Cheap Summer Road Trips in an Economy Car​​​

budget summer road trips

Summer in the USA is a popular time for locals and visitors to take vacations. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive times to travel, making it extremely hard to choose a budget-friendly destination. To help you in your search, VroomVroomVroom rounded up some of the cheapest road trips in an economy car guaranteed to cure your wanderlust without breaking the bank.

Book a rental car in the USA

Recommended Car

Renting a Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa Hatchback or Ford Fiesta is a wise choice if you are looking for an affordable and comfortable trip. Economy cars are perfect for couples and young families on a budget. These rentals can seat up to 4 passengers and can accommodate several small bags or a medium suitcase and plenty of small carry-on bags.​​

Money saving tips

  • Always plan ahead: Make a list of where you want to go, where you want to stay and what you want to do​. If you don't, you can easily waste your hard-earned dollars on expensive accommodation, meals, and fuel.
  • Search for low-cost places to stay: Cheap motels chains for your road trip can be budget-friendly to your wallet. These include the Motel 6, Super 8, Microtel Inn and Suites, Red Roof Inn, Travelodge, and Econo Lodge.
  • Find better alternatives: Rates in motels and hotels usually start at $45 per night in rural areas and $80 in most major cities. Booking a stay on an Airbnb or camping​ makes a cheap and exhilarating alternative​.
  • Rent an RV: Travel in a recreational vehicle and save on hotels and eating out. Just look for a safe location to park overnight.
  • Prepare your own meals on the road: Make sure to organize your camp kitchen before your trip or find a lodge that includes a kitchen. Cook your own food, make snacks and pack simple meals that could be eaten quickly.

Recommended summer road trip routes

​Grand Canyon​

grand canyon national park in arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the state of Arizona. It is also considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The park is split into two segments: the South Rim and the North Rim, located more than four hours apart via US-89 N and US-89A N ​by car. The entrance fee for vehicles is $35 and can last up to 7 days. ​Note that the South Rim is open year-round, while the North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October. No refunds are given due to inclement weather.

Road trip route:

  1. Las Vegas
  2. Boulder City
  3. Kingman
  4. Seligman, Arizona
  5. Grand Canyon

​Useful tips: If you are looking for classic Grand Canyon views, the South Rim ​is the best place to go. During summer, lodging in the park is usually expensive, if not sold out entirely. Note also that viewpoints along the rim get crowded.

Yellowstone​

yellowstone's grand prismatic spring

​A must-see destination for American and foreign hikers, Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the U.S., according to the National Parks Conservation Association. The park is famous for geysers like Old Faithful and hot springs such as the Grand Prismatic that span across the entire park. Yellowstone is also home to approximately 10,000 geothermal features and ​other equally amazing sights, including the Yellowstone River and the Lamar Valley. Large crowds of people typically flock to the park, especially during summer months.

Road trip route:

  1. Denver
  2. ​​Loveland
  3. Wyoming
  4. Grand Teton National Park​​​
  5. Yellowstone

​Useful tips: Yellowstone is only a road trip away from Glacier National Park in Montana and just south of Yellowstone, you will find the less crowded Grand Teton National Park​. Note that each corner of the park can easily fill a whole day, especially if you love to hike.

New York to Virginia​

panoramic view of statue of liberty

The Mid-Atlantic region is home to some of the famous historic and cultural sites in the world. This road trip route consists of everything you could dream of. From visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to seeing a Broadshow show and exploring famous art museums - NYC has it all. Along the way, you will enjoy awe-inspiring scenery and discover highlights from American history.

Road trip route:

  1. New York
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Baltimore
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Virginia

​Useful tips: Avoid driving in major cities during rush hour. Parking in New York is quite expensive, and driving can be confusing for first-time visitors. Philadelphia is a city for foodies, thanks to the famed Philly Cheese Steak. Visit iconic monuments and memorials in Washington.

Midwest​

aerial view of chicago city

The fascinating Midwest represents a mix of everything which makes the country such a favorite destination for a road trip. Chicago has plenty of amazing sights that offer urban conveniences. ​You will find beautiful forests and parks, and a couple of unique roadside attractions​ in Iowa. We have listed some of the must-stop places to explore if you want to experience the best of Midwest.

Road trip route:

  1. Illinois
  2. Indiana
  3. Iowa
  4. Minnesota
  5. Ohio
  6. Missouri
  7. South Dakota
  8. Wisconsin

​Useful tips: There are plenty of free and affordable attractions to experience in the Midwest. Make sure to to get a guidebook and look for places to visit with low-cost entrance fees. Museums, parks, historic sites, free music festivals, and the beach are great options during the summer. Note that several museums have free admission on select days​.

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