How much does it REALLY COST?: Solo New England Road Trip Budget
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Traveling solo throughout New England during the fall is something everyone should do at least once. Especially during the fall, New England is on a whole other level of beautiful. The stunning fall foliage, activities, and places to visit never cease to please anyone.
Since you’ve decided to take a solo New England road trip during the fall, you may want to visit more than one state. You may visit all six states in New England or maybe a couple. Either way, what should your budget be for your solo road trip? What’s a good cost estimate for a solo road trip?
Related Post: 7 Day New England Road Trip Itinerary
Answer these questions first
If you’re looking to do a solo New England road trip, you’ll need to ask yourself these questions in order to better understand your goals, plan, and overall cost of the trip.
- Which states do you want to visit?
- Which month do you want to travel in?
- How long will your road trip be?
- Will you rent a vehicle or use your own?
- What are your accommodation preferences?
- Are you planning to cook your own meals or eat out?
- What activities are you going to do?
Your overall budget for a solo New England road trip will depend on your answers. Your answers will determine if your trip is going to be a low or high budget road trip. At the end of the day, it is up to you and what you’re willing to spend.
When I was planning for my solo road trip through New England, I knew I primarily wanted to visit states I’ve yet to visit. But I also wanted to explore Salem as that was a MUST for me. So, I decided to visit 2 new states considering the limited time I had (I ended up visiting another state during my road trip by accident but that was completely free and fun!)
I also knew that, besides doing a few paid activities in Salem, MA, the bulk of my trip would consist of hikes and walks through nature to look at the fall foliage. Meaning, I’d be doing a lot of free things. Although I was doing this solo, I knew I wanted to eat out and not cook myself. I’d be too tired from the hikes/activities to cook and I didn’t want to bring extra items with me (pots, pans, etc.).
Related Post: THIS WAS AN ACCIDENT: How I Ended Up In Maine
Total cost of the trip
The total cost for the 7 day solo New England road trip I took in October of 2021 was about $1,630.46. That’s with food, drinks, accommodations, activities, fees, and other miscellaneous purchases included. The bulk of that expense was due to the accommodations I stayed in.
The overall budget for your solo New England road trip will vary. It’s based on the type of traveler you are, the vehicle/rental you take, your plans, how long your road trip will be, and other factors. Since I have a full-time job, and had limited time for my vacation, I did and purchased things that weren’t necessarily the cheapest option.
Depending on the length of your road trip and prices for your purchases, your costs for a solo road trip can be up to $2,000 or more. I’ve seen pricer options for restaurants, accommodations, activities, so it’s easy to see how the price can add up. Yet, if you have the time and are willing to go with cheaper options, this can bring the overall cost of the trip to probably about $1,200 or less.
Realistically speaking, if you’re doing a solo road trip through New England or some New England states for about 7 to 9 days, you can have a budget of about $1,600, give or take a few hundred dollars.
The Section Breakdown
Cost of gas
Now, the price of gas was a bit better back in October 2021. It was not nearly as expensive as it is nowadays. With that being said, it usually took my little 4 door sedan about $40 to $45 to completely fill up my tank. When I was driving during my road trip, I frequently topped up my tank when it was about half way down. I did this because I didn’t want to chance driving so out of the way where I’d be dangerously low on gas and couldn’t get to the nearest gas station in time.
Altogether, from the day I left for Massachusetts to the day I left Vermont, I probably stopped for gas about 5 times. Two of those times to completely top up my gas, which cost me about $45 each, so about $90 for two days. In between, like I mentioned, I never let my gas tank go below half way. When I topped up, it cost about $25 to $30. So, for the remainder of the days, I spent about $75 to $90 altogether to top off my tank.
In total, I spent about $165 to $180 in gas. I’d round up to say about $200, give or take a few dollars as most of the gas stations didn’t give me printed receipts. Now, this is about $165 to $200 over the course of 5 days. I planned to do a 9 day solo road trip but I only completed 7 days. Out of 7 days, I spent money on gas 5 separate days and usually that was when I was driving longer distances (to different states or areas of a state).
If you know your car, or the vehicle you’re driving, you can make your tank stretch and gas up only when needed. My anxiety wouldn’t let me do that. So I got gas when I knew I could’ve honestly made it another day without getting some. The cost of gas could be more so keep that in mind.
