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USA TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my USA travel guide for solo travel over 40, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your USA travel planning.
WELCOME TO THE USA!
The USA – home of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. And Elvis, a great Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Broadway, the Liberty Bell, Route 66, Denali National Park, Disneyland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Wall Street, Hollywood, and on and on and on… In short, my home country.
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LANGUAGES IN THE USA
The official language is English, but many languages can be heard spoken in the U.S.
The U.S. is primarily Western derived and influenced from Britain considering we gained our independence from them. The U.S. is the “Great American Melting Pot” of people of a diverse origins. This is what gives it its strength and character.
POPULAR USA ACTIVITIES
We in the U.S. enjoy sporting events of all kinds, road trips, music concerts, national and state parks, barbecues, beaches, movies and theater, museums and landmarks, hiking, biking, surfing, diving, camping, and shopping, to name just a few activities. Yep, we do it all here!
The U.S. dollar (USD or US$).
TRAVELING THE USA
The United States has all modern forms of transportation, including Uber and Lyft – heck, they originated here. Getting around, and booking transportation in advance, is no problem.
TIPPING IN THE USA
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at the U.S.’s holidays.
USA ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
The U.S. standard voltage is 120V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz so bring a Type A (two prong) and Type B (three prong) adapter, if not two of each just in case. I recommend researching if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in your adapter(s); or, you can bring electronics already adapted for U.S. outlets or wait to purchase them here. If you are going to another country in addition to the U.S. on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested global adapters below for your convenience!
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR THE USA
The type of travel you do in the USA and where you are coming from will help determine what type of travel documents required to enter. Please also consult your national government should they be of assistance in helping acquire documentation.
VACCINATIONS FOR THE USA
Vaccinations may be required to enter the United States – please ensure to read the requirements of entry as well as for any particular U.S.A. destination so you can plan accordingly.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
USA TRAVEL SAFETY
Depending where you go in the U.S. can affect your “safety factor”. Larger cities, of course, may require being street wise. Smaller towns, not so much. Whatever the U.S. destination, please just keep in mind the my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE USA
The U.S.’s summer season is June to August – this is when school is out and many American families take vacations as well. This can drive up the prices and crowds. December to March are the winter months where prices may drop, except around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Travel in the U.S. can be crazy at these times (I personally avoid it), and if the weather is bad, flights can be delayed. In general, the best and less expensive times to visit the U.S. are when kids and college students are back in school – September to November and late March to May. Don’t forget to check the weather of where you’re going – that may also impact where you decide to go.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, the U.S.A. consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
What can I say? I was born in SoCal, have lived in 7 states and traveled a lot across this great country. I’ve driven cross country multiple times, not to mention the many regional or state trips I’ve taken. The longest solo drive I did was from Boulder, Colorado to San Antonio, Texas in 17 hours straight. By myself. I must have been crazy. But driving across this country is truly the only way to see it. I think people visiting the U.S. forget how big it really is, which also means that the American cultures, dialects, and cuisines are diverse as well. Again, this is part of what makes this country great. The freedom to go anywhere within the 50 states with no new documentation needed is truly a thing of beauty. If you haven’t driven across this country, I highly suggest it. Stop to see our wonderful national and state parks, or visit one of the many world-class cities we have. There’s so much to see and do – trust me, I’m still working on it. I have four states left to visit!
PICTURES OF THE USA
USA BLOG POSTS
Going to San Francisco for a day, or just have a long layover, and want to see as much as you can? For Free? No worries. I used to live in the Bay Area and have prepared a self-guided walking tour for you to see top sights in one day in San Francisco on foot. Yep, no car required.