Backpacking around USA
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 21, 2013 6:21 PM Last Post By: Scooter72
Feb 20, 2011 11:54 AM
Backpacking around USAHi guys, I'm looking for some advice on backing packing in the USA. Is it possible to see much of the US on a very small budget? I just imagine it would be very expensive as opposed to doing the typical backpacking holiday in Asia for example. What would be the best travel mode to get around and see as much as possible and what would the likes of accomadation and food cost? Any advise on budgets or must see places would be greatly appreciated. :)
Feb 20, 2011 12:26 PM
1So you realize, in the US this is "backpacking."
Feb 20, 2011 2:21 PM
2OK, we'll need more info, but first (as bzookaj pointed out) backpacking the States means hiking into the wilderness for multi-night camping carryiing all your food and equipment in a large backpack.
I think you are referring to backpacking inthe European sense of the term meaning budget travel, staying in hostels, and carrying your clothes in a backpack.
Assuming you are backpacking in the European sense of the term, there are many ways to cut costs depending on your travel style.
In the western U.S. there are millions of hectares of public lands where you can camp for free or inexpensively, BUT, you have to get there usually meaning a you have to have a car.
You can cut back on food costs by preparing your own, but again, you need the means and place to prepare and enjoy your meals.
America doesn't have the network of hostels that Europe does, although there are some, there are far fewer and they tend to cost more.
Have you looked into couchsurfing.com?
Without more information including what months you will be travelling, your budget, and your interests we can'y help you out much more than that.
Feb 20, 2011 11:43 PM
3I just got back from SE Asia, and I disagree that Asia is a "whole lot" cheaper than America in many respects. For one, I can find beer cheaper in America than Thailand, and its better quality. Same goes with food. Although it's cheap in Asia, when you compare quality, it's really cheaper, better, and more varied in America. The kicker with America, is transportation. Although safer, it's costly. Maybe you can buy a used vehicle and re-sell it when you leave. Otherwise, Greyhound and discount airlines are best. I would also try to zoom in my map and select a specific area for the season and activities. America is as large and varied as the whole world, you could spend a lifetime seeing and doing it all. Which is why so many Americans are just fine with travelling at home.
Edited by: denver1111
Feb 21, 2011 3:25 AM
4Well I've been bagpacking in the european sense across the US of A a few times. I once brought only 3 thousand Australian dollars and spent a whole month getting from city to city via early bird airline booking as well as trying to use as many discounts as possible as I am a University student. I don't really get a sense of what kind of trip you really want to have. A typical trip to the USA would have to include the Grand Canyon, New York City, Niagara falls (although that is partly canada), California and perhaps get a taste of the south (New Orleans and such). This is only my opinion and yours may be very different to mine but I am trying to be as general and vague as possible. I hope that helps.
Feb 21, 2011 8:06 AM
5I think the cheapest trip you could do is to stay in major cities and take the AMTRAK train or Greyhound/Trailways bus between them. Occassionally, regional airlines have prices competitive with AMTRAK. Try to avoid ultra-expensive destinations (New York for example) and that have well developed public transportation (San Francisco for example). For side trips to national parks and such check out Green Tortoise tours.
So, for example, you could base out of San Francisco, Las Vegas (only 'cause almost all visitors want to go to Las Vegas), and New Orleans.
Once in your city of choice, stay in hostels or couchsurf, severely restrict your alcohol intake and partying, go only to free events, and cook your own food. Then you could stretch your dollars (or pounds) pretty far and probably reach a travelling budget for about $40 - $60 usd/day.
Other than camping out under a highway overpass (which I've done) I can't think of a cheaper way unless you know someone to stay with.
Feb 21, 2011 12:01 PM
6Yes indeed i did mean "backpacking" in the European sense of the term! My boyfriend is really keen on seeing as much of the US as possible, whereas I'm more keen on seeing Asia and South America, so I was just trying to get some general info on the US from people who have already traveled it. Thanks for all that info guys it did help.
I'd love to do all three areas mentioned above but I haven't a huge amount saved and would like to begin traveling in about a year's time. Can anyone tell me if I had a budget of around €5000, would it be possible to travel to all of the above and would it last for long if we were to do it as cheaply as possibly?
Now I know I don't have much info for ye and I'm probably being very naive but I'm completely new to travelling and researching about it.
