors to your area tend to do. Maybe it’s seeing a baseball game, hiking a mountain, sunbathing on a beach, or seeing an iconic museum.
  • Squeeze in the stomping grounds you’ll miss most once at school. Whether it’s a favorite coffee shop, restaurant, nature walk, book store, etc. when that homesickness hits you’ll be glad you made a point to enjoy it one more time before leaving.
  • Head back to school early and explore the area. If you’ve already exhausted all the fun of your hometown, leave early if you can! Get back to campus, set up your room, and hang out with your roommates (they’ve missed you just as much as you missed them). Stay on campus and relax or head out to the nearest city or state park for fun in new places.

Well, don’t just sit here! Get booking – you’re running out of time for last-minute summer travel!

*Prices were accurate at the time of posting and are subject to change at any time. Flight prices were found between August 11, 2023 and September 8, 2023.

**Hotel prices were accurate at the time of posting and are subject to change at any time. Price were found for one night stays for two guest between August 11, 2023 and September 8, 2023.