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What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?

What is the Cheapest Way to Travel Across the US?

If you’re seeking a cheap method to travel across the United States, then this article is perfect for you. We’ve put up 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 on 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

US map with white and green pins

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 take into account your preferences when deciding which states to visit. If you like nature, then Oregon and Washington would be a good choice 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 their 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 available free activities or organized tours for travelers.

Here are some of the best places to visit while on budget travel:

  1. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
  2. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado
  3. The beaches of California
  4. The bright lights of New York City
  5. The history of Washington, D.C.
  6. The beautiful mountains of Oregon
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana
  8. 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.

What are the best states to see in the US?

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.

California

Big red bridge and skyline

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.

Florida

Beach view and skyline

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.

See Related: How to Get Discount Disney Tickets in Orlando, Florida

New York City

New York cityscape and Skyline

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.

Washington D.C.

monument with many tourist

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.

Chicago

Towering building and bean shape monument

The Windy City offers a wide range of activities for everyone. 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 Navy Pier.

St. Louis

Big arch and building

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 around the area to explore the various chain restaurants.

Memphis

Crowded street and night lights

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.

Texas

Cityscape, river, and skyline view

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, what you’ll find is what you make of it. Get a steep discount when you book your travel needs ahead of time.

New Orleans

Crowded street

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 the local merchants in this area.

Miami

Ocean and cityscape view

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, what you’ll find is what you make of it. You will be amazed at the amazing accommodation options for travelers like you.

Las Vegas

City lights and illuminated buildings

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.

San Francisco

Bridge and city lights

From cable cars to a vibrant Chinatown filled with delicious restaurants, what’s there to do in San Francisco? From its many museums to Golden Gate Bridge, what you’ll find is what you make of it.

Seattle

Tower and cityscape

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.

Boston

Skyline and cityscape

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 a bus travel to reach this area.

Minneapolis

People walking on a spacious street

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.

Want to visit Minneapolis? Watch our YouTube video of Best Things to Do in Minneapolis & St. Paul (Twin Cities)

15 Best Things to do in Minneapolis & St. Paul (Twin Cities)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Philadelphia

Monument facing the road

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.

Pittsburgh

Ocean, bridge, and downtown view

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.

Baltimore

Buildings and qcean view

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.

Detroit

Statue holding humans and the sun

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 going on a bus trip. Make sure to count the accommodation costs when planning a visit to this area.

Atlanta

Downtown view

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.

Washington, DC

Cars in the road

This is another popular place to go when taking a USA road trip. You can easily visit the White House and Capitol Hill to Smithsonian Museum and Library of Congress. Since this place is quite famous, be ready to pay expensive parking fees and gas prices.

Chicago

Illuminated Chicago text and city night lights

What’s there to do in Chicago? Well, what isn’t there to do? From Willis Tower and Navy Pier to Marshall Field’s Wholesale Store and Lakeview Baseball Club, what you’ll find is what you make of it.

Los Angeles

Road surrounded with palm trees

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.

San Diego

Ocean waves reaching the shore

Taking bus travel all the way to San Diego is also a good idea. This is the place where you can see the Old Town State Historic Park and Seaport Village to Mission Beach and its scenic boardwalk. There are tons of options available for public transport.

Denver

Colorful graffiti

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.

Houston

Park with view of the city

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 what your daily travel budget is. 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 to be 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 choose to 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 in place, 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 put up 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, it’s easy to split the expenses and create your own cost-effective road trip.

If that doesn’t work for you, what about traveling on foot? Believe it or not, many people travel across the country this way.

In fact, there are a variety of 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 has to offer when it comes to 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.

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.

There are a few things to consider when getting on an airplane for a cross-country trip. First, you’ll want to make sure that 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’re allowed to 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.

Renting a Car

If you are planning on traveling across the country, it is advisable to rent a car. The reason for this is that you can save money by driving your own vehicle and avoiding the high costs associated with gasoline.

You may also want to consider how much time 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 – just pack light.

A note about safety: when renting a car make sure 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.

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 will be 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. Make sure you have enough money saved up to cover your costs along the way.

Second, be prepared for long journeys. The average bus ride is about 8 hours, so make sure you 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 so you can pass the time while on the bus.

Traveling via a Train

Taking a train across the country is an affordable option that allows you to enjoy what’s happening outside of your window or inside your 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 in the world.

Amtrak also offers food service, making it easy to get what you need without having to leave your seat. However, if you’d rather not have someone wait on you during your trip, there are usually snack bars located 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. There are many highways and roads that 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, make sure you understand what’s expected of you and what the rules are. You’ll need to keep your bike properly maintained and make sure 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 just so they can tell you what to expect.

Tips (Road Trip, Air Travel, Public Transporation, and More)

Woman sitting on car roof

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 effort both mentally and physically. Make sure you stop often along the way so you don’t feel like you have to go nonstop or else risk getting car sick or becoming dehydrated. 

Eat healthy food

This may sound obvious, but 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 make sure you’re aware of 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 wiser during your trip across different states.

Be Friendly

As much as possible, make an effort to be friendly to the people that you meet along the road. Not only will they be happy to help you out, but you might even make a new friend from who you can get advice on what to see and do in the area.

Book Early

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 be able to get the best deals on hotels, rental cars, and airfare. You’ll also have a better chance of getting the dates and flights that you want.

In addition, booking early will give you more time to plan your trip. This means that you’ll be able to research different destinations and attractions and create a travel itinerary that fits your schedule and budget.

Use sunscreen

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 along a hat and sunglasses so you don’t burn 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 all sorts of information on topics such as choosing the best route, preparing your vehicle for a long trip, and staying safe on the road.

The American Automobile Association (AAA)

It is a great source of information for both leisure and business travelers. They offer travel guides, maps, and discounts on car rentals and hotels.

Rand McNally

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.

Conclusion

One way you can 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, one thing not everyone thinks about is 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.

FAQS

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 dollars at the time of writing. One important thing to remember is that if you’re renting a vehicle it has lots of extra costs such as insurance and gas which you might not be prepared for.

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, there is always the option of living out of your car.

What is the best transportation for cross-country travel?

Globally, the most popular form of transportation is trains-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 going on around you. You can even book some train trips with sleeper berths for overnight passages.

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