Camping is the cheapest way to bunk while on the road. Actually, that's a lie. Pulling over and sleeping in your car is the cheapest, and crashing at a friend's house is a close second, but camping finishes in a strong third place. Most campgrounds cost between $5 and $20 per night and are usually equipped with a shower and bathroom facilities. To find some campgrounds, contact the National Park Service or check out Keep in mind that many campgrounds take reservations, and grounds fill up quickly during the spring and summer. Be sure to call ahead of time.


Europe's not the only place where you can crash in a dorm-like atmosphere with dozens of other young travelers-America has got hundreds of hostels, most of them clustered into urban destinations. If you don't mind sharing a room with five other people, hostels offer a clean and cheap place to stay while you're passing through town. Most of them cost between $10 and $20 a night, offer inexpensive meals, and are equipped with kitchens and laundry facilities. To locate one on your travel route, check out


The biggest advantage to motels is that they're everywhere, but heed our advice: avoid them if you can. Motels aren't that cheap (most range from $40 to $80), and camping and hostelling are usually cleaner and safer. But if you've just got to watch the big game or you desperately feel the need for indoor privacy, motels will do the job.


Hey, if you've got the cash and you're just not into the Jack Kerouac bohemia, why not wine-and-dine your way across country? Hotels have several perks, including free Continental breakfast, fitness centers, pay-per-view television (we know what you're thinking) and great, big beds. If you have a AAA card or subscribe to travelers e-savers like those found on, you may even find yourself a cheap rate.

Safety tip for both hotels and motels: Always stay in the upstairs floors (fewer crimes occur there). Also, criminals are known to pose as motel staff, including cleaning crews and security guards, so be wary.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW drive cross-country?