I'm planning on touring the U.S. (Mainly the south) for a few months early next year, I plan to stay in hostels and just sightsee and do the touristy thing. I can't drive, so was wondering if Id manage ok using public transport and flights to get around
Any advice would be fantastic!
There is a lot of south in the U.S. There is the southeast and the southwest. Each is a totally different experience. In the southeast, there is the Florida area where you not only have Miami Beach but Orlando is a huge tourist area which is in the middle of the state. New Orleans is a very popular place where you can branch out to other areas from there. In the southwest, there is the desert areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona will take your breath away. Las Vegas is also a popular spot. California is in a class all by itself. If you are doing the southern area, then you may be looking at areas such as Los Angeles and San Diego. San Diego has a lot of tourist attractions and boast the largest zoo in the world.
To travel to these areas without driving as you suggested, then you may consider a train as oppose to airlines. The advantage is that you can see things along the way as you travel and can also get off at different stations to spend time in different areas. Be aware that train travel is not as timely as what you may be used to in Europe. But if you are not in a hurry, then this should work out fine for you.
Robmer's right, a trip on the train can be part of sightseeing itself, unlike flying, which would only be getting you from place to another. Set up a schedule and check with seat61.com or amtrak for a closer look at timetables and any available discounts.
Be aware that in the US, distances between some major cities, especially in the west is huge, and currently there are no "bullet" trains running anywhere in the entire country (though California is hoping to soon be the first state to do so. This is not Europe where going from one large city like Paris to another like Lyon takes an hour or two.
In the west, taking the train from San Francisco to Los Angeles will take you about 9 hours, from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon area, about 6 hours, then you will need to take a bus for 2 hours each way to get to the Canyon and back, and then it would be another 6 hours to go from there to Santa Fe.
On the other hand, driving will take just as long, as will taking a bus. To me, the southwest is the best part of the country to visit. But trying to see it via train is very, very difficult as the trains run across almost none of the really scenic areas. The only exception to this is one train that runs through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, There is also one scenic train that runs from Seattle to Chicago but that's the northwest part of the country--and even it avoids Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park, which are two of the most scenic spots. Fortunately it does go through Glacier National Park, which is what makes it so scenic.
Best of luck with your trip.
I live in Nebraska and I know public transportation anywhere in the midwest is expensive and pretty slow. However, I did just book a round trip flight to Vegas for $70 through a new airline that is similar to Ryanair. It seems like it would be very helpful for your trip with some of the flights costing less than $50 spirit.com. It will be the same prices as a greyhound bus fair, but way faster.
since you are not driving, might as well travel by train as compare to airplane. that way, you can see things along the way as you travel and can also get off at different stations to spend time in different places and do "touristy" thing like you have said.