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If you’re seeking a cheap method to travel across the United States, this article is perfect for you. We’ve compiled a list of the most cost-effective methods to cross from coast to coast so you can discover America without spending an arm and a leg.
In this article, you are going to discover the different methods of how you can visit the major cities in the US while on a tight budget.
So, what do you have to lose? Get started on planning your next road trip right now. Here are the cheapest ways to travel across the US.
- Cross Country Travel
- Best States to Visit in the United States
- Itinerary and Budgeting
- Must Visit Places in the United States
- New York City
- Washington D.C.
- St. Louis
- New Orleans
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- Save Money When Visiting the Major Cities
- What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?
- Getting on An Airplane
- Renting a Car
- Riding a Ferry
- Riding a Bus
- Traveling via Train
- Cycling Your Way
- Tips (Road Trip, Air Travel, Public Transporation, and More)
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy food
- Research your destination
- Prepare your budget
- Be Friendly
- Book Early
- Use sunscreen
- Where can you get more information?
- How much money do you need to travel across the United States?
- How can I travel across the US for free?
- What is the best transportation for cross-country travel?
Cross Country Travel
Traveling is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and explore new things. It can be scary, but it’s also really fun. One thing that people might not think about when they’re planning their trip is how cross-country travel will affect them physically.
There are many things that you have to consider, which is why it is important to plan ahead of time. Take note of your available options – from getting flights from budget airlines or utilizing the availability of public transportation.
Best States to Visit in the United States
It’s important to consider your preferences when deciding which states to visit. Oregon and Washington would be good choices if you like nature, as they have plenty of national parks.
If you’re more interested in cities, Las Vegas or New York City might be better for you because there are lots of things to do there all year round. No matter what type of person someone is, everyone will find something interesting about traveling across the US.
The best way to figure out which place suits one’s needs is by taking note of one’s likes and dislikes while thinking about cross-country travel routes so they can pick whichever destination feels most comfortable or enjoyable at that moment in time – whether it may be an outdoor adventure close to nature or a trip to one of the many popular metropolises.
What’s more, aside from being highly cost-efficient, traveling across the US is also known for its convenience and flexibility as it allows people the ability to choose what they want to prioritize, be it spending quality time with loved ones, seeing what there is to offer in the world, or what have you.
There are also tons of free activities or organized tours available for travelers. Here are some of the best places to visit while on a budget:
- The Grand Canyon in Arizona
- The Rocky Mountains in Colorado
- The beaches of California
- The bright lights of New York City
- The history of Washington, D.C.
- The beautiful mountains of Oregon
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- The beautiful beaches and ocean in Hawaii
Itinerary and Budgeting
Cross-country road trips can be a great way to see America. Here is a suggested itinerary for a two-week trip.
- Day 1: Drive from your home city to your first destination.
- Day 2: Explore the city of your first destination.
- Day 3: Drive to your next destination.
- Day 4: Explore the city of your second destination.
- Day 5: Drive to your next destination.
- Day 6: Explore the city of your third destination.
- Day 7: Drive to your fourth destination and explore that city for the day.
- Days 8 and 9: Take some time to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at one of the many national parks in the US.
- Day 10: Drive from your fourth destination to your next city for the night.
- Day 11-13: Take a visit to a major theme park or a big museum, depending on what you enjoy doing. Be sure that it’s somewhere within driving distance of your hotel.
- Days 14-15: Get a bit of education by driving to your next destination.
- Day 16: Take a day trip from your next destination to explore what’s nearby, or simply spend the day relaxing at the hotel.
- Days 17-18: Get out and enjoy what nature has to offer you during this short stopover in what is likely a major national park.
- Day 19: Drive from your last destination to the hotel you’ll be staying in for the night.
- Day 20: Spend what’s left of your trip exploring what this city has to offer before returning home.
Taking extended road trips on a budget requires planning and research, but it can also be a great way to see different parts of the US.
Must Visit Places in the United States
Whether you are traveling solo or with some friends and families, we can guarantee that you can get to the big cities and amazing states in the country.
With its diverse landscape ranging from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains, California is a must-see on any road trip. Highlights include the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Hollywood, Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, the beautiful beaches in San Diego, and Yosemite National Park.
See Related: Best Day to Book Flights
From theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios to miles of white sand beaches, Florida has something for everyone. Other highlights include Miami’s Art Deco district and St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US.
