Skip to Content

USA Road Trip Costs

This post may contain affiliate links.

What's the most expensive part of USA road trip
USA road trip. From snow in NYC to sunshine in Florida.

We’ve been moving around a lot over the last 3 weeks of our USA road trip. We’ve driven from NYC to Canada to Florida in a hire car. Petrol, car hire, road tolls, food, what’s the most expensive part of a USA road trip?

Even travelling the way we do, as cheaply as possible, one part of our USA road trip is proving far more costly than any other.

Accommodation in the Most Expensive Part of a USA Road Trip.

We’re finding that family accommodation is very good value in the USA, but it still costs the most.

Budget accommodation USA road trip. Most expensive part USA road trip
This hotel in Darien was $48/night including taxes. It was lovely and the breakfast was great.

Accommodation for 4 in the USA is, roughly,

Under half of the price we paid in the UK ( but the breakfasts are nowhere near as good!)

Half the price we pay in Australia.

About the same as prices in Malaysia.

At least double what we normally pay in most of Asia.

See our Cheap Family Accommodation series for more information on room costs around the world.

Most nights we are paying under $50, sometimes $40 for a 4 bed room including tax, wifi, breakfast and parking. Watch out, advertised prices very rarely include tax and “resort fees”.

What has really surprised us is that accommodation is costing us far more than petrol even with the huge distances we’ve been covering. Petrol at $3.20/gallon is a pretty good deal. ( Petrol in Australia is roughly $1.55/litre, double the price). Car hire was $599 for 1 month, fees, taxes and collision waver took it to $899.  That’s $30/day for a small 4 wheel drive, a Toyota Rav 4. Food can cost you as much or as little as you like.

Obviously, the sky is the limit with accommodation, you could pay a fortune if that’s your desire, but we like to keep the prices down on rooms as much as possible, it’s not what our trip is about. I can give you some great tips on finding cheap accommodation in the USA, but I’ll save it for another day, we’ve got a busy day planned here in Orlando.

We’re having a LOT of fun. I never expected to enjoy travelling around the USA so much, my heart is usually in Asia. Most of all, I’m loving sharing it with my family. We are so blessed to have this time together while the children are still small enough to cuddle and giggle with. Just do it, pack up your family and take them away, you won’t get this time back!

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

Abdul Hadi

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Hi Alyson, I am Abdul from Malaysia nd is planning our first trip to USA (West coast) in November next year. There will be 5 adults and a 2 yrs old children. What is your suggestion on the cheapest accommodation? Is it better to book on line from Malaysia or while on the road road trip? I guess in our case the need to book 2 rooms if its a motel. Airbnb is also an option if its cheaper.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Most US hotel rooms seem to have 2 double beds. It's a bit of an odd set up. AirBnb is rarely cheaper. You'll often see the same hotels on Booking dor com, Agoda etc and Airbnb at 3 different prices, so it's good to compare but you quickly go crazy comparing everything and what should be a 5 minute job turns into a 5 hour job. To save your sanity I'd get it all booked before you leave home. Just have a look at prices on several sites to give you an idea. Cheapest for us were motel chains - but they're very basic - chains like Days Inn and Super 8. But also register for rewards with, for instance Wyndham.

Victoria McCusker

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

You guys are a total inspiration! I have now literally just booked flights from Glasgow to Boston and then Tampa to Glasgow a month later. Any hotel tips for Boston? Struggling to find anything at a reasonable cost. Happy trails!

Alyson Long

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Never been to Boston. sorry. Enjoy your trip!


Saturday 9th of April 2016

Hello! Thank you for the good advises :) Could you tell me which rent-a-car company have you used? I can't find a car for less than $2500/month...


Saturday 9th of April 2016

It was Budget car hire.


Monday 29th of December 2014

Hi! I just read your blog about your US road trip. My husband and I are tossing between doing our own road trip through the US (we're from brisbane) or doing a tour. Our issue is we're wondering what would be better value or safer? We want to have a white Christmas in 2015 so it'll be winter time when we would be driving.

In your opinion; is it safe for two Australians to drive during winter in america and is it better value or just do a tour that would take you across the US? How long approximately would it take to drive across America?

Any information is appreciated!

Thank you


Tuesday 30th of December 2014

Hi Chelsea, I know nothing of tours in the US, sorry. But I'd say yes, perfectly safe and lots of fun. What aspects of safety were you concerned about? I've never driven accross either, only up and down the coasts. We took a month, roughly, to do the East coast. The distances in the US are a smaller than what we're used to in Australia and finding accommodation is really easy.


Monday 17th of March 2014

I so agree that a road trip is the way to do it and yes, prices in Europe are more expensive, except in my beloved Berlin of course! We found that the rooms were larger than British ones of course, but food prices were ridiculous! I have an only child who's 12 and he's maturing alarmingly fast so we always have outdoor family hols. together and one that he shares with me alone as mother-son bonding.

This year we're going to be swimming and hiking in Poland. It'll be lovely.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please check and double-check all the information we give you locally as times, places, dates, and services do, as we found, change often. Restrictions and closures may apply.