The average gas costs to drive your car instead of shipping it is approximately $90. Costs range from about $10 to drive your car 150 miles to more than $200 to go across the country.
When we wrote this article, the national average gas price was $2.18 per gallon,1 which isn’t too far from recent yearly averages.2
Let’s say you decided to drive your car to your new home when gas prices are around this average. Let’s also assume that your car gets 26 miles per gallon (which is pretty good). Here’s a rough estimate of how much gas would cost you for the three example moves we outlined earlier.
Of course, gas prices change daily and vary from state to state, so it’s impossible to predict how much gas will cost for every hypothetical journey. Also, different cars have different miles per gallon (mpg) ratings, so we can’t anticipate exactly how much gas money you’ll need.
Lodging is by far the biggest daily expense when you’re driving across the country. The average hotel room in the US costs $150 per night,3 so if you’re out on the road for several days in a row, the cost of safe and comfortable places to sleep can add up quickly.
According to The Road Trip Expert, you should drive only about 500 miles (or nine hours) per day.4 If you’re driving with someone else, you can save on hotel expenses by taking turns at the wheel without stopping along the way, but sleeping in a car is never adequately restful. If you drive through the night too many times in a row, fatigue will get to both of you and make driving unsafe.
For this reason, expect to pay for at least one hotel per every 500 miles you drive (after the first 500). We also want to point out that this nine-hour estimate is for trips with ideal driving conditions. If you need to take several breaks, or you hit heavy traffic, you might need to get an additional hotel or two en route.
Meals and snacks are the last big road trip expense. If you pack on-the-road meals and drinks beforehand, you can probably drive several hundred miles without stopping. But if you’re taking a long trip, plan to spend between $20 and $40 per day on snacks and meals per person you’re driving with.