America is filled with fun and unique road trip routes. From the classic coast-to-coast tours to themed trips, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one is best.
To take the stress out of your situation, I’ve devised the perfect budget-friendly road trip for beginners. Focusing on America’s West Coast, this trip includes sunshine, an easy-to-follow driving route and super fun stops along the way. It’s ideal for those who want a taster of that classic all-American road trip without jumping headfirst into the whole thing.
I travelled this route in April 2019 over the course of 14 days.
Physical cash isn’t necessary, but I’d recommend bringing some with you for things like tips and in case you lose your card. Otherwise, your normal debit or travel card should suffice. Do check in with your bank before you go, however, and let them know of your plans to travel abroad, so they don’t block your card.
Google Maps is good to plan out your route, particularly as you can download the maps and use them offline. Otherwise, Waze is great when you have a WiFi connection, as it adjusts to traffic as you drive and can suggest quicker routes.
Roadtrippers is great for discovering all those quirky roadside attractions, like the world’s biggest dinosaur, or general attractions in places. They’re all loaded up on a map (or your route), so you can easily see what’s nearby.
Polarsteps is an app you can download and leave running as you travel. At the end of the trip, you’ll find a mini digital scrapbook showcasing exactly where you’ve been and what images you took there. It’s great for blog posts and creating physical scrapbooks later on, but it’s also useful if you found something you really enjoyed and didn’t take note of it at the time. You can easily find it afterwards with this app.
AllTrails is great for finding a range of hikes (from beginners to intermediates) in each place.
Any road trip has a lot of driving, and we packed so many things to do during our trip. We still didn’t manage to do everything we wanted to. I wish we’d cut down on some things and spent more time just exploring a place, rather than rushing about and trying to fit in as many things as possible.
Two weeks is totally doable for a beginner trip – but remember to take it easy.
DO Be polite, always tip and do a little research regarding each place you visit. Different cities have different customs (and rules – particularly after Covid-19!), so it’s helpful to be aware of these before you go.
DON’T get caught out by tourist scams or mobile data charges. Use a local SIM card if you can, and keep your wits about you if approached by a stranger.
DO save money wherever you can. I’ve recommended affordable hostels to stay in, many of which offer breakfast included. Unless you’re a huge foodie, purchase your food from the supermarket – but there’s nothing wrong with going out to eat occasionally. Check to see if any city has attraction passes too.
DON’T be afraid of shared-sex rooms in hostels. They’re always really safe, however, if you’re still not comfortable, it doesn’t cost much more at all to have a same-sex dorm. It’s still cost-friendly.
Since this trip visits beaches and beautiful coastlines, early summer or late spring is the best time to travel. You’ll still get some crowds, but attractions will be in season to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.
We visited in mid-April and had perfect weather. The only time we struggled was a couple of days in Las Vegas when it was a bit too hot, but I’m from the UK, so our ‘too hot’ is probably normal for everyone else!
Car hire: £1,255.00
Spending money: £1,000
Note: car rental costs will be the same whether you travel solo or with another person. We used Avis, but I’d definitely recommend shopping around to get the best deal.
A road trip along America’s West Coast is very safe. Like with any place, certain cities have their rough areas, but as long as you keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine! There is, of course, the news of rising gun crime across the US – but sticking to tourist or busier areas will keep you safe.
As two women, we felt safe the entire time. On a couple of occasions, I had to keep my eye out for scam artists, but there was never a real issue. I would have felt safe completing this trip as a solo female traveller, too.
Simply rent a car to get to where you need to be: this is a road trip after all! There’s ample parking all over America – and at hotels.
The trip can also be completed by public transport and booking tours if you wish, but you’ll have less flexibility.
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I’m a blogger, content creator and budget traveller who hails from the UK. I love finding ways to fund my travels and make them as affordable as possible. When it comes to travel, my favourite things to do are anything quirky or off the beaten path. I’m quite partial to the cliché tourist attractions too! I also love anything spooky – if there’s a haunted house or abandoned castle where I’m visiting, you can bet I’m there.
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