How much spending money to take?


Hi all
I’m doing the Road Trip USA in August, I will only be staying in NYC 3 nights before the tour and LA 4 nights after the tour, I was hoping to take $7000 NZD which would be around $4734.06 US, i’m not sure if i’m going to be able to save as much as that in time tho, so was just wanting to know everyones experience with the USD? :slight_smile:
Thanks in advance


I’m doing the same and I’m taking $100USD per day from the day I leave Australia till the day I arrive back home. Plus extra for each activity that I wanna do. That’s probably the best way to do it. Food is pretty cheap so you could probably even go $50 per day


Oh that’s a good idea :slight_smile:


Also I think most meals are included in the tour aswell :slight_smile:


Some meals are. I did a topdeck in Europe and on the days you travel most of the time you just spend your money on coffee and snacks for the road. You’ll be sweet though!


Yea I did a Europe tour aswell :slight_smile: I think all breakfasts are provided for USA and just a coupe of lunch and dinners but I can’t imagine food being too expensive there


Food isn’t that expensive in USA. Can eat really cheap.


Hey there,

I did this tour in January-February, and I was curious to know how much money I would need, and I wanted people to share their experience with me beforehand but no one did, so here is my advice for you.
Trust me on this one, the more you have the better!

I did it from NYC to LA so here it is.

Food is cheap, yes. But, with the conversion rate + adding taxes + adding tips, it can get pretty expensive real quick!

In New York, a Broadway show, even at a cheaper rate from the discounted ticket place, is at least $100/person, so budget that if you want to (and you have to) see a show.
For the “New York Pass” be very careful! We got one for 3 days. We were there in winter, so we got a good deal for our money, however, during summer it is well known that people can only do a few activities and end up wasting money on it.

Keep in mind that our tour was the older version, and things and places might vary with your tour guide.

On day 1, you stop in Philly for a philly cheese steak… it’s good but not AMAZING! haha! Budget $10-$20 for that lunch, the market place is filled with food stalls (cookies and treats will be your best friends during the trip).
We had dinner included in Washington on our first night, it was simple, choosing from Burger or salad.
In Washington, museums are free, you just need to wake up early to grab a ticket to go at the top of the Washington Monument and then you have all day to explore and say hi to the president and all.

In “Charlotte”, the hotel we were staying at was across the street from a shopping centre, we got free popcorn and free dinner in the hotel lobby. They also give away two free drinks (alcoholic or not) so that’s always good (make sure you tip, $1 per drink, everywhere you go). However, don’t expect to see anything from Charlotte, we were probably 40 minutes away from the city and no one was brave enough to go to the CBD, we just all ended up going to the mall.

The slow ride activity is AMAZING! It is $30 (ish) per person, you get to drink in the streets while riding a fun car/bus/bicycle hybrid type of thing (don’t be fooled, you WILL have to pedal) ($30 is just for the activity, it doesn’t include your drinks)

Universal Studios all the way! We arrived early enough so that people could do both major parks in the entire stay (Disneyworld Magic Kingdom on the “half” day (the park stays open until late at night) and then Universal the next day, or the other way around). Budget at least $150/person for the day at each park (entry + food) (and merch is expensive too but good souvenirs)

I had been to Miami before, but didn’t remember how expensive everything was. We went out (the whole group) to the Clevelander, a few of us got those massive drinks ($60 each), food is also a bit more expensive. Enjoy the Happy Hour in a lot of the places (buy one get one half price/or free)

New Orleans:
Fun city, we felt a bit unsafe for some parts (as our guide told us) but it is beautiful. Be careful not to be approached by beggars and thieves, trying to trick you by saying “I bet ya $20 that I can tell where you got your shoes from”. A must do is the beignets from Cafe du Monde ($3 or $4 but they’re delicious!).

HELL HOLE! This is truly a rest stop more than anything. There is nothing to do and nothing to see. You will save money on this stop! We were lucky to have an included dinner, pizza, that we got delivered and ate in the lobby.

San Antonio:
The place is very cute, a few things to do, but they will/should be included (Fort Alamo, free) next to a shopping centre (for food).