New York City
The Big Apple is a major metropolis, so what’s there to do? New York City is home to art galleries, Broadway shows, and world-renowned museums. Plus, it’s the perfect place for shopping. There are also thousands of unique grocery stores in this area.
Get New York Pass to see the best of the city.
See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US
The nation’s capital never ceases to inspire with its historical landmarks like the White House and Lincoln Memorial. Other highlights include the Smithsonian Museum, the Washington Monument, and Arlington National Cemetery.
What’s there to do in Chicago? Well, what isn’t there to do? From Willis Tower and Navy Pier to Wrigley Field, you’ll find what you make of it.
It’s no secret that the Windy City offers everyone a wide range of activities. Whether you want to shop, dine out, or catch a show on Broadway at one of its many theaters, Chicago has what you’re looking for. Other highlights include Millennium Park and Lincoln Park.
St. Louis is known for its great food, so be sure to try some of what the city has to offer. Other highlights include the Gateway Arch and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. You can tour the area to explore the various chain restaurants.
Memphis has everything you need, from restaurants and music venues to art galleries and museums featuring Elvis Presley. Other highlights include Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and the National Civil Rights Museum.
With its many cities to explore, what’s there to do in Texas? From shopping at Highland Park Village in Dallas to marveling at The Alamo in San Antonio, you’ll find what you make of it. Get a steep discount when you book your travel needs ahead of time.
The Big Easy is a melting pot full of different cultures and cuisines, making what you will find there completely unexpected and unforgettable—just like the city itself.
Other highlights include the French Quarter and Garden District, Mardi Gras World, and Bourbon Street. You can get free loyalty cards from local merchants in this area. Check out these best tours in New Orleans to maximize your experience.
What’s there to do in Miami? Well, what isn’t there to do? From South Beach and Art Deco District to Coral Gables and Little Havana, you’ll find what you make of it. You will be amazed at the amazing accommodation options for travelers like you.
For some, what’s there to do in Las Vegas is obvious—gambling. While this may be true, what you’ll find in Las Vegas is what you make of it. Other highlights include the Fremont Street Experience and Eiffel Tower replica at Paris Las Vegas, which is the largest such tower in the world. Enjoy win-win experiences in this city.
From cable cars to a vibrant Chinatown filled with delicious restaurants, what’s there to do in San Francisco? This city is nearly impossible to get bored in. From its many museums to the Golden Gate Bridge, what you’ll find is what you make of it in the San Francisco Bay Area.
From Space Needle and Pike Place Market to the Museum of Flight and Mount Rainier, what’s there to do in Seattle? What you’ll find is what you make of it.
As a city with many colleges and universities, what’s there to do in Boston? From Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail, what you’ll find is what you make of it. Most people prefer bus travel to reach this area.
From the Mall of America to Target Center, what’s there to do in Minneapolis? What you’ll find is what you make of it. Road-tripping in this place will surely make everyone happy. If you get lucky, you may also get the cheapest gas here.
As the birthplace of American independence, what’s there to do in Philadelphia? Highlights include Independence Hall and Liberty Bell as well as dining and shopping on South Street and Ben Franklin Parkway.
As the “Steel City,” what’s there to do in Pittsburgh? Highlights include Duquesne Incline and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Focus on searching for the best hotel stays when visiting this area.
Get a chance to explore the beauty of places like Fort McHenry and the popular Inner Harbor to Camden Yards. A USA road trip is definitely worth taking if Baltimore is on your list. Take note that the food costs in this area are also affordable.
Explore the wonders of Detroit. You can start by checking out the paid or free attractions from Motown Museum to Belle Isle. You can do this by using a rental car or taking a bus. Make sure to count the accommodation costs when planning a visit to this area.
From Turner Field and World of Coca-Cola to Stone Mountain Park and the Georgia Aquarium, what’s there to do in Atlanta? Tourists can also find amazing national forests and inexpensive campsites when visiting Atlanta. It is so easy to find accommodation at a low cost.
This is another popular place to go when taking a USA road trip. You can easily visit the White House and Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian Museum, and the Library of Congress. Since this place is quite famous, be ready to pay expensive parking fees and gas prices.
Wonderful California’s “City of Angels” takes pride in having exquisite Chinatown and Hollywood Walk of Fame. If you want to see the best things that this place can offer, be sure to visit during holiday weekends, where there are tons of events and activities.
