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Vacation in USA Travel Guide

I’ve put together this vacation in USA guide to help you navigate this HUGE country. But I must say, as much as I love visiting the United States. It really isn’t the best place to travel as a backpacker.

When you want to vacation in USA, you need to know that it’s not budget-friendly at all, you need money to travel here. But for the most part, it’s just not set up for cross-country budget travel, to get from place to place can be expensive and if you are lucky enough to find a hostel chances are one night in a dorm could buy you 1 week in a dorm somewhere like Thailand.

All of that aside the USA has so much to offer both domestic and international travelers alike from sipping cocktails on a rooftop bar in the USA to hiking in Sedona, which you will discover in this USA guide. It just needs a different approach to travel compared to other countries.

Probably the best way to vacation in USA and explore the USD on a budget is in a car or van on a road trip, or in short bursts exploring one state at a time.

USA Travel Guide

Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

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USA Travel Guide
USA Travel Guide

Top 10 Things to Do in the USA

  1. Marvel at Yosemite National Park, California
  2. Be mesmerized by The Grand Canyon, Arizona
  3. Visit Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  4. Chill out at Lake Tahoe, California
  5. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  6. Get arty at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California
  7. Climb the Empire State Building in New York City
  8. Wander around Central Park, New York City
  9. Fall for Niagara Falls, New York
  10. Have Fun at Walt Disney World: Florida

Click for other USA travel Guides

USA Placeholder

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best USA ToursClick here to check out the top USA tours
Best USA Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in USA
Best USA Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in USA

USA Guide Travel Information

General Information

United States, officially United States of America, abbreviated U.S. or U.S.A.,  is a country in North America, a federal republic of 50 states.

The United States is hugely diverse. Its physical environment ranges from the Arctic to the subtropical, and includes rain forest and deserts, rugged mountain peaks and flat prairies.

The currency in the USA is United States Dollars (USD).

The dialing code of the USA is +1.

The water is mostly safe to drink from the tap in the USA.

Accommodation in the USA

Your USA guide won’t be complete without accommodation.

Accommodation in the USA is as diverse as the country itself. You will have no issue finding a dorm bed in a hostel when in the cities but be prepared to pay up to $150 for the bed in some cities. Outside of the major US cities motels or B&B’s are the most common form of budget accommodation. If you are on a tight budget then Couchsurfer is commonly used or you could think about camping or renting a camper van. But if you can budget well the USA has some pretty amazing places to stay. From romantic cabins in Wisconsin to tiny houses in Northern Arizona

Many United States travel guide will tell you that for a bed in a motel, expect to pay from $80-100 USD. Or if you prefer to stay in a hotel expect to pay at least $150 USD.

Staying a little longer for a vacation in USA?

Then check out the OneRoof app. OneRoof is a hyperlocal social network to meet your neighbors, buy and sell barter things, introduce your pets,  and create more of a community feel right at home. 
If you have recently moved to a new city you can find out if there’s a OneRoof community in your building here
You can join an exclusive network of hundreds of Super Neighbors and start a OneRoof community in your building! Apply here.

Food in The USA

Moving on to the next travel guide USA favorites, food!

Food in the USA is as diverse as the physical geography. Although the USA may be well known as a lover of fast food and you will not struggle to find a great burger wherever you are you will also be able to find authentic Mexican, Italian, and any other number of of there traditional cuisine from countries all over the world -especially if you do 2 days in Chicago

When exploring the diverse culinary landscape of the United States, our travel guide USA recommends some other traditional North American foods including: Clam Chowder (Boston), Bagles (New York), Deep Dish Pizza (Chicago), Texas BBQ, Grits (The South), Key Lime Pie (Florida Keys), and Corn Bread (The South). 

Best Things To Do In The USA

With 59 National Parks in the USA, in my opinion, the best thing you can do during your vacation in USA is to try and visit as many of them as you can. Utah’s National Parks are particularly spectacular and a visit to ‘The Mighty 5’ is at the top of my National Parks bucket list! Yellowstone is also another great national park that is not to be missed. Especially since you can try white water rafting in Yellowstone if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie. 
The best way to really make the most of your United States travel guide is to take in as much of the USA as you can and do a road trip along the way. The only downside is that most visitors are only allowed 90 days on an ESTA visa waiver. If this isn’t long enough then there is an option of applying for a 6-month visa for most visitors.
If road-tripping the USA isn’t your idea of fun for USA guide then I would advise mixing it up by deciding what cities or attractions you want to see and then flying from place to place and renting a car to get around when you get there.
It’s impossible to list activities and estimated costs in this travel guide USA as the USA is just so diverse. But hiking in the USA is (mostly) free and in my opinion, the best way to see the very best of the USA.

Map of Accommodation in The USA

USA budget per day:

USA Travel Guide

Let’s face it. Vacation in USA isn’t a particularly popular backpacker destination as it’s not budget-friendly. Most people opt for shorter trips and will just explore a particular area, rather than trying to backpack the entire country.

It’s hard to give an accurate budget as if you plan on visiting New York, San Francisco, or one of the other expensive cities this is going to blow through your budget. But if you are on a road trip and camping then this is going to dramatically reduce your budget in your United States travel guide. 

The figures below are an average of what you can expect to spend per day.

