America on a Budget, Tips for First Timers

statue of liberty in newyork

Many people around the world dream of visiting America, but for most of those same people it will always be a dream. The financial cost of such a trip would be just too high. It would take thousands of dollars to make that dream come true, wouldn’t it? The reality is that it might be cheaper than you think. There are some tricks and tips you can follow to visit America on a budget.

Why You Should Visit America

mount roshmore america

If there was one word that could accurately describe the good ol’ US of A it would; diversity. Not just in the people, but in the country itself. America offers the chance to visit stunning natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the beautiful man-made skylines of Manhattan, and everything in-between. There’s an endless array of attractions to visit and photos to take and share. No matter what you want to see or do, it’s possible in the United States.

Getting a Visa to Enter the Country

visa for america

There are two different visas available for those looking to enter the country, whether for business or pleasure. The first is part of the Visa Waiver Program, and the other is the B-1 Business/B-2 Tourist visa.

The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program allows for people from across 37 different countries to legally enter and stay in the United States – whether for tourism or business – for up to 90 days without having to acquire a regular visa. The program can really help out if you have to enter the country on short notice, given that it is processed quickly. Just keep in mind that only people from the list of 37 countries can use this scheme. So if you aren’t from one of those countries, you won’t be able to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa.

The B-2 Tourist Visa

Assuming you aren’t in one of the Visa Waver Countries, then you need to apply for a regular, which can take a few months to process. That means you’ll have to apply well ahead of time. The two visa options for the USA are the B-1 business visa, and the B-2 tourist visa. The visa application process has become more and more complicated in recent years, with applicants needing to supply even more documents. Applying for a visa also means taking a trip to the U.S Embassy or consulate in your country for a one-to-one interview. So you can see why an ESTA is the obvious choice for those who can take it.

If you are going to be traveling on a budget, then there are three key factors to keep in mind; your flight, your accommodation, and how you plan on traveling in the country.

Booking a Cheap Flight to the USA

cheap tickets to america

One of the most important ways to save money when traveling is to get a cheap flight. There are a few ways you can go around doing that:

Browse for Flights Using Incognito Mode

No matter what browser you use to surf the web, you need to keep your searches as secret as possibly. Did it look like the price of your flight increased after searching for it a few times? That’s because it did. It happens to everyone. So use a private browsing mode to stop it happening to you.

Choose a Budget Airline

Budget airlines tend to have cheaper tickets compared to other airlines. Your journey won’t be as comfortable, but it’s not like you’re traveling to enjoy the wonderful service on the plane.

Do a Little Mixing and Matching

There’s no need to go for a direct flight to the United States. Do a little research and see if you can find a cheaper flight by making a stop or two along the way.

Finding Budget-Friendly Accommodation

golden gate bridge america

Outside of the costs of getting to the country, another major investment will be the costs of accommodation. Anything you can do to stay in the country for cheaper will reduce the overall cost of your trip.


Couchsurfing is a unique service that provides an adventure all on its own. It allows you to make arrangements to stay with a host family for free. You won’t have much privacy and you may be expected to pitch in with chores, but you’ll be staying for free.


If you like the idea of staying with someone else, but would like some privacy, then Airbnb is the solution you want. You can rent a room or apartment that meets your needs at an affordable rate.

Cheap Hostels

People vouch for the affordability of hostels, but the reality is that they can still be quite expensive and should be avoided by budgeting travellers.


Camping is always a great option for the more adventurous travellers.

Cheap Travel Around the Country

cabs in newyork


Buses are one of the most affordable ways to get around your destination. Booking a ride ahead of time can result in discounted prices, saving even more money.

Car Rental

If you want to travel in privacy and comfort, then renting a car is always an option. Choosing an economic, fuel-efficient car helps to save money in the long-run by reducing the need to buy gas.


Flying is – rightly – considered to be the most expensive travel option. Even so, it is possible to save some money through domestic flights and reach some of the main attractions of the United States.


plan trip to america

With everything the United States has to offer, there’s no reason to not visit. Perhaps the only thing that might have held you back would be budgeting for the trip. With the advice above though, you can save some money and make the dream of visiting the United States more of a reality than ever before. Get the most out of your trip with an ESTA Visa. The duration and validity period of an ESTA is two years. While it is good for only 90 days, you can spread those 90 days out across those two years however you want! Scatter one week visits across two years, or just take one 90-day trip, the choice is yours.

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