USA - budget reflection

We finally did it, the road trip Tan was so looking forward to. He has been antsy to show me more of the US as I’ve only visited Seattle, WA and the Portland, OR areas. Or as people usually say; the most European looking part of US. He was not only excited to show me the awesomeness of national parks, he was excited to be able to explore some of the areas where he has never been before, and of course to show me places where he grew up.

So road trip it was. We were planning to rent a car, but Tan’s parents offered us to lend us their awesome hybrid as a late Christmas present. We immediately got a smile on our faces; no rental cost and saving some on petrol.

The loop we did was pretty impressive for the time we had. I am only allowed to be in the US for 90 days and we wanted to spend some time with his family. We also tried to meet as many of our friends, and of course Tan’s friends as well. From Belize to Seattle we did a bit of a jump to Miami, for few hours to see one of our friends, then to Tampa to spend a few days with some other friends, and Dallas to spend a week with Tan’s grandma. After arriving in Seattle, we spent a week trying to gather all the camping equipment, which was gathering dust in Tan’s parents basement. Everything that we did not have, Tan’s outdoorsy brother and friends lent us. Which meant again another cost disappeared. We borrowed a tent, sleeping pads and bags, stove, hatchet, bear mace and few other things like a cooler and an awesome thick wool jacket that was warming me up. I made us our little cooking kit, including a herbs and spices kit in a pill dispenser which helped us in making yummy dishes.

We spent 86 days in US, leaving four days in case of an emergency visit that could arise, although we hope we do not need to use that at all. On the actual road trip we spent 43 days and we covered a lot. Actually we managed to get back earlier than anticipated. We did not want to miss the 1st birthday of our youngest nephew (first on Tan’s side of family).

Accommodation: When possible we tried to stay with family and friends, and when this was not an option we camped. We tried to use basic camps: some with awesome toilet facilities, some with long drop toilets. We were on a search for a cheap accommodation even if that meant having Wet Wipe or bucket showers for a week. You can understand why we might ask to use the shower as soon as we got to family/friends places.

As the gas prices were extremely low during our road trip (PERFECT TIMING the cheapest petrol was 1.82 USD per gallon!!), the campgrounds were full in some of the National parks. Here we were lucky to find some great people helping scouting for any possible spot, great girls offering to share their campsite, and us asking random strangers at night to let us share the cost of their campsite in return for us pitching our tent next to theirs. We only spent 1 night in a hotel, and that happened to be in Vegas. US is camp friendly country. Unlike in Europe, you can find awesome free campsites with bison hanging out just outside the tent, or a coyote waking you up in the morning whilst they are in a search for prairie dogs.

Food: We made most meals on our awesome tiny camp stove. From mini pizzas, curries, cous cous salads, oatmeal with almond milk and freeze dried berries. We ate very good and for campers food, very healthy as well. Lunches were usually some snacks, like hummus, olives, cheeses, pitta, spicy nuts and many others. We stopped the car, used our foldable cutting sheet, and cut some green apples to dip into peanut butter. Yumm. When visiting our friends and family we ate junk or a bit less budget friendly meals. But, at the end of the day we had to try some local dishes.

For activities we bought an annual pass to National parks, which paid for itself after a week of our road trip. Tan also received late present for his 30th birthday to attend an event at the Grand Ole Opry, which was experience in itself. After our road trip we spent some nights spending time at open mics, comedy shows, the cinema and some other fun things that did not cost much.

Our estimated budget for USA was 47.00 GBP per person per day thinking we might need to rent a car. But us, happy bunnies, spent an awesome little amount. The only things that are not included in this budget are our presents to family and friends for their wedding, birthdays and early Christmas presents. We also bought travel gear for our next leg of the trip as our old gear was pretty beat up (Tan managed to rip up my backpack) and it was time for us to update it. And, the US is cheaper than anywhere else for such things.


Sum per person including visa (my ESTA)

Estimated total cost: 4,102.73 GBP

Actual cost:  1,567.36 GBP

Off budget: + 2,535.38 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 47.00 GBP (+ ESTA of 9.45 GBP for the whole stay for me only) BUDGET

Actual cost: 18.28 GBP (includes ESTA cost) BUDGET


Our epic US road trip (map done on googlemymaps)

Our epic US road trip (map done on googlemymaps)