Experiencing the American dream is one of the top items on every traveler’s bucket list. However, there’s one aspect that most visitors don’t love: the costs.
Thankfully, several ideas can be implemented to ensure that the costs don’t spiral out of control during an extended break. Here are some of the best steps you can take before and during the trip.
1. Save money before you’ve even left the country by finding cheap airport parking or securing discount train travel in advance. Borrow suitcases from loved ones too.
2. Travel at the right times. Flying during peak seasons like summer vacation or the festive period will send your costs through the roof. Likewise, the right time of day can work well.
3. Be flexible enough to consider indirect flights and arriving at a different airport than the one you imagined. Starting your American journey in a different city can save hundreds.
4. Exchange money to dollars is advance, using a service without commissions. Leaving it until you reach the airport could see your costs rise at a dramatic pace.
5. Ensure that your phone provider knows of your plans to travel and has added the airtime requirements to your bundle.
6. Hire a vehicle. The right SUV puts you in full control of your itinerary and allows you to embrace the joy of road tripping across the states in style. It’s far less stressful than internal flights too.
7. Travel for longer. Ok, so technically this will increase the overall costs, but the value for money is far better. Besides, long haul travel feels less impactful this way.
8. Mix it up. A few days spent in Cuba or Mexico allow you to tick off further bucket list items while saving money due to reduced living costs.
9. Put a good travel health insurance package in place. It will save you from a huge medical bill should problems surface. And it provides peace of mind in the process.
10. Build an itinerary that allows you to stop off at several towns and cities where attractions are significantly cheaper.
11. Consider volunteering trips in the USA. While America isn’t the obvious destination for this type of adventure, opportunities still exist. Now is the time to seek them.
12. Incorporate trekking, camping, and other adventures. Not only is it cheap, but it also gives you the once-in-a-lifetime to explore the great American outdoors.
13. Pack portable chargers and power adapters to avoid the threat of having to buy an overpriced item from a 7-11.
14. Use loyalty cards on national superstores and grocery markets. You can cash in your rewards towards the end of your trip to reduce those costs.
15. Weigh up the pros and cons of purchasing and renting all products. Calculated decisions can shave a lot of money off your total vacation bill.
16. Look at alternative accommodation. Sure a hotel is fine, but private villa rentals or Airbnb stays are better. With a little research, you’ll generate huge savings.
17. Make your own lunches. That doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a fancy meal out too. However, cutting down the food budget can bring serious rewards.
18. Check leaflets, newspapers, and business websites for offers and promotions. From attractions to food purchases, the small savings soon add up during the course of your stay.
19. Purchase a refillable water bottle as there will be plenty of fountains available. This can subsequently save valuable dollars every day of the vacation.
20. Speak to the locals. They’ll often teach you the best cheap places to eat, shop, or enjoy family-friendly activities. This can boost your fun and cost-efficiency.
21. Use the official ESTA site for your travel documentation. When travel agencies add this onto a package, they’ll charge for more than the standard $14.
22. Look out for tour packages in major cities like New York, Chicago, or Washington D.C. If you are already planning to visit multiple tourist attractions, this approach can save money overall.
23. Be sure to avoid getting ripped off for gas. Even a few cents extra per gallon will build up over the course of a few weeks. Keep the air pressure right too.
24. Plan your itinerary. While you don’t need to know what you’re doing at each hour, you should plan your stop-offs. This will help you build the best and cheapest route.
25. Do your own washing. Out of every ongoing task you’ll face, laundry is the most expensive to do through hotels and dry cleaners. Take the DIY approach.
26. Claw back money upon your return by selling items you no longer need or by documenting your travels as a blog, vlog, or article.
27. Consider breaking purchases up. For example, train journeys are sometimes cheaper when you break them up into two journeys. Weird, but true.
28. Always check for family and group discounts that reflect your travel group. Even a 10% group saving can work wonders.
29. Network with people before you arrive in the U.S. In some cases, hosts may offer to put you up for free or invite you for a meal or day trip of sightseeing in their city.
30. Embrace local events on the cheap. This could mean street art, open-mic nights, and a range of entertainment features. It’s also the key to unique experiences.
31. Look for discount tickets. Whether it’s a sporting event, theatre show, or theme park doesn’t matter. Finding an online discount code will bring your total costs down.
32. Book in advance too. Aside from lowering the costs, it can be an ideal way to skip the lines and spend more time actually enjoying the various attractions.
33. Consider free attractions. From parks to museums there is a range of historic locations and stunning skylines that can be enjoyed without costing a dollar.
34. Relax on the weekends and do the touristy stuff in the middle of the week when it’s quieter and cheaper. You’ll certainly have a better shot at haggling too.
35. Eat out for breakfast or lunch if you want to try a special restaurant. When it comes to evening meals, though, stick to cheap eateries or DIY.
36. Buy a National Parks pass, which gives you access to all 59 parks across the country. If visiting multiple states, this can work wonders for your stay.
37. Check out cheap sports tickets. Many sporting events won’t sell out if the teams are playing unimportant fixtures. You may be able to score tickets on the cheap.
38. Use the same booking agents where possible, as it can unlock loyalty rewards. For example, your third-party accommodation site may give you a free night.
39. Travel light. There are several situations in which you’ll have to pay for storage or pay for the weight of your luggage. Choosing fewer and lighter items is advised.
40. Take free classes. If you’re looking to embrace the culture and meet people, several providers will run free classes to make it happen. Embrace it.
41. Wait for deals. While your friend may use the Black Friday deals to get a cheaper TV, you can use yours to secure cheap holidays. Perfect.
42. Celebrate your love. If it’s your honeymoon or first vacation as a couple, don’t be afraid to drop it into conversations. It may get you free upgrades on various services.
43. Take money out at the right times. You may not want to carry loads of cash at once, but you should also want to avoid credit card or ATM transaction fees.
44. Respect the laws. A driving offense, jaywalking fine, or other mishaps could land you an unforeseen expense. And it will sour the atmosphere too.
45. Limit yourself to how much you are allowed to spend at fashion outlets and other discount stores. Or else, you will fall into the trap of going over the top.
46. Book a maximum of one luxury adventure per place. That could mean a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon or scuba diving off the Florida Keys. Do things you couldn’t do elsewhere.
47. Prioritize quality over quantity. The harsh reality is that you will never tick off every item on your wishlist. So, enjoy the ones you do rather than trying to do too much.
48. Remember that products can be sent to post office addresses for you to collect. So, if you need to buy essentials, don’t be afraid to use online shopping if it’s cheaper.
49. Before booking anything, check out airlines and travel firms to investigate the possibility of last-minute deals. You may also find early booking discounts and potential benefits.
50. Set a daily budget and stick to it. Sounds obvious, but many people forget it. You can track your spending with various Apps.
All of the above steps are perfect for longer stays and trips across multiple states, but many of them can be used for shorter vacations too. With the right planning, your once-in-a-life trip to the U.S. will be simply the best.