USA road trip, car rental

7 Ideas for Cross Country Road Trip in the US

Article outline:

Why choose the USA road trip?

The United States is not only famous for the skyscrapers of New York, the beaches of California plus casinos in Las Vegas. There’s plenty of interesting areas in this country, such as the national parks, Grand Canyon National Park, State Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, pacific coast along with the pacific coast highway and in order to see all these beautiful, amazing, funny and fascinating places, you should go on a USA road trip. This is evidently the best and most convenient way of traveling, providing the following benefits:

  • Freedom of movement. This means that if you see something interesting on your way or if you learn about some unusual place, you can easily deviate from the course or linger a little.
  • Relatively low cost of American road trips. What to see in America with a limited budget? No worries! In case the number of passengers is equal to the number of seats in the car, then you will greatly save and visit a lot of incredible spots at the same time.
  • Mobility. You can go to the store or another place to purchase everything you need at any time. When traveling by train, this opportunity is unlikely to be presented.
  • Unlimited amount of baggage. You will be able to take almost all you need – you will be limited only by the capacity of the trunk and you won’t have to worry about the excess weight.
  • Privacy. Other people won’t bother you, which means you can completely relax.
  • Time-saving. Sometimes road trips by car are shorter than, for example, a train ride.

usa road trip

That’s why many travelers prefer to enjoy road trips in USA. Where to go is another important issue of the drivers, but actually, there’re many options to choose from. For example, Route 66 – an iconic road connecting Los Angeles in the east and Chicago in the west, or SR 1 Route running from San Francisco to San Diego, Overseas Highway. Especially, travelers like taking trips along the pacific coast and driving the Pacific Coast Highway. Among the most visited USA cities are New Mexico, New Orleans, San Diego, and Key West.

How to plan a road trip across America?

Careful preparation is the key to a successful journey. Therefore, many travelers are concerned about how to plan USA road trips to feel the maximum pleasure and avoid any unexpected situations on the road.

Generally, the major points to do before the trip include:

  • Plan the best cross country road trip route. Take the map and create an approximate direction to move, and places to stop/stay. Use Google Maps or a special application, which is more convenient and reliable.
  • Be sure to learn the features of the area to which you are going. This will take everything you need and avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • Examine the weather conditions, find out the forecasts.
  • Reserve a car rental for a cross country trip at the starting point of the journey. Check the availability of the one-way option.
  • Plan your budget. Calculate all major and unforeseen expenses that may arise on the road: for food and drinks, for petrol, as well as for the hotel in case you decide to stay on the way.
  • Find out how long such a road trip in the USA will take, or how much time you spend on the road. For this, determine the distance that you will need to drive, and divide it by the average speed. It’s better to accept the minimum values ​​in order to have a time margin.

road trip usa cost, cheap road trip usa

Also, every journey implies the presence of the most necessary belongings that will be useful to you. Among them are:

  • Documents – passport, insurance policy, and a driver’s license;
  • Money, and credit/debit card;
  • Smartphone USB Car Charger;
  • Car neck pillow;
  • Portable refrigerator;
  • Sunscreen;
  • Navigator.

What is the cost of driving cross country in the USA?

Any trip requires money, and American road trips are even more so. Someone decides to live in a tent, someone chooses a hotel, and someone can eat just one burger per day and drink a liter of water – each person’s spending will differ, depending on personal needs. Many of the travelers are dreaming to visit national parks which is not cheap actually. However, in order to approximately count the number of required funds, it’s necessary to determine the main points of expenditure.

A compact/economy car will cost $15-$30 per day, a convertible – from $45 per day. Of course, the prices depend on the rental company, car class, durability, season, etc. So, if you rent a car for a road trip in the USA for 1 week on, it will cost you from $105.

  • Lodging

It depends on the location. For example, in Las Vegas you can easily book a room for $50 per day, in San Francisco – 2-3 times more expensive.

  • Food

In every major city, there’s a large selection of cafes where you can find healthy food. The average bill with a drink will be about $18-$20 (without alcohol). If breakfast is included in the hotel price, then you will spend $20-$40 per day for meals.

  • Visiting nature reserves

Be sure to buy an annual pass to the National Park, it will allow you to visit them for free all year round. Its cost per person is $20. However, National Park is one of the most exciting places to visit and it worth the money you’ll spend.

  • Amusement parks

You’ll spend about $100/person for amusement parks.

Summing it up, expenses for the car, food, and accommodation are about $100/day. A two-week trip with visiting nature reserves and amusement parks will cost about $1500. If you decide to travel to Canada, your overall expenditure may increase by an additional 20%.

So, a standard trip without amusement parks or clubs will cost you from about $600/week (without gas expenses).

How much does it cost to rent a car to drive across the country?

Cars for travelers are offered by many companies. However, the vehicles of the companies that offer the one-way option are most suitable for your US road trip, as they allow to pick-up and return your car in different locations.

car rental in USA, USA car rental

Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, National, Dollar-Thrifty, and Hertz are the best agencies for traveling around America. In addition to cheap rates, they feature excellent rental conditions and reliable cars.

Here’re the average prices in the US for renting a car for a road trip cross country (prices updated in 2023):

  • Economy class (Toyota Corolla, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, and similar) about $110 per day;
  • Business class (Nissan Maxima, Toyota Camry, Dodge Avenger, Hyundai Sonata, and similar) about $131 per day;
  • SUV (Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Tahoe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Suburban and similar) about $129 per day.

How to travel cross-country with a rental car cheaply?

It’s not a secret that cheap USA road trip is a dream of each traveler. The fact is that the total cost of the trip is quite high, and not everyone can afford it.

USA road trip

Even if it’s impossible to reduce travel expenses by 2 or 3 times, but you can try to reduce them by 20-30% by using the following travel tips:

  • Book car rental in advance

If reserving vehicle 2-3 weeks before the desired pick-up date, the price will be much lower when driving across the US.

  • Choose economy car

The excellent fuel efficiency of small cars will significantly reduce the expenses for gasoline on a road trip. This is why Economy rental class is considered to be the cheapest cross country car rental.

  • Find a cheap pick up location

Don’t rent a car for your cross country road trip at the very airport – it’s better to pick it up in the city center and start your trip from there.

  • Save on food

Usually, the portions in local cafes are quite large, so one serving will be quite enough for 2 people.

  • Search for a suitable lodging

It’s recommended to avoid hotels in the city center and book a hotel with on-site parking. This will significantly reduce accommodation expenses, and allow you to find a place for your car.

3 thoughts on “7 Ideas for Cross Country Road Trip in the US”

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