The east coast of the U.S. is an attractive destination offering travelers an experience of history, culture, and tradition that is among the oldest found in the country. And compared to most of the U.S., this area is compact, making travel between popular cities and interesting destinations easy and practical. But the east coast tends to be one of the more expensive regions of the country to visit, so making a few extra preparations while planning your trip can help you manage your budget more effectively.
Transportation may end up being your largest expense depending on where you come from. If you don't live nearby, then you probably face the cost of airfare and possibly renting a car to travel around the region. If you live in a state that's close enough to drive to, then your transportation costs will be significantly less by driving your own car. In either case, the simplest way to reduce your spending is to travel with someone, or several people that can help share expenses. If you're from the U.S., then you might already have a car insurance policy that will cover you. If not, you will need to pay an additional fee when renting a car to cover the insurance. To avoid the fee, you can check with your credit card company in advance as many banks offer rental car benefits free of charge as part of their benefit package. You should also take out travel insurance to cover any unexpected emergencies during your trip.
Accommodation is also going to be one of your top expenses during your trip. Luckily, choosing an accommodation type is one decision that will have the greatest impact on your budget and there are many options to consider. Hotel costs can range from budget and affordable to high end luxury, which can put a dent in your wallet so big that you'll be working for months to get out of debt from your vacation. One approach to choosing accommodations is to take advantage of less traditional options like renting an apartment. Websites like AirBnB allow you to rent a whole apartment or even a private room in a shared apartment at rates that are often lower than traditional hotels and guesthouses.
If you can avoid it, don't plan your trip in the middle of the summer or around major holidays or events. Traveling during high season means that accommodation rates and some activities and attractions will be more expensive. The best time to visit is often during shoulder season, which is late spring or early fall. The east coast typically has a long winter season but the weather is still nice and warm during shoulder season, and the tourist crowds are less intense with prices adjusted accordingly.
Planning ahead for meals will also save you some cash if you know all your options. If you're staying in a hotel, be sure to enjoy the complimentary breakfast if it's included. A big advantage of staying in an apartment is that you can prepare your own meals in a kitchen, which will save money as opposed to always eating out. If you're going out for the day, consider packing a lunch to eat on the road. But don't be so stingy that you miss out on experiencing the local food scene. The culinary element of travel is one of the many parts of a trip that adds enjoyment and makes lasting memories. Ask the hotel staff or your accommodation host for local restaurant recommendations that are affordable, yet authentic and tasty.
An east coast road trip might include visits to cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, or Philadelphia. These cities are all must-see destinations packed with history, culture, and one-of-a-kind sites, but they can also be expensive. If you're traveling by car, you can stay outside of the cities overnight and then drive in for the day. Public transit is also well developed and practical to use in many cities on the east coast, so you can also park your car outside of the center and take public transit into the city saving you the hassle and cost of expensive parking. This will dramatically cut your expenses without sacrificing too much of the experience. You can also check destination specific websites or apps like Groupon, which offer tourist experiences, hotels, or dining for discounted prices.
One way to offset your travel expenses is to rent out your home or car while you're away. Services like AirBnB allow you to rent out your space to other trustworthy travelers and you can earn a small income to offset your travel costs. Companies like RelayRides have a similar approach by allowing you to rent out your car. If you're traveling with friends or family and your car is sitting at home available for use during this time, you can rent it out to others and earn a bit of extra cash to help pay for your vacation. Most peer-to-peer services of this type also include insurance to provide safety and confidence in their services.
What's the best money saving tip you have for staying on a budget while traveling?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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