United States travel essentials, including map of the USA, American holiday info, United States travel advice and articles on travel in the USA
As the third largest country in the world, it’s hard to find a more varied landscape than the United States of America. From the glaciers of Alaska to the deserts of Arizona, the sun-soaked beaches of California, Florida and Hawaii, to the majestic Rocky Mountains, travel in the USA is nothing short of spectacular.
If you’ve got a set of wheels, cruise across the country on the legendary Route 66 and stop off in Amarillo for a traditional steak. Try your hand at luck in the infamous casinos of Las Vegas, visit America’s history at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina, or witness the staggering views of the Grand Canyon.
See the geysers of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and brush shoulders with the stars in Los Angeles. Whatever your scene, you can find it in America – and plenty more besides…
Learn the lingo. American English may sound the same as our own language, but take note of the few differences – you don’t want to ask for jelly and end up with jam!
Be bear-aware. If you are staying in a national park, especially if you are camping, make sure you are fully clued-up on camping etiquette to avoid an extra tent-mate in the middle of the night: read a bear guide for the area, avoid perfumes and body sprays, don't eat food in your tent and keep all food and cooking equipment in a locked car away from tents.
Wanderlust web intern Holly Gurr on the one thing she wished she'd known on arrival:
"The tipping system. Although tipping in the USA is not compulsory per say, it is quite rigidly ingrained in social etiquette. Aside from leaving a little something for waiters in restaurants, it is conventional that a $1-2 donation should also be given to doormen, bellhops, cab drivers, coatroom attendants, grocery packers, bar tenders, travel guides, housekeepers, and the like."
Don't be caught out by the weather, says Katherine Price:
“Like many of the uninitiated, I had always thought of California as a hot, sunny state, and so dressed accordingly. That was until we got to San Francisco. When the fogs roll in from the sea, San Francisco can be absolutely freezing cold, windy and damp. Bring a good jacket.”
The best time to visit is entirely dependant on what you want to do. Summer is the brightest time in Northern areas, and the main holiday season stretches from May to August. Ski resorts pick up in the winter, and visiting the country in the spring or autumn periods can avoid the extremes of temperature.
For long distance travel across the country, there are thousands of domestic flights a day which, although potentially costly, are a quick way to get from A to B.
If you're travelling by public transport on the road there are several major bus companies providing cheap, efficient travel; Greyhound buses serve many of the larger towns and cities, and tickets can be booked in advance. The smaller Trailways company can be slightly cheaper and reaches to some remote places not covered by Greyhound.
Car rental is easily available and is a competitive market in the USA, but most companies won't rent to under 25s and none to under 21s.
There is a fairly extensive rail network but compared to other transportation this can be both costly and timely – one of the benefits however is it allows you to see the scenery in comfort.
Localised transport is generally efficient and reliable.
Hotels range from budget to top end prices – price is generally an indicator of quality. There are many hostels available throughout the Northeast, the Northwest, California and the Rocky Mountains, but very few in the Midwest. Most have gender-segregated dorms.
Most national forests and parks offer cabins or camping; campsites can vary from offering plenty to no facilities.
USA is known for its fast food, but you'll easily find options beyond burgers and fries. Food can vary radically between states, even if they are geographically close.
In multicultural areas such as New York City, there is a wide range of food to be found from many different cultures. Southern style cooking is popular in Texas, whilst Louisiana plays home to the Cajun style of food.
Fish and seafood is popular in the coastal mid-Atlantic area, whilst there is a strong Spanish/Mexican influence in the South West. Coffee is very popular, with chains stretched across the country – visit the dawn of mass market coffee at the very first Starbucks in Seattle.
