USA SOLO TRAVEL GUIDE

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! USA TRAVEL GUIDE 2024
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR USA SOLO TRAVEL

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WELCOME TO THE USA!

Gwen at Grand Canyon AZ

Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my 28 years of solo global travel and sustainability knowledge and experience to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my guide to USA solo travel, all from my solo travel in the USA, so you plan and book your USA solo trips with ease. What are you waiting for?

THE USA: DID YOU KNOW?

About the USA

The USA – home of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. It’s also home to 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Denali National Park; and, Elvis, a great Constitution and Bill of Rights, Broadway, Hollywood, the Liberty Bell, Route 66, Disneyland and Disney World, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Wall Street, and on and on and on…  In short, my home country.

Hollywood sign Los Angeles California

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.

Wall mural The Highline New York City

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!

Popular Wine Tasting Tours in the USA

Wine glasses The Tasting Room Seattle Washington

USA TRAVEL PLANNING

USA Currency

The U.S. dollar (USD or US$).

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.

In the U.S., tipping is standard. In fact, hospitality, food and beverage workers in the USA basically live off of their tips. I used to be one of them. Restaurant and bar servers will expect a 15% minimum tip, but 20% could be the norm. For fine dining, tipping 20% at minimum may be expected. I feel it’s always better to offer a better than average tip for good service.

For extra services such as hotel concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, taxi/rideshare divers, etc., it is acceptable to tip 10 to 20%.

Remember, tipping is for good service only. If you get very poor service, do not feel the need to tip, or tip one cent. That will get their attention that their service needs to be upgraded.

Gratuity is usually included automatically in dining bills for parties of 6 or more. As a solo traveler in the USA, you should not experience this.

Additionally, confirm in advance if an establishment is cash-only beforehand. You never know.

Oysters on the half shell Seattle Washington

USA Holidays

It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money on the holiday of a lifetime only to show up at a key attraction, or try to access travel or banking resources, only to find them closed due to a national or local holiday.

Therefore, a key activity to do in your early USA travel planning stage is to know the national and local holidays in the USA.

USA TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

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.

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ZOPPEN Multi-purpose Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Wallet (Ver.4) Tri-fold Document Organizer Holder, 1 Black*
Image
ZOPPEN Multi-purpose Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Wallet (Ver.4) Tri-fold Document Organizer Holder, 1 Black*
Price
$12.99
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Rating
Reviews
Details
Description
ACdream Women’s Compact, Aa-Rose Gold*
Image
ACdream Women's Compact, Aa-Rose Gold*
Price
$8.99
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Rating
Reviews
Details
Description
Valante Premium Family Travel Document Organizer Capacious RFID Passport Holder Wallet (Large, gray)*
Image
Valante Premium Family Travel Document Organizer Capacious RFID Passport Holder Wallet (Large, gray)*
Price
$21.99
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Rating
Reviews
Details

Vaccinations for the USA

Vaccinations may be required to enter the United States. Ensure to read the USA travel requirements, USA travel restrictions, as well as any restrictions on your USA travel destination, so you can plan accordingly.

Ferry on water and Seattle Space Needle Washington

USA TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Electronics for the USA

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 your trip to the USA, you can check this international travel adapter guide to make sure you’re prepared.

Cyber Security While Traveling

Having a virtual private network (VPN) service and portable WiFi is always a good idea to not just stay connected, but stay connected securely in your hotel and all public spaces, like airports, train stations, and restaurants.

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GUIDES, ITINERARIES & TIPS

Use my US States Solo Travel Guides with their city guides, itineraries, travel tips, day trip ideas, and recommended things to do in these top destinations in the USA, all from my travel in USA, to plan your best USA solo travel.

Note, these are but a smidge of the places I have been to in the USA. After all, I have lived in 8 states and been to 46 in total. It is doubtful I will write on all of the top USA destinations I’ve visited.

HOW TO BOOK USA TRAVEL

It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.

No USA guide would be complete without the booking tools below. These, along with fun USA things to do and ecotourism ideas, will allow you to realize your solo trip to the USA.

Cheap Flights to USA

With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to the USA, flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to the USA now.

Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to the USA

USA Places to Stay

Second in importance to buying airline tickets to the USA is finding the best place to stay in the USA for your USA solo travel. Develop your USA travel itinerary now and find the best USA travel accommodations to knock one more travel planning item off your solo travel list.

Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in the USA

Getting Around the USA

The USA 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).

Of course, you can easily get a taxi or find a rental a car in the USA if it better suits your USA travel itinerary.

Find the Best Deals on USA Rental Cars

The USA also has regional buses and one major, not-so-comprehensive, passenger train system, Amtrak.

Things to Do in the USA

Here are some of the top things to do in the USA to book for your USA solo travel.

Popular Food Tours & Activities in the USA

USA ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS

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.

Air Travel Tips

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.

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.

The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in the USA are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter.

Explore USA Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals

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

Portland Theater sign Portland Oregon

Accommodation Tips

Look for USA 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.

Rainbow Room NBC Studios sign New York City

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 accommodations in the USA implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is to reserve a Booking.com Travel Sustainable accommodation. Booking.com started the Travel Sustainable program in 2022.

Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in the USA

Eco-Friendly Things To Do

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.

Top USA Ecotourism

Eco-Travel Products

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect the USA’s environment. 

For more ideas on how to travel with the planet in mind, read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

Sunset on beach west Maui Hawaii 4 day itinerary

USA TRAVEL SAFETY

Before You Go

Always consult your government’s USA travel advisory for your USA travel destination in the beginning travel planning phase and up to your departure date.

Buy USA travel insurance and international medical insurance for your solo travel in the USA to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.

Safety in the USA

Depending where you go in the USA 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.

Fire Season Travel Tips

USA BUDGET TRAVEL

State Sales Tax

Most states in the USA levy a statewide tax whereas some do not. Many states also levy a local tax in addition to the state tax. Where you vacation in the USA could increase your holiday budget. Reviewing USA states’ and cities’ sales tax rates may help you prepare your USA travel budget.

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, and except to warmer and winter sport destinations. 

Travel in the USA 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 USA 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.

Coors Field Denver Colorado

Budget Accommodations

Staying in USA hostels could save you a lot of money on accommodations in the USA, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.

Many hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in the USA – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.

Don’t overlook exploring hostels in the USA if you’re on a budget.

Reserve Your USA Hostel

Best Time to Book Travel

The USA can be pricey depending on your USA destination. The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.

Ready to book USA solo trip? Don’t miss out and find the best USA travel deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money when traveling the USA.

Book USA Travel Early to Save Money

Santa Monica Pier California

PERSONAL STORY

What can I say?  I was born in SoCal, have lived in 8 states and have 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, racking up close to 40,000 miles. The longest solo drive I did was from Boulder, Colorado to San Antonio, Texas in 17 hours straight. By myself. Yes, I was much younger then.

I think people visiting the USA 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 still have four states left to visit!

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