USA Backpacking Budget

USA backpacking budget

(Map of USA from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in the USA on a Shoestring Budget

US$65

Much of the advice we gave in our Canada budget applies here too. Like Canada it is a very large country but with considerably more places of interest so your expenses really depend on how ambitious you want to be. Focusing on just one area of the country for example California or the North-East then our USA backpacking budget of $65/day is realistic enough. However if you want to visit several different parts of the country in say a month or less then you might want to check out the budget below and perhaps still add a bit more.

On an every day level, USA is perhaps slightly cheaper than most of Western Europe or countries like Japan and Australia. Food is pretty good value when you consider the enormous portions and one meal can leave you pretty full for the day while alcohol is also quite cheap compared to most of Europe.

However aside from the cost of covering large distances, which isn’t that great by bus, what makes USA a bit more expensive for the shoestring traveller is the relative lack of real budget accommodation. Whereas in other parts of the world you will find plenty of hostels with dorms in even the smallest towns, that isn’t really the case in the US. The biggest cities do of course have them but not that many and given the lack of competition they are not that cheap and therefore accommodation costs tend to take up quite a big chunk of your budget.

See where USA ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable USA Backpacker Budget

US$85

You can easily end up spending $30 or more a night on accommodation in the United States, perhaps more than half our previous budget so it doesn’t leave you a lot left over for anything else. Therefore adding another $20 on is probably a good idea if your trip is a short one of say a few weeks and you want to see as much as you can. This will give you a bit of room to take a few domestic flights that will allow you to see more of the country.

It is also worth noting that travelling with a few friends will generally cut your costs somewhat. If you are a group of 4 or 5 then renting a car might prove more cost effective and will certainly give you more flexibility and that should be easy to fit into this budget, especially if you spend a few nights on the road and manage to save on accommodation that way.


Sample Prices in USA

Flight from New York to Miami (3 hours) – $80 (when booked in advance) + baggage

Bus from San Francisco to LA (8 hours) – around $35

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – $12-15

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – $4

Dorm Bed in Chicago – from $22/night

Dorm Bed in New York – from $35/night

Private Double or Twin room in New York – from $70/night

Private Double or Twin room in New Orleans – from $45/night


Money

Currency – US Dollars

£1 = $1.44

€1 = $1.14

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Accommodation is the big budget killer in the United States so couchsurfing really is a very good option here and even if you’ve never done it before, there’s not a better place to try it for the first time.


street art in New York City

street art in New York, USA (via Rodrigo BernalCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve travelled in the USA recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉

Mexico Backpacking Budget

Mexico backpacking budget

(Map of Mexico from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Mexico on a Shoestring Budget

US$35 | 650 Mexican Pesos

Mexico is a large and generally fairly cheap country to travel in although there are a few notable exceptions. These are mostly the tourist resorts such as Cancun, where prices for almost everything are significantly higher than you’ll find in the rest of the country. If you avoid them then there is no reason why you can’t get by on something like $35/day and still have a really good time.

It is a country with lots of excellent local dishes and drinks so eating and drinking out is one of the highlights of a visit to Mexico and is generally very good value as even the fussiest of eaters won’t struggle to find something that grabs their fancy. Travelling around is reasonably priced if you can put up with long hours on buses but if you do want to visit the North as well as the South then you might want to allow for a bit more than this as it’s a lot of miles you will need to cover. Flying between destinations is considerably more expensive in Mexico with few budget airlines running domestic routes.

Accommodation though is very cheap particularly if you’re willing to stick to dorms and won’t take up a large chunk of this budget leaving you with plenty left over for other things.

See where Mexico ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Central America


More Comfortable Mexico Backpacker Budget

US$45 | 850 Pesos

Adding $10 will give you a bit more freedom to take trips or try a few more different activities out. You afford to do quite a bit of partying even on our shoestring Mexico backpacking budget and an extra $10 could go towards that if you so wished although nights out aren’t particularly expensive if you avoid the swankier places and in the more traveller-orientated towns girls can often get free entry and free drinks in many nightspots.

