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If you are going on a road trip in the western USA, then you are in the right place. You’re probably in the planning stage and need a quick guide on how to do it. We went on a road trip for 12 days and since we were in the Work and Travel program at the time, I planned everything at work during breaks. I have read blogs, and tips from people on forums, and in combination with our own experience you can now read the most important things you need to know.  


First of all, flights to the west coast of the USA, if of course, you are not already there 🙂 If you arrive from the east coast, there are many airlines on domestic flights, which you can get quite cheaply from east to west. You would probably pay for a flight ticket from 80 – 120 USD. Don’t forget to think about which airport you want to go from and how to get there (and therefore you don’t accidentally spend the money you saved on a cheap ticket for transport to the airport). Usually, the cheapest flights are to Las Vegas. If you want to save even more, be sure to plan your arrival in Vegas during the week. The same room can cost $30 during the week and around $250 during the weekend. 

If you are arriving from another country, check the page Skyscanner and book your ticket no later than 2-3 months before departure. 


People have different experiences with different rental companies, so it’s hard to say which one is the best. I will mention at least the four most famous – Enterprise, Budget, Alamo, and Hertz. In most rental companies, they take US and foreign credit cards (it must be embossed), but in Enterprise, for example, also takes debits, however, they ask for a deposit of approximately $150.

Prices depend on several factors: 

  • the type of car 
  • the season 
  • the number of days (of course)
  • the driver’s age (under 25 there is a surcharge due to a higher risk of accidents at a younger age)
  • place of renting and returning the car (if you want to return the car to another city, in which you borrowed it, the price will increase significantly)
  • car insurance

I was lucky that I came across a relaxing job and had time to read blogs, posts, and comments on the internet. As a result, I found usaa.com, where you can sign up and save a few hundred dollars. It is basically a membership that can be obtained by military veterans and their families. But there is also the possibility of registration for people who have nothing to do with veterans. All you have to do is have a US phone number, address, and bank card and you can get up to a 35% discount. Therefore, this option can only be used by those who have actually lived in the USA for at least some time and used the American card. 

Here is a link to a page where you can register and have a discount on car rental. If this works, then I would go for a car rental in Enterprise, we have an experience they do not ask for a military ID or anything like that.

  • there should be a 30% discount on rent and there is also no fee for a driver over 25
  • usually, you choose a type of insurance when you are already in the rental office, as well as a car, even if you have booked it online in advance, but you still choose from the same category, this is how it worked in Enterprise 

Before you leave the office with your car, don’t forget to check if everything works well, so if there is a problem they won’t blame you. Keep in mind that rental companies will want to avoid any extra payment at any cost. 

Rules and fines 

During the journey, you may receive a fine for breaking a rule. If you get a fine, it will usually come directly to the rental company and they will charge it from your card. After all, that’s why they freeze the money on your card.

About the rules, they are similar as in every country, but for example, if you accidentally park by the hydrant or next to the curb, which is painted red, the fine is around $70. In the worst case, they can tow your car and for this, you need to be prepared to pay from $200 to $400. 


Hotels in America are quite expensive (unless you’re in Vegas during a week) and hostels too cheap and awful, so the best deal could be a motel. 

Always choose rooms in motels in advance, for example through Booking. Of course, you can also go blind, but trust me, you’ll be tired for the whole day and searching may take some time, so don’t rely on it. We spent about two hours in the Grand Canyon trying to find a place to sleep. After a tough day, it could be quite annoying. Of course, unless you have a tent.

In motels, you can have either one or two beds in a single room. Usually, one American motel bed can fit two people comfortably without fighting for space and a lack of money at the same time. If you think this a great hack, it’s actually officially allowed. 

The most famous motel networks are Motel6, HolidayInn, Super8, but that does not mean they are also quality guarantees. The price per person costs about $20-30.

You definitely have to try camping in national parks. But watch out for bears and most importantly, do not leave food outside. There are a lot of them, it doesn’t matter if it’s during the day or night and they are not afraid of people. The price for camping usually ranges from $7-15 per car.

In bigger cities we slept over Airbnb – it pays off more than in motels. You have a nicer room, you pay about the same, the hosts can advise you (for example, our hosts left us a paper with places to avoid) and in addition, you will probably spend more than one night there. 

Of course, another option is Couchsurfing, but we didn’t try it. 

If you will go for a hotel anyway, here is a page with discount coupons.


Having music in the car is obviously not the most important thing when planning a road trip, but since there are several places out of coverage in the west and if you don’t want to listen to rustling on the radio or listening to two hours of one station, download your music. Everyone has their favorite genre, but during those 5,000 miles, you may feel like listening to something else. Or maybe you just want to soak up the feeling of the wild American West, here are a few songs that you might want to play during your road trip. 

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