I plan to travel across North America by Amtrack, staying in hostels for about 3 months, in the Summer. Has anyone got any idea of how much money I should save before I go? Or has anyone got any advice on the best ways to calculate the funds I will need. I dont want to be caught out. I would be really grateful for any advice.
Just like any country, certain cities are more expensive than others. But I would guess that the cost of living here is roughly similar. I have yet to make it to the UK, so i'm not positive.
But it really depends on what you plan on doing along the way. I think that going by train is going to make the trip 10x better, and like others have said, is a pretty economical way to do it. If you plan on partaking in our wonderful fastfood culture(i wish there was a sarcasm button), then you could probably live pretty cheaply if you don't mind 89cent tacos. I wouldn't suggest that, as there are alot of culinary offerings. Hostels, I would assume(once again i'm not positive) are similar in pricing to the UK, and for the tours or museums and whatnot, are pretty cheap as well, depending on what it is.
Wow, I just realized this whole post has been very vague and probably not too helpful. I guess the only number I can quote you is that I typically spend about $300 per month on food. Hope that helps somewhat, and if you have any more specific questions, I can try to give you better answers.
The states are pretty expensive. I think you could get by on $12-20 in meal money per day - even in the bigger cities (though it takes some doing), but accomidationss will probably set you back a lot more than that, as will public transport not included in you tickets (heck, the NY subways are $2 for a one way ride).
Prices vary a lot by the part of the country you are visiting though. The big cities are very pricy.
im heading there for a month on the 13th Jan, so I'll let you know! I'm doing the same thing, but concentrating on East Coast (by train) for a month.
I have found that the best index for judging costs while travelling has been the Big Mac Index (http://www.economist.com/markets/bigmac/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4065603&no_na_tran=1 and http://www.oanda.com/products/bigmac/bigmac.shtml. Currency exchanges and fluctuations don't really tell you how expensive it is going to be when you get there. However if you go by the assumption that a Big Mac is a Big Mac is a Big Mac and everything else can be relatively compared to it then you can judge how 'cheap'/'expensive' a place will be.
However having said that somethings are cheaper here then other places and vice versa. Gas is cheap here compared to the UK. I've found that public transportation in the US is generally more expensive (in # of Big Macs) then other places. Also Amtrak may not always be your cheapest solution. For example there is a Chinatown bus that runs between NYC to Washington DC for $20 while an Amtrak ticket may be $50 or more.
Quality meals (like sit down chain store quality...) will be about $10-$15 (tax and tip) for dinner. Breakfeast can be about $6-$10 (eggs, toast and coffee). Lunch can be around $10-$15. Now this is what I consider 'average' food at a chain store generally consisting of salad and pasta very few steaks and possibly more chicken... You may eat less then I do; I'm used to American portion sizes so when I went to Australia I found their portions too small- I would get 1.5-2 servings in general. You'll find that beer in general is more expensive here (unless you happen to find a college campus with $1 specials.....)
For hostels I am going to have to guess $25 a night (which has been my experience in NYC and Washington DC...). If you want cheap motels it will be abuot $40-50 a night and better accomodations just get more expensive. Please note that the US is not a backpacker friendly country like some places in Europe and the whole of Australia (Australian tourist economy is geared to serve backpackers...). So you may not find many (or any) hostels outside the big metropolitan areas.
Hope that helps.
Thank you to everyone for your help and advice so far! I understand its hard to say how much money I will need but your help is great!!!!
I'd agree with Tkolb but you can find cheaper alternatives to many things. You can usually find a breakfast sandwich for less than $3 and plenty of fast food restaurants have $1 menu items, in addition eating in places like NY's Chinatown can be dirt cheap (a full meal for $3-5) if you search for the right places, as can a place called Gray's Papaya who'll sell you 2 hot dogs for about a buck.
It's hard to stomach just that for a long time, but as you move down south and find the all you can eat (or digest) restaurant chains you'll find some variety.
I spoke to a guy who travelled over there. He told me if I was to go for 3 months then £3k would be a really tight budget. Just take £4k. Simple
i spent roughly 2 months in US little time ago. spent about 2000 euros, not including travelling. it was kinda tight. it depends how you spend. i didnt use it on bars (though i was really drunk and wasted the whole trip). if u are staying in hostels, make your own food and do it cheaply. u can eat for 5 bucks a day, though u need to start half veggie diet