How to save on travel to the USA

We have travelled to the USA a couple times.  On our most recent trip we made some considerable savings while booking our holiday.  Today I am going to share with you how to save on travel to the USA!



Research is the key to saving money when travelling. While these tips below relate to our holidays in the USA, the tips relate to any holiday and location!


If you are willing to put in the effort in the lead up to your holiday you can save a significant amount of money.


Spreadsheet. – I love a good spreadsheet! Prior to the holiday I developed a spreadsheet outlining each day, location, accommodation, proposed activity and total spend for the day. What I have seen is that once on holidays it is very easy to get carried away with spending.  Then you pay for it (literally!) when you arrive back home. This is not too say that you cannot enjoy and splurge (we certainly did!).  But this was all tracked and budgeted for prior to us leaving. This is a great way for you to understand how much money you need for the total holiday. But also with some prior planning as per the below tips you can save money along the way. You can then keep refining the spreadsheet closer to your holiday as you either pay off certain activities or find cheaper prices.  It also helps with the saving process along the way.  If you have a set figure it is easier to save.


Flights. – Check websites such as skyscanner. which allows you to check flight prices across a number of companies. You can set proposed flight details and be given alerts when the price changes. Our first trip to the USA our flights were just under $2,000 two years later we managed to secure flights for $1,000 at the same time of year and with the same company (Virgin Australia). You can usually find and book flights up to 12 months in advance so the key for us was to set up the alerts and pay for the flights as soon as you see the price that you like! We had booked many months in advance (booked in March for a December / January holiday) to secure the best deal. Another tip is that we found that our travel agent would complete all of the booking details. So once we found these flights, we sent the details through to the travel agent who did all of the booking process. We also saved money as we did not have to pay the booking fee and credit card fees that the airlines charge through the website!


Accommodation. – The key here is to identify locations and the amount of money you are willing to spend per night. We provided this information to our travel agent who provided recommendations but we would then search websites such as Hotels Combined and look at the various accommodation options, reviews and any extras that may be included. If we then happened to find accommodation we were interested in we would continue to check back to see if the price had dropped. If we found a good deal we would send through the details to our travel agent who would price match and again do all of the booking for us! We also found that a number of hotels included breakfast or had a little kitchenette so that you could prepare food. These little things save money!


Food and Beverage. – On our trip we hired a car and decided to drive across the USA from LA to Miami. As mentioned above, we found accommodation that included extras such as breakfast included. We also bought (from Walmart!) a cheap esky (chilly bin, cooler, depending on where you are from!). And bought some water, fruit and other cheap snacks to have in the car while we were driving. Each night we could fill the esky up with ice from the accommodation to keep the drinks or anything else that needed to be kept cold. If we did choose to find restaurants or eat out, we would have checked some reviews and have found places that had good food but at reasonable prices!


Activities / Things to do. – In the USA we found it easy to do and see some amazing attractions for little or no money. In New York for example the New York Pass is only $109 and enables you to see all of the key tourist attractions such as Top of the Rock, Empire State Building and MOMA, this is much cheaper than paying individually and in a lot of instances allows you to skip waiting lines. These are also available in a number of other locations and offer similar savings. We were also able to spend a number of other days of our holiday seeing free attractions. We spent a day walking the high line and looking at the shops surrounding areas, we spent a day in central park and enjoying all of the different scenery on offer. As well we walked the Brooklyn bridge and surrounds, the financial district, times square the list goes on. In Washington DC for example many days can be spent seeing all of the Smithsonian Institutes and monuments and memorials.


Money – Another area where you can significantly save is watching exchange rates . This is especially true if you know about your holiday well in advance.  If the exchange rate goes up, you can go and purchase some of that currency at that time. We found a good travel card, but also found that it was a good idea to take some cash as well.

I hope you got some great ideas in making some of the big plans for your trip to the USA!

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Saving money on holidays in the USA, flights, accommodation, cash, attractions and food.
Travelling to the USA, learn how to save money on all aspects of your travel and holiday.

Saving money on Holidays

If you have read my about me page, you would know we enjoy travelling.  I try to save and keep track of our budget as much as I can to save money so we can travel.  But that doesn’t mean when on holidays I forget about our budget! I try to save as much money as possible when we travel on the little things, these add up and means we can often afford to travel for longer!

saving money on vacations
saving money on holidays


  1. Shop when you get there – a quick trip to the shop when you first arrive can save you along the way.  A range of food for your car or hotel room, and a small bottle of washing powder makes washing your undies easy in your bathroom sink!
  2. Food – the whole experience of a different place’s food is great.  But paying for 3 meals a day can be expensive, try to carry easy snacks that can be an easy breakfast or lunch with you.  Especially if you have a car, a quick trip to the local supermarket for some fruit and muffins etc will make you life easier and your wallet stay fuller!  When travelling a around the USA we bought ourselves a small styrofoam esky and stocked with muffing bars, fruit, nuts, coke and waters.  Each morning we would refill the esky with ice from the hotel – and have cold snacks ready for us when we liked!

    Vacation on the Gold Coast
    Holidays on the Gold Coast
  3. Double check your hotel choice – it can be easy just to take the cheapest option when your on the road and just need to sleep somewhere.  But often the slightly more expensive can be worthwhile.  Options, such as paying for parking, wifi or a free breakfast are all options that can be over looked.  If you are travelling for a while to different places these kind of options add up, if you staying for longer trips consider a hotel that has kitchenettes.  A couple of meals ‘in’ can really save you long term!
  4. Laundry  – like above double check what your hotel offers, a hotel that has a built in laundry is worth its weight in gold.  After a big day of sightseeing the last thing you want to do is hunt down a laundry mat or be forced to use the laundry service.  The hotel I stayed in while in Chicago were charging $7 per pair of undies!  (Don’t worry I didn’t pay it!) I would also buy laundry wash when you first arrive, or pack in you car.  Washing underwear and swimmers in your bathroom sink is easy.  To dry either hang up in your bathroom or if your on the road again lay on the rear window of your car.  The key is to wash often so you only have a small amount of washing to dry.

    Saving money on holiday in Europe
    Holiday in Venice
  5. Vouchers to sightseeing – When sightseeing double check that there if there are package deals to multiple places in your area.  We used things like New York Pass. Which offers value for money to many of the places we were already going! Check with travel agents before you go – they have access to other suppliers you may not have access to online, it’s worth asking to double check!  Also check out discount sites like scoopon in the area you are travelling too, it’s a great way of saving on sightseeing and food!
  6. Research – Do your research, public transport, hotel location etc.  All these things can add up, if you stay in a cheap hotel but you can’t walk to anything and have to catch a taxi everywhere then you could of spend the extra $20 per night of a handy hotel and save a ton on taxi fares.  Know your stuff, ask around, a travel agent who has actually been to the same place is an awesome resource!  Ask your friends on social media, but research and planning always equals savings!

    Saving money in vacation in NYC, USA
    Holiday in NYC
  7. Budget -Set a budget per day and stick to it.  We try to pay for big expenses before we go and set a budget for each other category, travel, food, entertainment and presents.  Large expenses already paid such as if we were going to a large theme park or a fancy dinner and nearly all accommodation.  We then budget roughly $100 per day for other expenses – food and entertainment for all of us.  Other expenses such as presents and accommodation not pre-paid come from another pre-set budget.  A small notebook can be your best friend when tracking your spending.  I will never forget our last holiday to the USA by the second last day we had nearly run out of money, so instead of withdrawing more money we made do.  We ate pizza from the food court in our casino, visited all the free sites in the other hotels and came home GUILT FREE -knowing we had not spend any extra money or gone over budget!
  8. Bank your leave loading – Australia is one of the only places in the world that pays their employees to take holidays!  So keep it in a safe place! Knowing if you have an emergency there is a back up or even better coming home to savings for your next holiday!!!

    saving money on holiday in USA
    Holiday in Louisiana

I hope you can use these tips to save some money on your next holiday, I would love to hear about your holiday!

Budget Mum Blog