How To Plan The Perfect USA Trip
the american Dream
“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.”
–Jack Kerouac, On the Road
For many people who live outside of the United States, a trip to America is a once in a lifetime opportunity and is something that they dream about doing. It is quite unlike anywhere else; it is a huge melting pot of cultures, languages, things to do, things to see and people from all walks of life.
However, because of this, it can also be overwhelming. With so much to do and see, how do you make sure that you are getting the very most out of your often all-too-short time in the country?
Here, we look at some tips to help you plan the perfect trip to the USA.
Make sure you have the appropriate travel documentation
Every single traveler from overseas, regardless of their age, citizenship and nationality, will need a valid passport to enter the United States. That is non-negotiable and you will be checked for this as part of the entry process when you step off the plane. However, after that, the rules and requirements may differ, depending on where you are from and the country you hold a passport in.
If you are coming from the Western hemisphere – Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda – whether by land, sea, or air – you will need a valid passport, but may also be required to show border crossing cards, driving license, birth certificate or Trusted Traveler Program Card.
Travelers from other countries – including Australia, most European countries, Singapore and South Korea, amongst others, are enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program. This means that they do not need a visa to enter the US for a period of up to two years. To gain entry to the US, they need to have a valid ESTA. This is a fairly simple document to apply for but it is important to keep an eye on the ESTA status checker to ensure there are no issues that will delay you.
Once you have all the necessary documentation sorted, it is time to have fun with the rest of the planning process.
Plan your itinerary
What do you want to see and do when you hit the United States? There are countless routes that you could take if you want to explore more than one area. Here are some popular routes that those who want to cram is as much as possible take.
National parks: This plan is ideal for those who want to appreciate the sheer size of the American West and the raw natural beauty. It is best done in the summer, but still great at any time of the year. Locations on this route might include the Yosemite National Park, Death Valley and Yellowstone. It’s hot, it’s rugged and it’s remote – and it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The deep south: A melting pot of rich culture and history and home of jazz and blues, this itinerary covers some of the most beguiling areas of the US. Hit up New Orleans, Mississippi and Charleston.
East to West coast: This is the classic US road trip along the infamous Route 66. Visit New York, Chicago, St Louis, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It’s perfect for hitting all of the spots you’ve seen in the films and want to experience for yourself.
The North East: If you are looking for open roads, quiet spaces and some of the most incredible scenery anywhere in the world, this is one to look at. This covers Washington, New York, Boston and the White Mountains.
Book your accommodation
This, of course, depends on where you are staying, your budget and how you are planning to do your trip. If you are doing a road trip, you might hire an RV or stop at hostels and motels along the way.
If you are intending to stick to one place for the duration of your trip, look for a home from home in the shape of a vacation home or Air B n B.
Getting there and traveling around
The best way to get around is by car, or RV if you are camping. However, it is more than possible to get around by bus or train if you pack light and are prepared to spend time waiting around. Of course, the buses do not always go to the most remote areas but in the major cities and towns, you will generally have very good access to public transport.
Sort out your finances
You can absolutely do a trip across the United States on a very tight budget, but you may find that limits you. It is better to plan as far ahead as possible to give you as much time to save up and take as much money with you as you can.
Do not be tempted to put it on a credit card and deal with it at a later date – if you have difficulties in paying it back and get into financial difficulties, it may taint some of your memories. However, you can take steps such as cutting out any unnecessary expenses and luxuries in the time leading up to your trip. Which is more important to you: a daily coffee on your way to work or being able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime?
What to pack
Again, it entirely depends on where you are going and what you are planning to do. If you are going to the midwest where the temperature can be scorching hot, you probably won’t need a sweater. Head to New York in December and a coat is essential.
A good pair of comfortable shoes is an essential, as is a safe and secure bag to keep all of your essentials in. Do not forget things like sunglasses and hats, essential medications with a covering letter from your doctor.
Planning a trip to the United States can be fun. Do it in plenty of time to make sure that you have everything that you need and time to do your research and save up.
Have fun and Stay Gold.
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