My friend and myself are looking in to going to North America for at least one month next year. We want to go San Francisco, California, LA, Vegas, maybe Arizona or Texas then to Florida, Miami then New York. We would need to start saving now and we are just wondering if anyone can give us any good tips and ideas on how much we will need?
The US is one of the more expensive places to vacation. I'm an American senior, and it's too expensive for me to travel in my own country. Remember that this is a tipping culture - 15 to 18% expected in restaurants. Here's a cost of living table by country.
Prices will be much higher than average in the major Northeastern and California cities. You'll find lower prices in the Southern and Midwestern cities. I would guess that the average hostel price would be close to $30. a night (motels start about $50., and hotels about $75. a night). New York City will blow your budget - double or triple those prices! Florida is not to be considered as Southern - fairly high prices there also due to high demand.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Jan-2012, at 11:09 by Daawgon ]
I am assuming your plan is to rent a vehicle and drive from Calif to NYC. Do a bit a research now on renting for 30 days. Your age and leaving the vehicle on the East coast might increase your total cost. Figure $400 in fuel to get to NYC in a compact car.
Next add $50/nite for rooms. This is about average across the US. A few places will be less, most more. Food can be very reasonable if you use our grocery stores and make your own sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, drinks, etc. There are fast food restaurants in every city you will drive through and most chains have a dollar menu.
Here is what I suggest you do now. Join 'couchsurfing'. This can save you heaps of money and you get to meet Americans in every place you stop. You will need a laptop and decent mobile phone when you come over. Join and then start looking at cities you plan on visiting. Look at what couches are available on the day you plan on hitting that city. Yes, it will take some pre-planning, but you could save at least $1K by not paying for a motel each night. Something to think about anyway.
I can help with Las Vegas. Good luck with your planning.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Jan-2012, at 16:10 by vegasmike6 ]
I have travelled around the states loads and it really depends on where you want to stay and how you want to travel. It is not a cheap country but you can get a lot out of it if you want to.
Firstly, seeing as you want to see so many different places i would suggest going by train. Most people overlook this, but it is an amazing way to travel, like a hostel on rails. You can visit www.amtrak.com, they have passes available too for overseas visitors and they are realy good value for money, the seats are massive so you don't need a cabin and there is a restarant and cafe/bar available. You also meet some great people. When you get to cities you want to stop at check hostelbookers for places to stay. But to help you out a bit.
San Francisco - The Green Tortoise is relatively central and good value, they also do great trips for a few days to yosemite park which is a must do if you are in california. The HI hostels also have a few options there and they are all fine too.
LA is trickier, from the station you can get to hollywod no probs, but the hostels are a bit rubbish. The best hostel is the HI in Santa Monica, but it is a bit hard to get to as LA is vast.
Try to get to San Diego too, great place
Vegas - stay on the strip, can not emphasise this enough, make sure you are there mid week and you can get pretty good deals, and it is worth it, stay at one of the big hotels, becasue really if you don't you won't get the experience. The train doesn't go to Vegas, but they have a connecting bus so its easy.
Texas is great and the south border train from LA is really cool, Austin is the best place to be, if you are there see if 'the bright light social hour' are playing, they are a wicked local band
Miami is OK, if you guys are planning on flying instead of going overland fine, but its only OK and a long way so if you can miss something out i'd do this, unless you know people in florida, which alot of people do. Saying that though my bro went to Harry potter world recently so if you are a fan, make the effort, he said it is well worth it
New York - great place - get a map and just walk walk walk. The only place to stay in my opinion is the Chealsea Star Hotel/hostel, 2 blocks from madison square garden, as central as you like and caters for all budgets. google it
Anyways, hope this helps a bit
To answer your question too, i recently went on the train again for 2 weeks and including flights i think i spent about £1500 (flying into new york) so i would say to have a good time you would need between $60-$80 per day, bear in mind too that if you take the train some of your nights will be on board which saves you money!
If you need any more advice on specific places or the trains please let me know