Solo travel around the USA for 3 months+

Travel Forums North America Solo travel around the USA for 3 months+

1. Posted by 05simpsonm (Budding Member 2 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

I am a 26 year old male planning to travel the USA from the start of March next year for 3 + Months. I plan to start in New York, come down the east coast and go across to the west coast and up the west coast taking in Chicago, San Francisco etc. I will aim to have a budget of around $15,000 dollars all in.

I am currently looking for advice surrounding my budget suitability, the location and path I am aiming to travel and also advice for a solo traveller in general.

Any opinions on eating out, socialising, nightlife and accommodation and transport will all be very helpful.

Kind regards,
Matthew

2. Posted by road to roam (Travel Guru 472 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Quoting 05simpsonm

I plan to start in New York, come down the east coast and go across to the west coast and up the west coast taking in Chicago, San Francisco etc.

All the considerations to keep in mind about COVID-19 and how that may affect your travels aside...

I'd like to hear more about where you really want to go and what you'd like to see. There's a lot of space in between the east coast, Chicago and San Francisco - mentioning some other potential stops may help others bulk-up the advice you are looking for.

Also, what type of things interest you? Museums? Hiking? Food tours? All of the above? Those details can help others get things rolling on the forum, too. Also, many folks here love seeing some information on the Travellerspoint profile page as well - you can tell other members more about yourself there.

Your budget sounds generous - to me anyway.

[ Edit: Edited on 26-May-2020, 15:08 GMT by road to roam ]

3. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1642 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Sounds like fun. Are you planning to drive? Where are you from? (what side of the road do you drive on at home?)

If you start in March someplace on the East coast it may be cold and there may even be snow. If I was going to do a circuit of the US from March to May, I'd want to start in the south and end up in the North in May. I might start in March in D.C., drive down to the Florida Keys, and then across the Gulf Coast to New Orleans. From there I might fly in April to LA drive up the coast of California maybe to Seattle, and then fly to Salt Lake City to see the parks there in Utah - drive to Colorado, and then in May fly from Denver to Chicago. And then drive from Chicago to Boston and drive down the east coast..

[ Edit: Edited on 26-May-2020, 17:03 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

4. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2504 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Fill out your profile so we know a little bit more about what you like. Also know where you are from.

Will the $15,000 dollars be after paying for your fllights?

Transport can be anything from buses, trains, commuter aircraft and you renting a vehicle.

Food costs depend on where you choose to eat. McDonalds or some swanky fancy restaurant can be a big difference.

Some of the big cities can be expensive. A few hostels available and some YMCA's may have rooms available. Google search on your laptop will give you some options. For 90 days fifteen thousand (assuming US) dollars works out to around $166 a day. Do not rely on a single debit card. Have back up sources of spending money. Include a couple credit cards with you for unplanned emergencies that may come up.

Hopefully this virus problem will be resolved when you travel.

Where you come from will determine your visa requirements. If you intend to drive yourself are you comfortable driving on right hand side of the road?
https://www.usa.gov/visitors-driving

Come on back.

5. Posted by 05simpsonm (Budding Member 2 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Thank you all for your helpful responses.

I am from up north in the UK, so drive on the left hand side of the road .

I am not sure how confident I would be to driving on my own on the right hand side! How quick is it to pick up?

$15,000 dollars would have to cover my flights, accomodation, Visa, insurance, food, travel and spend.

I am a typical 26 year old male who likes Sport, nightlife and women.

However, graduating in history, I do appreciate the museums, cities, memorials, natural landscapes and hiking! I am a open book and willing to see and engage with as many people as possible.

I have been looking into the Amtrak railway and buses instead of driving, is that a sensible option or would driving be more fulfilling? I have had a lot of feedback that driving in city centres is a no no!

I intend to enjoy myself with some luxuries such as food and sporting events but I am also willing to slum it a few days with basic food and accommodation.

Regarding the social aspect and culture,how friendly and helpful are American people in general and do you meet a lot of locals when travelling?

Kind regards,
Matthew

6. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1642 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Most major cities (such as New York City, Washington DC, New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and maybe Boston) have reasonable public transportation. Los Angeles and Miami are not as well served, but people do manage there.

There is not such easily available public transportation options to the big national parks in the west unless you take some kind of a tour. A tour will be a more convenient and more expensive option.

I don't know how difficult driving on the right will be for you. I find it is easier in England or Barbados when the traffic is slow and the roads are not too confusing, or on the highways where the traffic is separated into lanes and everyone on your side is going the same direction as you are. Most cars now have GPS, but it may not be that easy to set or understand. I have to interpret the GPS for my husband (but then he's a little deaf). The other problem with driving in places where there is spectacular scenery (like along the California coast or down the Florida Keys - is that you can't drive and also look. So the bus would be better if there is one. Amtrak is also possible in the northeast.

7. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2504 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

".....graduating in history, I do appreciate the museums, cities, memorials, natural landscapes and hiking! I am a open book and willing to see and engage with as many people as possible."

