USA TRAVEL GUIDE

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USA TRAVEL GUIDE

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WELCOME TO THE USA!

The USA – home of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. OK, it’s also home to 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite; and, Elvis, a great Constitution and Bill of Rights, 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.

LANGUAGES IN THE USA

The official language is English, but many languages can be heard spoken in the U.S.

USA CULTURE

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!

USA CURRENCY

The U.S. dollar (USD or US$).

USA TRANSPORTATION

The United States has all forms of transportation, including Carpoolworld, Uber and Lyft – heck, they originated here – and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in your destination area). There are also taxis and rental cars, of course.

The USA also has regional buses and one major train system, Amtrak.

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.

USA HOLIDAYS

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.A.’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.

Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK
471 Reviews
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK*
  • A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.

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.

USA TRAVEL BOOKING

USA ECOTOURISM TIPS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in the USA. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase 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.

ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Try to avoid flying in the USA by taking a regional bus or the Amtrak train.

When booking a rideshare in the USA, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in the USA.

Lime also has electric scooters to rent in the USA for fast and clean commuting in select cities.

ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for USA Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for USA certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!

ECO-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

The USA has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in the USA. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel.  Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

USA SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO TRAVEL THE USA SAFELY

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.

USA 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.

PERSONAL STORY

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!

USA PHOTOS

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