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Cost-cutting advice for your USA holiday

Published January 17th, 2016

In terms of value for money, a holiday in the United States this year is looking pretty expensive. The AUD/USD exchange rate isn't friendly, but there are still plenty of budget-friendly aspects about the US.

Petrol in the States, though pricier than it used to be, is still a bargain by Australian standards, with a litre currently around 78 cents.

Moreover, eating out in the US is far better value than in most of Australia, as well as getting on the drink and shopping.

There is, however, a major financial caveat to choosing to take a holiday in the US – the cost of getting there. Here is some advice on how to keep costs down on key elements of US holidays.

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On The Road

For car hire, compare rates on a price-comparison website. Free one-way drop-offs are normally possible within states, making, say, Los Angeles-San Francisco or Miami-Orlando drives attractive propositions.

Unusually, Complete North America offers Route 66 fly-drive tours without one-way drop-off charges, promising a decent saving. To keep your bill to a minimum, when you pick up the car resist the likely offer of an upgrade.

Inter-city coach travel is more comfortable than it used to be, and with Greyhound and Megabus tickets can cost as little as $1 if you book well ahead.

On The Rails

Long-distance US rail journeys can be bargains. Book well ahead and make do with comfy reclining seats, and a memorable coast-to-coast trip from New York to Los Angeles, changing trains in Chicago, costs just $212. Book on Amtrak's website.

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When on the road, skip B&Bs and inns, which tend to be upmarket in the US, and pricier than motels. Good value for groups are all-suite chain hotels such as Embassy Suites and Homewood Suites, where the accommodation comes with a living room and kitchen.

An affordable, increasingly popular alternative to staying in a hotel in a city is to rent a room in a private apartment or the whole apartment.

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If you are heading to the theme parks of Orlando or southern California, it normally works out cheaper to buy multi-park, multi-entrance tickets in advance. However, don't overbuy, as you may run out of time or stamina to tackle all the parks your ticket covers.

Shop around: ticket prices vary significantly from tour operator to tour operator and among agents.

If you intend to pack in a lot of sightseeing, you can save a tidy sum by investing in a CityPASS, which covers admission to multiple major attractions in 10 US cities.


Though local sales taxes are not displayed on prices, you can still make significant savings by shopping in the US, particularly at the many factory-outlet malls. Premium Outlets are recommended.

Drop the price of your US holiday with one of Student Flights' exclusive Black Market airfares.

This article was written by Fred Mawer from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning UK English language broadsheet newspaper, published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally.