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Starting Plans for backpacking USA. Any advice welcome

Travel Forums North America Starting Plans for backpacking USA. Any advice welcome

1. Posted by Kiwilime (Budding Member 12 posts) 5y

Hi!

I'm just starting my plans now for my travels this summer and any information anyone has from experiences in the States would be gratefully received.

Thinking of flying into Seattle and seeing some friends around there/Montana but after that i'm totally easy.
Want to ideally stay out of areas like New York or anywhere else that could drain my money ultra fast. I'm thinking of taking about £2000 out there and just seeing how long I can make it last. Not against hitchhiking or couchsurfing when possible either but no idea at the moment about the feasibility of long term car rental. Since i'm younger than 25 i've heard it might be a problem.

Ideas about how best to get around or any particular routes that are well known for being nice traveller routes are really what im looking for. Im thinking West Coast at the moment but not much more specific than that!

Thanks Guys

2. Posted by ElliotWebb (Budding Member 13 posts) 5y

Hi,

You're right about the car rental, the insurance costs are huge if you're under 25. Greyhound and Amtrak will probably be you're best (and cheapest) option. Depending on how long you're looking at spending traveling you may find the Greyhound discovery pass helpful, check it out on there website.

Most obvious route I guess from Seattle would be to head down to Portland and then down the west coast of California. Make sure to include Yosemite National Park on your itinerary. Plenty of hostels down the west coast, USA hostels and Hostel International are the most common in California. Oh yeah hitch hiking? Don't!.

3. Posted by Kiwilime (Budding Member 12 posts) 5y

Had a look at the greyhound pass. Seems like a good shout for moving between states and think you are definitely onto something Yosemite. Anywhere with rock climbing is a massive bonus for me. Do you have any recommendations for getting around once in the cities? Ive heard public transport in the US is pretty minimal.

Why do you say hitchhiking isn't a good idea? Hard to get lifts or sketchy?

Do you have any experience trying to find hostels outside of California?

4. Posted by ElliotWebb (Budding Member 13 posts) 5y

Whilst the laws on Hitch Hiking are pretty vague in California i would still stay way unless you're some kind of hardcore Kerouac fan. Hitch Hiking in general is very dangerous, in the US even more so. I personally wouldn't take the risk, but of course you'll make your own decisions.

As for getting around in cities, I cant speak for Seattle or Portland but as far as California goes I found it pretty easy. Los Angeles and San Francisco are the places you'll probably use the most public transport, the rest of the towns down the west coast (ie Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Diego ect) can be seen by either walking or short journeys on public transport. LA has a good bus system and of course San Francisco has the trams, cable cars, busses or you can just walk.

I was really surprised by the amount and quality of hostels in the US. I travelled from New York to LA and stayed in hostels the whole way. The YHA (Hostel International) hostels have some quite strict rules and curfews but are generally nice places, but my favorite hostels are the independent ones I found in places like Nashville and New Orleans. Yosemite also has a hostel which is realy nice.

How long are you planning on traveling for?

5. Posted by Kiwilime (Budding Member 12 posts) 5y

The hitchhiking thing was more of a convenience thing as i always thought it was a bit more normal practise in the US but it is seeming like it might be more trouble than its worth!

I think I will probably be spending quite a bit of time in California so thats great to hear I wont be struggling too much to get around. Will probably also be moving through Ohio, Monatana and Wyoming where i may struggle a bit more though.

Im going to apply for a 3 month Visa as ive heard that a 6 month one is liable to get rejected if you have no fixed plans etc. Going to probably allow for about $1000 per month. Sounds realistic to you?

Would also love to go to New Orleans but always forget how bloody massive America is!

