We’ve returned from our 3.5 week road trip around the West of the USA. We saw some of California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. People usually think of this kind of trip as a once in a lifetime experience, and definitely bank balance busting. But was it really expensive, or comparable to an all-inclusive trip to Hurghada?
A quick recap of our trip
We started in San Francisco, with four days in the foggy city. Then we drove to Yosemite, before going on to explore the Mariposa trail and the giant redwood trees. From there we went to the Sequoia National Park and saw General Sherman (in the snow) and were sunbathing in Tulare the same evening. From there we drove to Ridgecrest to get ready for a drive through Death Valley. After that we stayed for a couple of nights in Las Vegas. We left Sin City and went on to Zion National Park (with a quick detour to see Bryce Canyon – wow!) After Zion we went to the Grand Canyon after a quick stop at Horseshoe Bend and a visit to the Glen Canyon dam. We took in Monument Valley after that, with the most incredible view from our hotel, which used to be where John Wayne stayed when he was filming the classic wild west movies. From there we went on to Los Angeles after breaking up the drive with another quick visit to Las Vegas. Four nights in Los Angeles let us take in two days at Universal Studios as well as the typical sights like the Chinese Theatre, and a stroll along Venice Beach. We had a gorgeous drive back up along the coast to San Francisco for two more nights before we flew home.
It was an amazing trip, and to put our itinerary into one paragraph like that makes it sound like a hectic tour, but it didn’t feel like that really.
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When we took our road trip
We flew out to San Francisco, via London, from Newcastle International Airport the weekend before the schools round here broke up for Easter. So James did miss one week of school before we went. We flew back on Easter Monday, and arrived back in the UK on Tuesday (thanks, time difference!) so he missed another day after the rest of his classmates had started back.
All in all we had three weeks and three days away, the majority of which was during school holidays.
How much would an all-inclusive holiday for 4 during school holidays cost?
I’ve done a very quick search on the Thomas Cook website with the dates of next year’s Easter holidays and a family of two adults and two children aged under 7 would cost £4,345 on an all-inclusive resort in Hurghada for two weeks, flying from Newcastle.
How much did the road trip coast?
We booked the flights in December 2018, around 3.5 months before we flew. For two adults and two children, the British Airways flights cost £1151.44, including one bag in the hold. (Yes, a family of four can really just take one suitcase on holiday – even a long holiday!)
Unavoidable if you are visiting the States is the ESTA – the visa waiver that cost us $56 or £43.36 for our family of four.
We take taxis to and from the airport. We use a local firm that has a set fee, which makes it cheaper than parking there, so the total cost for the two trips is £44.
Hotels around the States were mostly selected based on a very good score on TripAdviser as well as a reasonable location, free parking, free breakfast if possible and a decent price.
Most of the hotels were Best Western Plus or independents. We couldn’t avoid tourist taxes on occasion, and they have been included in the costs of the hotels, which came to £1600.81 for the duration of our trip. We splashed out at Gouldings Hotel at Monument Valley, which cost £140 for one night. Our cheapest hotel was the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, which cost £19.93 for one night and was one of the newly refurbished Elevate rooms.
Two-day entry to Universal Studios cost £368 for the four of us – the boys were so incredibly excited about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the delight on their faces was worth this and more.
The car hire, with Dollar, cost £400. We picked it up straight after our flight arrived in San Francisco and dropped it off before leaving the States. We debated not getting it until after we were ready to leave San Francisco, but we were glad of it, particularly being able to drive down Lombard Street was fun! We didn’t take any extra insurances beyond the bog standard. No extra expenses for car seats for the boys either, as we took ours with us.
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We took spending money of $2000 or £1,548.52, which covered all meals, supermarket shops and fuel, as well as souvenirs and other incidentals.
What’s the total cost?
Our 3.5 week road trip around the west of the USA cost a grand total of £5156.13. Slightly more than a fortnight in Hurghada all inclusive, but I think you probably would pay for a couple of excursions on top while in Egypt (you should definitely go diving) so the two prices are comparable, but the holidays are completely different experiences. Both types of holidays are amazing for different reasons!
Check out our tips for a family holiday in Hurghada