How to Travel America on a Budget

The United States can be a daunting thing when you look at it on a map. It’s so big that you can fit the greater part of Europe inside it. Unfortunately for those familiar with traveling Europe, you’ll be disheartened to learn that the United States does not have a high-speed rail network. However, the USA makes up for it with other means. Despite its size, it can be conquered by the determined traveler. Immense and diverse landscapes make possibly longer traveling times worth all the numbness!

As you’re on the road, you’ll find that from state to state the differences are enormous which makes it such a great country to explore. One truth however is that most large cities can be quite expensive. The trick is to book early and look for deals like anywhere else, but in the States you should make an extra effort to stay in hostels, which are often far cheaper than the next best thing.


Image: Yosemite by Randy Le’Moine Photography

One of the country’s most attractive attributes is its natural beauty. It was in the States that the first national park was created. Today visitors can find hundreds of national parks throughout the country. From the great prairies of the center to the likes of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park, there are grandiose landscapes that you can have for cheap. Why? Because you’re going to be camping! Most national parks have a one-time entry fee, but you’ll have to look carefully to find out exactly what costs what.

In the cities, keep an eye out for free offerings. In all big cities museums and galleries offer some kind of deal or day to see the attractions free of charge.  Washington DC, for example, is the US city with the most free galleries on offer, and luckily, some of the best. From the Air and Space Museum to Art galleries and a wealth of historical monuments, that city won’t let your feet rest.

New York City is probably on your list, and if it’s not, then it should be. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, but you can find cheap NYC hostels if you look online and early. As with anywhere else, ask the locals for the cheap eats. New York has dollar slices of pizza, cheap hot dogs and there’s a street truck revolution taking over the city at the moment, so you’ll find some of the best and tastiest street food on offer ranging from delicious burgers to Latin pork corn tortillas to stacked sandwiches and not forgetting a ranging of sweet trucks with waffles and ice creams.

NYCImage: NYC by CJ Isherwood

Travelling across the US certainly is a lot harder than Europe, as the trains are much slower than those in Europe. If you have the time to spare, you’ll definitely be able to see some of the rural landscapes on your train journeys.  You can opt for the famous—or rather, infamous—Greyhound buses, which makes for a cheap and interesting way to get from A to B. The quickest and often cheapest option is to fly mid-week, when prices are lower.  Of course, those travelling in a group may well want to do the most iconic thing – a road trip across the USA taking on route 66!

11 thoughts on “How to Travel America on a Budget”

  1. We’re trying to figure out how to get to and stay in Chicago on the cheap.  I’m looking at hostels for the first time in my life!  Because my husband and I want to stay together in a private room, though, we were able to find some hotel rooms that were cheaper – but the hostels are in a much more desirable location.

    1. Economically Humble

      There is a FANTASTIC both hostel on Michigan Avenue.  You can stay in the heart of chicago for very cheap and enjoy the city with people around the world.  Amtrak also has great deals.. useful for you all since you in DC.

  2. I live in the United States and I don’t know how you could plan to see the whole country in one trip unless it was a very long one. There is so much to see and it isn’t all close together. I’ve lived on the east coast, west coast and the south and it is all so different! I’ve never left the country though so I can’t say how it is compared to somewhere like Europe.

    1. Traveling around the world is one of my favorite things to do, but there is a lot to do here too! I have been to all but 16 states.

  3. Economically Humble

    Tis was a great post.  Im in the American Southwest and love to travel around the US.  The different foods almost seem like being out of the country.  Gotta love it!

    1. There are a lot of great places in the Southwest. One of my favorite places off the beaten path is Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

  4. Love road trippin the US!  Not all in one fling though.  It would take ages.  Some of those national parks even have days/weeks with free entry, so it can be even cheaper! 

    1. If you plan it out, road trips can be great. Just be careful of gas prices. Sometimes, flying can be cheaper depending on what you are doing.

  5. Great tips! My husband and I want to do a road trip at some point. It is exciting since I haven’t seen much of the US at all. I’ve pretty much stayed on the East coast and Fin Con is the farthest west I’ve been!

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