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United States

Welcome to the Ultimate United States Travel Guide!

The United States is a vast country known for its national parks, Hollywood, wineries, cities, road trips, and coastlines. Whatever kind of adventure you want to have here, this United States travel guide has everything you need for planning a trip!

The U.S. is one of the Best Destinations For Solo Female Travelers!

I was born and raised in the U.S., and I’ve traveled to almost every corner of it. I love exploring my home country, and I know you will too.

Ready to plan your trip? Then here’s your ultimate United States travel guide!
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Know Before You Go

Bring a photo I.D. to every bar and restaurant. Most establishments will have to check your I.D. for buying alcohol, even if you’re clearly over 21.

Avoid some of the crowds by visiting large cities and popular attractions on weekdays.

If you’re driving, get off the interstates and take some back roads. The U.S.’s scenic drives are some of its best attractions.

U.S. immigration officers can be intimidating, brusque, and downright rude on arrival at border control (even to U.S. citizens). So just stay calm, grin and bear through it, and answer any questions fully, politely, and calmly.

Be aware that laws and attitudes vary from state to state. What’s legal in Colorado and Washington state, for example, smoking marijuana, is illegal in Texas and South Carolina.

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Explore The Continental U.S. By Region

Typical Costs When Traveling

Exchange Rate

The currency in the U.S. is the dollar. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, so be sure to check this as your trip approaches. On average, $1 is equal to about €,88, £.80 British Pounds, and 7.10 Chinese Yuan.

Keep in mind that all of these expected costs are an average. Prices in the cities will be higher than in small-town America and National Parks.

Accommodation

A hostel room will be about $40 a night (£30, €35, 285 Yuan). You can find a budget hotel in the $60–85 a night range (£45-65, €55-75, 425-600 Yuan). Mid-range hotels should be between $150–250 a night (£120-200, €130-220, 1060-1765 Yuan). More luxury accommodations start at $250 a night (£200, €220, 1765 Yuan) and go up from there.

Airbnb prices average around $160 a night (£125, €140, 1130 Yuan).

My Favorite Hotels In The U.S.

Food

Meals from fast-food restaurants, cafes, or food trucks will be between $6-12 (£4.50-9.50, €5-10,50, 40-85 Yuan). Dinner at a chain or local restaurant will be around $20 (£15, €18, 140 Yuan). Dinner at a high-end restaurant will start at $60 a plate (£45, €55, 425 Yuan) and go up from there.

Plan to spend around $5 on a glass of wine or beer (£4, €4,50, 35 Yuan) and $10 on a cocktail (£8, €9, 70 Yuan).

Fast-food might seem cheap in the moment, but it can add up. So if you’re road-tripping and need to save some money, bring a cooler and pack your lunch.

Transportation

Individual bus, subway, or metro tickets will be around $3 (£2.40, €2,65, 20 Yuan) and are valid for one trip. There will also be day, 48-hour, and 72-hour passes if you’ll be using a lot of public transportation in one of the larger cities.

Renting a car will start around $50 a day (£40, €45, 355 Yuan), and then you’ll need to pay for tips, tolls, and gas. You can find my favorite car rental sites here. Before renting a car, make sure you understand all insurance and driver’s license requirements.

Taxi fares within city limits average a $4 starting fee (£3.20, €3,50, 28 Yuan), then around $1.25 per mile (£1, €1,10, 9.50 Yuan). Uber and Lyft are widely available in all large and most mid-size cities as more affordable alternatives to taxis.

One-way domestic flights average $200 (£160, €180, 1415 Yuan).

Amtrak trains are a chapter and more scenic way to see the country. Prices for Amtrak range from $3 (£2.40, €2,65, 20 Yuan) for local trips to $700 (£560, €620, 4950 Yuan) for cross-country journeys. You can find all of Amtrak’s routes and pricing tiers here.

You’ve also got the relatively cheap Megabus and Greyhound bus options.

Must-Visit National Parks

Other Expenses

I’d budget around $40 a day (£32, €36, 283 Yuan) for entrance fees, tours, guides, snacks, tips, and souvenirs.

