Road Trips

New York to Los Angeles: 4 Budget Ways to Travel!

California Zephyr train
Written by Town & Tourist

New York to Los Angeles on Public Transport? – New York City is one of the greatest & most iconic cities in the world, filled with skyscrapers such Empire State Building, one world trade center and the Rockefeller centre!

In addition, to it being a melting pot for culture, from Chinatown to Little Italy.

Whereas Los Angeles is a vibrant, Southern California city with a warm climate & scenic beaches. LA is also the center of Americas Movie industry. From the iconic Hollywood sign to Paramount, Universal and Warner Brothers pictures…LA is heaven for a movie Buff!

Beverley Hills is home to rich & famous check out: Celebrity Homes in Beverley Hills (Map & Reviews)

How long is the drive from New York to LA?

Option 1: New York to LA Road Trip

A drive between New York and LA will take you coast to coast across the USA, where you will cover approximately 2,800 miles!

If you drove straight and didn’t stop over it would take you 41 hours of constant driving! Of course the best part about any road trip is the journey itself and all the fantastic places you can see across the USA.

Dive into our interactive map below! 

User Guide: Use the +/- arrows to zoom in an out of the landmarks.

Many users choose to share the post on facebook and access the map that way.

Web Masters: If you have your own website feel free to embed our map in it by clicking the button in the top right hand corner. Just be sure to credit us at: www.townandtourist.com/road-trips/new-york-los-angeles-public-transport/

For more on our coast to coast road trip check out: 

Ultimate Motorcycle Road Trip: U.S.A: Coast to Coast!

Can you travel from New York to LA on a Budget?

Option 2: Flying from New York to LA

YES! To be honest the average cost of flights is pretty reasonable for the distance! At approximately $187 for a round trip!

Flight New York to Los Angeles

Flight New York to Los Angeles

This is the fastest method but maybe not the most fun. If you want to explore the great states of the USA, the a public transport road trip could be for you!

New York to Los Angeles Flight Information
Avg. Flight Duration 5h 55m
Flights Arrive in Los Angeles
Flights Depart from New York
Flight Price $187-$450
Distance 2,458 miles

Insider Tip:

I recommended, Booking with Kayak . Sarah from Town&Tourist found a great $148 flight from New York to Los Angeles.

Follow the Link HERE to check out similar deals. 

Be sure to book your flights in advance to ensure the best price.

Option 3: Train from New York to Los Angeles

Amtrak offers a Scenic Coast to Coast US Train ride which costs just $232!

Coast to Coast Train Facts:

  • The 3,000 mile coast-to-coast train ride takes 3 nights, if you have no stopovers.

  • A poplar route is New York City – Chicago – LA/San Francisco 
  • There are 4 or 5 different train routes to choose from each with their own character. I highly recommend stopping along the way to not miss out on all the great Americana passing by. But keep in mind a separate ticket is required for each leg.

  • If you book in advance at amtrak fares from New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle start at just $232! 
  • The $232 train includes a spacious reclining seat.

  • Optional Extras:  Private Sleeper Carriage for 1/2 people. Includes meals in the dining car, teas, coffees and juices.

California Zephyr (Chicago to San Francisco)

The California Zephyr is one of the greatest train journeys in the world! In terms of both Scenery, character and historical significance.

The Route runs from Chicago to San Francisco, where you can take a connection with the Lake Shore Limited from New York or Boston to Chicago, or the Capitol Limited from Washington DC to Chicago.

On this journey you will cross the farmlands of Nebraska, the Colorado Rockies, through the Sierra Nevada mountains before arriving at San Francisco.

For a 360′ view of what its like in the sightseer lounge of the California Zephyr see this link HERE. (Be sure you allow pop ups)

amtrak-california-zephyr-onboard-dome car

amtrak-california-zephyr-onboard-dome car. Source: flickr

Insider Tip:

Listen out for the Commentary of the most significant section of the California Zephyr route and try some classic american eggs and Bacon for breakfast in the diner carriage.

