This USA Travel Guide aims to provide you with simple and stress-free travel planning information and inspiration for planning a trip to USA.
On this regularly updated page you will find links to useful posts on The Trusted Traveller, budget information, details on types of accommodation available, information on getting around the country and more useful links to resources around the web.
Capital: Washington DC
Currency: USD US Dollar which is made up of 100 cents. Coins come in 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and $1 denominations and notes in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
Electricity: 120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs with two flat pins with or without a third round grounding pin are standard.
The United States of America shares borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south with the Pacific Ocean in the west, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to the south.
The USA is made up of 50 states, with 48 states part of the mainland and Alaska separated by Canada and Hawaii by the Pacific Ocean.
The country has just about every landscape known to man covered. Pristine beaches, towering mountains, arid deserts, rolling fertile farmland and dense forests.
Because of it’s sheer size and diversity of landscapes, the USA is a year round destination. However, when you visit depends on what you want to do when your there.
Summer (June to August) is generally hot all over the country, while the weather in winter (December to February) can vary depending on where you are in the country.
Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) are cooler than summer and can be a nicer time to visit.
Best Time to Visit
There really is no bad time of the year to visit the USA. Of course, if your purpose is to ski then the winter months would be when you want to be there. And if you are after warmer weather perfect for enjoying the wonderful great outdoors and beaches then summer is the time for you.
California, Florida and Hawaii are warm all year round and perfect for those looking to enjoy the beaches and great outdoors. For the perfect winter destinations, head to Alaska or the mountains of the west.
Summer is peak tourist season, as well as popular holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, that draw in big crowds.
It is always recommend to have a mixture of cash and bank/credit card with you when you travel anywhere in the world and this is no exception in the USA.
ATM’s are found in all major towns and cities across the country. As well, credit cards are widely accepted although some establishments such as small hotels and shops, especially in remote areas, may only accept cash.
|Dorm bed in a hostel - $40||Simple fast food or takeaway meal - $15||Single bus/train/tram ticket - $4|
|Double room in a budget motel - $110||Cafe/pub style meal with one drink - $40||Short taxi ride - $20|
|Double room in a 4 or 5 star hotel - $250 +||Three courses in top class restaurant - $100 +||Intercity Transport - $100 +|
To work out these costs in your own currency, I recommend XE.com.
The USA is connected by land to only two countries, Canada and Mexico. This means that unless you are coming from the Canada or Mexico by road, rail or boat, you will be flying into the country.
There are dozens of carriers that operate to and from almost 100 international destinations around the world like Canada, Central and South America, Asia, UK and Europe and Australia..
Flight time from London to New York is seven hours, from Sydney to Los Angeles it is 14 hours, from Tokyo to Los Angeles it is 10 hours and from New York to Mexico City it is about six hours.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking flights all around the world.
The only access to the USA by road is to the south with from Mexico and to the north from Canada. There are lots of road crossings along the Canada border and limited official crossings from Mexico.
Greyhound run several coach services between the US and Canada if you don’t have your own vehicle. However, note hat there is no coach services that run west of southeastern Ontario until you reach Vancouver.
There are a few rail routes available through Amtrak connecting the USA with Canada. New York-Albany-Montreal, New York-Buffalo-Toronto and Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer train also travels between Seattle and Vancouver.
From Mexico, the Mexican rail system has limited connections with the USA in Yuma, Arizona and El Paso and Del Rio, Texas.
Ferries operate for a few different border crossings also. The Victorian Clipper runs from Seattle to Victoria on Vancouver Island, the BlackBall Ferry runs from Port Angeles in Washington to Victoria also.
From Alaska ferries run south to Prince Rupert. And on the east coast you can take a ferry from Portland, Maine and Yarmouth to Nova Scotia.
Because of America’s size, travel times can sometime be long. Whether you want to travel slow or fast, there are lots of cost effective (and a few splurge) transport options available.
If you want to get from A to B quickly then flying will be your best option. There are a lot of carriers to choose from when flying domestically so prices are usually pretty competitive.
All cities in the country are well connected with multiple departures daily. Booking in advance will get you the best deal.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking flights all around the world.
Amtrak operates all trains across the country connecting a lot of the major cities from east to west and everywhere in between.
With the exception of a few high speed services (Washington DC to New York and New York to Boston), trains can be slow and not the most time efficient way to get from a to b.
However, if train travel is your thing, popular routes include those that run along the west and east coasts and the coast-to-coast services connecting Los Angeles in the west and Jacksonville in the east.
Greyhound is America’s main coachline provider with a comprehensive network of services that cover most of the country. Smaller budget operates are popping up more and more these days too. Check out BoltBus and Megabus who’s networks are growing.