ATMs are widely available 24/7 in banks, malls, hotels, and every other street corner in cities of all sizes. Withdrawing cash from an ATM using a credit card usually incurs a substantial fee. So check with your bank and credit card company to make sure you know the best ways to use ATMs to pay as few fees as possible.

Visa and MasterCard are almost universally accepted in hotels, restaurants, and stores. In many situations, like renting a car or making a hotel reservation, a credit card will be required. Most gas stations require a U.S. zip code to pay at the pump, so if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you’ll need to pay inside the gas stations.

United States Travel Guide
Tipping

Tips aren’t optional in the U.S. Even if you have terrible service, you’d still be expected to tip because tipping is a significant part of people’s income. These are recommended tipping amounts (and you can always leave more if the service is excellent):

Restaurant servers: 15% – 20%

Bartenders: minimum $1 per drink and 15% – 20% per round

Taxi drivers: 10% – 15% rounded up to the dollar.

Hotel and airport porters: $2/bag or $5/cart

Valey parking attendants: a minimum of $2

Housekeepers: $2 – $5 per night. A card is usually provided in the room under which to leave a tip.

Suggested Daily Costs

Lower End: $150 a day (£120, €135, 1060 Yuan). Midrange: $250 a day (£200, €225, 1770 Yuan). Higher End: $350 a day and up (£285, €315, 2475 Yuan).

Money Saving Tips

1
Use CityPass CityPass gives you discounted ticket packages for top attractions throughout the U.S. in cities such as New York, Seattle, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta. The cost of a CityPass is less than the combined price of visiting these attractions individually. Plus, you get to ``skip the line`` at most places.
2
Camp When you're visiting national parks, go camping instead of staying in a hotel.
3
Eat Off The Beaten Path Don't eat at restaurants near famous landmarks. You'll pay a premium to eat in Times Square or near places like The Mall in D.C. or The Bean in Chicago.
4
Don't Fly Domestically Instead of flying between destinations in the U.S., rent a car, hop on a Greyhound bus, or take an Amtrak train.
View my list of fantastic budget destinations in the U.S. to save even more money!
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The Best Airbnbs In The U.S.

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My Must-Have Guide Books

How to Prepare for the U.S.

Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and influenza.

Passport Health has additional information on current vaccinations and diseases in the U.S., and I recommend visiting their website for the most up-to-date travel requirements.

Visas

For entry, citizens of the EU, Great Britain, and Australia will need a valid passport for the length of their stay and a return ticket. Canadians must have a valid passport but don’t require a return ticket.

Most nationals don’t need a visa when visiting the U.S. for less than 90 days. The exceptions are countries excluded from the Visa Waiver Program. The World Travel Guide has more information on the U.S.’s visa and passport requirements.

iVisa is an incredibly helpful resource for obtaining visas. iVisa makes the usually complicated and confusing process of getting a visa easy by taking care of everything for you. You fill out a simple online application, and then iVisa takes care of everything else.

Etiquette

Shake hands when meeting someone. Some Americans will hug, but the majority will want to shake hands unless you’re close friends.

Don’t assume you can smoke somewhere. Smoking is prohibited almost everywhere that’s indoors, and many patio restaurants, parks, boardwalks, and beaches have also banned it.

Be on time. It’s considered very rude in the U.S. to keep someone waiting.

When To Go & What To Pack

Because of the U.S.’s size and varied geography, it’s a year-round destination. But some months are better times to visit than others depending on the region. And what you bring depends on where you’re going. So here’s your guide to each region of the U.S.

What To Wear

There are no dress requirements for men or women in the U.S. You’ll just want to make sure your clothes are warm or cool enough for the time of year and the region you’re visiting.

I recommend having at least one “dressier” outfit for dinner at a nice restaurant or for visiting higher-end clubs or bars. But for the most part, you can wear whatever you want most anywhere you go.

If you’re visiting a religious site, you’ll want to wear more modest clothes out of respect.

Comfortable, practical, and interchangeable clothes are always smart choices in the U.S. And bring your most comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking A LOT!

Have you been to the U.S.? Comment below with anything you’d add to this United States travel guide!
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Shop My U.S. Essentials
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This United States travel guide is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Some of the links in this United States travel guide are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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