How Much Does Cross Country Road Trip Cost

Aside from giving you greater freedom, a cross-country trip is also a money-saver, as it is less expensive than flying. To help you plan, here’s a guide to how much does a crosscountry road trip cost.

Average Cost of a Cross-Country Road Trip

The exact cost of a cross-country trip can be challenging to determine because the factors can be massive. However, $200 to $250 per day would be a decent ballpark estimate for two people on a hardcore road trip that includes a cheap hotel night stay, food, fuel, and vehicle contingencies like flat tires, brake fluid, toll fees, etc.

How Much Does Cross Country Road Trip Cost

Of course, you can definitely reduce this cost. When budgeting for this trip, you should be able to consider the following questions:

  • How far would you go?

The farther you want to go, obviously, the more gallons of fuel you need for your car.

  • What is your route?

As for the routes, some are more expensive than others, depending on how complicated they are, the cost of living in the area, and the unexpected road repairs or closures that would force you to turn around and drive elsewhere.

You’d also get a good bargain if you’re coming from a place far from a major airport. Of course, that is only if you plan well before setting out.

  • How many are you traveling with?

The cost of food, accommodation, and fees to enjoy attractions and tourist activities will be higher the larger your group is.

  • What type of accommodation are you comfortable with?

You could find cheap hotels in the range of $30 per night. However, most road trippers would just be comfortable sleeping in their vehicles. If you are comfortable with it, or you want to save some bucks, and you are all in on maximizing the experience, this is the way to go.

  • How much do you want to see while on the road?

The activities you plan to do during the trip will have a huge impact on the total cost. Some theme and leisure parks and other attractions can cost significantly in some places. 

Cost Breakdown

To give you a rough idea of how much does the road trip across America cost, here’s a breakdown of the prices of fuel, accommodation, meals, and attractions you’ll see along the way.

Fuel Costs

As this kind of travel is mostly about driving, you’ll need a lot of fuel to keep your car running for days.

The exact price of gas will depend on the type of vehicle you’re using and the distance you wish to cover. A journey from New York to Los Angeles would be equivalent to 2,800 miles and would cost $223.20 in gasoline if you’re driving a Toyota Camry (which averages 35 miles per gallon on the highway).

The computation would look like this:

2,800 miles/35 miles per gallon = 80 gallons

80 x $2.79 per gallon of regular-grade gasoline = $223.20

The prices used are the current prices at the time of writing. To calculate how much a road trip from NYC to LA or other routes would cost, check current prices and the miles per gallon your vehicle could cover. Just follow the same computation as above.


The cost of accommodation for a crosscountry road trip depends on your preferences. You would normally spend more if you wanted to stay in a hotel.

To avoid any hassle, book well in advance of your travel date. A day before you set out, call the provider to confirm your booking.

If you want your road trip to be as spontaneous as possible, there are a lot of cheap accommodations you can find along the way. Depending on your route, you could stay in motels and hostels, go camping, or spend the night in a house you booked through Airbnb or Couchsurfing.

The average costs for the said accommodation types are as follows:

  • Camping: Free or $10 to $30
  • Motels: $40 to 70
  • Hostels: $15 to $30 per night
  • Airbnb: As low as $30 to $40
  • Couchsurfing: Free

Food and Drinks

Your meals could blow your budget if you have no plan about how to handle your meals while on the road. To avoid overspending on food, plan a daily budget.

Consider these price estimates in computing your food budget:

  • Breakfast: $10
  • Fancy breakfast: $20
  • Hot dog and soda from gas station: $5
  • Dinner out: $10 to 50
  • Coffee: $2

Also, bear in mind that you don’t have to eat out every time during the trip. To save on the daily costs, stock up on fruits, vegetables, meat, and other foods that you could store in a cooler and cook in campsites, on the roadside, or wherever you are.


The cost of enjoying the sights and attractions as you go along with the road trip depends on your chosen route. For instance, driving from New York to Los Angeles would lead you to popular tourist destinations including Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, to name a few.

To give you an idea of how much different attractions would cost you, here’s a list:

  • “Maid of the Mist” cruise on the Niagara Falls: $14.75 to $25.25
  • Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park: $25 to $30
  • Entrance to Yosemite National Park: $20 to $35.

If you’re interested in seeing as many national parks as possible while on your road trip, it would be cost-effective to purchase a National Parks Pass that costs $80. You could also buy a City Tourism Card ($30 to $40) that would allow you to have free access to museums, discounted entrance fees to attractions, and discounts at restaurants.

Calculating Costs

Based on the above prices, the USA road trip cost sample computation for a New York-Los Angeles route for two is as follows:

  • Fuel: $223.20
  • Camping: $80 to $240 for 8 nights
  • Hostel: $90 to $180 for 6 nights
  • Couchsurfing: Free for 1 night
  • Food: $480 for 16 days
  • National Parks Pass: $80
  • City Tourism Card: $40

Subtotal: $993.20 to $1,243.20 (x2)

TOTAL: $1,986.40 to $2,486.40

Note that the above cost is only an estimate. The price could go lower (or higher) depending on your road trip itinerary.

Additional Costs

Some of the additional expenses that would also affect the road trip cost include:

  • Car/RV rental (if you don’t own a vehicle)
  • Change of routes (if the road you’re taking is closed)
  • Vehicle repair (if your car breaks down during the trip)
  • Shopping (if you happen to find items that you like during the trip, like souvenirs)
  • Emergency expenses (medical aid, fully-booked hotels, etc.)

To make sure you will not be short on budget, add another $1,000 to the total cost if you can. That way, you would get the most out of the trip without worrying much about going over the budget.

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