Do you have dreams of seeing all of America?
I know, I know. Not everyone has dreams of running around Europe or Australia. Some just want to see what America has to offer, enjoy the comforts of home, and do it without breaking the bank. I also know that many of my readers aren’t American, and have dreams of seeing our freaking gigantic country, but don’t know where to start.
I do travel around the US a lot, and you know what, I never realized it could actually be a useful skill. I just kind of figured it out on my own, what with being a broke college student and then a broke newlywed. Even though we aren’t broke anymore, I still travel like I am!
So here it is, guys! Let’s talk about cheap American travel.
Before we get started, always remember when you do any traveling to sign up for rewards and to use a good rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred to not only get cash back but to provide travel insurance in case of the unthinkables happening and to avoid foreign transaction fees. I will never shut up about this card because I honestly believe this is the best thing to ever be invented. This card has more than paid for itself (annual fee of $95) in just the first four months of having it when we received $550 cash back just for using our card! PS: This bought me 2 round trip tickets to Europe! Basically, FREE FLIGHTS!
Now, On To The States!
Obviously, for most, when you think of America, you think of classic “America”; red, white and blue sunglasses, Willie Nelson on the radio, frayed denim shorts, tank tops, hair blowing in the wind in a convertible- the classic road trip! You picturing it?
YES, fam. YES.
I adore a good road trip minus everything listed above because honestly, I am not that person.
Forget about Willie, I don’t wear frayed anything, my hair isn’t long enough to blow in the wind, and I actually don’t own a single ‘America’ item. I don’t even have a red shirt, let alone anything with stars on it. I have striped items, but they’re more of a ‘French’ look than American. Throw on some Lykke Li and give me a U-Dub hat to wear instead, and I’ll be golden, Ponyboy.
Woops, got off track. Back to the road trip.
However you picture it! Road trips are fabulous. And they are a great way to cut costs down when traveling, especially if you have several people along for the ride, whom can actually do more than play DJ. Having additional drivers along, obviously, means you can take shifts sleeping and driving, therefore covering more ground in less time and saving hotel money.
Speaking of road trip music, be sure to check out my Spotify Travel Playlist!
Remember, to those of you across the pond or down under, we drive on the right side of the road.
Otherwise, you may find yourself on a highway, swerving oncoming traffic like in an action movie. It is also super important to note that every state in America has different laws when driving. From right turns on red, left turns on one-way roads, cell phone usage, even pumping gas, so do research these laws a little before heading out.
With that said, I have driven coast to coast- several times. In segments, of course. I’ve never hit the highway and said: “I’m crossing the country today!” Although, when we lived in Wilmington, NC, we actually lived on the highway, I-40, which cut across the country. Just one mile out-of-town and you would see a sign which basically read “California, Really Far but it’s This Way, Y’all!
Also, that “y’all” just pained me soo much. Ouch.”
Long story short, road trips are an amazing way to see America.
America is one weird country, and there is so much to see while here! From faux Stonehenges and other bizarre roadside attractions, mystery lights, and monsters. I love using the Weird US website to plan out road trips. If you’re more of the wing-it type, grab a few books from here and plan as you drive! Plus, these books make great stories for sharing around a campfire!
If the thrill of the road REALLY calls your name…
Then rent a camper! Either grab an RV, a travel trailer, or a van and hit the road! Just be aware that many RV parks don’t allow conversion vehicles, so make sure whatever you rent was made that way. You can save some money this way by not having to always pay for a place to sleep. You can often pull off at a truck stop or a Wal-Mart and grab some zzz’s when needed.
You can check out what’s available to rent here!
If you are short on time, don’t have a car, or don’t want to spend forever on the road, flights are the way to go.
Yes, we do have trains and buses in America, but they suck. I’ve done the Amtrak thing, and it took nearly 24 non-stop hours to get from Chicago to DC. I felt like I was walking on moon shoes for the entire next week. It was a cool experience and I think everyone should travel by train at least once, however, I wouldn’t want to have to travel America this way.
I really do love train travel, but I just don’t feel it to make sense in America. It’s like it doesn’t cover enough places still, plus I feel the prices are still crazy high.
My in-laws did visit from Texas to Chicago via Amtrak and loved their experience. It is nice to sit in the viewing car and be able to watch the landscapes pass by, and I can see how, especially with being an older couple, would have enjoyed themselves.
And buses, well, they’re few and far between. In my opinion, they’re not even a real option in America. Not that I wouldn’t take a bus, I just never have in America with the exception of chartered buses.
However, not everyone has the time or the want to drive around America. So let’s discuss flights!
Of course, Google Flights and GoEuro are great places to find cheap flights. I love that Google has a lowfare calendar you can review to find the best price. That is the one thing I would change about GoEuro. I love seeing a calendar. (Please, guys!!!)
Here in America, we also have an airline here which doesn’t show up on GoEuro or Google Flights, Southwest Airlines.
If you’re not from America, you may not know about this amazing airline. You will need to go to Southwest.com to book. I always fly on the ‘Wanna Get Away’ fare and have never had any problems. Of the ‘budget’ airlines in America, I find Southwest to the best of the best.
No matter the ticket price, you are able to bring so much with you for free. It’s especially great for those who haven’t mastered the art of packing light. (Need help? Check out my video!) Let’s also take a moment to mention they give you free non-alcoholic drinks, plus pretzels or peanuts, and have loads of leg room.
You really don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a good flight with enough luggage anymore!
I have personally not flown on Frontier yet, though next month I have a ticket purchased from Chicago to Las Vegas on them. A friend of mine simply raves about the amazing prices she has scored on them before. She flew her mother-in-law round trip for $25, and flew both of her parents, round trip, for $60 from their home state to hers. I like to base my reviews off of personal experiences though, and having not flown them myself yet, I can’t really attest to how much I do or don’t recommend them.
Researching this post, I did navigate to Frontier’s website and found this awesome special- 75% off. My husband saw this deal pop up on Slickdeals.net as well and was reading off a bunch of $15 flights to me. Slickdeals.net is always a great place to check for flight deals, too!
I’m so glad that budget airlines are becoming a bit more prominent in the states. However, pay attention when booking Frontier because your luggage is not included and will cost you extra. They do have special bundles you can purchase, which give you the ‘best price’ at booking, plus include your checked luggage and carry-on luggage.
They also have what’s called The Discount Den, and when you are looking at the low fare calendar, you will see a little bear icon everywhere, letting you know that the best price is available to those DD members, which costs around $50 a year to have access to.
The last airline worth mentioning is called Spirit Airlines. To sum them up, I will only fly them if it’s an emergency.
I know, it’s cheap! But just don’t do it. At least not for a long distance. The airlines are so sparse, cramped, and uncomfortable, that a long leg journey can be absolutely miserable. Only a small personal item is included with your fare, they don’t provide you with anything during their super-cramped flight. Even water costs money. Every single thing you could imagine is an add-on. You can read about all the Add-Ons here.
Also, smelling something burning while flying, followed by having the fire department chase your plane down the runway is never something enjoyable (Yep, that happened to us!). I’ve known too many people who have had close encounters with this airline, so I avoid it at nearly all costs. Unfortunately, it seems to truly be cheap for a reason.
That’s enough of my thoughts on Spirit though, for more, just Google “Spirit Airlines Yes or No” to see what the rest of America has to say.
Alright, you American sightseers, I hope this little guide was helpful!
Share your thoughts below!