Austin is an amazing city, and is said to be the birth place of food trucks (cheap and delicious food) so it shouldn’t be too expensive. Also, make sure you check out Rainey Street! It is very unusual and fun, a full street filled with bars, inside houses! Google it you will want to check it out!

Dinner should be included, and it is next door to your hotel! The hotel is AMAZING! It resembles a Western movie decor, and each room has a different themed front. Dinner in Amarillo is at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the 72oz steak challenge (trust me, your dinner will be massive already).
Either when you arrive to Amarillo or leave it, you will check out the Cadillac Ranch. Make sure that you have a can of spray paint ($5 from Walmart) so you can enjoy leaving your mark on the cars, without having to share one or two cans of spray paint between a group of 50.

Santa Fe:
The town of Santa Fe is very cute, very New Mexico ish and feels like a mix of Tatooine and something else.
The “hotel” we were at was hell! Someone found a little nugget of poo in their bathroom, while we had little balls of hair on our bathroom floor.

We had one included dinner and included breakfasts at the best breakfast place EVER! They have a huge option of breakfast (it’s an actual Diner), their hot chocolate is the best and be careful when ordering pancakes, they’re bigger than your face. We left a small tip for both days but consult with your guide on that, as they may already tip them for you at the end of the stay in Durango.
The ski resort is fun, budget between $100-$200 for activities (we had snowmobile, in summer I believe it is whitewater rafting).

Monument Valley:
Probably the best thing on this tour for me. It was very impressive, the narrated tour is quite interesting and well rounded.
Lunch wasn’t included that day, we ate on the park (a Navajo Taco) it wasn’t amazing but it was filling for $7.

Grand Canyon (Flagstaff)
Once again, the hotel was horrible, the staff was rude (we were freezing, it was -20degrees one day and our heater didn’t work, they told us to crank it up, which we had already done, and wait for the room to warm up. We called them again and they brought us a ratchet blanket to make up for it).
The helicopter ride was around $280 for 45 minutes, but everyone who did it loved it.

Las Vegas:
Sin. City. Be very careful in Vegas, it is very easy to blow all your money away in one go (when in doubt, put it all on red)! The Party bus was really fun, bring your own alcohol on it. Make sure to enjoy Fat Tuesday’s. A Vegas show might be a good thing to do, but then again, like New York, even discounted tickets are still around the $100 mark. A Grand Canyon Helicopter tour from Vegas is around $300-$400/person but it is SO worth it (it is a different side of the Canyon than the helicopter ride from Flagstaff, more expensive, but on the way back you fly over the Las Vegas Strip, with Elvis Prestley’s Viva Las Vegas in your headphones, and that is priceless).
The Stratosphere rollercoasters are not too expensive ($35 to go at the top and do all of them).
Check out the ferris wheel, called High Roller, and for $37 we went on the Happy Half hour cabin, it goes for half an hour, you have your own bartender and get to drink as much as you can, while enjoying the view.

Overall, during your Topdeck tour, try to get your guide to stop you at one or two Walmarts, so you can check out the big fuss around it. Also, try to go to Wholefoods to stock up on healthy snacks and lunches. When your hotel is a La Quinta, do not expect it to be amazing (and check under your pillow, so many maids have left their stray hair under there). Breakfasts are very average (slices of bread wrapped in plastic, dry muffins and cheap coffee are ahead) but a few places have upped their games and you can get a decent breakfast here and there (San Antonio, Miami, Durango).

I would budget $100 per day on average, just so you can cover food and activities. On the long days of driving (mainly two big days), you just snack and get cheap food from the truck stops so you don’t spend that much then. Remember to also have money for shopping and more expensive activities.


Wow!! This is amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to type this :slight_smile: it sounds a lot different to my Europe tour! Especially cause it was so much more pricey you’d think the hotels and breakfasts would be decent but hey! I guess that’s what it’s all about, how long ago did you do this tour?
Thanks again
Holly :slight_smile:


Oops I just saw you did it in Jan-feb haha my bad!