6. Posted by jeanie99 (Full Member 155 posts) 5y

Hi Kiwi,
We travelled coast to coast as part of our round the world trip 2007-2008 spending 3 months in the USA. We had to get a 10 yr visa because we wanted to slot in 1 month in Canada and the USA government add this on to the 90 days you are allowed. It was no big deal but you do have to travel down to London for an interview our biggest problem was the snow which fell the night before we travelled the 200 miles. We can now go anytime so it works for us.
Can recommend California we bought camping gear in LA and hired a car and camped all the way. The camp site in Malabu was amazing we looked over the ocean as we had our evening meal, so so wonderful. Utah is a must if you love natural wonders like we do, everywhere is great sight seeing. To get to Yosemite you travel round the mountain into the basin I felt quite sick, thank goodness my husband was driving but well worth the drive, there's accommodation there but book in advance if it's holiday time.
Did some travel in the South on the greyhound coaches which are very reasonable but did come across racism on one journey from a young crowd but the driver sorted them out, we were the only white people on board. Travelled by train a couple of times, Chicago to St Louis and NYC to Washington (great place to visit) the trains are good. The porter even got us on early because we are in our 60s.
Have a great trip but keep safe.
Jean

7. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 5y

Why do you say hitchhiking isn't a good idea? Hard to get lifts or sketchy? - BOTH, EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND EXTREMELY HARD TO GET RIDES! Hirching in the US was pretty safe and easy in the 50's, but those days are long gone.

Beware, California is just as expensive as NYC if you stay in LA or SF! Even hostels can be fairly pricey compared to the rest of the world. Camping is an option in many areas, but then again the equipment needed could be a problem. Summer crowds will be heavy especially in California and the Northeast. I suggest Colorado and Oregon for beauty and nature - should not be terribly crowded or expensive either.

8. Posted by lesbotravels (Budding Member 6 posts) 5y

Not to beat a dead horse but yeah don't hitchhike. Greyhound bus and Amtrak train stations are right there in downtown Seattle and easy to get to/travel out of. While in Seattle, the public transportation isn't the greatest unfortunately, but in downtown area the buses are free of charge. There was a new link light rail put in a few years ago that will get you further north and south into the surrounding neighborhoods for around $2/trip.

Quoting ElliotWebb

Whilst the laws on Hitch Hiking are pretty vague in California i would still stay way unless you're some kind of hardcore Kerouac fan. Hitch Hiking in general is very dangerous, in the US even more so. I personally wouldn't take the risk, but of course you'll make your own decisions.

As for getting around in cities, I cant speak for Seattle or Portland but as far as California goes I found it pretty easy. Los Angeles and San Francisco are the places you'll probably use the most public transport, the rest of the towns down the west coast (ie Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Diego ect) can be seen by either walking or short journeys on public transport. LA has a good bus system and of course San Francisco has the trams, cable cars, busses or you can just walk.

I was really surprised by the amount and quality of hostels in the US. I travelled from New York to LA and stayed in hostels the whole way. The YHA (Hostel International) hostels have some quite strict rules and curfews but are generally nice places, but my favorite hostels are the independent ones I found in places like Nashville and New Orleans. Yosemite also has a hostel which is realy nice.

How long are you planning on traveling for?

9. Posted by hey_monkee (Respected Member 430 posts) 5y

I'd look into getting a Greyhound pass of some sort if I was you. I assume you can get them for so many days travel, or to travel so many miles...but look on their website cos I haven't personally used Greyhound before. I have however used Amtrak, and I dunno if it was just a particularly unfortunate trip, but we had all sorts of re-routings and stalled periods and parts of the journey changed to a bus trip...not fun, especially when I was travelling New Mexico to Washington (approx 2 days journey).

I loved the parts of Montana and Wyoming I saw, so it was cool to see you mention those states. I even stayed on a dude ranch in Montana which was pretty interesting, and involved long horse rides, country dancing, beer mugs shaped like cowboy boots and lots of taxidermy in the cabin Good times! You also mention New Orleans - theres a few budget airlines that'd probably get you there cheaply. At one point I flew Orlando-LA for about $250USD which seems super reasonable considering the distance you're covering!

Have fun! I loved the States :) Oh, and like the others say, PLEASE don't hitchhike

10. Posted by J3r3mynz (Budding Member 6 posts) 5y

All of this advice against hitchhiking is just making me want to do it