Saving Your Way Through The USA (And Canada)

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5.5min read

Published 17 February 2023


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The rising cost of living is a recurring theme, something at the front of everyone's mind, and that has unfortunately affected travel. The Aussie Dollar is not its strongest right now, which can make travellers stay away from places like the USA and Canada for fear of being too expensive. However, you can easily travel to these places on a budget, and we have listed nine ways to save money on your next USA and Canada adventure.   

1. Take A Road Trip

You can do so many fantastic and picturesque road trip itineraries in America and Canada. Plus, a road trip gives more flexibility and gets you out of the major tourist traps. Head up Highway One in California, take the well-worn Route 66 or drive through British Columbia. At the time of writing, fuel (gas) prices in the states are lower than in Australia.   

RV driving on right side of the road in Big Sur California
RV driving on right side of the road in Big Sur California
RV driving on right side of the road in Big Sur California

2. Fuel Up On Cheap Pizza In New York City

A trip to New York isn't complete without eating a slice (or 100) of pizza, and the good news is you can get a cheap slice easily. While the much-loved slice has also been a victim of inflation, and there aren't as many places doing one-dollar deals as there used to be – the average price for a slice is still under $5 USD. The slices are huge too, so you can easily fill up on one or two and continue sightseeing.   

mature aged masc presenting person eats large piece of pizza
mature aged masc presenting person eats large piece of pizza
mature aged masc presenting person eats large piece of pizza

3. Share Food

Speaking of ample food, it's been the long-standing joke that everything in the states is super-sized, and of course, the food and drinks follow this trend. We've mentioned that the pizza slices are huge, but the same goes for most meals you buy. Order meals to share with your travel pals  – it will save money, food wastage and your stomach.   

4. Do Free Things

Pre-plan and find out the best free things to do whenever you visit a city or town. There are free walking tours in most cities, especially major ones. Backpackers use these regularly, so read backpacker forums before you go. Other free things include some museums and art galleries, but you can always sit in a park or at the beach or go for a stroll. While not free, Broadway fans can enter daily lotteries to win discounted tickets. If there is a show you absolutely MUST see, it's best to pre-purchase ahead of time.   

You can also take to the great outdoors on hikes in places like Runyon Canyon or national parks. Great for fitness and your wallet!   

family of four hiking in green wilderness
family of four hiking in green wilderness
family of four hiking in green wilderness

5. Exchange Currency At Travel Money Oz And Use A Budget Planner

Our friends at TMOZ offer a Best Price Guarantee making sure you get the best bang for your buck when swapping your hard-earned Aussie Dollars for US or Canadian. You can also use their handy budget planner to get an idea of how much money you need to save to enjoy your holiday, so you won't be surprised. Flight Centre customers are also well looked after by TMOZ.   

6. Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance

We've said it before, and we'll say it again because we think this is one of the most essential parts of travelling – if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel! Everybody knows medical costs in America are exorbitant, so while we hope nothing happens, it is best to not be caught. 

7. Budget For Sales Taxes, Resort Fees and Tipping

I know what you're thinking- talking about taxes, BORING! But this is very important to know.  

In Australia, our GST (Goods and Services Tax) is automatically added to items, and the price advised is the final price we pay. In the USA and Canada, taxes are often added at the end, so the pricing you see on menus or clothes tags, for example, will likely be a partial price. It is important to remember this and that taxes will change from state to state.   

Resort fees are another cost that can surprise Aussies when they pay for their stay in some hotels across America and Canada. Essentially the resort fee covers whatever the hotel wants it to – things like using the gym, pool and sometimes parking. Sometimes hotels are transparent about how much the fee will be beforehand – sometimes not – so keep this in mind.  

Tipping is not common in Australia, but definitely is in both America and Canada. The general consensus is that fifteen to twenty per cent is standard, but that twenty is preferred. Sadly, many people make most of their wages through tips, so ensure you show gratitude.   

8. Go Outlet Mall Shopping

If you love a bargain – an outlet mall is for you, and you can find them in Canada and America. In some outlet malls, you can find discounts of up to sixty-five per cent off retail, and they are everywhere. If you shop till you drop, consider purchasing extra baggage for your return flight before you travel instead of paying the high costs at the airport.   

two people window shopping with shop bags in their hands
two people window shopping with shop bags in their hands
two people window shopping with shop bags in their hands

9. Use Free WiFi

Free WiFi is just about everywhere these days. You'll be able to connect throughout the USA and Canada to keep in touch with home and make everyone jealous with your carefully curated travel snaps. Buy a pre-paid SIM if you'd like to stay connected even when you're not in a WiFi-accessible area rather than using international roaming- the cost can skyrocket very quickly.   

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