Who says you can’t have it all? Convenient, accessible and gorgeous, these stretches of metropolitan coastline will add an element of sun and sand to your next city break. More
The whole world may be a stage, but author Dominick Reyntiens suggests Shakespeare fans should go backstage and seek out these hidden gems the next time they're in the Bard's hometown More
There’s a reason Nashville is called Music City. From Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to the Kings of Leon and Jack White, all the biggest names have flocked here. Here’s five reasons you should too More
Dazzled by her umpteenth sighting of the northern lights, Wanderlust’s editor-at-large, Phoebe Smith, reflects on why natural spectacles are so mesmerising… More
From bear watching in wildlife preserves and canoeing along the Yukon River, to riding historic railroads, there’s every reason to escape to the wilderness of northwest Canada More
We asked for your top tips for travelling to one of the world’s greatest lands for wildlife and you certainly delivered! Take a read of your need-to know-advice, including visiting on a budget... More
Big, bold, beautiful America celebrates its independence this week. How to plan the perfect trip for you? With these knock-out itineraries, of course... More
From a blanket of bluebells in spring and sunflowers in summer bloom, to autumnal hues and snow-blanketed pine forests in winter – we reveal Hampshire's most glorious landscapes throughout the year... More
Found only on the remote islands of British Columbia, spirit bears have long been revered by First Nations peoples. We visit in search of the rare ursine, only to be greeted by orcas on the way... More
Bounded on three sides by water, peninsulas offer all the benefits of an island, but with more accessibility. Expect remote beaches, abundant wildlife and culture just a little different from the mainland More
Having journeyed 8,000km and 13 countries around the Arabian Peninsula, we caught up with TV's top explorer for his recommendations on the must-visit sights in this too often misunderstood region... More
Gorgeous and untamed, the Yukon is the longest free flowing river in North America. Running through pristine wilderness in Canada and Alaska, here’s how to experience it at its most majestic... More
With open fireplaces, locally-brewed beer and room at the inn for pets (including ponies), receive a warm welcome to remember at one of these British pubs this winter... More
The rarest travel experiences. The toughest. The dearest. The ones that won’t be around forever. These are the real do-before-you-die journeys... More
With its historic cathedral quarter, rejuvenated city centre and calendar of lively festivals, Lincoln has emerged as one of the UK’s most enjoyable short break destinations. Get there now More
From ancient carved stone staircases in Sri Lanka to modernist marvels in the Vatican, these staircases are both beautiful and challenging – and breathtaking in every sense of the word More
Take a road trip through the wilds of West Texas for stirring beauty and southern comfort. Britt Collins reveals the places you must visit More
Live out the Galápagos dream with a visit to this land of some of the world's most diverse marine life, Darwin's legendary Theory of Natural Selection, and pristine landscapes that you've never seen before More
A land of rumbling volcanoes, wildlife wonders, Amazonian jungle and epic coasts – it's a wonder how you can cram in everything that Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands has to offer. Follow our guide... More
Get your caffeine kick in Colombia, trek full-circuit in Chile and wind down with vino in Argentina – explore Central and South America anew with these crowd-free and fun-guaranteed activities... More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
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The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
Perfect for... Anyone who loves luxury and the great outdoors in equal measure.
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A holiday of contrasts as you drive from the desert to the ocean. High rolling energy in Vegas to the solitude of Yosemite; the heat of Death Valley to the cool sea mists of San Francisco Bay.
Perfect for... Couples and honeymooners wanting an iconic American road trip, rounded off by R&R on a beautiful tropical beach.
Perfect for... Families who want an in-depth Florida adventure, and to see it through local eyes rather than just sticking to the tourist hot-spots.
Perfect for... Yachties, foodies, and anyone who wants a low-key city and beach escape.
Perfect for... Intrepid adventurers who like to live in luxury.
This 7 days/6-nights (see departure dates below) All-Inclusive tour of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks features an exclusive field visit with a renowned guide who will offer insight and ...
Perfect for... Honeymooners yearning for sunshine and a touch of glamour.
Perfect for... Stylish couples, fashionistas, and photographers – anyone who wants a polished New York shopping holiday.
Perfect for... Stylish honeymooners who want an ultra-luxe yet laid-back city and beach escape.
Perfect for... Families who are looking to add entertainment and an exotic dash of culture to their beach holiday.
Perfect for... Retreating on a post-city refresher among America’s high society.
Meander down the Mississippi on a river cruise, visiting a number of historic sights. Begin in Memphis and end in New Orleans as you experience some of the USA's finest music culture scene, includi...
Perfect for... Foodie couples who want to experience California’s amazing gourmet scene, whilst enjoying plenty of activities amongst the state’s most breathtaking sights.
Perfect for... Honeymooners with epic plans.
Perfect for... Adventurous families and couples with a lust for the Great Outdoors.
Perfect for... Beach bunnies and active, luxury-loving couples and honeymooners.
Perfect for... Luxury lovers with a passion for the great outdoors.
Perfect for... Couples and honeymooners with a driving licence and a sense of adventure!
Perfect for... Waterbabies, seafood lovers, fishing fanatics, and anyone who wants a laid-back party scene in Miami.
Perfect for... This stylish holiday is ideal for a trendsetting holiday or a unique honeymoon, as well as those who can’t decide between cities and beaches and want the best of all worlds.
Perfect for... Water babies and active families seeking something a little more than a fly and flop holiday.
Perfect for... Families looking for a Californian beach holiday with plenty to keep the kids entertained.
Perfect for... Active explorers, adventurers and Spaghetti Western enthusiasts.
Perfect for... Stylish couples who love history, food, wine, and all things pertaining to the finer things in life.
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