Cost of accommodations
The total cost for accommodations was $1,040.67. That is definitely on the pricer side for accommodations. However, there are cheaper options and you can go with the less expensive ones. If you have a vehicle which allows you to sleep in it, all the more better and you can save more money! Here’s a breakdown of the accommodations I stayed in, the number of nights, and the cost:
- Crowne Plaza Hotel – $514.67 (3 nights)
- Hampton Inn Dover – $162 (1 night)
- Tälta Lodge – $364 (2 nights)
- Woodwards White Mountain Resort BW Signature Collection – $98.77 (1 night)
Cost of food
The total cost for food on this 7 day solo New England road trip was $212.79. Again, you can cut down the costs by eating less expensive food at cheaper locations, cooking, bringing your own food, or skipping out on drinks and other items.
Personally, I enjoyed trying different beers from different states as I normally wouldn’t do this back at home. Plus, I was very hungry after exploring around and hiking, so my appetite was bigger than usual. However, I don’t regret the items I bought and ate, nor the locations I went to.
But if you wanted to make this section cheaper, you can definitely do so. I’d say you can allocate about $25 or less a day to food and drinks. Here’s the breakdown of the locations I went to and the total (or estimate for some as I didn’t have receipts) for each meal:
- Piecasso – $21.06
- Idletyme Brewing Company – $36.93
- Black Mtn Burger Co. – $32.01
- Portsmouth Gas Light Company – $26.40
- Tremonte Restaurant & Bar – $33.12
- Longboards Bar Restaurant – $23.54
- Fall River Grill – $18.73
- Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar – about $8
- Beantrust Coffeebar – about $7
- Atomic Cafe – about $6
Cost of activities
The total cost for the activities I did, most of which were in Massachusetts, was $104. I decided to do these activities because I was visiting Salem during October and I wanted to do visit as many witchy attractions as possible. Plus, I’ve always wanted to see the Lizzie Borden house and do a tour, so that was a MUST on my list.
However, you don’t have to do any of these activities, it’s up to you and the types of things you want to do while on your road trip. If you’re going primarily to leaf peep, walk, hike, or do other outdoor type of activities, the costs will vary and may even be free in some cases.
Here’s the breakdown of the activities and places I visited which required a payment:
- Witch History Museum – $13
- Witch Board Museum – $10
- Salem Night Tour – $25 ($30 if you pay by card)
- Peabody Essex Museum – $20
- Witch Trials Cemetery – free
- Pioneer Village – $5
- Lizzie Borden Ghost Tour (walking tour of Fall River) – $31 ($25 for typical ticket and $6 for add-on extended tour of 1st floor)
Cost of other fees
I grouped the remaining purchases and fees into this miscellaneous section. The total for this section is $63 as I didn’t pay the area fees throughout the Kancamagus Highway (I primarily stopped at the scenic overlooks to get pics). But if I went to multiple area points and paid the fee, the cost could be from $68 to $78 or more.
Honestly though, no one was really there to enforce the $5 fee but there were signs there stating that the $5 fee had to be paid. It’s not like you went through a check point or cashier to pay the fee, I didn’t see anything like that at certain locations. So, it’s up to you and your sense of judgment if you choose to pay the fee.
Either way, here’s the breakdown:
- Flume Gorge entrance fee: $19
- Some Kancamagus Highway area points – $5
- parking fee for Portsmouth parking lot: $10
- Marco Polo souvenirs (Portsmouth) – $34
The numbers shown above were prices found on the numerous receipts I’ve collected throughout the trip and credit card purchases. For some things, I didn’t have a receipt so I roughly estimated the cost. Like I mentioned before, the bulk of my trip consisted of fun, free, activities. I hiked a lot, I drove down the Kancamagus Highway, stopped at multiple scenic overlooks, and walked quite a bit.
You could completely cut out the paid activities and do any of the free ones you come across to drastically cut down your costs. Plus, you can stay in cheaper accommodations and spend less money on food and drinks. Cut corners elsewhere to decrease the overall cost of your solo New England road trip.
Overall, if you budget things out, save money for your trip, taking a solo road trip through New England can be doable for a traveler.