Taking a bus travel to San Diego is also a good idea. This is where you can see the Old Town State Historic Park, Seaport Village, Mission Beach, and its scenic boardwalk. There are tons of options available for public transport.
What’s there to do in Denver? Highlights include the 16th Street Mall and Coors Brewery Factory Tour, as well as Red Rocks Park and Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
Spend amazing days in Houston by checking out the NASA Space Center and Museum District to Orange Show Monument, and Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. There are also national parks that you can check out during the day.
Save Money When Visiting the Major Cities
How you travel across a state or multiple states can also make a difference in your daily travel budget. Make it a top priority to learn the different budget tips or helpful tips that will allow you to enjoy big savings while exploring the big cities in the US.
Car rentals are likely more expensive, but if you plan on driving after dark, it might be worth paying extra for a rental with headlights. Riding a bus across the country will probably cost less than flying or renting a car, but what you gain in money, you might lose in flexibility.
If you fly from state to state, that will largely depend on what airport is close to your destination and what airlines operate there. You can often find cheap flights online, especially if they’re booked last minute.
There are many ways to save money on what you spend on a cross-country road trip, but by being prepared and having a plan, you can make the most of your time out on tour.
See Related: Proven Ways to Save Moeny for Travel
What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?
If you’re seeking a cheap method to travel across the United States, read on. We’ve compiled a list of the most cost-effective methods to cross from coast to coast, so you can discover America without spending an arm and a leg.
One method that many people use to save money when they travel is by traveling with a group of people instead of going alone. When you have a group, splitting the expenses and creating a cost-effective road trip is easy. If that doesn’t work for you, what about traveling on foot? Believe it or not, many people travel across the country this way.
There are various events for travelers who walk across the US, like the Trans Am Bike Race and the Great American Walk. If you love to be active or appreciate what America offers regarding natural beauty, this might be right up your alley.
In addition to walking across America, if you’re short on cash, you could always ride your bike. It’s a great option because you can do it alone or in a group. Plus, there are plenty of events that you can join to stay motivated while biking across the U.S., such as Pedal Across America and The Great Bike Ride Across Kansas.
See Related: Things to Do in Wichita, Kansas
Getting on An Airplane
Flying across the country is what most people probably think of when they hear “cross-country travel,” and it does have its benefits. A few things to consider when getting on an airplane for a cross-country trip.
First, you’ll want to ensure you’re well-rested and have had a decent meal before boarding. You’ll also want to make sure that your carry-on luggage is properly packed and doesn’t contain any prohibited items.
It’s also important to be familiar with the airport security screening process and know what items you can bring on the plane in your carry-on luggage.
Finally, once you’re on board, it’s important to follow the instructions of the flight attendants and remain seated during takeoff and landing. Use google flights or budget airlines to save big. Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights and save money on your travel.
See Related: Layover vs Stopover: What’s The Difference?
Renting a Car
If you plan on traveling across the country, it is advisable to rent a car. This is because you can save money by driving your own vehicle and avoiding the high costs associated with gasoline.
You may also want to consider how long it will take for one of those long-distance flights if things go smoothly or if there are any problems en route, such as an accident or mechanical problem with the plane. Renting also gives you access to more places at once without worrying about space restrictions on airlines – pack light.
A note about safety: when renting a car, ensure they have enough car insurance coverage before taking off down some unknown country roads. Find cars to rent on Kayak and get the best deals.
See Related: Cheapest Places to Vist in the United States
Riding a Ferry
Taking a ferry is a great way to travel cross-country. Not only does it save time, but it also provides an amazing view of the passing landscape. Depending on what ferry you choose, some are more expensive than others. Generally, the less time it takes to cross a body of water, the higher the cost to use one.
Riding a Bus
Taking a bus for a cross-country trip can be a great way to see the country. You’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and see some amazing sights. However, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind before you embark on your journey.
First, be sure to budget appropriately. Buses can be affordable, but they certainly aren’t free. Ensure you have enough money to cover your costs along the way.
Second, be prepared for long journeys. The average bus ride is about 8 hours, so pack plenty of snacks and drinks to keep you fed and hydrated. It’s also a good idea to bring something to read or watch to pass the time while on the bus.
Traveling via Train
Taking a train across the country is affordable, allowing you to enjoy what’s happening outside your window or cabin.
If you’re looking for something with traditional amenities, Amtrak provides free Wi-Fi and power outlets at each seat so you can catch up on what’s happening worldwide.
