There are many variables when it comes to a road trip. This post will show what the road trip expenses were driving solo versus expenses shared with another person.
Bare in mind that the itinerary for these 2 Southwest road trips weren’t 100% the same.
Table of Contents
COST BREAKDOWN FOR 1 PERSON
Disclaimer: These prices reflect my travel style and might not tailor your travel preferences.
I started and ended the road trip in Denver, Colorado because I was living there at the time.
States Covered: Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona
Method of transportation: Car only
Date: September 2018
Trip Duration: 4 days
- Canyonland National Park
- Arches National Park
- Zion National Park
- Monument Valley
- Great Basin National Park
- Horseshoe Bend
If it’s your first time traveling to national parks, keep in mind that decent restaurants are almost non-existent in rural areas and near national parks.
My first dinner was food I prepared at home. Every dinner after that was purchased at a restaurant. Before dinner time, I ate dried fruits and nuts. No alcohol or any beverage was purchased during this trip.
|Dinner in Arizona||$12|
|Dinner in Nevada||$15|
|A slice of pie||$4|
|Dinner in Colorado||$13|
TOTAL = $0
This might shock you but I camped in the rental car. At night, it was the right temperature for me.
It was a calculated risk I was willing to take for a couple of reasons. I saved money and time. There are several places you can park your car overnight. One is at 24-hour Walmart Supercenters. You’ll find several RVs and other vehicles sleeping overnight as well.
How did I save time?
By avoiding staying in an actual facility, I can stay closer to where I’m heading to next and get there before the crowds settle in. This could involve any of the following:
- Avoid packing and unpacking
- Avoid having a shower
- Will need to brush your teeth at a gas station or nearest fast food restaurant
- Replace breakfast with water and less perishable snacks (e.g. homemade nut trail mix, fruits)
Rented a Nissan Versa (economy car) from Enterprise in Denver and returned it back to the same location. Drove a total of 1,840 miles (2,961 km).
OVERALL COST FOR 4 DAYS = $275
COST BREAKDOWN FOR 2 PEOPLE
We started and ended in Las Vegas, Nevada. Flew in from Houston.
States Covered: Nevada, Utah, Arizona
Method of transportation: Flight + Car
Date: End of November – early December 2018
Trip Duration: 5 days (2 days spent going to-and-fro Vegas)
- Lower Antelope Canyon
- Horseshoe Bend
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
The only restaurant I can recommend is Ramen KoBo in Las Vegas. The cuisine is Japanese. Small shop and they are always packed.
The other restaurants we went to were trash or sub-par.
|TOTAL (for me)||$112.20|
Prices below are the total costs and not per person. There was a discount added.
|1 night @ Hampton Inn & Suites (AZ)||$59|
|1 night @ Best Western Grand Canyon (AZ)||$95|
|2 nights @ Hampton Inn & Suites (UT)||$140|
Flight was through Spirit Airlines ($157 roundtrip per person). No delays or cancellations.
Rented a Nissan Sentra (midsize car) from Las Vegas Airport. Gas prices were around $3 per gallon in Utah.
OVERALL COST FOR 5 DAYS (FOR ME) = $392
- Biggest cost driver when it came to going with another person was lodging
- Driving with another person gives you an opportunity to drive less and split costs especially with lodging and transportation.
- In terms of driving alone, I only saved more money because I eliminated lodging and chose to spend less on food. Otherwise, it’s more expensive to travel solo if you’ll be paying to stay in hotels (or Airbnb).
- Eliminating accommodation meant I could arrive to national parks as early as I wanted to avoid hotter temperatures, full parking, lines at fee station, and crowds.
- Another alternative to staying at a lodging facility is to camp. There are many free campsites across the US.
- Cost savings tip: Purchase America the Beautiful Pass if you’ll be visiting more than 3 national parks or federal recreation sites. Price is $80 and expires on the same month the following year.
Have you been to this region of the States? Let me know down below!