Budget advice for USA
Replies: 35 - Last Post: Jun 11, 2013 7:04 AM Last Post By: chantelleandjosh
Oct 7, 2012 5:26 PM
15Okay, your budget of roughly $19,000, or about $210 a day, is quite adequate. Let me give you a few ideas.
1. Enter on one coast and leave from the other, rather than round trip from New York. This will save time and money.
2. Do "big cities" in the East, and rent your car in the West. In my opinion, the only big city in the West worthy of being a genuine destination is San Francisco. Everything else is pretty much interchangeable, with some being better than others, for example Portland far better than Phoenix. But the West is about the countryside, and you've got the time and money to see it.
3. Do advance research on car rentals. Start by reading a FAQ item I wrote a while back, Tips on Renting a Car in the U.S. and Driving It Here. You will pay more for a vehicle because of your age, but you'll be able to get one if you plan in advance.
4. Use Portland, Oregon as a regional base for seeing the wide-open American West in a rental car. You could easily fill up a month doing it, and it would be a month full of things you will never see in Europe. If you are interested in seeing a rodeo, the one for you to see, if you can arrange your schedule to fit it, is the Pendleton Roundup, which you'll want to attend on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. I am a huge fan of the West. I live there and have traveled very extensively throughout the region. If you want to know more, you can start with a FAQ item I wrote, Oregons Old West, A Few Hours From Portland.
In my opinion, many Europeans miss the West by focusing on a short list of "brand name" destinations. I intend to write a FAQ item about that; if you're interested in the Western U.S. far from the cities, say so and I'll start practicing on that FAQ item through advising you about your trip.
5. In New York, plan on spending $200 a night for a hotel room. Elsewhere on the east cost, and in San Francisco, maybe $150. Pretty much everywhere else, you could get away with $100 a night for clean and comfortable accommodations. If you budget $1,000 each for air fares, that should be more than enough.
That'll be it for the moment, pending some responses from you.
HAVE A GREAT TRIP
Oct 7, 2012 5:35 PM
Oct 7, 2012 5:40 PM
17Didn't you say that you have a $9,600 budget, and that your friend has the same budget? $9,600 times 2 = $19,200. These aren't two separate trips. It's one trip, correct? You're sharing costs for rooms and cars, correct? I don't know how many ways I can possibly ask you what the budget for the trip is. Please clarify!
Oct 7, 2012 5:42 PM
Oct 7, 2012 5:54 PM
19Yes, I understand about food and drink. But the big costs of a trip are transportation and housing. I presume that the two of you will usually eat and drink together, no? If you reserve $2,000 for plane tickets for the both of you, you'll have a combined budget of $185-$190 a night. If your room costs an average of $125 a night, you're left with $60 a day to eat and drink. ($30 each, that is.)
The big issue would be renting a car and seeing the West, if that's something you want to do. It would mean paying closer attention to costs. For example, there are probably ways to cut the airplane ticket budget in half. Also, I've included a pretty high room budget. Especially in the interior West, you can get away with spending a lot less. Similarly, food and drink is pretty cheap once you get away from city restaurants.
There are ways to make it work, but before giving more detailed advice I'd need to know whether the idea of seeing the West in a big way appeals to you. If it really doesn't appeal, please say so. This is your trip, not mine. I mention the West because, aside from my being batshit crazy in love with the wide-open spaces here and wanting people to see them, a) you'll have the time, b) you have enough money if you plan carefully, and c) it'd be the least "European" aspect of your trip. But again, this is not my trip. It's yours.
I might add that there are other approaches. There are short trips of a few days that would give you some great scenery. It's not "a whole month or nothing." I mention the whole month because you've got so much time, and the budget could probably be made to fit.
Oct 7, 2012 11:25 PM
Oct 7, 2012 11:43 PM
21I looked at your initial itinerary, and wonder if, rather than list the places you want to go, you could say what you want the trip to be. I take this tack as someone with hundreds of thousands of road miles on the tires, over several decades. It would be quite possible to come here and noodle around and leave without feeling like you connected with anything. So maybe an idea of what you're trying to do, in a general sense, might help.
To put it differently, you're going to be spending a lot of time and a lot of money to be here. It's not exactly the typical 10 days for some sun in Florida. So what brings you here for that amount of time? Trust me, I'm not in the slightest bit critical. Other way around. But you might think about this to clarify things so I might be able to be as helpful as possible. Sure, I go for the wide open spaces out West, but there are lots of U.S.A.s, and lots of reasons to be here. What are yours?
Oct 8, 2012 2:01 AM
22The main reason is both my friend and I will be finishing university next July and we just want a 2/3 month break before we start full time work travelling around as much of America as possible and meeting the diverse people from the country. We don't really have any particular sights we wish to see its more to just meet various people and get away from England for a bit.
Oct 8, 2012 7:40 AM
23Summary: So far you've told us
- you want to meet a variety of people; this (not specific sights) is the major attraction of USA for you both
- you've not been to the USA before
- you'll be arriving around Aug 28, 2013, departing late Oct or late Nov depending on finances. This timing isn't able to be changed.
