Working Out My Holiday Budget – Trip Planning Begins


So in approximately 4 months and 22 days from today, my boyfriend and I will be touching down in LA for the start of our seven week US adventure.

**squeezes eyes shut in excitement**

Adventure text

To say I’m looking forward to this trip is an understatement. It’s actually been on my mind for well over three years.

And as the leaving date approaches, my planning is starting to kick into gear. The flights are booked so the start and end of the trip is set. But that’s it. I’ve got seven weeks-ish of travelling to plan and itinerate. And I’m starting to freak out.

The first thing I need to do is really get a good idea about what the whole trip will cost and make sure I’ve saved enough, and then some. Most of the countries I’ve travelled to before have been in Asia, and because the travel costs were pretty low it was easy to travel with a pretty rough budget.

I know that travelling in the US will be more expensive than the type of travel I’m used to, and because this is a long trip I don’t want to run out of money halfway through.

The rough plan for the moment is to spend two weeks on the west coast, then head east for New York and spend a couple of weeks there. Then we’ll head down to Florida for a bit. There’s obviously flexibility built into that, and I still don’t know exactly where I want to visit and what things to do.

Budgeting Travel Costs

I used the site BudgetMyTrip to work out a rough daily cost for each of us. We’re in the budget to mid-range category, so I’m running on a base cost of $100 per person per day, or $5,000 each for seven weeks.

I’m not a high-cost traveller. I like to really get a feel for the places I travel to and ‘live like a local’. No, that doesn’t mean I want to run your errands and go to your job. Just that I like to take things easy and not try to cram in all the sites in one go.

The perfect day for me is to walk-eat-walk-sit in a park and people watch- eat-wander-drink-eat. Not always in that order.

I also don’t want to try and rush through as many cities as possible. I’d rather spend more time in fewer cities and explore those places in greater depth.

Those factors obviously mean that our costs will be lower than someone trying to visit as many places as possible and doing all the tourist (ie expensive) activities.

How I Plan to Keep Travel Costs Down

I’m a big fan of finding new ways to travel and experience places. I don’t really like staying in generic, gray hotels. I like to meet new people, try new foods and experience things that are a little off the beaten track. I also like the idea of shopping locally at markets and delis and being able to cook my own meals.

As a result I plan to utilise share economy sites as much as possible, such as AirBnB for accommodation and RelayRides for local car hire. I’d also like to meet up with as many local guides as possible to get some real insights into the cities we visit, through something like RentAFriend. And of course I want to catch up with the many IRL and blog friends I’ve made.

This is first stage trip planning and I’ve got lots more research and thinking to do before the trip. I love planning almost as much as the holiday itself, so this is going to be a lot of fun.

Ok, I’m after travel tips for the US and ideas for cool places to visit in the major east and west cities, and Florida. And if you want to arrange a catch up, hit me up!

Nell is a freelance writer and blogger living in Australia. Nell writes about personal finance at The Million Dollar Diva. For more information on her writing services, click the Hire Me page.


  1. 1


    I really love going out of town and taking adventurous trip. I was looking for some tips that can help me cut down my expenses in budget trip yet not cutting the thrill on it, your post really help me a lot. Nice tips Nell!

  2. 4


    It’s too bad you’re not doing a road trip, I would recommend the following: L.A., Grand Canyon, Vegas (3 days MAX), White Sands National Monument (New Mexico), New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, Miami, Washington, D.C., New York CIty. There are other cities that I would recommend but I think these are a great mix of cities with different types of food, culture, and people. I think you will have a wonderful time and I hope we surprise you.

    Please, for the love of all that is holy do NOT EAT FAST FOOD!! It drives me crazy when people visit and they only eat hamburgers/pizza/and subs. We have amazing local food in the U.S. all of the cities I’ve recommended have amazing food cultures you can check out for reviews of local restaurants. Feel free to laugh at me-I’m on a mission to prove that the U.S. has good food :) Looking forward to your planning posts.

    • 5


      Thanks for your tips, Michelle. We are going to do ‘mini’ roadtrips, so doing the drive from LA to Grand Canyon, Vegas and San Francisco. In Vegas we are going to a salsa festival, so I think it’d be more bearable than just visiting casinos and hitting up the parties (not that that isn’t great for some, but not my thang). Definitely want to go to Washington DC to and get a bit of the history and politics. In Miami we are going to another salsa festival (sensing a trend…) so we’ll spend a bit of time there.

      Oh the reason I travel is basically to eat new food. I’m really keen to check out the food scene over there! Won’t be visiting too many fast food places (although I’ll have to go to one or two, just for the experience)

      Keep the tips coming!

  3. 6


    Well that answers that question! :) If you need a local tour guide in LA do not hesitate to ask! Unless you want me to take you to Disney in which case that’s a “hell no!” lol! Hate that place. Where do you plan on staying in LA (what area)? I disagree with Michelle’s comment on Vegas. One night is all I can tolerate! :) I would also not spend too much time at the grand canyon personally, and make a side trip to Sedona instead.

    • 7


      Hey Tonya, I’d love to catch up. Not sure yet which area we would stay. Any tips would be welcome. Still working out the route for the roadtrip, but I’ve heard Sedona is nice (my brother was in the US last August).


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