The good old United States of America is one of the most exciting and diverse holiday destinations for families. There is so much to see and do and, if you time it right, the weather can be absolutely glorious. It’s also worth noting that, in terms of its history and culture, it is far more fascinating and diverse than many people give it credit for. In this article, we look at:
- Hiring a car to get around
- Using a travel broker
- Considering your options for food
- Visiting during ‘shoulder’ periods
Nevertheless, if you are planning a family trip to America, one thing’s for certain—it won’t come cheap—that is, unless you adopt a frugal, savvy approach to your holiday planning. This article is geared towards who that want to get the most bang for their buck when journeying across the United States.
Bite the bullet and hire a car to get around
The mere thought of driving on the other side of the road might intimidate you, especially on busy roads in the US; but hiring a car and driving around is one of the most cost-effective ways to get from A to B. Hire cars can cost as little as $30 a day, depending on where you hire from, and petrol is markedly cheaper there than it is in the UK. It’s currently just over $0.68 dollar per litre, which is about 60-75p cheaper per litre than it is in Blighty.
If you hire it from a nationwide firm, it is also possible to pick up your hire car from one US city and drop it off at another. This allows you to explore more of America and not worry about the logistics of returning your hire vehicle. In fact, you may be able to get a great return flight home from another US city that you could drive to and also drop off your car at.
Use a travel broker
Speaking of flights, if you’re looking to find a holiday in the United States on a budget, it’s always best to consider using a travel broker. You can physically sit down with them and discuss your requirements, or you can log in online and use their search parameters to find available flights at times that suit you. Travel brokers tend to get discounted flight prices from flight consolidators and can even get big discounts on hotels.
All you’ll have to bear in mind is that if you only pay a deposit with a travel broker, your flights won’t be confirmed (or ticketed) until you’ve paid the full amount. If you can afford to pay it all in one go, you’ll then be able to choose your flight, seats etc. Some brokers get a bad reputation for advertising false prices for their holiday packages, but, with a little patience and timing, you can often get great deals.
One final flight tip: If you can, save money and only take carry-on luggage with you. The rising cost of checked baggage on international airlines can be prohibitive. If you’re going to the US when the weather should be good, you’ll almost certainly be able to pack light with your clothing.
Question on saving for a holiday to the USA
Some general advice on saving money for a holiday can be followed on an annual basis. This includes making a budget and sticking to it, opening a dedicated bank account for holiday savings, cutting back on unnecessary expenses, and researching before you book your holiday.
Some of the cheapest ways to travel across the USA are as follows. Firstly, consider taking a bus for intercity or interstate travel, as this is one of the cheapest forms of transport across the USA. Taking the train can also be a cheap option, especially if you pre-book your entire route or part of your route over a specific period. Finally, driving a car across the USA can be a relatively cheap option as well.
Generally, the cheapest time to book a holiday is at the beginning and end of a holiday season. May and October tend to be particularly cheap and you may typically find very competitive holiday packages which are on sale close to that time of the year.
Don’t be precious about what or where you eat
Getting to sample some incredible American grub on your travels doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re holidaying on a budget, you’ll already know that it’s not possible to visit the best eateries. However, America is a hotbed for great-value sandwiches, burgers and other fast food snacks. If you want to try a little bit everything on a budget, many restaurants offer buffets that include everything from fresh seafood and sushi to home comforts such as ribs, wings and macaroni cheese.
To save money only take carry-on luggage with you. The rising cost of checked baggage on international airlines can be prohibitive.
If you venture west across America and consider paying a visit to Las Vegas for a few days, you’ll quickly notice that buffet dining is a particularly big deal on the Vegas Strip. Most of the casino resorts offer their own buffets that are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They cater to all tastes, which make them ideal for young families with fussy eaters. If you want to get the best value for a Vegas buffet, go for lunch at the very end of breakfast service to get the full array of lunch options for the breakfast price. The same goes for dinner when you pay for a table right at the end of lunch service. It can save you $15 per head for adults, at least.
Consider visiting during ‘shoulder periods’
If you’re not a travel buff, you might not be aware that travelling during the ‘shoulder periods’ in the USA can drastically reduce the cost of holidays. If you travel just before or immediately after a peak holiday season, you’ll not only be able to get great value on flights and accommodation, but you’ll also avoid the big crowds.