How to Travel the Country on a Budget

simonapilolla / Getty Images/iStockphoto

simonapilolla / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Walking across the country gives travelers the opportunity to take in the sights and historical sights of the United States. It also comes with your share of travel expenses.

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While the total will vary depending on your mode of transportation, the places you choose to visit, and where you dine out, travel expenses add up quickly each day. Fortunately, there are ways to cut costs and travel on the cheap. Travel the country on a tight budget by using these cost-cutting strategies.

driving? Download Gasoline Apps

Travelers hitting the road for long trips will need all the gas they can get along for the ride. Download gas apps like GasBuddy to find gas stations along your route that offer the cheapest options.

You can also pay for purchases with credit cards that offer gas rewards or points. If you’re a Costco member, download the Costco app if you’re near a Costco gas station.

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Take the bus

Why drive or fly when you can take the bus? Travelers can choose from several bus line options and travel comfortably from city to city while enjoying low fares. Here are some bus lines worth exploring in North America:

  • Megabus. Buy city-to-city bus tickets for as little as $1 and travel to over 100 cities and college campuses at their US transportation hubs.

  • FlixBus. For as little as $4.99, you can book trips to popular cities, like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, or New Orleans.

  • Greyhound. Take advantage of affordable long-distance travel on a Greyhound bus. Greyhound customers also receive exclusive hotel discounts through Greyhound’s partnership with Priceline and the ability to save on parking at hundreds of Spot Hero locations.

Buy the ‘America the Beautiful’ Annual Pass

If you plan to visit national parks, you may need to set aside some of your budget to cover entrance fees.

While it is possible to visit the national parks on free days or in the off-season, savvy travelers may want to consider investing in the America the Beautiful annual pass. Part of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands series of passes, this pass covers entrance fees to national parks and national wildlife refuges and standard amenity fees and day-use fees for one driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle.

Get a CityPASS

Want to see some of America’s most famous attractions and save some extra money along the way? Consider investing in a CityPASS. This is a discount ticket package that allows travelers to save up to 50% on admission fees to top attractions in cities like New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, and Orlando.

Using credit cards for travel

Travelers who already use travel credit cards for gas rewards or travel reservations can continue to use these cards to earn points on any travel-related purchase. If you’ve already accumulated enough points or rewards, consider using them to further reduce travel costs.

Eat like the locals

Food is an expense that adds up quickly when you’re traveling across the country. Fortunately, savvy travelers can cut some of these costs by choosing to eat like the locals.

Instead of dining out at expensive restaurants or fast food chains, check online recommendations for local restaurants or inexpensive food trucks. If you plan to stay on the road for a long time, buy groceries and cook meals if you have access to a kitchen.

Travel during low season

Whether you want to see a national park or visit a theme park, the off-season or low season is generally cited as the best time to travel.

Travelers who decide to visit the country will pay much less during the low season than during high seasons, such as the holidays, and will avoid major crowds or possible cancellations.

Do some research to determine what the off-season is like for the destination you plan to visit, and time your travel plans around this season. Your wallet will thank you.

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This article originally appeared on How to Travel the Country on a Budget

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