The United States of America is one of the most iconic countries on earth, mostly due to its vast size which encompasses a range of cultures, and for its history that has strong ties to Europe. It is a destination that makes its way onto every traveller’s bucket list, but people often don’t know where to start with. Should you go to the sandy beaches of California, the mountains of Colorado, or the spiralling silver spires of New York City? There is only so much you can fit into one trip, but for anywhere you go, you will need to follow some handy tips when you get there, which will help you make the most out of your trip.
Take out insurance
America is known for pioneering some amazing inventions; unfortunately having affordable healthcare is not one of them. This is why it is imperative for you to take out insurance before you leave, which will cover you in the case of a medical or financial emergency. Technically, you should do this before any trip abroad. In the USA, the last thing you want to encounter on your trip of a lifetime is a hefty medical bill, or having to fork out money for more flights in the off-chance yours has been cancelled. It may seem like a big cost in the short-term, but it is something you and your travel companions will thank you for in the long run.
Rent a car
As a vast and open country where trains and buses can’t take you everywhere, it is a good idea to rent a car for the time you are there. If you are going on a city break to somewhere like Los Angeles or New York, then you won’t be needing one as much as you need a travel pass, but if you are planning on driving down the famous Route 66 or across state lines, then save yourself some money and rent a car for the time you are there. The freedom renting a car allows you will also mean you don’t have to worry about planning your trip fully until you get there. Mostly, it will afford you views of the American landscape that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Follow road laws
Renting a car comes with many benefits, but you will also have to adjust to the road laws that differ from the ones in the United Kingdom. Driving on the other side of the road, different traffic lights, and highway codes are all something you should research and practice before you set out across the country. Though insurance will cover you for a lot of things, it won’t cover you if you are the one at fault on the road.
Don’t forget to tip
In the United Kingdom, tipping is something that has always been a relaxed exchange. However, over the pond, tipping is something that defines the eating experience and can land you some bad hospitality if you don’t adhere to them. Tips are also often the main source of income for a waiter or waitress, as their wages are usually below the minimum, so giving them a tip of at least 15-20% will make their evening, if not their week. Showing your appreciation for such great service will mean that they go above and beyond the next time to extend this service to everyone else, if not you, which makes eating out an experience in and of itself.
Stay in a holiday home
Hotels in some places are renowned for their stunning customer service, such as those in Las Vegas. However, they can also cost a lot of money. There are many places like Martha’s Vineyard which cater specifically to creating a luxurious and relaxing holiday environment, so if that is what you are going to America for, then it’s always a good idea to stay in a villa or a holiday home. These often give a homely feel to a trip, as well as one which allows you to act as though you are living there for the time being. It also invokes a sense of community among the holiday goers there, which you can be a part of if you choose the right location. For example, Put-In-Bay house rentals on Lake Erie are known for their high, hotel-quality service, but without the designer price-tag.
Explore the wilderness
If you are spending an extended period of time in America, then it is a trip well wasted if you haven’t taken the time to explore the natural wonders it is home to. The Grand Canyon in Arizona, the glacial mountains in the North Cascades, and the volcanic lands of Yellowstone National Park are only a few of the stunning natural scenes there, but there are many more untouched gems waiting to be explored. When you go, it’s best to take your sturdy hiking boots, a thick coat, as well as plenty of sunscreen, which will prepare you for a few days out in the wild. If you want to get the most out of the natural world, then you can always go camping or glamping, which will put nature at your fingertips.
Don’t cram too much in
The United States is one of the biggest masses of land in the world. This means that as much as you may want to see everything, you will more than likely not be able to. In fact, people who have lived there for their whole lives have never gotten to see the wonders it boats, due to its sheer size. Before you leave, it’s wise to make a list of the top ten places you want to see, which will allow you enough time to absorb and indulge in the scenery and culture entirely. This is where having a car with you comes in handy, as you can zip from one place to the next in case your plans change along the way. If you are aching to go back once you’ve left, you can go back in the future with a clearer plan in mind.