10 tips to save on your trip to the U.S.
A USA road trip may seem out of your budget, and at first glance, you're not entirely wrong.
But what you may not know is that there are many tips that can save you a lot of money, either while planning your trip, or even while you are there.
Below I have made a list of the 10 best ways to save on your American vacation.
#1. BOOK EARLY AND SAVE
We can never repeat it enough, booking early is always a good idea!
In addition to giving you more time to plan your trip, you can save big thanks to the generous specials offered by many service providers.
Take RV rental as an example. Many rental companies offer free or unlimited mileage packages, free bedding and/or kitchen equipment, and other free options if you book early. And the earlier you book, the more vehicles will be available and the less it will cost you. It's all a question of supply and demand!
Apart from RV rental, you will find many other interesting offers by booking early. There are special deals on hotels, flights, and even on certain tours and activities.
And don't forget that, by booking early, you have a better chance of getting a campsite in a national park, or that Antelope Canyon tour you have your heart set on. So many advantages!
#2. TRAVEL IS CHEAPER IN LOW SEASON
It is a well-known fact that the prices of hotels, campgrounds, and car and USA RV rentals are lower in low season because there are fewer travellers and greater availability.
And it is so much more enjoyable taking a road trip when there is less traffic on the roads, visiting the Grand Canyon without having problems finding parking, and being able to take a photo of Horseshoe Bend without another tourist in the background!
#3. KEEP AN EYE ON THE EXCHANGE RATE
Yes, the exchange rate is important, because following the rate of the US dollar and booking at the right time can lead to significant savings.
Some websites such as Investing.com provide an overview of the trends and rates of other currencies versus the American dollar over days, weeks, months or years.
For example, a US$5,000 trip would have cost you 4,808 euros in March 2015, whereas if you had booked in May of the same year, you would have paid 4,348 euros. That's a savings of 460 euros per person!
#4. BE SMART ABOUT FLYING
Nowadays, finding US plane tickets at the best prices has almost become an art!
Several factors can really affect the price of a flight. Here are our top tips:
- Travel on a weekday rather than a weekend (from Tuesday to Tuesday, for example) and in low season if possible.
- Be flexible about your departure dates and times and the number of stops.
- Use the Google Flights website to help you find the cheapest departure dates.
- Once you've found the cheapest dates, go to the Skyscanner and Kayak websites to compare available flights and find the best price. Note, before booking your flight on one of these websites, always check on the airline's website: you never know!
- Avoid booking your flights too far in advance, but don't wait until two weeks before your departure because the prices will be higher. For flights to the U.S., an average of 4 months before your trip is good timing to find tickets at a good price.
- Compare before purchasing two one-way flights (arriving in one city and leaving from another). It may be much cheaper to arrive and leave from the same airport.
#5. BRING YOUR OWN GPS
Renting a GPS from a car or RV rental agency will cost between 8 and 12 euros a day.
If you will be travelling for several weeks, it is easy to see that you will save money by bringing your own GPS and downloading North America maps before you leave, or even by purchasing one.
#6. BUY A SIM CARD
The mobile phone is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for travellers, and the cheapest way to have Internet access on your mobile phone while in the U.S. is to purchase a SIM card.
A SIM card will provide you with, among other things, a prepaid data package you can use to access the Internet.
This card must be installed inside your telephone, replacing your regular carrier. It will be easy to buy a card before you leave, or even after you reach the U.S.
#7. BRING YOUR CHILD'S CAR SEAT
When it comes to child car seats, rental is not always a practical option.
In addition to being expensive, the rental company will not be able to help you install it for insurance reasons.
Bring your own, it's free!
During your trip
#8. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL AND FREE ACTIVITIES
If you plan to visit more than 3 American national parks during your trip, purchase the America the Beautiful pass for US$80.
At $35 per vehicle every time you visit a National Park, the pass can save you a lot of money. You can purchase the pass at the entrance to the first park you visit. It is valid for 12 months.
And don't forget that all national parks offer interesting free activities. Ask for information!
#9. PICNICS AND MORE
- Here are some ways to save on your food budget:
- Get a cooler on your arrival and buy water, drinks and nutritional snacks for the road. Free ice is available at most hotels and, if not, it is easy and inexpensive to buy.
- Have picnics: visit supermarkets like Safeway, which often have a sandwich counter and an array of hot dishes and salads.
Do you know about “Early bird specials”? Many restaurants offer special prices (up to 50% off) if you dine early, usually before 6 p.m. With children, this can be an interesting option as well as very affordable.
- Restaurant portions are often enormous. Don't hesitate to order a dish to share, or to ask for a "doggy bag" to take home the leftovers from your meal. This is a very common practice in the U.S.
#10. SAVE ON GAS
Download the free GasBuddy app, which call tell you in seconds where to find the cheapest gas in the area.
Also, remember to gas up outside national parks whenever possible, as prices in the parks may be considerable higher. Scarcity always means higher prices!
All of these tips put together are sure to help you save money, leaving more for the things that matter!
Do you know any other ways to save while travelling in the United States?
Don't hesitate to share your tips in the comments below.