Travelling around the United States was the most exciting and terrifying thing I have ever done. But you’ll be pleased to know it was totally worth it. Beyond the obvious reasons, (that it was the best time of my life), it also taught me a lot of practical skills that will help me with future travel plans. I’d like to share a few of my top tips for successful travelling around the United States with you.
1. Always plan.
Plan. Plan. Plan. This may sound obvious and not very spontaneous, however, I found that with only one month on my visa and many places on my list to visit, it was necessary that I planned ahead- and that I did. I listed every place I wanted to visit, and I planned every train, plane, bus and accommodation that I required.
I also left the necessary amount of days to fit in everything that I wanted to do in each city. In doing so, I didn’t miss out. Instead I made the most out of my time and came out feeling like I hadn’t wasted a second. I was in full control.
2. Back-up funds.
Another extremely practical and necessary tip is to make sure you have enough money. Again, it may seem obvious but the United States is an expensive place, and there may be unavoidable costs along the way.
So, beyond the money that I had, I ensured that I had someone back in the UK who could possibly bail me out if I were to get into trouble.
Although I never had to utilise this, it is important for a sense of security and to ensure that you don’t find yourself stuck in a foreign city without any funds.
3. Never turn down an opportunity.
Honestly, you may never get the chance to travel like this again, so if/when any opportunity that arises, take it. For example, while in Arizona, we wanted to go to the zoo before our train that day. However, we were in a tiny town and they didn’t have a taxi service, but they did have a buggy service. Riding down a busy highway in a little buggy certainly raised some eyebrows, but it was worth it.
Or, why not attend a dolphin show just a few hours before a flight and get soaked through to your socks spending the rest of your day damp and a little cold (okay… maybe that was actually a pretty bad idea).
But the point is just that, you should experience everything possible in the time that you have, so that you regret nothing.
4. Wrap up warm.
Okay, this one is pretty personal to me, as I am literally always cold. But, spending eleven hours on trains, nine hours on coaches, and hours sitting in airports and train stations, sometimes air-conditioning is a bit too much. A travel blanket and a big baggy New York jumper helped me through each and every long journey. Trust me. Just trust me on this one.
Oh and a travel pillow doesn’t go amiss either; sometimes you are forced to push the limits of what is achievable in one day. Waking up at 5am, in New York, taking two flights to LA, waiting five hours in an LA train station, and then getting an eleven hour train to Arizona, then arriving in an extremely creepy town at 4am walking around attempting to find our hotel… It was the cheapest way to get there so I regret nothing (although I may have at the time). A pillow and blanket were necessary.
5. Do not be scared.
Last but not least is this: do not be scared. Admittedly, I often questioned myself during the planning process. Most strongly when I booked an eight hour coach leaving at 3am from the middle of nowhere to bring me from Virginia to Atlanta, all alone. But I did it. I did it all, and at the end, I felt empowered, strong and independent.
That’s all part of the learning curve, and that is why it’s an experience that I will never forget, for so many reasons.