- you want to stay mostly in cities that have good public transit with perhaps a couple of 2-3 day side trips via rental car
- You'll share hotel rooms and rental car costs (both are over 21 and under 25, concerned about 1-way drop off fees) but all other expenses are separate.
- you each have about 9,600 to cover your expenses while in the USA
- you want to be here 2-3 months.
- simple, inexpensive meals most of the time are what you expect - gourmet food/drinks are not important for your vacation
General route plan initially proposed, arriving from England - NY ( 2 days here) - New Orleans - Nevada - San Fran - Portland - Seattle - Montana - South Dakota - Minneapolis - Chicago - Ohio - Pennsylvania and then back to New York
Oct 8, 2012 7:56 AM
24Given that you'll be sharing hotel room costs, your budget is good.
For best weather, I'd suggest reversing the list of destinations so you travel the Northern cities/states in Sept/early Oct and the Southern ones late Oct/Nov.
I suggest that you add Washington, DC to your list -- wonderful public transit, great museums, and a wide variety of people from all over the USA also visiting there.
If you can take Amtrak train for the cross-country segments, you'll likely have the opportunity to meet/talk with other travellers. It's more costly than flying.
If along the way you stay in a few Bed & Breakfast places, instead of a standard hotel or hostel, you'll have more opportunities to talk with the owners/hosts as well as USA travellers. These are more costly typically than standard hotels and a lot more expensive than hostels.
Plan to attend a few sports events. A local high school Friday night football game would be a fine place to see/meet/experience USA people. A NASCAR race (general admission seats are affordable) or a Rodeo might be other events that you could attend and meet people, if you plan around where & when those are being held.
Oct 8, 2012 8:18 AM
Oct 8, 2012 6:52 PM
26Given your essential goal for the trip, I don't think an extended tour in the American outback would fit for you. What I was thinking of is too solitary. The West (or other fairly remote areas elsewhere) are many things, but not generally places to meet and socialize with other people. There is an important caveat to that, though. Various group excursions, such as whitewater rafting trips or an organized hiking and camping trips, would be good ways to see the sights but with other people around. There are a lot of opportunities in the summer.
If this was my trip and I had your goals, I think I'd fly to a Western city in August. Prior to doing it, I'd do some research on those group rafting and hiking trips. There are all kinds of organized excursions. Then, once you get into September, I'd head to various college towns to mix with people your own age. The U.S. is chock full of college towns, which include some big cities. Boston, for example, has more than 100,000 students. It is the ultimate college town, but also a big city with a lot of other things going on.
Timing is key. In August, the college towns will pretty much be dead. Toward the end of the month, students are coming back. By early to mid-September, the typical college town is bursting at the seams with young people. It'll be early in the semester, before too many student vanish into study mode.
The list of college towns is too long to list here, but I'll name a few:
- Northampton/Amherst, Massachusetts
- Burlington, Vermont
- New Haven, Connecticut
- New York
- Charlottesville, Virginia
- Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Missoula, Montana
- Bozeman, Montana
- Seattle, Washington (the "university district")
- Eugene, Oregon
- Berkeley, California
- San Luis Obispo, California
The foregoing merely scratch the surface. I have no doubt that, as soon as I post this, others will fill in places I didn't mention. The only significant negative to this approach is that it might be somewhat limiting, in the sense that your socializing will wind up being with like-minded people of your own age, in bars or at music venues.
But there are always tradeoffs in travel, as there are in life in general. This approach would assure that you meet your primary goal, and if you also did those outdoor excursions you'd see at least some of natural sights located away from the cities. You can definitely meet people on the road, but it's more haphazard, plus I think the prototypical English reserve, which is pretty much a part of every Englishman I've ever met, might make it a particular challenge here. (The comment about "reserve" wasn't an insult, but an observation. Most of the Europeans are more reserved. Just part of the deal.)
Oct 9, 2012 7:40 AM
27If you have that much of a travel budget, why not go where the money will last 5 times longer? The USA and its National Parks and major cities are not going anywhere, but the developing world is changing, and many countries already have in the last decade (Vietnam/Panama). Go backpacking where there is cheap and efficient public transport options from busses, trains, shuttles and boats, to inexpensive lodging, great food that is far more enjoyable, fresh and exotic, and a lot more culture and history? Overall the USA is best explored via car hire, flights and a few trains. You could see a new country and culture every 2-3 weeks.
You could spend 8 months to 1 year visiting Latin America from Mexico to Argentina on that budget, and throw in SE Asia Thailand/Vietnam, and even China...
Oct 9, 2012 7:43 AM
28#27 - your constant advice here on the USA board advocating travel to other destinations got old long ago. Provide info about USA or scroll on by, please.
Oct 9, 2012 7:55 AM
29No I will not. People posting with budget restrictions and limited transport options due to age, combined with a poor hostel network in 80% of the country, makes all my "Consider other destinations" relevant IMO. If you cant afford Hawaii, go to Costa Rica as an example. if you dont have the means to travel the USA the way you need to, its a pain in the arse, not cheap to boot.
$100 night lodging in the USA is 2-3 star, in most the rest of Latin America and Asia its 4 star. 80% of Americans travel around by car, 80% of the rest world uses public transport.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$255.15 per night
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(3 star Hotel)
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