Exploring America for the First Time: A Guide to United States Travel

Fresh air will make us good

The United States is a vast and diverse country, full of unique landmarks and attractions. From iconic cities on the East Coast, to breathtaking national parks in the West, there’s something for everyone here.

Traveling to the US can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. That’s why we have put together this guide to help you plan your trip and make the most of your first visit to the US.

Preparing for Your Trip to the USA

Getting ready to take your trip to the United States is an exciting time. Before you go, there are a few things that you need to do in order to make sure your trip goes smoothly;

  1. It is important to check if you need a tourist visa or an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Generally speaking, citizens of a select number of countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program which grants you an ESTA; however, it’s best to consult with the US embassy in your home country to be sure.
  2. Make sure your passport is valid! An expired passport can result in denial of entry and other problems along the way. So, check the expiration date and make sure there’s plenty of blank pages left for potential stamps.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local tipping customs. Doing so will save you a ton of embarrassment and frustration later on. In the US, it’s customary to tip 15% – 20% at restaurants, bars, and even taxis.

Keep in mind that while not required, tips are considered polite and are highly valued by service staff.

What to Know Before You Go: A Guide to United States Travel?

The United States of America is an immense country with a range of climates, terrain, and environments—all sure to challenge any would-be traveler. Whether you’re planning a city break in the bright lights of New York City or a sun-filled holiday in Hawaii, it’s important to know what to bring and to research the essential practicalities before setting off.

  1. No matter where in the USA you plan to travel, you must first obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which must be done before leaving.
  2. Although varying from state to state or region to region, tipping culture is expected in the US so make sure you budget accordingly throughout your trip. 
  3. Remember that many prices are displayed net of taxes and so these need to be factored into all purchases where applicable.

By preparing these essentials before embarking on your journey around America’s vast breadth of cities and states, you’re guaranteed to experience an unforgettable adventure with no hidden surprises.

Different Types of USA Accommodations

When it comes to finding accommodation in the USA, there are multiple options available to suit different budgets. From budget hotels and hostels through to luxury resorts, you can find something to suit your needs – and a little extra planning can help make your stay even more comfortable.

Here are a few accommodation types to consider when planning your trip to the USA:

  • Hotels
  • Hotels are the most popular form of accommodation in the USA and range from budget options for those on a tight budget, through to five-star resorts for those looking for luxury lodging. Hotels also tend to boast more amenities than other forms of accommodation, such as pools, spas, restaurants and mini gyms.
  • Hostels
  • Many travelers choose to book hostels instead of hotels – these offer private or shared rooms at lower prices than hotels, making them an ideal choice for budget travelers. Hostels often have shared bathrooms, kitchens and common areas where you can socialize with other guests.
  • Vacation Rentals
  • Vacation rentals such as Airbnb offer an alternative form of lodging which is often cheaper than a hotel or hostel room and often feels like staying in a home away from home as they usually come with a kitchen or full kitchenette. With vacation rental options ranging from studio apartments through to entire homes, they offer flexibility that other forms of accommodation cannot provide.

Getting Around: Transportation in the USA

Navigating the US is relatively easy – there are plenty of transportation options available, both on land and in the air.

  • Air Travel

  • When it comes to air travel, there are countless airlines that offer flights both domestically and internationally. When comparing flight costs, it is best to use a search engine, such as Kayak or Skyscanner, to get the best deals. Additionally, many airlines give discounts to students and senior citizens.
  • Bus Travel

  • Intercity buses are an economical way for travelers to get around – typically, a one-way ticket from one city to another can be purchased for around 30 USD. These buses are often much cheaper than flying and can provide a great way to explore multiple cities at once.
  • Local Transportation

  • Since public transportation varies from state to state, it is important for visitors to plan ahead so they know which mode of transport best suits their needs. In most larger cities the public transport networks will include subway (underground), light rail (trams or streetcars) or bus systems. Using a route-planning app like CityMapper or Google Maps before heading out is a great way to become familiar with the fare system as well as routes of public transport in any city you’re visiting.

Travel Safety When Visiting the US

Visiting the United States for the first time can be a thrilling adventure, but it’s important to take certain steps to ensure your safety during your travels.

