Cross Country Road Trip Expenses

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cross country road trip expenses

Cross Country Road Trip Expenses

I’ve received a couple of e-mails and text messages asking how much the trip cost. My ex-girlfriend and I saved over $2000 each. Combined we had $4000 to use for the trip. Below you will see the estimates and the actual cost of the trip. The actual amount that we spent will be in BOLD.

Flight from LAX – ATL             $200(2)               $194(2)

Car Rental                                   $700                    $523.03

Hotel                                            $686.94               $633.53

Gas                                               $450                     $432

Food                                             $400                     $466.82

Totals                                           $2636.94              $2443.38

I estimated that our flight would be $200 per person. We actually saw a cheaper price on Southwest Airlines website for $194. People were telling me that I wouldn’t be able to get a rental car for less than $1100. I had faith that we would find one cheaper. I estimated that the rental car would be $700. I actually tweeted if anybody had any rental car deals. I received a message out the blue from a travel agent. He was able to book my rental car for $523.03 through Hertz. That was the total price for the 13 days. The car we rented was a Dodge Avenger. The estimated hotel price was $686.94. The actual price was $633.53. Priceline helped me find some cheap rooms. The travel agent helped with a couple of rooms as well. The gas was estimated to be $450. We spent less than that. Food is the only thing we went over.  As you can see we spent $66.82 more for food than I estimated.

There were a couple more expenses such as souvenirs, parking, and postage as well. Since we drove we shipped two boxes of souvenirs back home. We also sent postcards to friends and family as well.

Extra Tips

Bring food and water with you. Depending on how much you drive you may not always want to stop at a restaurant.

Bring a cooler with you. I purchased one from Family Dollar for less than $3.

Have a map just in case your GPS freezes or stops working.

You should book your hotel rooms a few weeks in advance.

If you are going to a sporting event, use StubHub to get your tickets.

Take a lot of pictures and talk to the locals.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me.

Interstate 10 Road Trip Part 1

Interstate 10 Road Trip Part 2

Interstate 10 Road Trip Part 3

Interstate 10 Road Trip Part 4

Cross Country Road Trip Resources


Some days you will be driving longer than others. You may not want to get off the exit or go to a store. Bring a cooler and fill it up with food and snacks. You have no idea how handy this will be for you. Here is an example of a cooler that you can use. It’s only $14 and doesn’t take up much space.


If you want another option for lodging, try Airbnb. Many cities have hundreds of homes or rooms for rent on Airbnb. I’ve used the service a couple of times and haven’t had a problem. Get $40 off your first booking when you use this exclusive link.

Google Maps

I used Google Maps to preplan my trip. I’m a stickler for directions, so I wanted to get an idea of where I’d be driving beforehand.


Use a GPS system if you think you may get lost. You can use Google Maps on your phone or use an app like Waze.


If you plan on going to any sporting events or shows on your trip, it’s better to purchase them in advance. StubHub is my go-to site. They usually have tickets to every major event. In a lot of cases, they are cheaper than Ticketmaster. Check them out here.



  1. When I travel I always book the hotel ahead. Most hotels have a cancellation policy before 6:00 PM. If you think that you will not make just cancel. Eating out all the time becomes it expensive. We will go to the local grocery store and grab a sandwich and water and continue on our journey. Why spend $30.00 for lunch including tips. You really didn’t spend that much considering what you did.

  2. Wow I am surprised that you didn’t spend more on gas. That is wonderful that you were able to stay with in your budget. Did you find any “free gems” along the way that you could share with us? 🙂

    1. I’m not sure if this is a gem but people in Tucson are very nice. Also make sure that you see the Alamo and the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

  3. Phew, a lot of money but you did have fun so that’s what counts!

  4. Elizabeth Scott says:

    Whenever I travel I also try to talk to the locals and find the secret spots that they frequent. It keeps me off the beaten tourist path and I can support the local businesses. We have found some great deals by doing this. I would love to take a cross country trip like you did.

  5. Wow, congrats on being able to stay within budget. Not sure why but when we travel, we always spend 20-30% MORE than estimated and anticipated. I guess we just like to deviate from the plan 😉

    I too like talking with locals. And recent years, it’s no longer enough for me – a week here or a week there gives me the pleasure of travel but doesn’t satisfy my desire of cultural exchange and growth. So now, my new mission is to go live somewhere for 6 months or a year (for example) and really blend in, really see how the locals live. Life on wheels, i guess 🙂

    thanks for great insights, i love road trips and now they got just a bit easier – thanks to you, Jason. I was really surprised you got your car rental deal through twitter – i should start paying more attention to that network 😉

    1. I would like to try life on the wheels in a year or 2. The opportunity to live somewhere else for an extended time is one of my goals.

      1. yes, it’s great!!! i have done it already, twice actually – spent 6 months in the US (Florida) 8 years ago, and spent 6 months (one summer season) in Northern Greece 4 years ago. And i am about to do it once more – plan is in a couple of months i move to Spain for a year – we’ll see what will come out of it. 🙂

        Keep my fingers crossed you achieve your goal to “live on wheels”! And in the meantime, keep on traveling and sharing wisdom 😉

  6. Wow, that is a detailed list. I do watch my expenses but you did a great job! It can be hard when away from home, especially when you have to eat out.

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