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Cost of our Cross Country Road Trip | 2020 Update

Cost of our Cross Country Road Trip | 2020 Update

Most months we release an RV living expense report, but last month was a little different. We ditched our camper, rented a car, and took a two week (7,000 mile) cross-country road trip. From car rental to hotel rooms, we’ll break down the expenses and compare the costs to other modes of transportation.

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Renting a Car

I was raised on the belief that car rentals had limited miles built into each contract. When I discovered that wasn’t the case and that most rental companies offer unlimited miles, the prospect of renting a car became much greater.

We compared rates at every rental company and found the best deal through Hertz.

Cost of Rental (14 days of unlimited miles): $261

Renters Insurance: $154

Total: $415

During our research, we found many varying opinions regarding rental insurance. Since the cost of the rental was lower than we expected, adding insurance gave us peace of mind and kept the car within our preliminary budget.

Cross Country Road Trip | Car Rental

The Cost of Gas

Driving a car with great fuel economy was key for saving money. We drove through a lot of states; Arizona & Oklahoma had the cheapest gas, Pennsylvania, Maine, and California had the most expensive.

Many of the apps we use for RV life are also great for road trips in general. Gas Buddy, in this case, has been very useful. We recommend you check these apps out because they may come in handy!

Here are some of our gas stats:

Total Cost: $447

Gallons Used: 204.5

Avg Price per Gallon: $2.19

Total Miles: 6799

MPG: 33.24

Cheap Hotels on Cross Country Road Trip

Cheap Hotels on Cross Country Road Trip

Hotel Expenses

We only had the buy hotel rooms for six nights total (3 each way), once we arrived to Maine we had free accommodations. Using Priceline the majority of the time, our average per night room cost $44.50.

None of the hotels were great, but a few of them were pretty nasty.

Total Hotel Cost: $267

Price Comparisons:

We spent a combined price of $1129 between the rental car, gas, and lodging. If we would’ve driven our truck we could’ve saved $100, but added a lot of wear & tear.

The estimates for flying were between $1500 – $2300 depending on our flight days, transportation once we got to Maine, and boarding our pup.

Overall, we’re confident this was the best financial choice. As for our sanity, we were able to manage it because we were mentally prepared; however, it’s not a trip we’d take again anytime soon!

Free Overnight Parking & Camping

Keep in mind – there are many options when it comes to free overnight parking and camping. Many Walmarts allow you to park overnight and catch some sleep. Cabellas, Cracker Barrel and other big box stores also allow overnight parking in some areas of the USA.

You might be able to sleep overnight in your vehicle at interstate rest areas.

The Best Free Camping in the Entire USA

We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.



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  1. Biff says:

    Credit cards offer free car rental insurance. Your front end research did come conclude this?

  2. M. Watts says:

    Hi there, This is mark from nor cal. Just sold an older airstream and now in a older roadtrek with a roof rack on top. Been seeing you on youtube. Where are you set up. I did a walk looking to meet you three, but no luck. Hope to meet while you are here. marK

  3. Keith Drucker says:

    Was yours a one-way rental? I am looking to drive cross country to the west coast, and cannot find a one-way rental for less than $2,000. How did you do it?

  4. One way rental is WAY more expensive. Round trip for us was only a couple hundred dollars

  5. Thats good advice, we didn’t come across this, but will use a credit card next time!

  6. This post is awesome. It give a lot of useful information. We did our first documented road trip this month and we are already planning our next. It is expensive but also really awesome and give a new kind of vision after all.