Exploring America doesn’t have to break the bank! We asked travel bloggers for some expert advice on saving money while traveling to and around the United States…
1. Know Your Geo
Okay, we’ve got to start with the obvious. America is a massive country with some pretty complex geography. Knowing your stuff will help avoid any logistics headaches later on. Jo Whitaker, founder of travel blog visionsofjohanna.org says: “Make sure you get your head round the great distances in the US, especially the western US. If your interest is in cities, you may be better off flying directly to that city. But rental cars are great because you have so much flexibility. For the western US a fellow travelling friend covers around 600 miles in a 12 hour driving day.”
2. Travel in Groups
Fabienne Loher, author of ichreiseumdiewelt.com suggests: “Renting a car, or sharing a taxi/Uber together with other backpackers (If one of you is over 25 years old, it’s cheaper) can help save a pretty penny, especially when navigating the spacious western USA.”
3. Special Routes
Along the same lines as planning ahead, do your research into the flights! Often there are a few round about ways to save money that won’t be immediately apparent from a simple Google search. Top tip from Jo: “Icelandair for example are known for offering crazy cheap flights from London to New York, with just a short layover in Reykjavik!”
4. Take your time
David Miah of thatgaybackpacker.com fame suggests taking your time while travelling the USA: “People always ask me how I can travel for such long stretches of time, but the truth is that travelling slowly saves you money. Sticking around in one particular area will help you get a feel for the happy hours in a city, the trendiest spots for bottomless brunches, and when there are student club nights (which usually have no cover charge). A weekly metro card is always going to be cheaper than buying a daily one. Plus, by making a base somewhere, it’ll be easier to make local friends who can share their budget friendly tips with you.”
5. Helpful Locals
Don’t let the city empty your wallet completely! Hostel staff are full of great advice, and many hostels offer free walking tours. Take advantage of some of that local knowledge and famous American hospitality! Katie McKnoulty, founder of thetravellinglight.com suggests: “The [local] food truck scene is huge here too… you can always find a delicious and cheap bite to eat!”
6. Hostels with Breakfast
Jo’s advice on hostel food: “Personally I picked hostels that provide a free brekkie to save on food costs and one hostel I used in New York had free pizza in the evening too! It sounds really simple, but make sure there are free breakfasts at your chosen hostels.”
7. Greyhound Buses
Fabienne has experience with America’s premier long haul bus service: “Greyhound is fantastic and soooo cheap. I felt safe, even during the night. We paid $22 from Las Vegas to LA. You can save a lot of money if you take the bus instead of the plane.
8. Nature’s Freebies
Jasmin Hassan, a writer from London suggests: “Explore the outdoors for free! America is a land of varied terrain and there is a lot of diversity to be found. Explore any number of mountains, lakes, glaciers or forests (depending on where you are), and experience a multitude of landscapes without having to leave the country! Invest in a camp grill and cooler and have tasty meals and beers on the road – the ultimate adventure fuel!”
9. Health Insurance
A massive cost that a lot of travellers don’t anticipate is that of US medical care/medications. Jo advises: “Medical Insurance is essential! Or you could find you have a massive bill if anything unfortunate happens.”
What are you waiting for?! Book now!
Special thanks to Katie McKnoulty, Jo Whitaker, David Miah, Jasmin Hassanand Fabienne Loher for their pro tips and pics!