Washington DC has emerged as the cheapest option for a pre-US presidential election short break this autumn, new figures show.

The Post Office survey found the cost of a three-night break in Washington DC to be the lowest at £1,758 for two people, beating New York which came in at £1,767.

The US capital was £500 cheaper than Chicago, the most expensive of the 10 cities surveyed. At around £2,223 for two, a three-night break in Chicago was 29% more expensive than in Washington DC.

Philadelphia was in third place with a cost of £1,832 for two for travel in October, followed by Miami at £1,965.

Compiled with the assistance of Brand USA, which provided the local costs for tourist staples, the study found that New York was the second cheapest for meals and drinks at £256 after New Orleans (£219).

The cost of overall tourist staples in Miami at £605 was the highest of the 10 cities surveyed – almost £200 more for meals, drinks and other essentials than in Austin, which was cheapest at £406.

The Post Office compiled its US barometer to include the cost of return flights, three-star hotel accommodation, meals and drinks, sightseeing and transport costs and entry to museums and galleries that would cover a three-night city break for two. The cities surveyed were Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans, Austin and Chicago.

The cost of flights has a marked impact on the overall price of a US city break, with New York the cheapest at £726 for two return flights and New Orleans most expensive at £1,316.

Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: “Flight prices can transform the overall cost of a US city break so these need to be factored in before choosing where to visit for a pre-election trip.

“The same applies to hotel accommodation, which can vary by hundreds of pounds. It will be better for UK holidaymakers if they do their homework before booking to calculate the full cost of a US break.

“They shouldn’t forget to factor in the cost of meals, drinks, transport and sightseeing to ensure they change enough pounds into dollars to cover their trip without having to incur transaction charges when they reach their destination.

“Our estimate of tourist costs suggests that people planning trips to the USA this autumn will be well advised to change at least £500 and this means that they will benefit from an improved rate in our branches or online, making transactions better value for customers.”