How To Travel Around The USA For Less Than $1,500 Per Month

Matt Lillywhite

I grew up thinking that travel is incredibly expensive. After all, you only have to open Instagram for a few seconds to see countless images of private yachts and villas by the ocean.

But then I realized something: everything I thought I knew was a lie. “Travel is expensive” was just an excuse I frequently told myself to feel better about staying in one place all the time. The truth is that I didn’t even bother finding ways to make it more affordable.

But one day, I make the decision to do something that my mom called “absolutely nuts.” I booked a ticket to the United States and began an epic trip around the country. I visited 14 states and spent only $1,500 per month. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Plus, I got the opportunity to make some incredible friendships that have lasted several years.

Here are several strategies that you can use to travel around the United States on a budget:

1) Use Alternative Methods Of Transportation

It’s no secret that domestic travel in the United States can be incredibly expensive. For example, a flight from New York to Los Angeles will typically cost a few hundred dollars (including baggage fees). Meanwhile, in Europe, you can often get a flight from one country to another for less than $50.

If you want to travel around the USA on a budget, it’s a good idea to find alternative methods of transportation. For example, I traveled down the east coast using Greyhound in 2018. I stopped in multiple cities along the way — so each bus ride was only a couple of hours long. The total cost of transportation for my trip from New York to Miami was less than $200.

Sure, it might take longer to travel somewhere by bus or train (in comparison to flying). However, it’s certainly more affordable. Quoting an article published by The Backpacking Site:

“Greyhound Bus is the largest network in North America and is one of the best ways to travel by bus. The Greyhound US bus network includes 3700 locations throughout the United States, and Greyhound Canada can take you to a further 1300 in Canada. With such a large selection of destinations and an attractive range of ticketing options, Greyhound is an excellent choice for the backpacker looking to cover a large distance on a budget.”

2) Find Ways To Reduce Your Grocery Expenses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends about $3,000 a year dining out. That’s a lot of money to spend on restaurants and takeout (especially if you already have a tight budget).

Restaurants in large cities around the United States can be pricey. With the average cost of a meal at approximately $20 per person, dining out all the time will inevitably result in travel being extremely unaffordable.

However, traveling around the USA (or anywhere else) doesn’t have to be expensive. Before I go on a long road trip or train journey, I’ll head to the dollar store and grab some snacks.

The reason? They often sell the same refreshments as Walmart or any other grocery store. Honestly, it’s pretty incredible how much you can get at the dollar store. So instead of paying $20 for some food and drink, I’ll pay $5.

3) Discover Free Things To Do In Each City

If you go to all the expensive tourist attractions, the cost of visiting a new destination will be extraordinarily high as many places often charge upwards of $20 for admission. And of course, the cost of refreshments is an additional expense that you’ll have to deal with.

That’s why I try to keep the cost of sightseeing as low as possible. For example, here are several free places you can visit in Los Angeles:

  • Santa Monica beach.
  • Griffith Observatory.
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • California Science Center
  • Venice canals.

Of course, it’s worth paying for admission if you desperately want to go somewhere. But if you can save just $20 per day by visiting free attractions, you’ll save upwards of $600 per month as a direct result of doing this.

Since I started implementing the above strategies, I’ve saved a lot of money while traveling around the United States. So consider giving them a go whenever you visit a new destination. Chances are, they’ll significantly reduce your expenses, as well.

Photo via Pexels

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