  • Visas and ESTAs

  • Before entering the US, you might need to apply for a tourist visa, depending on your place of origin. Make careful to start planning early because this procedure could take several months. In order to submit an online application for admission into the US, it’s a good idea to look into the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) of the US.
  • Tipping Culture

  • When visiting the US, it is crucial to comprehend and respect the culture of tipping. Tipping is prevalent in bars, restaurants, and for other services like taxi rides and hair appointments; some tips can be quite substantial (up to 20–30%).
  • Travel Health Kit

  • It’s always vital to pack a travel health kit with any drugs you might need while away from home, including both prescription and over-the-counter items like ibuprofen and antihistamines. Verify that you have extra copies of each prescription with you just in case!


Things to Do in USA – Activities and Attractions

The United States of America offers a wide variety of attractions and activities for first-time tourists to explore. From the majestic national parks, historic landmarks, and city attractions to outdoor activities, festivals, and cultural experiences – there’s no shortage of amazing things to do.

  • National Parks

The USA has an abundance of stunning national parks, from the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Yosemite in California, to Yellowstone in Wyoming and Everglades in Florida. These parks are great for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views and plenty of activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing.

  • City Attractions

From the bright lights of New York City to the Hollywood Hills – cities across the US have something unique to offer. Take a tour of some historical sites such as The White House or Alamo Monument in Texas or get your thrills at world-famous attractions like Disneyland or Universal Studios.

  • Historical Sites

Tourists can also visit some well-known historical sites such as The Statue of Liberty or Independence Hall in Philadelphia – where the American Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776.

  • Festivals

The US is home to a variety of vibrant festivals – from music festivals like Coachella Valley Music Festival and Burning Man Festival to cultural events like Native American Pow Wows and Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. There’s something for everyone!

Where to Eat When Traveling in the US?

Exploring America for the first time presents a unique opportunity to get to know the culture, cuisine, and culinary innovations of the United States. While you may be used to sticking to the same recipes and flavors back home, there are so many different places to try out when traveling around the USA.

When it comes to food, it’s important to think not only about what is delicious but also what is healthy. Luckily, most major cities in the US have great options for both healthy bites and indulgent treats. Here are some tips for finding food on your trip:

  • Seek out farmers markets and local eateries that use fresh ingredients and cater to dietary needs.
  • Ask your hotel if they have a mini-fridge in your room—this will allow you to stock up on snacks for long days of sightseeing.
  • Follow food safety rules when eating out or getting takeout. Make sure your food is hot and any necessary containers are sealed properly.

Remember that one of the best ways to experience a new culture is through its cuisine—so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Essential Apps to Use During Your United States Trip

Technology has made traveling around the United States easier than ever before. There are plenty of apps out there that can help make your time in the States a much smoother and more enjoyable experience.

  • TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a great way to research hotels, restaurants, and attractions while planning your trip. With thousands of reviews and ratings, you’ll be able to make informed decisions on where to stay, eat, and play based on what other travelers have experienced. With the app, you can also book almost anything related to travel such as plane tickets, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more.

  • Google Maps & Waze

Google Maps is the go-to for most travelers when it comes to navigating around a new place. It’s easy to use and provides detailed information on how long it takes to reach a destination via public transportation or car, making it indispensable for your first-time trip in the US. Waze is another great navigation app: it features real-time traffic alerts for congestion avoidance and helps you find the cheapest gas prices along your route.

  • Cheap Flights/Rental Cars & Other Travel Apps

If you conduct your research manually, it can take a while to find affordable flights and rental cars. Fortunately, there are apps that can simplify this procedure, like Skyscanner or Hotels Combined. These platforms enable users to search for flights across multiple airlines, allowing them to swiftly compare prices and conveniently book their ticket.


Exploring America for the first time can be daunting, but a well-thought-out plan and the right preparation will ensure that your trip is enjoyable, safe and stress-free.

  1. Getting your passport and making sure it’s valid for at least six months after your arrival in the US.
  2. Consider doing a road trip or an overland adventure; you’ll get to see more of the country this way, as well as save on airfare.
  3. Make sure you secure an ESTA (for visa waiver countries) or a visa to enter the US.

Learning about different cultures and cuisines is also part of the adventure. To truly experience America, take some time to explore each city’s unique offerings, from local restaurants to historic landmarks. With a bit of research and planning, your US excursion can be memorable and exciting!


For first-time visitors, exploring America may be a full-on adventure. from the well-known Washington, D.C., landmarks. A trip to the US is an extraordinary experience, from the wide-open spaces of the Grand Canyon. Planning ahead and planning can help first-time travelers have a more pleasurable and stress-free journey.

Visiting the US provides you with the exceptional chance to fully immerse yourself in a diverse range of experiences because it is a melting pot of various cultures. Begin planning your trip to the US by learning about the top attractions, transportation options, and lodging options.