California Zephyr train

California Zephyr train

For more info check out: How to Travel Coast to Coast USA by Train for $232?

Option 4: Bus from New York to LA

Taking a Bus or Coach from New York to LA is the cheapest method…but one of the longest.

If you break the journey up with lots of stop overs in great states of America and do the journey over a period of 7 days or more then the coach is a great way of backpacking the USA on a Budget!

How long is the Bus from New York to Los Angeles?

If you take a direct bus (Greyhound) it will taking 2 days and 20 hours to travel from New York to Los Angeles. The Bus wold cover 2966.5 miles.  

How much is the Bus from New York to Los Angeles?

Greyhound runs a direct service between New York and Los Angeles, but its not cheap considering other methods of transport. Price estimates are between $280 – $380 USD

I would recommended breaking the journey up to see more of the USA and the cost won’t be much different!

For more info see: Ultimate Motorcycle Road Trip: U.S.A: Coast to Coast!

What is the best way of getting from New York to Los Angeles?

Overall the best way to Travel from New York to Los Angeles depends upon you as a person! Taking a flight will be the best option for most if you just want to “get there”.

But if you would like a more scenic experience with stop overs I would recommend an old fashioned road trip or the California Zephyr Coast to Coast Train.

Use the helpful table below for more info.

Transport Method.  Average Time(hr/min) Average Cost($) Experience
Flight 5hr 55mins $187-$450 FAST, Comfy, not scenic, no stops.
Road Trip/Car/RV Min: 40 hours, I recommended taking the trip over 2 weeks+ (comfy average 214miles/day) with average US car mpg at 24.9mpg. approx cost: $348 Scenic, as many stops as you like! Great opportunity to explore the Vast USA.
Train 3 nights $232-$350 Scenic Experience, comfy seats, especially if you travel on the California Zephyr 
Bus 2 days, 20 hours $280 – $380 Long Journey, Scenic.  not as comfy as the train. Price is not reasonable unless journey is split.

For the best deals on Public Transport use our: Public Transport Booking Tools? Trains, Buses, Ferries!

Car Rental or RV?

Car Rental is arguably the most popular way of taking a road trip around the USA. You have full Independence, Insurance and Maintenance cover.

You can rent a larger/Newer car then your own to suit your road trip needs. An RV offers the ultimate way to travel around the USA in your own space while also keeping the costs low.

To get the best deals on Car Rental check out: Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!

To Rent our RV, we used: Rv Share.

RV motoring show, Auto show USA

Bring your RV to Tiden Park. Check out: 6 Epic RV Road Trips from Atlanta

Do you have your Essential Travel Gear!?

Be sure you have all your Essential Travel Gear before taking an Epic Road trip!

A. Invest in a quality Travel Camera! 

Capturing the Memories of your bucket list road trip is essential. You will be able to show your friends, family and even grand kids, all the wonderful photos captured.

Thats not to mention Facebook/Instagram posts!

Photography Gear

Make sure you are equip with some great Photography Gear!

Yes an I Phone is “ok” but nothing on a high quality camera, trust me you can tell the difference.

For more info see, our recommend Travel Photography Gear

A high quality Tent & backpack can also be great investments to help you cut costs and have more of an adventure while traveling!

Other Travel Essentials  (Things You can’t travel without!)

Camping at Joshua Tree, Ryan Campground.California Winter Camping USA

Camping at Joshua Tree, Ryan Campground. Check out: 21 Unique Camping Destinations! Near Me! | U.S.A

Want more?

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 PlANNING is the key to any road trip success! It can save you both time & Money!

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Southwest Chief route 66 train

Southwest Chief route 66 train. Source: Latimes.com

Epic Public Transport Road Trip USA: Train/Bus!

Checking out new spots on while taking a public transport road trip is a unique & Memorable experience! Especially for couples

About the author

Town & Tourist

A travel resource guide that has been carefully crafted and curated by travel bloggers to help you find the best places to travel to in the USA.