Practical Information

First time to America | Read these tips…

People who go to America for the first time are often mistaken in distances and driving times and sights. There is also much unknown in the big country. So are you going for the first time? Read these tips for traveling in America! Incidentally, we think that not only people who go to America for the first time can use these tips, but also if you have already been once. Or maybe two or more times. Of course you can also share your tips with us!


  • Make use of a good route planner at home before you just come up with a route. Think of “mapquest” or the “here” program. You can enter an entire route in advance, including hotels etc. and you can use them offline. These planners give a real picture of not only the distance, but also the driving time. They take into account mountainous areas and the like.
  • Do not try to stop everything in one planning. There is so much to see and do, keep it the first time at the highlights such as large parks and cities. Even if you think you will never get there again, it is still wise to stick to these highlights.
  • Do not assume that every travel agency understands traveling in America. They sell fixed packages, but do not say that they are usually “run and rush” packages. Keep that in mind. You could choose a travel organization, because you can call someone if there are problems. It is not really necessary, but it can give a feeling of certainty.
  • Think carefully about where you prefer. Do you like cities, stay there a little longer.
  • Two hours before a national park? That is way too short! They are so big that they can only view globally in at least half a day. Especially if you have to use a shuttle in the parks. The cities are also so big that you will have to think carefully about what you really want to look at.
  • If you do not mind driving for a longer period, plan a long driving day here and there so that you can make a lot of kilometers. There are areas that you can easily drive past, but other parts may well take a bit more time.
  • You can of course drive around (same start and end point, no drop-off costs for the car), but you can also take a different start than end point. There are no drop-off costs between some states. And it saves a lot of driving and then you can see more.
  • Consider whether you want to camp or rather sleep in hotels. Renting a campervan and staying on campsites is often more expensive than renting a car and taking hotels (of course depends on the quality of the hotels).
  • Are you only with two, consider renting a convertible, the experience of the parks is a lot more intense than in a car with a fixed roof. You smell and see so much more!
  • For renting a car or camper, make sure that the most important insurance policies are already included. These are already included in car rental at Sunnycars, Auto-Europe or Alamo. Then you do not have to insure anything on the spot. Unless you still want roadside assistance. You can only take them on the spot. If you have bad luck on the road, it is very useful, if you can change a tire yourself, this is often not necessary. Compare it with the Road Service.
  • Overnight stays in hotels. You have the more expensive hotels and the cheaper ones. What do you find important? Only a bed and shower? Or a nice room? Motels are usually car in front of the door and so enter your room. These are usually simple rooms. With the two of you can take a room with 1 queen bed (or 2), or 1 king bed (nice size). The first 2 are usually just as expensive, King is more expensive. With four people you can in 1 room with 2 queen beds. If you are in high season you will have to reserve accommodations in the parks. Please note that you can cancel the hotels (free of charge), you never know. You pay a little more, but can still change your mind. There are several hotel booking sites. That is a matter of just googling. But think of booking.com, or if you see more and bed & breakfast-like private overnight stays think of airbnb. With the latter you have booking costs and you often have to pay everything in advance. Cancellation conditions are often “strict”.
  • Also consider whether you think it’s important for a hotel to have a mini fridge or microwave. Furthermore, of course, the location so you do not have to “waste time” searching. You can of course choose to look at the spot, but that is not always the most convenient in high season. Plus that not booking in advance means that you spend time every day looking for a hotel. Early booking often also gives good prices.
  • Would you prefer to camp anyway? Remember that in the middle of the summer in certain parts it is very hot and that you often can not reserve for camping in the parks (first come first serve). If you are in before and after season it can be very cold again.
  • For the flights it is important whether you are willing to travel a lot, then you can find reasonably priced flights, direct flights are often more expensive .. There are plenty of booking sites. These indicate which are the cheapest. Directly with society is no longer more expensive nowadays. The advantage may be that you can arrange the chairs yourself in advance. For a little more leg room you pay a bit more. Depending on the distance of the flight it can be from a few dozen p.p. to around 150 euro p.p. If you do not want to sit tight, it is definitely worth it.
  • If you have arranged everything then make sure you have a good map / road atlas, buy it on the spot.
  • You can of course take a Tom Tom, or drive via your mobile. It is fairly easy to drive there, but an (extra) card is handy. Every state has visitor centers where maps are usually free. If you enter a state through a highway, there is always one and of course in the cities .. Usually also with free coffee.
  • Most hotels now have a breakfast, simple or more extensive, but you want to save money by at least take care of lunch yourself then bring a foldable cooler bag (or buy on the spot the first day such a styrofoam cool box at the Walmart) and fill it with ice cubes every day. Almost every hotel has an ice maker. Take freezer bags or buy them on the spot, there you make a kind of cooling block.
  • If you have a transfer in America, you have to pick up your bags after the first landing and send them to the final destination. You do not have to go on the way back.
  • Do not forget to arrange your ESTA, otherwise you will not even enter America.
  • Of course there are many more things that you will encounter on your first America vacation. Driving a car is just a bit more relaxed, separate habits in America and more. The website of Dream Travel 2 America is full of tips for traveling in America!

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27 thoughts on “First time to America | Read these tips…”

  1. This was a tough subject to handle because the U.S. is huge! To consolidate the most important information visitors should know isn’t easy. But you did well! Anyone planning a trip to America should book mark this page to study!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you .. yes it was not easy, and especially for not to make it so extensive. In any case, I have done my best … and hopefully I help travelers with it, because America is simply a beautiful country to visit.

      Like

  2. These are great tips – I remember when relatives from the Netherlands came to visit us in Canada they flew into an airport 8 hours away in Ontario, then asked us to pick them up at the airport – not realizing how big Canada is!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in America and these are still great tips when visiting anywhere. If you plan on visiting more than once, maybe plan on visiting different regions. For instance, since it’s fall, try visiting the northern states. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is visit the New England States like Maine and New York in order to see the leaves. In the winter time, if snow isn’t your thing, travel south.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t been to the US 🇺🇸. I would love to visit this place. I will keep this in mind when planning. It’s very helpful and informative. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, those are great photos. The family seemed to be having a quality time and not being intimidated by your presence.

    Like

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