The Cost of a Family Road Trip from California to New York

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A trip from California to New York by car presents an elusive and equally unmissable opportunity to bond with your loved ones on the road and should be grabbed by both hands. It’s the perfect chance to experience the raw and unflinching beauty of this part of the USA first-hand and all the offerings from Mother Nature’s bottomless basket as you move from one state to the other.  

It is a trip that carries the promise of unforgettable memories through the numerous attractions and activities you can enjoy along the way with your family. The distance is a whopping 2777 miles through at least 11 states on the shorter route and the travel time is around 44 hours if you decide to drive non-stop. 

This is one demanding trip that will require you to put your best foot forward to not only complete but also have a good time while at it. Apart from its emotional and physical demands, this west to east coast trip will have you part with a tidy sum to make it possible. The total amount you will spend will majorly depend on a few factors with accommodation, fuel, and food and entertainment costs being the major contributors.

This article discusses these factors to give you a rough estimate of how much you can expect to part with when you go on this road trip with your family. These estimates are of a seven-day road trip assuming your trip will last a week.

Accommodation costs

How long you intend to stay on the road and the type of accommodation you settle on are the biggest determinants of how much your accommodation costs will add up. If you choose to spend your nights at camping sites or discount motels you can end up making quite some savings while spending your nights at hotels can see you incur high accommodation costs. 

The cost of an average hotel room in the US is about $120 per day and this will depend on factors such as location and type of hotel. For an average family, you will require at least two rooms taking the cost to around $240 per day. Assuming you will spend seven nights on the road, your total accommodation costs will add up to $1,680. This amount is a rough estimate and can vary depending on the accommodation options you choose and the number of rooms you will require. 

Fuel costs

Fuel costs are a major contributor to the final cost of any road trip. Your choice of car and the prevailing gas prices are a huge determinant of how much your fuel costs will add up to. The type of car will influence its fuel consumption with small engine capacity cars having a lesser consumption.

A suitable rental car for family on a road trip like this will be a 9 seater van. These will allow your family members to enjoy ample seating space and luggage storage space and if need be space for one to take a nap when exhaustion finally catches up. There are different options when choosing a 9 seater car for rent and settling on one will depend on your model preferences. With average fuel consumption, a rental car for 9 passengers will consume around 121 gallons for a one-way trip from California to New York. While the average national price is $3.83 per gallon, this will convert to $463.43 as your fuel cost for the one-way trip.

Food and entertainment

The total cost of food will depend on the number of family members on the trip and your choice of dining options. If you decide to stop along the way and eat at fine dining eateries your food costs will be higher as compared to preparing your food and packing it or eating at low budget eateries.

The average food price of one meal in the US is around $12. With an average person taking three meals per day without counting the snacks in between, one person will spend $30 on meals in a day. In one week this will be $210. You can then multiply this by the number of family members to get the rough total you are likely to spend on food for a week.

Entertainment costs will depend on the activities and places you want to visit along the way. Most attractions have their entrance charges fixed helping you decide on the ones to visit and the ones to skip based on your budget. The total amount you will spend on entertainment will ultimately depend on the places you decide to visit and the activities you engage in. The size of your family will also affect the total entertainment cost as some activity costs may be calculated per person.


How much you will spend as a family on this road trip from California to New York will depend on several factors as discussed in this article. Top among them are gasoline and fuel costs, accommodation costs, and the costs for food and entertainment. The road trip cost estimation made is based on average national figures and may vary from time to time but it represents a rough estimate of what you can expect to spend on this road trip. Put them into consideration as you plan your next trip and try to make savings whenever you can.