Visiting America on a Budget

Visiting America on a Budget

            Visiting another country on a visa can be an expensive endeavour. The United States of America is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit.  However, savvy travellers know where to save and where to splurge when it comes to travelling in the United States. Whether you are considering applying for a tourist visa, have already completed your application for a travel visa, or whether you were already granted a tourist visa, this article will help you better understand how to save money when visiting America. There are some techniques and steps you can take in order to save yourself a large chunk of change. It is important to note that many of these steps should be considered in the planning process, before arriving in the United States. Planning ahead can save your hard-earned money, so read on to see how you can save when visiting America.

            One of the huge aspect of travel to consider is transportation. This includes airfare or cruise to and from the United States as well as ground transportation once you are in the U.S. There are a number of websites online that will help you obtain cheap airfare, such as and If you have reward points with an airline, consider using those points to save on airfare. When it comes to ground transportation, try to stick to public transportation (such as metro, trains, and busses) whenever possible. Most major U.S. cities have reliable public transportation. If possible, try to avoid renting your own car as this can drive up your costs, considering the cost of gasoline, mileage, and daily rates. If you are visiting a more remote area of the U.S., consider joining a pre-planned bus tour to save big on travel.

            Another large cost, perhaps the largest expense, is lodging. Prices of 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star hotels in most U.S. .cities start at a couple of hundred dollars per night, not including taxes and other fees. Other good options to pay less is to look into hostels, Air BnBs, or campgrounds. Even if you opt for one of the lower-priced lodging options for just a portion of your trip, you are likely to save hundreds of dollars on your lodging bill. Additionally, if you have a busy agenda planned, you likely will not be spending much time in your hotel anyways.

            The cost-conscious traveller will want to carefully consider which destinations they choose. Certain states like California, New York, and most cities will have higher prices than states in the middle of the U.S. There are a lot of hidden gems to visit in the Midwest or in other states such as Tennessee, Missouri, and Arizona. These places tend to have a lower cost of living and therefore are more affordable. Consider prioritizing states that offer ample outdoor opportunities which are more likely to be free. Before deciding on which states to visit, check out the local tourist webpage for that state and check their event listings for free activities.

            A family of five can easily spend hundreds of precious dollars on expensive activities. This is a chance for you to think through what you want to prioritize while you are in the United States. Most cities offer an abundance of free activities. For example, all of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. admit visitors free of charge. However, admission to other D.C. based museums can start at over $23 per family member. Likewise, most cities offer free walking tours as opposed to paying for guided tours with the option to tip your tour guide. This provides a lower-cost alternative to seeing a city. Some more expensive cities, such as New York City, offer a pass to see the most popular attractions at a significant discount. For example, you can save up to 42% using New York City's City Pass. Finding free things to do is usually easy, especially if you are open to nature-based activities such as gardens, parks, and beaches.   

When thinking about how to budget for your trip, it is important to have a realistic idea of what food costs in America. There can be a wide range of prices for restaurants, even those that are located close together. Typically, casual restaurants or cafes such as Panera, Chipotle, and Subway offer low-cost options. Additionally, some small family-run businesses offer culinary choices from around the globe at affordable prices. It is probably best to skip out on room service, food delivery, and other food options that add to the cost of eating. If you can, consider finding a grocery store to purchase food to make some or all of your meals and to also stock up on snacks. When planning for food, do not forget to factor in drinks. In some U.S. cities, a bottle of water can cost more than $6. Bring a reusable water bottle.

One additional way to save money when travelling through the U.S. is to ask people who have been to the U.S. for their recommendations. Ask which activities they enjoyed the most and were worth the money. Likewise, ask which activities they would skip out on knowing what they know now. Try to get a few different opinions so that you can decide for yourself. If you do not know anyone who has travelled to a site you are considering, also look at Yelp reviews and other local reviews.