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Traveling on a budget can be brilliant, but it’s definitely easier to do in parts of the world where the cost of living is conveniently low.
Written by Guest Author on November 28, 2022 Share on

7 Great Ways to Get the Most from an Extended USA Trip When You’re On a Tight Budget

Traveling on a budget can be brilliant, but it’s definitely easier to do in parts of the world where the cost of living is conveniently low.

That’s not the case in the US, and you might think that because of this, it’s not really feasible to plan a longer trip to the States if you don’t have tons of cash to splash.

The good news is that there are ways to keep costs down without compromising too much, so follow our advice and you’ll be on the right track!

Saving money on your car insurance – even in tricky circumstances

A road trip is a classic way to experience what America has to offer, and it can be cheaper than other travel options so long as you drive with a light foot and plan your routes carefully.

The one cost that can catch you out in this context is car insurance, especially if you’ve got a previous conviction for a motoring-related offense on your record. In that case, you will need an SR-22 policy, which basically confirms that you’ve got enough cover to drive legally.

Comparing quotes for different car insurance packages online will get you the best deal, and this applies regardless of your history or circumstances.

Keeping accommodation costs down by camping

You don’t have to stay at hotels or even motels every night of your journey when the option to camp is available.

Camping is inexpensive if you stick with designated sites, although you do need to be aware of the best practices for staying safe if you’re sleeping in a tent overnight. Wildlife can pose a threat to your safety if you aren’t careful about things like food storage, and there’s also the importance of being responsible with campfires to consider.

If you don’t want to trek around with a tent and all your camping gear in tow, then you could grab shut-eye in your car instead.

Avoiding expensive meals

Another of the most significant costs on any extended USA trip will be the food, and while it’s tempting to eat out for every meal, this will quickly eat into your budget in a major way.

Purchasing items from grocery stores and taking them with you for at least breakfasts and lunches on the road is sensible. Even preparing your own evening meals will have a huge cumulative impact on what you spend over the course of your travels.

Arrange everything in advance

Everything is more expensive if you book last-minute, and this is particularly true of hotels, because they know that if you’re looking for a room for the night, you’re limited in terms of the choice that’s available.

Because of this, it’s always more frugal to book any overnight stops as far in advance as possible. The same applies to any other part of your trip, as the best prices and deals are usually reserved for those early birds who are ahead of the game.

Bring essentials with you rather than buying them ad hoc

If you’ve already got travel essentials like insect repellent, sunscreen and a travel adapter for your phone, make sure you pack these in with your luggage.

That way you won’t need to go out and buy these little essentials when your trip is already underway, which would be a waste of money if they’re things you’ve picked up in the past.

Make sure your payment cards can be used without excessive fees

If you’re traveling to the US from overseas, you might find that your payment card provider of choice will charge you extra to use their services there.

This is not universally the case, and there are companies that have set themselves apart by letting customers enjoy free access to transactions in whatever part of the world they visit.

Savvy travelers have the option to open an account with one of these providers and save every time they buy anything. This even means that you can get around the issue of having to buy US dollars before your trip, which is a process that’s often fraught with additional expenses.

Use public transport

To get around big cities in the US, the most affordable mode of transport is generally going to be a bus or a train.

So while taxis are convenient and quick, they will also cost much more than anything else. And if you don’t mind walking, cities like New York are actually a blast to explore as a pedestrian.


Even minor changes to your USA travel plans can result in major savings, and you can see the country for less if you plan ahead. Some sacrifices are necessary, of course, but you’ll be proud of yourself if you stick to your guns.

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