United States Overview
The US is HUGE. Travel opportunities are endless, no matter what it is you enjoy doing. While the percentage of Americans without passports is embarrassingly low, when you have a country as massive and diverse as the United States is, it does excuse it just a little bit.
The Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the gorgeous terrain of the American Southwest, the white sand beaches of Florida, the friendliness of the people in the Midwest, the vastness of states like Montana, Idaho, and the Dakotas, are just a tiny, little glimpse into America. Las Vegas, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago are just a sampling of big, unique US cities that offer tons for any traveler.
You want camping? Try Vermont and the Northeast in the summertime. You want great food? It’s literally everywhere, from New York to Madison to Chicago to St. Louis to Memphis to Denver to LA. You want diversity? Head over to Astoria in Queens, New York. How about a tropical island? Don’t forget about Hawaii. Glaciers? Alaska’s calling your name. Great beer? Quality American microbrews are popping up all over the country.
What to Expect
A massive, spread out nation that is unfortunately difficult to travel around without either your own transportation, a lot of money, or a combination of the two. For other Americans, traveling around isn’t as difficult because most of us own cars. For foreigners, it’s quite different than other western countries and regions.
How to Get Around
Train – There is no efficient high speed rail like Eurail that connect the states and cities together like the rails do throughout Europe. Amtrak has been getting a little more popular with the rise in gasoline costs over the past decade, but it still doesn’t even come close to matching up with other countries around the world. Plus it’s not really that cheap.
Bus- Greyhound has traditionally been the bus company of choice for travel around the US, but Megabus, a relatively new company, has tried to swoop in and offer a more budget friendly option. These are both good for travel between certain cities, but not ideal as a way to get around the entire country. The bus system is nothing compared to other countries around the world.
Airplane- Again, we don’t have too many budget airlines in the US like they do around the world. There is no Ryanair or Air Asia here offering flights for $5. So unless you’re independently wealthy or have accrued a bunch of miles somewhere, flying all around the country is just not feasible for long term trips. For a short vacation, flying is most efficient.
Car- If you have the time and don’t mind road trips, the United States is made for it. After having traveled overland in different countries in South America, SE Asia, and in India, I realized how blessed we are. The roads are in great shape, you can get from Point A to Point B quickly, and you have the freedom to move at the pace you want.
Costs obviously vary from city to city, state to state, region to region. Compared to most regions on this site, it’s expensive and travel is simply different. We’ve traveled through 31 of the 50 states, and each trip is completely different than the next.
While on our RTW trip, we had a certain budget, and it was not very high. For the majority of the trip, we lived on about $70US/day total, for both of us. You’d be hard pressed to find decent accommodations in most parts of the US for under that (with the exception of camping).
So I’m not going to try to summarize a daily budget for travel within the Unite States. It is simply too dependent on different factors. I’ll go over costs of each city/activity in their respected pages and posts, but to say you can travel on x number of dollars/day is simply impossible.
Since I do like to write about money and costs a lot to assist my readers, and since most of the site focuses on budget travel for couples, I will try to stick to that as I continue to write about travel within the United States.
As a base, here’s some numbers to at least get you started:
Accommodations: There are many different accommodation options, from camping to hotels to motels to condo/apartment rentals. There are a few hostels in major cities, but the network is pathetic compared to the rest of the world, unfortunately.
Hotels: In any major city (from New York to Kansas City to LA), it’s difficult to find a decent hotel room for under $100/night. Sure, there are exceptions for time of year and neighborhood, but as a rule, I would budget $100/night on the cheap side if you plan on staying in a hotel room. Obviously you want to double that if staying in Manhattan or LA or any other major US city.
Motels: Motels are a step down from hotels, and you’ll find these in the middle of states between major cities. Most are located in tiny little towns or right off a highway exit. Quality really does vary, so if you plan on staying in motels, I would do what we do when staying in hostels abroad. Check out a room before booking. And even with the quality of rooms compared to hotels, they still don’t offer that much of a savings.
Camping: Camping offers a great budget option for those looking to save a few bucks. The American Southwest is littered with fantastic National Parks that offer camping for a much lower price. In addition, there are state parks all over the country, and private campgrounds as well. The flip side is that you need camping equipment to do this.
Rental- A great option for those wanting a house, apartment, or condo during their travels is to rent. VRBO is a fantastic company which offers rentals all over the country at varying prices. The search function is super easy to use, and it’s a great asset to travelers in the United States.
More to Come
The focus of the site is going to be more on international travel than travel in the United States. While I will get content up for the US, it won’t be as quickly as the rest of the regions. Be sure to check back though, as we have traveled extensively around the US, including the following regions/cities. When links become live, you will be able to click on them below.
- The Midwest
- St. Louis, MO
- Kansas City, MO
- Madison, WI
- Chicago, IL
- St. Louis, MO
- Skiing in the Rockies
- Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
- Southwest USA
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- The Grand Canyon
- Las Vegas
- Joshua Tree National Park
- New York City
- Northeast USA
- New Orleans and Florida Panhandle