U.S. Highway 61 is a great American road. It tracks vertically from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, running about 1,700 miles (2,736km) down the backbone of the nation.
While Highway 61 may not be as famous as Route 66, it’s still a highly renowned road and much celebrated for its rich musical ancestry. The old highway also has literary connections, with associations including Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the pop culture icon Charles M. Schultz. Add to that the historical town of Vicksburg and the famous Lorraine Motel, both of which are traversed by Highway 61.
It’s recommended you start by pin-pointing the best time of year to go, as this will help you with budget planning. Every season has its own charms, but there are a few important things to consider when it comes to climate.
The North American summer starts around late May and finishes around September. The summer heat in the southern states can be exceptionally hot and humid, so if temperatures over 30˚C (+100˚F) alarm you, you may want to avoid July and August.
To experience the southern states during cooler weather, schedule your trip in spring (April/May) or autumn (September/October). If you begin around late October, you’ll not only catch the fall festival season, but maybe even some snow throughout in the northern states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The overall cost for your road trip can be estimated using six key factors:
To make the most of the USA, and to avoid being hit by any unexpected costs, take the time to budget and have an idea of how much cash you’ll need in your pocket. This means you won’t have to worry about underestimating costs and having to restrict the potential enjoyment of your trip.
Airfare costs are a significant factor for any budget. To avoid wasting a huge chunk of your budget on airfares, try and book your flights well in advance.
If you want your money to go further, always look for rooms with free Wi-Fi, an allocated car space and complimentary breakfast. Here’s a tip if you’re on a budget – after you’ve decided on your route and the sites you want to see along the way, book your accommodation on the outskirts of the town or city and advise them you’ll be checking in late.
Why? First of all, hotel rates on the outskirts of a city tend to be much cheaper. Secondly, many of these hotels are small family businesses, and they don’t always have someone attending the front desk past 10.00pm. When booking accommodation, simply notifying each hotel that you’ll be checking in around 8.00pm means you’ll have a few more hours to see the sights.
After your airfares, this will be your next major expense. Costs vary depending on the type of vehicle you rent and whether you’ll be required to pay a one-way or drop-off fee – which can be as much as (approximately) $500USD.
Ensure you have travel insurance that covers the use of your rental vehicle. You can never be too safe. Cover-More Travel Insurance can provide you with the cover you’ll need for your trip.
There are various US based websites that can help you estimate fuel usage and pricing (gasbuddy.com is one of the best). The US currently has a massive problem with ‘drive offs’, with millions of dollars of fuel being stolen every year by people who just drive off from service stations without paying. Because of this, most service stations will make you pay first. It’s a bit annoying if you want to fill up and pay by cash – essentially you have to judge the amount of fuel you need or just go short.
Just about every service station fuel pump in the US has credit card facilities, which is how most of the local motorists pay for their fuel – at the pump. To avoid racking up a ton of transaction fees, consider using a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass card. Just put a cheeky bit of fuel money on this foreign currency debit card in American dollars (in Australia) and it’ll behave like a US debit card. These cards work every time at every fuel pumps – as well as parking meters, multi-storey car parks, retail stores and more!
Eating on Highway 61 can be fairly inexpensive because of the epic portion sizes! A simple breakfast, lunch or dinner at a small diner or restaurant is enough for two people. If you and your travelling partner aren’t big eaters, simply split your orders and ask for an extra plate.
Don’t forget to budget approximately 15% for tips or just round up the bill – for example, if the meal costs $16.50, leave a $20 bill.
A Highway 61 journey will take you right away from the generic tourist traps. Planning the trip in advance means you won’t have to deal with any nasty surprises, like a lack of travel insurance or bad budgeting. All this ultimately leads to having more travel money to spend on your wonderful trip.
If you have any additional questions about road tripping through the USA, or road tripping through any country – our team of FXperts will be able to give you the travel money advice you need. Find your nearest store today.
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