Backpackers Budget – $75 USD

Accommodation: $40 USD
Food: $15 USD
Activities & Transport: $20 USD

Mid Budget – $210 USD

Accommodation: $100
Food: $65
Activities & Transport: $45

Luxury Budget – $350 USD +

Accommodation: $150 USD
Food: $110 USD
Activities & Transport: $90 USD

USA Safety Advice

It’s impossible to condense safety advice fr the entire USA into this small section of travel guide USA. It’s best to check scams and safety advice for each city you plan on visiting. 

But one thing I know for sure is that you should never travel to The USA without some kind of insurance. There is no free healthcare from foreign visitors there so if anything should happen to you you will end up with a very large bill without insurance. There are 2 travel insurance companies I recommend SafetyWing and World Nomads. 

SafetyWing is insurance specifically for Digital Nomads which renews every month. Whereas World Nomads is more for Backpackers. You can read the full review I wrote about long term travel insurance here, and use the widget below to check the price of World Nomads.

USA Money Saving Tips

Look Out For Accommodation With Kitchens

If you want to save money by cooking for yourself during your vacation in USA then I would strongly suggest checking before booking that the accommodation has a kitchen. Being able to cook for yourself in the USA will help you save a lot of money. 

Save money on accommodation using Worldpackers 

This is how I was able to stay in Guatemala for almost a year rent-free! There are lots of opportunities in the USA and it’s not expensive to join and if you join through my link and use the discount code in this blog post you get some money off… you’re welcome!

Bring a tent

If you want to save money in this USA guide and are are planning to spend time outside of the main cities then make sure you have a waterproof tent and a decent sleeping bag. If you can splurge for a camping stove and a pot to cook with that will also save you a lot of money on food. Or look out for campsites with kitchens.

Use Coachsurfer

Using coachsurfer is pretty common in the USA.  Not only will it save you money, but most hosts are happy to offer advice about things to do in their town or city too.

Book Your Transport in Advance

Here’s the thing. No one really wants to book their whole backpacking journey months in advance. But in the USA it really is the only way to save money on your travel expenses. Try and book flights, buses, and trains as far in advance as you can to find the best deals.  

Don’t buy Bottled Water

The water is safe to drink directly from the tap in the USA, so be sure to bring a good water bottle with you.

USA Packing Advice

Wondering what to pack for the USA? This United States Travel guide got you. Take a read of the packing lists linked below and download my printable packing list by dropping your email into the form below. 


Traveling in the USA

The best way to see the USA during your vacation in USA is by car, so consider renting a car or camper van for at least part of your journey. There are so many amazing road trip initiates you can find online and USA driving guides to different states. Remember each state has it’s own rules so be sure to do some research ahead of time. 

Other than driving your options for traveling from city to city or state to state in the USA are flying, trains, or buses.

Within the cities you will find buses, subway systems, trams, taxis and Ubers to get you around. 

USA Travel Guide Planning

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in USA?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in USA?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are,, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack

The Best Time To Visit the USA

It’s difficult to say exactly when is the best time to vist the USA as a whole as the country is so diverse, as is it’s weather.

The USA has varied seasons in each of its regions, if you want to play it safe then the best time to visit the USA is during the Spring or Autumn as this is when you will find the mildest weather. The Summer and  winter months can be brutal with extreme heat and cold. Plus the summer is considered peak season and many US citizens will also be traveling during this time driving prices up.

Spring generally lasts from March to May and it’s the best time to visit for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and camping because of the varied terrain.

What to Read in the USA

A Walk In The Woods is Bill Bryson’s very entertaining guide to walking the Appalachian Trail. The trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine covers some of the most incredible landscapes in the United States. If you are a lover of the outdoors and are thinking of hiking any part of the trail you need to read this book. As well as being full of entertaining stories and personal reflections, it gives you an easy to digest introduction to the history and ecology of the trail.

If you are looking for some inspiration to help with the planning of your trip to the USA then this National Geographic book is it. It covers all of the 50 states and boasts 5000 thinks you can do in each of them. It’s a great resource to use in planning your US bucket list that’s for sure!

The book is beautifully illustrated and offers detailed information and facts about each state.

I couldn’t not put this classic book on the list. It’s one of the all-time greats and if you haven’t read it yet then there is no better time than now. The Color Purple is set between the two wars in the deep south of the United States. The story centers around a young African American girl born into a horrific family life during a time of segregation. The book followed Celie as she fights to free herself from her past.  

I couldn’t put this book down once I got a few chapters into it. There is a reason this book is a New York Times Best Seller. It’s a novel about a young child left to fend for herself in the marshland of the North Carolina Coast. The book paints a rich picture of the landscape and the prejudices of small-town life in the 1960’s USA. Part ode to nature and part coming of age story, this mystery will grip you from start to finish. 

Another one of my favorite books. The House on Mango Street has been printed in multiple languages and is taught in schools across the United States. It’s the story of a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero growing up in Chicago. The story is told in a series of moving vignettes. Some will move you to pure joy, others to tears. It’s the perfect companion for any USA vacation!  

Check out My travel books

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The Solo Girls Guide to Traveling Without Fear

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The solo girls guide to becoming a digital nomad

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