Skip Navigation

Getting around USA on a budget

Travel Forums North America Getting around USA on a budget

1. Posted by Jeffers7 (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y

Jeffers7 has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hello everyone,

I'm planning on visiting America in December with a few pals and wanted some advice on travelling. As we don't have a lot of money, we are looking at ways to travel around cheaply. I have heard that there are some companies that use people to transport cars around America and let them use the car for free as long as they pay for gas. Is this right? And if so does anyone know the names of these companies because this sounds like a great idea. We are looking at going down the west coast.


2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 612 posts) 11y

Hi Jeffers,
Yes, there are deals called 'driveaways' which are an excellent way of getting from A-B.
There are, however, two catches:
1. You have a fixed time to do the journey, which only gives you a few extra days to sight-see on top of what it will take to do the driving.
2. You are only allowed a certain mileage. Obviously, the car owner doesn't want you adding 3000 miles to his car, so you get maybe 250 on top of the official distance depending on how far the trip is.
Well worth it as a cheap was of seeing the country as you drive by, but it's not a particularly leisurely way, nor good for stopping off along the route.

3. Posted by dv8girl (Budding Member 12 posts) 11y

Since you're with a few people, it might be affordable to rent a small cheap car. Prices vary greatly depending on which city you arrive in. In July, I rented a car for 2 weeks in Los Angeles, California, and paid a total of $194.72, unlimited mileage, no extra costs except petro. That was actually for a car one step better than their cheapest, so it was a little bigger and nicer. Check the internet for specials. They try to get you to buy insurance, but check with your credit card company that you'll be using to rent the car and many of them cover you for the insurance whenever you pay with your card. Then, you must adamantly refuse insurance and be ready for them to argue with you, they will try to scare you and make you think that you're not fully covered that way, but my credit card company assured me that I was so I stood firm and refused. Rentals are also more expensive if you return it to a differnt location, but sometimes it's worth it to save petro or time. Enjoy!

4. Posted by dv8girl (Budding Member 12 posts) 11y

Forgot to mention that rate I got was with Thrifty Car Rental. But since they all probably vary with different promotions and specials, I'd check around with some of the others like Budget & Enterprise. I've always had better luck going directly to their websites to find out about latest specials. Another cheap mode of transport for long distances would be the Greyhound bus, but if you have at least 2 other people, car rental would probably be cheaper. Have fun!

5. Posted by Jeffers7 (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y

Thanks for you help, I'll look into both of your ideas, I didn't realise that there was a milage limit for driveaways so we may look into hiring. Thanks Again

6. Posted by igetlost (Full Member 89 posts) 11y

jeffers hi,
try renting with ALAMO when your in england.
they do a good rate and you dont need to be 30 to rent.
also how long and hows your budget.remember east cost is more expensive...
also BEWARE the bible states!!!!!
not getting a pint can be terrible.

7. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 11y

Another thing worth knowing is that it is much cheaper to rent cars if your origination city and drop off city are the same. In other words go into a town like Los Angeles, drive across the north part of the country, then back across the south and drop the car back in Los Angeles and the rate will be much less than if you pick up in Los Angeles and drop off in New York (though, obviously this presumes you don't mind paying the gas to go the extra miles and have the time to drive this far).


8. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member 349 posts) 11y

Depending on what you want to see, you might not want to drive across some parts of the US during December because of the weather and higher gas prices during the holidays. Have you checked into Amtrak? I also spoke a while back with a lady from York who at one point traveled to 48 states really cheaply by getting a pass for Greyhound (bus) while she was still in the UK, but it was something that had to be purchased before she left. It was good for I think 3 months.

9. Posted by friscokid (Full Member 122 posts) 11y

links for driveaways:

10. Posted by Rabbits (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y

Quoting igetlost

jeffers hi,
try renting with ALAMO when your in england.
they do a good rate and you dont need to be 30 to rent.
also how long and hows your budget.remember east cost is more expensive...
also BEWARE the bible states!!!!!
not getting a pint can be terrible.

If your interested in going to the South East U.S. (which not many travelers are)

The " Bible States " Are not all that bad.. Though not all that good either. And the Number of Dry counties to Non Dry counties has shrunk dramatically in the last 30 years. Though Most places except Florida and Louisiana are still No alchohol sales on sunday (Except in resturants with a food order). But Atlanta/Athens Georgia are pretty nice, as are Virginia. I would stay away from South Georgia though, not becuase the people are bad. But becuase its really.. flat.. Florida is allright, But Tourists outnumber locals 3 to one in Orlando. So unless you like long lines ( year round ) and very expensive hotels ( year round ) I would avoid that, and go to Tampa/St.Petersburg instead. Basically, While the people are very freindly. And I think the food is very good, (we do fried chicken properly, Unlike the Kentucky Fried Variety) they are more or less boring unless by some chance you like learning about our Civil War.

As for General US.

Our Domestic flights can sometimes be cheaper than driving depending on the length of the flight, I think Southwest and Airtran are our two cheap domestic carriers. They run city to city from 39$ and up (one way) depending on where you go. And our Grey Hound bus service often runs a deal 50$ to anywhere in the continental US. which is a great deal if you want to say go from .. Orlando to Seattle or something.. 3000 miles for 50 dollers one way is a tremendously good deal.

Our Train system Amtrak is not terribly widespread (mores the pity), But its goes most places a traveler would want to go, Includeing into Canada for the Cross Canada rail trip. You should be able to get an Amtrak Rail pass off there website.. I think its about 600 bucks.

and in December I wouldn't advise driving in the Northern states, Or even the Midwestern ones like Oklahoma,Nebraska,Utah,Colorado,or the Dakotas. Most of them are pan flat, and while Utah and Colorado have some very nice scenery and good towns, unless you like lots of snow and skiing.. I wouldn't go in the winter.

The Most expensive places to go to, Are ofcourse New York and Las angeles, with Washington D.C. and Sanfransico in second, with the rest of New England following up. Parts of Florida aren't cheap either. Of course depending on where you are coming from, Your exchange rate might negate what I consider to be extra costs.

Anyway.. I hope thats helpful. And I hope you have a good time.

Also on Travellerspoint

Why travellers need good insurance

worldnomads promo code - SAVE7