Traveling to the United States can differ from traveling around your own country, or other places around the world. Like any time you travel, there are things you should consider doing before you leave home, and a few things you'll want to do when you arrive. Here are a few tips for visiting the USA.
Choose a Destination
Sounds simple, right? Maybe you know exactly where you want to go, but the United States is a huge country with a wide array of cultures and people, so narrowing down to one or even a few destinations can prove difficult. The best way to pick a destination is to first decide what your goals are for the trip, or what you want to do while you're gone, and then do some simple research.
If you like to ski, consider spending some time at one of America's popular ski resorts in the Rocky or Appalachian Mountains. If the beach is more your scene, you have a lot of coastline to choose from on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts. Each offers a variety of beaches, and if you enjoy surfing, sunbathing, or studying marine life, you're sure to find something perfectly suited to you. Research and planning ahead is crucial to picking the destination.
What to Do
You may already have some activities in mind if you choose your destination based on your interests, but if not, it can be tough to decide what to do since there are so many options. If you choose your destination on a whim, you might find yourself at a loss for what to do. Start by looking for museums or festivals, as these kinds of activities will provide you with plenty to see and experience. The big cities are always a great kicking off point for any vacation.
According to travel expert, Matt Kepnes, New York City is a great place to visit: There is nothing you can't do or see here. From amazing museums and art galleries to theater to restaurants to Central Park, everything about New York is amazing. Many tourists — both domestic and international — flock to New York City for some or all of these reasons.
Rent a Car
Many of the larger U.S. cities have decent public transportation, but you may want to consider renting a car. Trains connect some of the bigger cities as well, but driving offers you some freedom and may allow you to see more of the country, especially if you plan to visit multiple cities or towns.
There are many places to rent vehicles in the U.S., and most car rental companies have locations in airports and cities.
- You can pick up a car at one location and drop it off at another.
- You can reserve a car in advance —this is a great idea and saves a lot of time and stress if you know you'll want to have a car when you get there.
- Valid driver's licenses and credit cards are required for car rentals.
- Most companies won't rent to people under the age of 25. A small fee is usually charged at rental companies who will rent out to people under 25.
- Insurance is available for rental cars.
- You must return the car with the same amount of gas in the tank as when you picked it up at the start of your trip.
- Almost every type of vehicle is available to rent, from subcompact to minivans.
If you want to drive the car through several states, you must make that clear when you rent the vehicle.
Another important piece of information to note is some car companies will only allow their rental cars to drive within the state it was rented. If you want to drive the car through several states, you must make that clear when you rent the vehicle.
Renting a car can also be expensive, so shop around to find the best deal and try to incorporate parts of the trip where you won't need a rental car.
Bring an Adapter
If you plan to pack any electronics — such as a laptop or cell phone — you will need to bring an adapter. The voltage used in the U.S. is 240, which is double the voltage in places like the U.K. If you attempt to charge any of your electronics in the U.S., you risk ruining them, or potentially injuring yourself with the difference in voltage.
Where to Stay
The U.S. doesn't have quite as many hostels as you can find in Europe. Hotels and motels are more abundant, and you can find many inexpensive options. Most cheap hotels cost $35 to $50 a night. However, hotels in bigger cities are much more expensive.
The price of hotels does fluctuate, and you can find good deals if you plan ahead. There are many different websites at your disposal that track the costs of hotels and sometimes provide discounts.
Camping is another option. Depending on the type of trip you're taking, camping can be a fun experience, and you can usually rent a campsite. Camping is much cheaper and a great way to cut down on lodging costs, but you'll need to bring the necessary supplies.
The few hostels that are available in the U.S. are in the bigger cities. Once you pick your destination, do some research to find out if there is a hostel in that area, and if there are beds available.