America’s vast distances make it a great country for slow travel on a road trip if you have the time. Remember to carry plenty of supplies with you when setting out. Things like water, food and gas, especially if you are driving through some of the more remote areas.
Road quality is generally pretty good however roads in the more remote regions may be unpaved. Snow and ice may cover the the road in some areas during the winter. Ensure you drive to the conditions and have good tyres and chains properly fitted.
Some of the world’s best drives are in America, like the iconic Route 66 and the Pacific Coast drive. RV’s, or campervans/motorhomes, are very popular for those travelling for longer time periods.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking car hire all around the world.
Where to Stay
The USA caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Here is a list of the types of accommodation you’ll find:
- Camping/Cabins – With America being a very outdoorsy country you’ll find lots of camp grounds that offer tent sites and basic cabins at low costs. You’ll also find large camp sites on the outskirts of big cities that you can stay at cheaply and commute each day into the city for sightseeing.
- Hostels – You’ll find hostels in abundance all over America. Condition in some hostels can vary greatly, so be sure to read reviews and ask around for recommendations. But for the most part, hostels are clean, safe and cheap places to stay.
- B&B’s – Small family run style accommodation like B&B’s can be found all over the country in big cities, small towns and popular rural locations. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and the experience usually comes with friendly hosts and a home cooked breakfast each morning.
Get up to $45.00 AUD credit when you join Airbnb using this link.
- Hotels/Apartments – You will find both chain hotel/apartments brands and independent hotel/apartments to be in abundance in cities across the country. The good thing about this type of accommodation is in most cases you know what you are going to get, a clean, comfortable and modern room with a decent array of facilities in the room and on the property. Apartments are great for longer stays as they allow you a bit more space and the option to self cater.
I use and recommend Booking.com for researching and booking hostel, motel, hotel, apartment and resort accommodation around the world.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts – America has its fair share of 5 star properties, some of which have been named in top lists of accommodation around the world. These will offer you brilliant service and a top location, sometime with incredible views of the surrounding area.
The USA has a variety of eating options that will suit all budgets and tastes. While you will find the majority of its restaurants and cafes typically serve North American fare, the USA is one of the most multicultural countries in the world and offers cuisine to match.
- Supermarkets/Markets – Save money and shop in supermarkets and local markets for snacks, picnic lunches and even ingredients to make a whole meal in your self catering accommodation.
- Fast Food / Take-away – Chain fast food stores are in all major centres of the country and along highways as well. If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty fast food meal, look to where the locals are, usually getting snacks and light meals from food trucks and stands on the side of the street. A popular street food snack is a hot dog.
- Cafes – In the USA you will find chain and independent cafes or coffee shops on just about every corner. They are great or grabbing a quick coffee or cold drink as well as pastries and sandwiches.
- Restaurants – Portion sizes tend to be on the larger side in the USA as with the rest of North America so eating out in restaurants can be really good value if you stick to two meals a day. Consider sharing a meal with a travel companion if you’re not too hungry to save money or sticking to one course.
- Fine Dining – The USA has it’s fair share of the worlds best restaurants so if it is fine dining experiences you are after then you won’t be disappointed.
Useful USA Posts
Things to Do
Where to Stay
Tours & Attractions
Getting Around Guides
Other USA Travel Planning Resources
Here is a constantly growing collection of resources from around the web to help you plan you dream trip to the USA.
- The Visit USA website is a great place to continue your travel planning.
- The authority in all things travel, Lonely Planet has an extensive section all about the USA. Or why not buy the USA Lonely Planet Guidebook in hard copy or as an eBook.
- Bethaney, along with her husband Lee, and two adorable kids are the experts on all things family travel in the USA. They’ve spent about 18 months road tripping their way across North America and tell the world all about it on their blog Flashpacker Family. Not only are their tips great for other families looking to do the same thing, but really anyone with aspirations to travel can learn something from this adventure loving family from New Zealand.
- If you like your travel with a dash of adventure, the you’ll want to check out Mapping Megan. Having lived in the US, Megan and Mike have covered some of the country’s best adventure activities, wildlife experiences and places to stay on their blog.
- Two Scots Abroad, Gemma and Craig, recently spent time travelling around the USA and even chose to get married there! Check out their blog for lots of tips about travelling in the USA including their very informative posts about what they spent.
- The USA should be on every food lovers bucket list and the place we turn for USA foodie travel inspiration is 2 Food Trippers. We guarantee they’ll leave your mouth watering!
- Probably one of the most comprehensive US travel blogs I have seen. Blogger at Large is a blog by the talented Megan Singleton.
- Tina, The Local Tourist loves her home country and travels the USA as much as she can.
- If you love to combine food and travel you will want to check out Yulia’s blog, The Foodie Miles, for everything food in the USA.
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