How to get around the USA
The United States of America is an immense country, with vast distances from coast to coast and state to state. Whether you’re there for a short or a long visit, you’re likely to need to get around — and there are certainly lots of options for transport in the US.
Chances are, if you’re arriving from another country, you’ll come in by plane. And you’ll probably need to fly if you’re hoping to visit both sides of the country or heading to Hawaii or Alaska.
Flights vary in price and you may require a stopover to get to where you’re going, but aggregate sites like SkyScanner.com will help you find the right route.
Be aware that many airlines charge extra for “non-essentials” like a checked bag or meals, so take those costs into consideration when booking your flights.
Greyhound is the national bus service for the United States, and can be a good budget option. Look out for express buses when booking city-to-city journeys as these can be faster, and book in advance for the best fares. You can also use Greyhound to travel to Canada (Vancouver) and Mexico (Tijuana). Check out their route map here.
We’re huge fans of travelling by train, and while Amtrak has had a bad run recently, rail is still an amazing way to get around the United States. You can use sites like GoTicket to find train routes and prices, and also book your tickets online. For example, if you’re planning on travelling from Chicago to Flint, you’ll find all of the travel options listed on their website.
Dreaming of an epic road trip? The United States has a great network of roads to explore.
Renting a car in the US is pretty straightforward — check out our car hire podcast for general information about car rental. Make sure you have comprehensive insurance, and take some time to look into petrol and toll prices in the region you plan to travel in, as they can quickly stack up.
If you’re planning to drop your hire car at a different location to where you picked it up, make sure to check how much the one-way fee is before you book!
While it’s perhaps not as popular in the US as in other parts of the world, Ridesharing could be a worth considering for part of your US journey. Basically, you can search for drivers who are already travelling the route you plan to take, and pay for a seat in the car.
This tends to be safer than hitchhiking, as there’s an electronic trail left by booking your ride online! We’ve used this form of transport in Spain and Mexico, and it’s been great.
In the US, Craigslist and Ridesharing are two good places to look for a ride.
Walk or cycle
If you’re planning to see the States more slowly, you can make use of the country’s extensive network of roadside bike paths, or head to the national parks for great hiking trails.
You could consider an epic hike like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail; or choose a shorter route if you don’t have several months to spare. For example, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors for cyclists and hikers.
Please note that walking or biking on major highways is very unsafe and is also against the law.
If you don’t have access to a private yacht to drift down one of the coasts of the US, you could consider joining a cruise. From river cruises to small ship journeys in Alaska’s Inside Passage, there’s likely to be a boat trip for you. You could even consider travelling by freighter if you’re feeling particularly intrepid!
However you choose to get around in the United States, you’re sure to have a fantastic journey!
What’s your favourite form of transport? Leave a comment below!