Thanks in advance
Feb 21, 2011 2:43 PM
7I would like to think that 5000 euros would become about $5300-6000 when changed over to US dollars. In this case you'd have to spend maybe 1000 euros on flights to the USA return (I'm guessing you are european as you are using euros as your prefered mode of currency, which means you can usually get a 1000 euro ticket to new york city and back with ease). having 4000 euroes or $4500 left was about my budget too and I got to do a lot of stuff and go to many cities so that shouldn't be a problem at all. I visited 18 cities on that budget as well as GC and Niagara and rented a car with a friend for a week and spent a lot on shopping. The money is fine for 2 MONTHS max. Hope my experience in having the same budget may have helped you understand the amount of things you can do in that period of time. Also I agree with the comment above, using AMTRAK helped and saved me tremendously. Enjoy!
Feb 21, 2011 5:27 PM
Feb 21, 2011 7:48 PM
9OP, we'd be happy to help but we require more data. Please read:
How to get great TT advice
Be specific. Believe it or not, some people will neglect to say when they’re coming. Don’t be one of those people. Also essential: How much do you have to spend? "Reasonable" doesn't cut it. Give a dollar number. If you worry that people will want to direct you to the highest-priced places, try this: Say how much you’d like to spend, and how high you could go if you had to or if it was really special. No one’s looking for your complete financial statements, but in a country where rooms rent for anywhere from $35 a night to more than $1,000 it would help greatly to have a number so we can give you useful information as opposed to a bunch of vague, impressionistic hoo-hah.
It is also essential to know about your transportation arrangements. Are you flying, taking the train, using Greyhound, or driving? If you’re trying to decide whether to rent a car, here’s a general rule: Driving is the most expensive but by far the most preferable unless your trip is going to be confined to the following cities: New York, Boston, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas and (possibly) Seattle and (possibly) the West Side of L.A. for a day or two. Just about anywhere else, you will almost certainly need a car. This is especially true if you think you want to see wilderness areas. Hitchhiking is not an option in the United States; it has definitely gone out of style since its heyday in the 1970s, and in fact is illegal in many places.
A related note: If you do not have a driver’s license, can't afford a rental car due to the underage surcharge, or you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and want to use mass transit for your entire trip, for heavens sake, say so! That way, we won't waste time telling you about renting a car or describing the best way to drive from Point A to Point B.
Make sure your post mentions anything about you that would be helpful to know. An 18 year old Brit on his first trip abroad usually wants different advice from a Italian family with an infant or a couple in their 50s from Ohio.
Do some research of your own. Start by checking the USA Branch FAQ at the top of the board. It is loaded with information on American cities and general travel tips. For example: Want to know the ins and outs of renting a car in the United States? It’s in the FAQ. Also, use the Search function here. People (justifiably) complain about it, but a search will often yield quite a bit of usable information. Above all: Don’t ask an open-ended question that requires people to write a guidebook just for you, such as, "I have two weeks and I’m thinking of taking a trip to America. Can anyone give me advice on what to do and where to go?"
Asking about New York? Please read this first: Don’t post the same old tired, infuriating question: "I’m going to be in New York for X days and would like to know what to do, especially off the beaten path." First off, New York is too big for anyone here to write you a guidebook all your own, so go buy one. They publish those things for a reason. If you have a specific, narrow-gauge question then ask it and people will gladly help. Secondly, if it’s your first trip then travel the beaten track, which is beaten for a reason. You’re a tourist, not visiting royalty.
Read this informative link. It just might save us all some grief.
Feb 22, 2011 9:10 AM
- Backpacking in the US would only be similar to traveling in expensive Asian cities like Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Generally, meals in most of Asia are a lot cheaper.
- Does that 5,000 include flights? Where are the flights from if it does? Is it for both of you or per person?
- Generally, expect to spend about $80-100 per day in the US ($20-30 for a hostel dorm bed, $25 for food, $10 local transportation, rest for sightseeing, drinks, and incidentals....then you also need to factor in the bus or train pass and/or flights). In most of Asia, you can spend $30-40 per day relatively easily if you're traveling on a low budget. In South America, it's about in between depending on where exactly. Also, in the US, you need a car anywhere outside of major cities.
Jan 21, 2013 6:21 PM
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