When you're travelling overseas, having an idea of how much everything is going to cost can be really handy. Especially somewhere like the US, where you have to factor tax and tipping into everything you buy. Oh boy! To give you an idea, we've listed some prices for things you need and want on a holiday like transport, food, tours and more.
All the prices we've quoted in this article are in Australian dollars, but you can visit our currency converter to find out what the exchange rate is between the AUD and USD right now!
We will cover:
- Is it expensive to visit the US?
- How much you need to bring to the US
- How much it costs to fly from Australia
- The cost of food
- Buses and trains
- Tours in the US
- Hiring a Car
Is it Expensive to Visit the United States?
There are a lot of differences between the US and Australia, in terms of how much things cost. Let's compare the price of some standard things in Australia and the US to give you an idea.
Australia vs US
In this table, we have a comparison of some things you might do in the US. The prices are approximate and include an estimation of tax and tipping, but remember that tax changes from state to state.
Cost in Australia
Cost in the US
|Breakfast with Coffee||$25AUD||$31AUD|
|1 full week of public transport (myki)||$43AUD for a myki Pass||$42AUD|
|Full priced Movie ticket||$23AUD||$23AUD|
|A pint of beer||$9AUD||$13AUD|
To find the best way to buy USD, you can read our guide here.
How Much Money do I need to Bring to the US?
The answer to this question really depends on the type of holiday you're planning in the States. Will you be backpacking and staying in hostels? Will you be living it up at the Plaza in NYC? If you want to do it on a budget, you easily can or you can splurge and go on a luxury holiday.
It all depends on what you're doing, where you're staying and how long you're planning to travel.
Here we have listed an estimate of how much money you'd need, per person, per day depending on your holiday.
Budget holiday: Up to $110AUD
Middle of the range holiday: Up to $300AUD
Luxury holiday: Up to $750AUD
How Much Does it Cost to Fly from Australia to the US?
Like flying anywhere in the world, flights between Australia and the US can change depending the time of year. Remember, though that the US is always a popular destination and it's far away so the flights can be a little expensive.
It also depends where in Australia you're flying from.
Generally the average cost of a return flight to Los Angeles (LAX) from Melbourne or Sydney will cost you somewhere between $1,400 and $2,000AUD. But the flight prices can go up to $5,000AUD depending who you fly with.
If you're travelling domestically in the States, there are relatively good deals available if you put in the time to research.
How Much Does Food Cost in the US?
Food is a pretty important part of a holiday, and a great way to get to know a country. No one heads to the USA thinking they might lose a few kgs, you need to be prepared to eat your weight in fried food. You can really decide how much you want to spend on food everyday. You could get by on as little as $10AUD or if you're fine dining you could spend hundreds! Below we've listed some general prices for eating and drinking out.
- First course: $13 - $25AUD
- Main course: $20 - $40AUD
- Dessert: $13 - $20AUD
- Coffee: $5AUD
- Beer: $10 - 15AUD
- Glass of wine: $10 - $30AUD
Some other examples:
- 1 litre milk: $1.20AUD
- Big Mac meal: $8AUD
- In-N-Out burger: $9AUD
- NYC's famous cheesecake: $10AUD
Buses and Trains in the USA
There is a lot of public transport in the US. You can use it to get around cities, and to get between them. But it also depends where you are, for example the Subway system is very popular in New York, but a lot of people opt to drive in Los Angeles.
Public Transport in Major Cities
All major cities have public transport in the States.
|City||Type of Transport||Cost Per Ride|
|New York City||The Subway||$3.70AUD|
|Dallas||DART||$2.30 - $3.40AUD|
|Washington, DC||The Metro||$2.50 - $8AUD|
|Boston||The T (Subway)||$3.00 - $3.70 AUD|
|Chicago||The L (Subway)||$3.00AUD|
Travelling long distance by train can be option, but it's good to know that it's not really a popular mode of transport. This is because sometimes it can be as expensive as flying, and it takes much longer. On top of this, the train network is not as extensive and often trains don't run as frequently.
Amtrak is the largest national passenger railroad company. Tickets range in price from $3.85 to $1,100AUD based on lots of different factors. You can often find better fares, by researching and booking early.
Often the most popular way to travel domestically in the US. Just remember that security is strict at US airports, so allow plenty of time. And like trains, if you book early and research you should be able to find some good deals. The following links can help you find good airfares.
Tours in the USA
The US is so diverse, and there is so much to see in all cities. Utilising tours is a great way to meet other travellers and learn about the area you're in. If you're looking to have a completely guided tour, you could consider looking into companies like Intrepid, Topdeck or a Contiki tour. But even on a smaller scale, you can often find walking tours in major cities run by locals! Usually, you can find out about these online or through your hostel. They are free, but usually require you to tip your guide. Only fair, right?
Examples of some other popular tours you might consider in the US. They will all have different prices, depending on the tour inclusions and length.
Hiring a Car in the US
If you're a fully licensed driver in Australia, there are still some things you need to know before trying to rent a car in the US. Generally, you won't be able to do so if you are under the age of 21, and if you're under 25 there is usually a surcharge for being a 'young driver'. The cost of the car you hire, will depend on the type you're after.
And remember you'll be driving on the other side of the road!!
If you wish to drive in the US, make sure you obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP) before you leave Australia. Some US states will allow you to drive on your Australian license for a limited period, but it's better to have one just to be safe.
For more information about this you can view these links:
Average prices are as follows:
- Regular: $3.85AUD
- Mid-Grade: $4.30AUD
- Premium: $4.60AUD
- E85: $3.30AUD
Price of a Rental Car in the US, per Week:
- Budget: $270AUD per week for a budget car that will comfortably fit two people and luggage
- Mid-range: $330 – $370AUD for a mid-range car that will easily fit four people and luggage
- High-end: $470 – $670AUD for a high end car such as a convertible, large SUV or luxury vehicle
Accomodation in the United States
You can really be flexible about how much you spend on accomodation when you get to the United States. If you're keeping it low key and don't want to spend much, there are hostels in most major cities, or you could live it up! Below are some rough guides to how much you can expect to pay.
Accomodation on a budget, like hostels cost about $50 to $110AUD a night.
Mid-range accomodation like a double room in a 3 star hotel will probably cost between $150 and $270AUD a night.
A double luxury hotel room will cost between $250 to $1000AUD per night.
Using the following sites will give you an even better idea of how much the accomodation you're after will cost you.
Tipping in the United States
Tipping is very important in the States. It's highly regarded in the hospitality and service industries, and if you're travelling there, you need to be prepared. The cost is added on top of the price and tax of your meal, drink or service. For any service industry, a good starting point is 15% (before tax) of what you've paid. Below we have a list to give you a general idea of how much you can expect to part with.
- Bartender: good form to tip $1 per drink or 15% to 20% per round
- Hotel Porter: $2 – $5 for a big bag and an extra $1 for every other bag
- Hotel Housekeeper: $5 – $10 a day
- Cabs drivers: Usually 10% – 20% of the fare
- Modest restaurant: 15-20% for the waiter is standard but you should err on the higher side in major cities like New York and San Francisco
- Fancy restaurants: prepare to hand over 25% of the bill. Ouch!
- Valet parking attendants: At least $2 when handed back the keys at the end of the night.