The USA is a country like no other, not only because of its sheer size – it spans over 9,522,055 km2 (3,676,486 sq mi), being the fourth largest country in the world by area and the third largest by population – but also due to its rich ethnic and cultural diversity which is why it’s often referred to as a melting pot. So, no matter what part of the US you plan to visit, you’re in for a treat.
But this also makes planning a trip to the U.S. rather challenging. While for most countries the local culture and practices can be packed into one comprehensive travel guide, it’s much more difficult to round up a set of travel guidelines and recommendations when it comes to the U.S. since each area has its own unique features.
Nevertheless, there are several aspects that you should take into consideration if you want to enjoy a smooth and memorable trip to the land of opportunity. So, here’s what you need to know before you embark on your American journey.
There’s A Lot Of Land To Cover
As we’ve already mentioned, the U.S. is a huge country encompassing 50 states that even if they don’t have national sovereignty, they can still feel like countries in their own right with distinct characters and geographies. In other words, there’s plenty to see and do in the U.S. and it’s not easy to put together a travel itinerary when there’s so much land to cover.
Even for Americans, it’s difficult to visit their entire country and explore all its wonders, let alone for a foreigner who only has a short period of time on their hands to wander around this amazing country. For example, the average flight from New York to Los Angeles takes about five hours and a half. Even if you plan everything down to the very last detail from checking in ahead of time to booking JFK parking, long-haul flights are still going to waste a lot of precious holiday time that you could spend exploring.
Since you can’t see everything in one single trip, the wisest thing to do is to decide on just a few destinations to include in your itinerary or limit your travels to one specific region in the U.S. Start researching early on so you can narrow down your options and pick the best places to visit, taking into account the length of your trip and your personal preferences.
You Need To Obtain A Tourist Visa
Unlike European travel where EU nationals can move freely between EU countries without even needing a passport, as a tourist traveling to the U.S., you’ll need both a valid passport and a tourist visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to enter the country, depending on your nationality.
If you’re a citizen of one of the 41 countries included in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you can apply for an electronic authorization by simply filling in an online form. The process only takes 20 minutes and after getting your ESTA you are allowed to enter and stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days
On the other hand, the bureaucracy of obtaining a tourist visa and the costs associated with it can be quite discouraging for tourists, which is why you should take the time to research and understand these requirements before you make any travel plans.
National Parks Are A Must-See
The list of sights and attractions in the U.S. is endless, but if there’s one thing you should definitely include in your travel bucket list that is visiting (at least) one National Park. Beyond the iconic city scrapers and vibrant urban life, the U.S. also boasts 63 National Parks with amazing natural sceneries and rich flora and fauna.
So, if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city travel, we encourage you to give nature explorations a try. The Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park are among the most popular options but feel free to check the entire list of U.S. National Parks and choose the one that appeals to you the most.
Book Domestic Flights If You’re On A Tight Schedule
Road trips are often touted as the best way to explore the U.S. vastness, not only because they represent a special tradition but also because they give you the opportunity to experience so many different places in just one journey and immerse yourself in the culture and customs of each place.
However, going on a road trip is only a good idea if you’re planning a longer trip of at least a couple of weeks. For shorter travels, it’s best to take advantage of domestic flights to move around from place to place. If you intend to the East Coast area, a domestic flight will take you from Boston to New York in just one hour and a half. Make sure you also check your options for Boston Logan Airport parking if you’re traveling by car.
Factor In Tips And Taxes When Planning Your Budget
When it comes to budgeting, you have to take into consideration the usual travel expenses for transport and accommodation. But you also need to factor in tips for service workers and taxes for goods and services, which are usually not included in the prices displayed, when doing the math.
Also, you might want to add travel insurance to your expense list. While this means you’ll have to spend a bit more, you’ll get to enjoy peace of mind and get coverage in case anything goes amiss.
Visiting the U.S. is sure to make for a unique travel experience. But before you get carried away by the prospect of such a memorable trip, make sure you do your research and plan your journey accordingly.