Tips on doing USA cheaply and any route ideas

Travel Forums North America Tips on doing USA cheaply and any route ideas

1. Posted by ian_w (Budding Member 44 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi, I am starting a rtw trip in June in the US. I wil be there for about 2.5 months starting in New York and Ending in San Francisco and LA, I want to go down the east coast first to Miami then not sure what to do after that.

I am a bit worried that I may end up spending a big chunk of my budget doing this, so does anyone have any good tips that they may have learned/read/heard that could get me through any cheaper. I think i need help particularly in the big citys. Are there plenty of things to do cheaply or free. I have read somewhere that you can do the ferry for free and see the Statue of Liberty just as well instead of a paying for a trip to go over to it for instance.

I think a mixture of Greyhound and Amtrack to get around, I am also weighing up the cost of Trek America, against doing it on my own, again any thoughts.

Thank you very much for any help you can give, also maybe for places to go and see. I know there are plenty of books around but personal experiences are always better!



2. Posted by pranavc (Respected Member 318 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi Ian,
Some tips for your trip to the US in June.

1. For cities in the northeast (New York, Philly, Boston, Washington DC), use either the greyhound bus or Chinatown Bus (google this and you can find out the prices. They're substantially cheaper than that of greyhound and of comparable standards of service).

2. Check out for flight fares within the US. is also another a good option.

3. You could also opt to do a "rideshare" option wherein you hitch a ride with someone driving between the cities you are visiting. You will probably have to split costs for fuel, tolls etc. Check out, get to the city you are looking for and then select the "rideshare" section.

4. As far as visiting things free of cost, Washington D.C. would work out great for you. Entry to all museums (except the International Spy Museum) is free of charge.

5. Are you planning to visit Canada too? If you are, you might want to consider visiting Montreal. It is only a 5-hour drive from Boston.

6. Other possibilities for places to visit are Chicago and Las Vegas.

Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me.


3. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Pranavc covered the travel part pretty well.

For food, Chinatowns are always a great place to get an inexpensive meal, and usually something good and exotic too. What I like to do is wander around and check out the local small dinners and cafes - most places will post a menu outside so you can check the prices. Find a place that is inexpensive and has a good crowd in it, and that's your place to eat.

For New York, I have heard mixed things on the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island. While there isn't any point in going to Liberty Island to see the statue (that you can easily see on the Staten Island Ferry), the museum at Ellis island has been praised by some and others find it not worth while). Read about Ellis Island and make your decision based on that.

If you want to catch a show in New York, check out the TKTS booths (there is one in Times Square) to get same-day, low cost tickets to shows.

4. Posted by jodib (Budding Member 32 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

for travel between Boston and NY- i take the Fung Wa bus - goes from downtown Boston to NYC and back. $15 one way, clean buses, run every hour. MUCH cheaper than any other alternative. I think they might go to Philly or Washington DC as well. Lots of history in Boston to see, some for free some nominal charges. Great eating in the Nroth end and Chinatown both...if u end up going there i can give u a few suggestions- I live near Boston.

I used to live in NYC- Staten Island Ferry is great jsut for itself and very cheap, but also beats paying big bucks in my opinion to see Statue of Liberty.

Great street music in many places, among them Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, also good comparateively cheap eats in the Village. Lots of great museums there if u are into that...

New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts all have wonderful scenery...then there is whale watching, kayaking etc...

DC has lots of great attractions too, as previously mentioned...

Smoky Mtn Natl Park is beautiful...

going west, Chicago has great blues- Museum of science and Industry is an amazing museum...

further west, great national parks- Grand Teton, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Bryce and Zion, Mountain Natl Park...lots of hiking, sight seeing, etc. in WA state there is the olympic peninsula, seattle area...

the drive up the coast from big sur area in California to Seattle, WA is breathtaking, and camping is available sometimes on the beach- i once woke to see whales out the tent door in the ocean beyond...

there are many many good itinerary choices...depends on what you most like to see or do, where your interests lie...

Re: saving money i would suggest camping as much as possible-much cheaper and more fun too...tend to meet interesting ppl in campgrounds, and it can be beautiful scenery too...

feel free to email me if i can be further help...
and no matter what u decide have a great trip!

5. Posted by ian_w (Budding Member 44 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thats great, thanks everyone for your replies!


6. Posted by Berkules (Inactive 13 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Couple more things, since a lot of the replies have to do with the east.
Be careful when it comes to AMTRAK because it can get pretty expensive. There are a couple routes in California that are decent- I've gone from Berkeley (right across the Bay from San Francisco) to Sacramento (abou 85 miles) plenty of times and it's a beautiful ride through the hills (as long as they're the summer they are browner than an oak tree) for less than 20 bucks. But that's assuming you want to check out Sac. If you're interested in West Coast rivers then Sac is very nice and Lake Tahoe is just another 2 hours by bus east. With SF and LA, lodging is everywhere and I recommend hostels for the most part since tourism is a huge moneymaker and hotels are looking to screw ya! With travelling, at least in California, between LA and SF, I highly recommend You can find people driving up or down I-5 between the cities looking for companions...I know a lot of people who have done this and with some common sense it's easy to find the safe routes. Cheap food? Asian! It's everywhere. Mexican food too, naturally.

Enjoy your trip!

7. Posted by macado (Budding Member 24 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting jodib

for travel between Boston and NY- i take the Fung Wa bus - goes from downtown Boston to NYC and back. $15 one way, clean buses, run every hour. MUCH cheaper than any other alternative.

I live in Boston and I take this bus as well.

jodib is right. This is the cheapest/best way to get to New York City from Boston or vice versa.

While you're in the United States, you should also check out Las Vegas. As long as you don't gamble, it can be cheap. Lots of free shows and free things to see. Walk around and look at all the sights and hotels.