The legendary Great Smoky Mountains National Park conjures up images of classic blue silhouette of mountain ridges, black bears, elk, and rolling waterfalls. The national park spans both North Carolina and Tennessee and makes for quite the epic road trip. The question is, what’s the best way to do it? With this 6 day Smoky […]
United States Travel Guide
Travel in the 50 states, 5 major territories, and islands is as staggeringly diverse as what the American dream is all about.
As a Canadian, our friends in the south have always been an enticing travel destination because of how easy it was to hop in a car and drive across the border or catch a quick flight. The travel opportunities here are endless as you can go up to the north and see glaciers in Alaska, catch some surf in Hawaii, party in Las Vegas, see the redwoods of California, or head east to see some of the biggest metropolis' in North America. What I've always envied about the United States is just how beautiful their landscape is coast to coast. As a land of opportunity, there really is so much to see, do, eat, and experience.
Personally, the best way to see the country is to rent a car and drive from coast to coast. That's the only true way to see and truly appreciate what the USA is all about.
This USA travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Facts about USA
- Electricity - 110V,
- Currency – US Dollar ($ USD)
- $1 USD = approximately $0.90 EUR
- ATMs can be found all over and credit cards are accepted everywhere
- Cellular - You can find pre-paid no contract SIMs at grocery stores and convenient stores
- Tipping - Customary to tip 15-20% (Some of the larger cities like NYC and Los Angeles will command tips at the higher end of the spectrum)
- Unit of Measure - Imperial (Farenheit, Inches/Feet)
Money Saving Tips
Go Outdoors - Just like Canada, the outdoors is your oyster. Aside from some amazing experiences, you end up saving a lot of money by doing activities like hiking, climbing, canoeing, biking, and camping.
Take a Bus - While there are a few low cost carriers to choose from, there are some ridiculously cheap buses that can take you from city to city. I've seen fares as low as $1 so don't forget about this option when planning your trip.
Celebrate Festivals - There are free events in city all over the country throughout the year. Check out the city's events calendar to find out more.
Free Museum Access - It varies between museums but places like the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in NYC has UNIQLO Free Friday Nights every Friday evening from 4 - 8PM. Plan around these times to maximize on savings.
City Tourism Cards - Companies like CityPass essentially sell bundled tickets that give you access to all the essentials in a particular city for one low price of around $30-40. You get access to museums, reduced prices on some attractions, discounts on restaurants, and sometimes even free public transportation.
Stay in an Apartment or Hostel - While hostels aren't as prevalent as in Europe, you'll be able to find them in major cities. Apartment rentals through airbnb are also a good money saving option as well. What's common between both of them is that you can buy your own groceries and cook to save you even more money.
Top Packing Tips
The beauty of traveling to the US is that even if you forgot something, you can easily buy what you need when you get there. Climate is a tricky thing because it depends on which part of the country you go to and at what time of the year. There are the common things you want to think about for winter and summer that I have below but beyond that it's mostly a lot of common sense. What you'll find about travel to the US is that the travel infrastructure is amazing so there aren't any specific packing items that you have to bring.
- Warm - Some parts of the US do get pretty cold in the winter so make sure you layer up and have a good winter jacket. Columbia is my go-to brand when to outdoor gear especially with their turbo-down tech which is super high quality and is great at retaining heat.
- Stay Bug Free - Anytime you're in the outdoors, there's a chance of mosquitos and other sorts of flies that might bite so make sure you have good repellant on hand.
- Sun Protection - Nothing new here. Make sure you have sunglasses, sunsreen and a hat to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
- Good Shoes - You'll be doing a lot of walking whether outdoors or in the city so make sure you have the proper footwear. My favourite brand is Keen for their sandals, hiking, and casual shoes. I have 5 pairs and counting!
Things To See and Do in the United States
- Yosemite National Park - Yosemite National Park is one of the American classics when it comes to the great outdoors. With the iconic Bridalveil Fall, giant sequoias, and dramatic rock faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite is a must-see destination if you’re spending time in Northern California.
- Hiking on Oahu - The landscape on the island of Oahu is just spectacular. Get out of Waikiki and explore the many hikes that span from beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
- Utah and Arizona Adventure - Zion National Park is one of my all-time favourite parks in the US. I had the opportunity to do the 2 day Narrows hike and also see the iconic Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Make sure to read the article on where to stay in Zion National Park.
- Orlando is More Than Just Theme Parks - Everyone goes to Orlando for Disney but I made it a point to do everything but in my last trip to Orlando. Despite missing out on the friendly mouse and his friends, I had an awesome time zip-lining, seeing the city from the sky, and watching Cirque du Soleil.
- Yosemite National Park - If you're looking for ideas of where to stay in Yosemite, don't miss this piece.
- One Day in Denver - In between the majestic snow-capped Rocky Mountains and a booming metropolis is the perfect balance of the two dynamics, and it’s called Denver, Colorado.
- Weekend in Chicago - Chicago, famous for so much more than its winds, is the quintessential American city. Whether you’re a foodie, an adventurer, or a purveyor of the fine arts or are just looking to have a good time, you have plenty of options to choose from.
- Top Things To Do in NYC in the Summer - Summer is when New York City really comes alive. From festivals and markets to parades, concerts, and cool drinks on rooftops, there’s so much you can do in the city no matter what you’re into.
- St. Petersburg, Florida - St. Pete's is so much more than a place for retired snowbirds to spend the winter. I had the chance to explore this city on the westcoast of the Florida pan handle and was impressed with what I saw, ate, and did.
- Honolulu Two Day Itinerary - Heading to Hawaii and need inspiration on what to do in the main city of Honolulu? Check out this itinerary!
- Wine Trail in Niagara - Niagara on the Canadian side gets all the press when it comes to wineries but south of the border, there are a nice collection of vineyards that I was very impressed with.
- Best Desserts in NYC - I love dessert and so every time I go to New York, I end up trying a different spot each day. If you're into sweets like I am, you'll definitely want to read this.
- Top Things To Do in NYC - New York is one of my favourite big cities. It seems that every time I go, there's something more to check out. Over the years, I've started to keep a list of all the things I recommend to friends and family. Here is my top list.
- Reasons to Visit Atlanta - Some call it Hotlanta, others call it the ATL. Regardless of its nickname, Atlanta is a thriving metropolis that offers a splendor of delectable eats, trendy neighborhoods, and world-class attractions.
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