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  1. Default Three week road trip - finances?

    Hello everyone

    There is so much interesting information here but I am hoping someone might have some additional info and tips when it comes to budgeting and planning your on the road finances.

    So my husband and I have booked our tickets and will be arriving in Denver in early Sept and leaving from Phoenix (we are from the UK) 3 weeks later.

    Our plan is to stay in that general area - Colorado, a bit of Wyoming, a bit of Utah and Arizona.

    There are several financial questions I am interested in. Whilst hiring a car + gas is not that expensive (compared to the UK!) and reasonable prices can be found, it looks like one-way fees are really expensive. We anticipated this, but flying in and out of different states was the only way we could fit different stuff in.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for one-way car rental? Are there any places cheaper than others?

    Also, I know that motels can be cheap and not so nice, or just ok. We've only travelled in California before and I understand it is more expensive. So, what can we expect to pay for an average motel? Can $50 per night get you a decent stay?

    Whilst on the one hand we can't afford hugely expensive places every single time, I also want to stay in a reasonably nice place - this is our holiday after all! In California we stayed in one particularly bad motel (freezing, no blankets, smelly, uncomfortable, strange....) for $60 per night so I'm a bit apprehensive of repeating that experience!

    Finally, how much does an average diner dinner tend to be for 2 people in e.g. roadside Colorado, away from the obvious tourist traps? In California we were paying $15 for breakfast and usually around $30 for dinner. This is massively cheaper than the UK so we didn't really bother to find out if these were 'normal' prices or not. BUt over 3 weeks it will all add up!

    If anyone has any other cost saving of budget planning ideas for a 3 week trip, I'd love to hear about it! Thank you!

    (as a cost saving measure we did think of an RV but have never driven one and not sure what we think about that idea just yet...)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    First off I would like to say that the RV is certainly not a budget friendly option, especially with just 2 people travelling. By the time you add the rental cost to the poor gas mileage, Campground fees and other associated costs it is much more expensive, but a great 'Lifestyle' choice if you are into that sort of thing.

    The only thing you can do is search for rental deals and see what offers come up, deals are constantly changing and last weeks 'best deal' may not be the same as next weeks. 'Dollar' and 'Carhire 3000'[?] have come up quite a bit and might be worth a look. One way drop fee's are the 'norm' and if not shown are usually built into the price.

    You can get decent cheap Motels and you can get awful expensive Hotels, so again it is a case of researching what's on offer. The nearer to City centre's and National parks you are the more you can expect to pay, just off Interstate or a little out of the way, $50 might do it, but I would figure on $75 to $90 per night to be safe.

    You can save money by checking Hotels that include a hearty breakfast and Yes, $30 should get you a decent meal. You could get that figure lower by eating 'take outs' or shopping at a grocery store. We don't do much in the way of Hotel recommendations etc, but sites like Trip advisor and Expedia should give you a good idea of the cost of one to suit your needs and budget. Always check to see if the Hotel has it's own Web page as they are often cheaper or have a 'Price promise' to match any other deals offered by agents.

  3. Default

    Thanks Southwest Dave! It's good to know that our original idea of finances is in accordance with reality!

    Thanks also about the RV tip - just saved us tons of time searching for prices etc.

    I also didn't know that motels & hotels do breakfasts sometimes (or it seemed like I never used one whilst in the US!) So that's good to hear. Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Most places will offer some sort of breakfast. At most low end places it will typically only be (stale) rolls, toast, juice, and coffee, while as you get into mid-level places you'll often find some hot options like a waffle maker or even a full breakfast with meat and eggs. The exceptions tend to be at the extremes, the lowest of the low places (Motel 6 for example) often will not have anything other than coffee, while the most expensive places will have a restaurant on site.

    If you've traveled in California before, that should give you a good baseline for costs. California is certainly more expensive for some things, but for individual things they should be pretty close.

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