How Much Does It Cost to Visit All 50 States? - Intentional Travelers

How Much Does It Cost to Visit All 50 States?

This is a guest post by fellow Intentional Traveler, Alyssa Padgett. She and her husband, Heath, embarked on an epic U.S. road trip in 2014 to film their documentary, Hourly America.

A few months before our wedding day, Heath and I found ourselves dreaming of a 48-state road trip, wondering how we could afford such a lifestyle. We wanted to live each day freely, able to travel, write, and live an adventure. No cubicles, no bosses, no 9 to 5 grind.

Unfortunately, we were two engaged kids who just quit their jobs and could in no way afford the lifestyle we imagined for ourselves.

How Much does it cost to visit all 50 states

But then Heath sent an email, found us a sponsor, and two weeks later found the perfect RV for our first home. We created a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money to get us started on the road and suddenly, we were counting down the days to the grand adventure instead of the wedding day!

Four days after the rainy wedding, my newlywed husband and I started driving west and didn’t stop our tour of the country for the next 200 days.  When we eventually returned home to Texas, we asked our close friends and family if they expected us to finish. Most of them said no. They expected us to quit or stop somewhere along the way and come home. After all, seven months on the road isn’t exactly all glamorous, easy travel–especially for your honeymoon!

But despite our doubts and everyone else’s, we’ve now visited all lower 48 states exploring national parks, big cities, and every small town in between for total of 18,280 miles of America. And yes, we also flew to Alaska and Hawaii the following winter thanks to our sponsor company, Snagajob.

Now without further ado, I’d like to share you with you the cost of travel. Our finalized financial records for 200 days on the road. How much do you think it costs to pay for 18K miles of gasoline?

How Much Does It Cost To Visit All 50 States?

Gas: $6,593.57

This is my favorite stat of our travel. It cost us approximately 36 cents per mile of travel across the country. We’ve seen gas prices soar over $4 in California and duck under $2 back in Texas, but no one we’ve asked expected our gas expenses to be this low. Estimating that our average speed of travel is 55 mph, which let’s be honest is a little generous for our 1994 engine, we drove approximately 333 hours over our 200 days on the road.

Lodging: $2,710.84

Using Passport America, Good Sam, and friendly driveways across the country, we spent less than 3K on lodging for 7 months. That means on average we spent $13.55 per night‘s stay and less than $400 per month.

Groceries: $2,053.05

Since we travel with our kitchen, we try to always eat in to save money. Our meals for two people cost an average of $10.26 a day, and includes 3 square meals a day plus our daily bowl of popcorn.

Gym Membership: $344.84

Oh, Planet Fitness. More than giving us a chance to exercise, Pfit always gave us a warm, luxurious shower on the road. The membership to the nationwide gym costs us $43 a month and boasts spacious showers and massages chairs. (This number also includes the yearly membership fee).

Phone Bill: $1,311.22

This number makes me want to cry! Since our phone plan began days before our wedding, this number includes all of those ridiculous startup fees that come with any new phone plan. Losing my phone back in Colorado helped lower our bill by over $75 a month, making us consider why smartphones are so necessary.

Eating Out: $512.88

Oh the sweet taste of Starbucks’ lattes and fresh chips and queso! Heath and I largely avoid eating out, but sometimes you just need to take a night off. Most of these expenses are from our first month on the road where we undoubtedly spent the most money overall and from our time in New York City, where we stayed in a hotel (courtesy of Snagajob) and ate out every meal.

Maintenance: $1,955.72

A new fuel pump, new brake pads, new rotors, oil changes, capping a gas leak, replacing a melted battery–you never know what will happen on the road. Considering we purchased a 1994 Coachman Leprechaun off of Craigslist, I think paying less than $2000 on maintenance for 18K miles is pretty reasonable.

Giving: $210.00

We don’t have much to give, but Heath and I do give $30 monthly to a nonprofit. Despite our lack of wealth, we firmly believe it is important to give to others as much as you can.

Other costs:

Wedding costs, Christmas gifts, Spotify, insurance, tickets, and one overdraft fee–we didn’t have any other big ticket expenses, but lots of small purchases along the way. Things like buying a National Parks pass for $80 or spending $35 to ride the the boat into Niagara Falls. We did go shopping for clothes once, while in NYC, where I bought the cutest dresses and spent $40.

Total Spent: $18,748.85

That’s an average of spending $2600 a month, or more importantly, roughly $1.00 per mile of travel. 

Income: $15,503.23

Between our sponsorship, writing gigs, and freelance work, Heath and I made over $11,000 ourselves. Our GoFundMe and wedding gifts raised $4,175 total. We also made money on the road from various tips Heath made on his jobs and through the kindness of business owners on the road.

This means we paid only $3245.62 out of pocket, for our seven month honeymoon. The average cost of a honeymoon is between $4000-$5000. I’d say that’s pretty good.

By our final two months, we were breaking even financially and getting close to making more money than we spent.

Those are our final costs for 200 days, 48 states, and a lifetime of memories all in one honeymoon.

Now, we hope to pay off all 27K of student loan debt in the next as soon as possible by continuing to live in an RV. You can learn more about paying off our debt here.


UPDATE:

We flew to Hawaii and drove/flew to Alaska for a grand total of $4,602.38. The line by line deets are below:

HAWAII
Flights $806.00
Hotel $657.80
Car $543.66
Eating Out $418.21
Adventures $137.08
Parking $75.00
Souvenirs 97.92
$2,735.67
ALASKA
Flights  $332.04
Lodging  $321.00
Transportation  $410.50
Groceries  $71.18
Eating Out  $299.87
Adventures  $418.65
Souvenirs  $13.47
 $1,866.71

Tell us what you think! Were you surprised by any of these numbers? Share your thoughts and questions in comments below.

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2 Comments
  • mymeenalife
    Posted at 04:01h, 13 April Reply

    I love it! Thanks for sharing such detailed cost info. It makes a long road trip (well, a properly planned and executed one), seem quite reasonable.

    • Michelle C
      Posted at 08:23h, 13 April Reply

      We’re glad you think so! It is often surprising (and reassuring) to find out how affordable long-term travel can be. We’re super grateful Alyssa was willing to share all this info with us.

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