-

Washington DC has some good museums. And free too!
https://washington.org/dc-focus-on/museums-national-mall

Look up Dude Ranches. Ride horses, play cowboy, party hearty. Something different. Dude Ranches! (Not the Love Ranch!)

San Francisco. Visit the "Streets of Poop" where bums and layabouts are allowed to sleep and crap on the street and sidewalks. Take plenty of photos and publish them in the UK. Google it up if you do not believe me.

Grand Canyon is always a nice break if you can fit it in.
https://www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Grand_Canyon/

Have fun.

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1391 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

If you plan to stay beyond 90 days you will need to enter the U.S. with a B-2 visa instead of using the visa waiver program. See this link:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1340 posts) 6w 1 Star this if you like it!

As noted above, you'll need a US visa if you want to stay longer than 90 days. You'll need to apply via the London Embassy or Belfast consulate and be prepared to attend for an interview. If you go for an ESTA make sure you know the date you're leaving (ideally, have a flight booked) because you'll almost certainly be asked on entry. Being vague about your plans isn't a good idea. :-/

>I am not sure how confident I would be to driving on my own on the right hand side! How quick is it to pick up?

How long is a piece of string? I'm from the UK and have 30+ years of driving experience. I've driven in the US but certainly wouldn't want to a) drive straight off the plane or b) drive in big cities. You also need to adjust to driving an automatic (manual cars are a rarity in the US and I doubt hire companies offer them). Helpful hint for automatics when used to manual: tuck your leg leg right back towards your seat and keep it there. Some people also take off their left shoe to help them remember.

There are other differences too e.g. turning right on red (not always allowed), exiting freeways on either side (lane changing!), low (in comparison with the UK) speed limits and different signage. For your first experience I'd suggest hiring a car in a smaller settlement and building your confidence before driving on busier roads.

>I have been looking into the Amtrak railway and buses instead of driving, is that a sensible option or would driving be more fulfilling?

It's not so much to do with 'fulfilling' as the fact that, outside the major cities, US public transport (both local and long-distance) is often extremely limited in comparison with European countries. There are lots of places you simply won't be able to get to without a car.

>I do appreciate the museums, cities, memorials, natural landscapes and hiking!

  • Boston has an interesting and visible historical heritage, including a burial ground with graves dating back to the 1600s.
  • Washington has some excellent museums, of course, and Georgetown has interesting historical architecture.
  • In NYC, it's definitely worth visiting the Met (you don't have to make a 'donation' and if you do it can be as big or small as you like...they won't say anything), the Tenement Museum and The Cloisters. Walk as much as you can.
  • Chicago has some excellent architecture as well as the 'hidden gem' of the Arts & Crafts 2nd Presbyterian Church, with some stained glass by Burne Jones.
  • SF has, of course, much, much more to offer than its homeless. Buy a day ticket and ride all the cable cars from on end to the other (hint: it's best to get on one stop away from the terminus rather than at the terminus, where there are always long queues. Space is always left when a car departs.)
  • If you have a car visiting 'living museums' such as Old Sturbridge (Mass.) or the Amana Colonies (Iowa) is interesting, if only in comparison with e.g. Ironbridge and European outdoor museums. https://www.osv.org/ Having a car gives you the freedom to visit national and state parks which are rarely accessible by public transport.

>Regarding the social aspect and culture,how friendly and helpful are American people in general and do you meet a lot of locals when travelling?

I've found the vast majority of US citizens I've encountered are friendly and helpful, though less so in big cities (as in London) where people are often fraught. And yes, I've met a heck of a lot of 'locals' and am very used to the 'Oh, you're English! I love your accent' type of comment, though I haven't yet been asked if I've met the Queen. :-)

Learning a bit of American English beforehand helps save confusion/embarrassment when asking for e.g. a 'trolley' in a supermarket (trolley = tramcar....you need a 'cart'), a 'rubber' (that's a condom...you need an 'eraser'), biscuits (biscuit = scone-like thing, you want cookies), rocket (goes in the air..you want arugula).

:-)

[ Edit: Edited on 27-May-2020, 11:16 GMT by leics2 ]

10. Posted by 55vineyard (Budding Member 99 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

You get 90 days, not 3 months, if using the Visa Waiver Program as others have stated.

Amtrak is pretty good going to some places although it can be a bit expensive, so don't rule out domestic flights within the US. Last minute fares are the most expensive, so do not expect any sales if you plan to just "rock on up" without a reservation. Amtrak however does NOT travel the California coast from SF to LA through Big Sur and neither does the bus, so if you want to travel that route, driving yourself is your only choice. There was ONE company that offered a tour through there, but they no longer do so.

Please avoid Greyhound buses, many of their stations are in sketchy areas (the one in LA is two blocks from Skid Row) and the clientele is not the most desirable. In fact some prisons give newly released prisoners a Greyhound bus ticket or pass.

Hope you have a good time.