Amtrak also offers food service, making it easy to get what you need without leaving your seat. However, if you’d rather not have someone wait on you during your trip, there are usually snack bars throughout the train cars where you can buy what you need to keep yourself comfortable.
Cycling Your Way
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to travel cross-country, consider bicycling. Some many highways and roads allow bicycles and it is an amazing way to see what’s around you as you travel from one place to another.
However, before taking your bike on a cross-country trip, ensure you understand what’s expected of you and the rules. You’ll need to maintain your bike properly and ensure it has all the necessary equipment to get you through your journey safely.
You may also want to talk to someone who has already taken on such a challenge so that they can tell you what to expect.
Tips (Road Trip, Air Travel, Public Transporation, and More)
Here are some tips for making the most of your cross-country trip:
Get plenty of rest
You’ll need all the energy you can muster since traveling takes extra mental and physical effort. Make sure you stop often along the way so you don’t feel like you have to go nonstop or risk getting carsick or dehydrated.
Eat healthy food
It’s important to eat healthy when you’re on the road. Pack nutritious snacks that will energize you without weighing down your travel bag, like granola bars or dried fruit.
You don’t want to feel so hungry that you have no choice but to stop for an unhealthy meal at a fast-food restaurant. It might be cheap, but saving money shouldn’t mean cutting back on what you eat. Try to pick restaurants that serve healthy food, like Subway or Chipotle, instead.
Research your destination
Before you hit the open road, do some research on your destination. Find out what sights and attractions you don’t want to miss, and plan your route accordingly. You’ll also want to ensure you know the best times of year to visit each destination.
Prepare your budget
There are many ways you can go about preparing your budget for this type of trip, but it’s important to start planning early so that you have enough time to save up. Managing your finances ahead of time will help you spend more wisely during your trip across different states.
As much as possible, try to be friendly to the people you meet along the road. Not only will they be happy to help you out, but you might even make a new friend from whom you can get advice on what to see and do in the area.
If you’re planning on taking a cross-country trip, it’s important to book your reservations as early as possible. By doing so, you’ll get the best deals on hotels, rental cars, and airfare. You’ll also have a better chance of getting the dates and flights you want.
In addition, booking early will give you more time to plan your trip. This means you can research destinations and attractions and create a travel itinerary that fits your schedule and budget.
You’ll be spending a lot of time outside, and even though you might not think it’s sunny where you’re going, it probably is. No one wants a sunburned nose.
When purchasing sunscreen, get the kind that has an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin. You should also bring a hat and sunglasses to avoid burning your eyes while driving.
Where can you get more information?
If you’re planning a cross-country road trip, be sure to check out the following resources for tips and advice:
The Federal Highway Administration
This website has information on choosing the best route, preparing your vehicle for a long trip, and staying safe.
The American Automobile Association (AAA)
Another popular provider of maps and travel resources. They offer products such as TripMaker RVND GPS devices that can help you plan your entire trip from start to finish.
One way to get out of your comfort zone when traveling is to take a cross-country trip. This might seem scary, but it’s also really fun.
When planning for this type of travel, not everyone thinks about how it will affect their physical state. If you’re looking for more information on the effects long-distance driving has on our bodies or are looking for tips so that your journey goes smoothly and comfortably, check out our blog post all about cross-country driving.
You’ll find everything from what happens to your body during a drive versus an airplane ride to some common symptoms experienced by travelers after hours in the car. Subscribe below if you want more articles like these delivered straight to your inbox every month.
How much money do you need to travel across the United States?
The simplest and most affordable option is by car. You can rent a car or buy one used for as little as $5,000 at the time of writing. One important thing to remember is that renting a vehicle has lots of extra costs, such as insurance and gas, for which you might not be prepared.
How can I travel across the US for free?
There are many ways to travel across the US for free, but some of the most popular methods are hitchhiking and couchsurfing.
Hitchhiking is a great way to see the country while meeting new people, and Couchsurfing connects you with locals who can show you around their city or town. If you are daring enough, living out of your car is always possible.
What is the best transportation for cross-country travel?
Globally, the most popular form of transportation is by train. They are especially great for long distances since they are both cheap and efficient.
And what’s more, no other vehicle gives you as much time to take in your surroundings or enjoy what’s happening around you. You can even book some train trips with sleeper berths for overnight passages.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.