People often complain about how expensive flights are to Europe, or how expensive everything is in Australia. But the United States isn't a cheap place to travel, either. We don't have many budget airlines or an affordable train system, and hostels are few and far between here.
So how do you travel in the U.S. on a budget is it even possible?
Well, it's not necessarily easy, but there ARE ways to save money while traveling in the United States. Here are some of my best tips.
It probably comes as no surprise that major cities like New York and San Francisco can be pretty pricey. Everything from hotels to food will hit your wallet in many major U.S. cities. So, to save a few bucks, spend more time in smaller cities. Some of my (often overlooked) favorites include places like Savannah and Pittsburgh and Seattle; they're still interesting cities, but they're much more affordable.
The U.S. doesn't have budget airlines in the same way that Europe does, and taking a train with Amtrak can often be more expensive than flying. If you have access to a car, road tripping can be one of the most affordable ways to see the United States. You can stay outside of the big cities, pack snacks and a cooler full of food to save money, and if you're traveling with another person or two, you can split gas costs.
Especially if you have your own car, consider motel/budget hotel chains for your trip, or see what you can find on sites like Airbnb. Hotels CAN be pricey, but they don't have to be. I took a road trip and mostly stayed in hotels/motels in the Choice Hotels brand, which were affordable and always included free parking and WiFi. If you start looking far enough in advance, you can also often find great deals renting rooms (or sometimes whole apartments) on Airbnb.
If your trip around the U.S. is going to include visits to at least a few national parks, look into getting a National Parks pass. These run $80 for an entire year, and cover the pass-holder and up to 3 other adults traveling in the same vehicle. Since many national park entrance fees run $20-$30, this can definitely save some money.
Speaking of passes, many large cities in the U.S. offer city passes for visitors. These usually give you discounted admission to major attractions and museums (sadly, museums aren't usually free in the US), and sometimes transport and tours, too. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing within a couple of days, city passes can save you a ton of money.
What other tips do you have for traveling on a budget in the U.S.?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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