If you want to see most of the country as opposed to sticking in one region for a longer period of time then US$45 might be a better budget particularly if you are restricted by time more than money.


Sample Prices in Mexico

Flight from Mexico City to Cancun (2 hours 15 mins) – from 1200 Pesos ($65)

Bus from Playa del Carmen to Chetumal (4 hours) – from 175 Pesos ($9.50)

Meal at an inexpensive local restaurant – 80 Pesos ($4.50)

Local beer at a non-touristy bar or restaurant – 20 Pesos ($1)

Dorm bed in Mexico City or San Cristobal – from 80 Pesos ($4.50)

Dorm bed in Playa del Carmen or Tulum – from 140 Pesos ($7.50)

Budget private double or twin room in Mexico City – from 170 Pesos ($9)

Entrance to Chichén Itzá – 200 Pesos (including tax) ($11)


Money

Currency – Mexican Peso

£1 = 26.74 Pesos

€1 = 21.06 Pesos

US$1 = 18.56 Pesos

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

Some businesses in tourist destinations like Cancun may still accept US Dollars despite a law aimed at banishing the Dollar from the Mexican economy. However it is still advantageous to pay for things in Mexican Pesos and in most parts of the country Dollars are not accepted.


MFT Recommends

Be sure to visit Tulum which is one of the few places that both those interested in Mexico’s archaeological wonders and wonderful beaches will enjoy. The Hostal Chalupa is one of the best places to stay on a budget.


street art in mexico

street art in Oaxaca, Mexico (via Jen WlltonCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Mexico recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉

Canada Backpacking Budget

Canada Backpacking Budget

(Map of Canada regions from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 2.5)


Daily Travel Costs in Canada on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 80 Canadian Dollars

Canada is one of the hardest places to give an accurate budget for mostly because it is enormous. Our other budgets are generally based on trying to visit all the main destinations in the country and a few things in-between but in Canada that will either involve covering in excess of 5,000km by land or taking a domestic flight that is as long and expensive as a cross-continental one. Montreal is roughly the same distance away from Vancouver as it is from London for example.

So our Canada backpacking budget of 80 Canadian Dollars is primarily based on picking one area of the country (for example Southern Ontario & Quebec) and sticking too it. If you want to visit another part of the country, treat the cost of a flight as extra. In terms of daily expenses Canada is not cheap by any means and is pretty much in line with what you might expect in Western Europe although you should find it slightly cheaper than the UK or France.

Although it is so big, there isn’t a huge amount of regional variation in terms of prices although Vancouver is generally considered to be slightly more expensive than the cities in the East such as Montreal or Toronto.

See where Canada ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable Canada Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 100 Canadian Dollars

Again it’s tough to give an accurate figure as people tend to come to Canada for specific reasons rather than just to travel around and take each day as it comes. If you are planning on doing a lot of winter sports then you can certainly expect to spend considerably more than this but there do tend to be quite a lot of ways to work in Canada that will help fund all that. If you want to spend a long time in the country but don’t have enormous funds, consider applying for a job at one of the ski resorts during the ski-season and using it as a base to travel.


Sample Prices in Canada

Toronto to Montreal bus (7 hours) – from 35 CAD

Vancouver to Toronto flight (4 hours 30 mins) – 300+ CAD

Dorm bed in Vancouver – from 25 CAD/night

Dorm bed in Montreal – from 20 CAD/night

Budget private double/twin room in Montreal or Toronto – from 45 CAD/night

Meal in a cheap restaurant – 15 CAD

Large local beer in bar/restaurant – 6 CAD

Entrance to Canadian Museum of History – 15 CAD (11 for students)

Compare Canada prices with the cost of travel in USA.


Money

Currency – Canadian Dollars

£1 = 1.91 CAD

€1 = 1.45 CAD

US$1 = 1.30 CAD

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Go to Montreal and stay at the Auberge Saint Paul. Excellent hostel with best value beds in town.


street art in Montreal

street art in Montreal, Quebec (via AV DezignCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Canada recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