OK, the decision is made, and you are going to travel to the United States! The whole amazing new world is in front of your eyes, and you will see the results of the ‘American dream’ the generations of newcomers to the new continent have worked on.
I have a few tips for you on how to come and stay here for a while without spending too much money. The first thing is: Don’t hurry and take your time! There are so many things to see! Plus it will be easier for you to travel on a budget if you have enough time to explore and fit into the life of locals.
Come Up With a Good Plan First
I prefer traveling spontaneously, but that way requires more time and money to spare. In cases when you don’t have that luxury, it is necessary to make a good travel plan in advance.
That doesn’t mean you need to miss the excitement of exploring a new country and discovering things you couldn’t even imagine it is possible to experience. I am talking about the general plan which will make your trip more comfortable and less expensive.
Since budget trips usually involve limited luggage, the first thing you need to do is to pack your stuff properly. Be rational and don’t carry too many unnecessary things. For example, be sure that the T-shirt you haven’t worn for two years, you won’t wear on this trip too. You don’t need it!
However, you will need a waterproof jacket, good shoes, and at least one pair of long jeans. Think twice about stuff you really need on the road, and try to have as fewer pieces of luggage as possible. There is only one rule for the budget travelers – You won’t regret the clothes you haven’t packed. Believe me!
Travel Out of Season
The golden rule of budget travelers is to go on a trip out of full, expensive season. When it comes to traveling to the US, this point is not a significant problem. If you make an excellent plan, you can easily take advantage of the possibilities this vast country offers thanks to the various climate in its different parts.
The most important is to avoid the school holidays and choose the best destinations during ‘shoulder season.’ Do in-depth research about States and cities you want to visit and prepare to spend the best vacation of your life.
Book Flights on Time
First of all, avoid buying a one-way ticket because you never know when you can find yourself without money. Plus, buying a return ticket is always cheaper especially when you book your flight a few months ahead. Take advantage of the Internet and look for more affordable flights at least three months before your vacation.
Maybe you can find an affordable package deal which includes both an airplane seat and a hotel bed. Sometimes booking this package includes meals and some guided tours as well.
Believe it or not, the ticket price can vary depending on the day of the week. Choose to travel on Tuesday or Wednesday and avoid queues at the airport desks for checking-in.
Unlike other budget travelers, I prefer Business Class. For short flights, it is OK choosing fly economy. However, giving some extra money for a better seat is a wise decision when you plan overseas flights.
Take a look at flight search websites such as Momondo, Skyscanner, or Kayak. You can also check the websites of the chosen air flight companies, compare prices, and avoid any hidden charges.
One more thing! Once you came to the US and want to use a plane to get to a desirable destination, looking for a local flight is sometimes better than making a reservation online. Also, you can always consider low-cost companies’ offers and alternate airports.
The Best Accommodation Offers
Hotel suites are a questionable solution if you travel alone because they can be quite expensive. Therefore, you need a better offer. There are a lot of decent hostels throughout the US, and you may find that sharing a room is an excellent opportunity to meet new people.
I prefer renting an apartment by using Airbnb and CouchSurfing since I have discovered these websites. Booking a spare room in someone’s house can be an exciting experience. This way is cheap, and your host can give you precious insider-tips about local customs and the best local sights, pubs, nightlife, and so on.
Also, think about renting a house for a month. Rent a car and start exploring miles around without changing accommodation and paying expensive rooms for a day or two at different places.
Have you ever heard about Home Exchange? If you have your own house or an apartment and want to stay in the US for a few months, maybe you may consider this option and find a nice American who dreams about visiting the Czech Republic. Do a house-swap and enjoy free accommodation.
In the end, if you are an adventurer, you can explore possibilities for camping in a particular area or consider renting a campervan. It can be an ultimate experience when you want to see as many places throughout America as possible.
Learn How to Travel Slowly
I can’t describe how many benefits you will get when you take your time and travel slowly. First of all, your pocket will be very thankful since staying in one particular place for a while allows you to discover what to visit for free or where to eat or drink at affordable prices.
Plus, you can always negotiate about less expensive accommodation if you stay in one place for at least a week. There will be a lot of time to check out some excellent tours, visit local attractions, museums (most of them offer free hours during a week), cutting-edge galleries as well as enjoy ZOOs and parks.
Keep in mind that small towns (with populations under 20,000) are always more budget-friendly then big cities. The huge advantage the US is numerous local attractions you can explore just one to two hours drive away from the place you are housed.
Don’t miss road tripping! Some of the most exciting trips in the country are on the highways. Even if you come to the United States just to feel the smell of the gasoline on Route 66, you can consider your visit a phenomenal one!
Don’t Behave Like a Tourist, Become a Part of the Local Community
Eat and Drink Where the Locals Eat and Drink
When you decide to spend weeks or months in America, the best way to live within your budget and enjoy real life here is to behave like a local. The truth is that the locals know best where to find the most delicious and cheapest food, the coffee shops which offers the best American coffee, and which bars are the top-notch venues to spend the ultimate night out in the city.
If you are not sure about the quality of the food and whether it is healthy and safe for consumption, follow the locals. If they eat at some place, it is safe. There is one more tip I have checked over the years. If you don’t know where the most delicious food is, look for truck drivers’ favorite restaurants, and you won’t make a mistake.
Find the Local Markets
Almost all local markets are well supplied and cheap! Go there to purchase fresh food, new clothes, or souvenirs. If you make your meals by yourself, you can buy all the ingredients from local farmers.
By using local buses and trains, you can travel overnight. That way you will save some cash and get one day more to spend at the desired destination.
If you are an adventurous type, just forget about scary movies and go hitchhiking. I adore this way of traveling because of all those people I would never be able to meet otherwise.
Earn While Traveling
One of my favorite things concerned the traveling throughout the US is the possibility to earn some money when it is necessary.
Unlike Europe, where the possibilities for short-term budget improvement work is very limited and often legally sanctioned, the US is a heaven for everyone who wants to work. When you run out of money, just knock and ask.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
When we are talking about traveling abroad, especially when it comes to overseas travel, I recommend you to inquire thoroughly about the possibilities of travel insurance and to buy it. Once I got an excellent tip – The cheapest insurance is the one you pay for, and you don’t use at all. Think about it.
Useful Tips for International Travelers from the Czech Republic
Electronic System for Travel Authorization – ESTA for citizens of the Czech Republic has been available since 2008 when this country joined the Visa Waiver Program. That means that this automated system will finish pre-screening and check your eligibility to visit the US before boarding.
With prepared digital chipped passport and a credit card, you can come here as a tourist or for a business reason for up to 90 days. The only thing left before boarding your plane or ship is to check ESTA status. That means that you don’t have to think about additional troubles with bureaucracy. Just prepare yourself for possible specific security features the authorities require from time to time.