How you can plan your dream journey to the USA of America

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Have you been dreaming of a trip to the USA but don’t know where to start when it comes to planning? Then you are in the right place.

We know how difficult it can be to plan a trip to the USA, especially if you’ve never done it before. We have visited the US several times, including a 12-month US road trip, and have now lived here for several years.

Family next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign
Smoky Mountains National Park, USA

We’ve learned many things over the years about traveling in the USA that we wish we had known when planning our trips. Things like how to get around, how to save money, and what attractions not to miss.

We know firsthand that planning a trip to one of the largest countries in the world can be stressful, so to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes we did, we’re sharing our expert tips on how to plan a trip to the USA below…

How many days are enough to visit the USA?

Little girl looks out at the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park
Views of Kerry Park in Seattle

Before you can get into the planning stage, you need to ask yourself how much time you need to spend in the USA.

America is a huge, amazingly diverse country with a lot of diversity Things to do and places to visitSo you’ll need to create a list of the attractions that are on this bucket list before you can start planning USA trip.

Knowing the sights you want to see will help you decide how many days you need to spend.

If you would like to see White Housethe statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Vegas And Death Valley – Well my friend, these attractions are spread all over the country and it won’t be easy to fit them into one trip, unless you have a lot of time.

So we advise you to split the trip into the East Coast and the West Coast, and take each trip separately or allocate plenty of time to yourself.

If you do it this way, we recommend spending 2-3 weeks exploring the East Coast or West Coast. If you want to see all the major attractions and then some, set aside at least 2-3 months.

We spent an entire year traveling around the USA and we still haven’t seen everything. It’s really impossible to say how much time you should spend in America, because it depends on what you want to see and how much you want to see.

How do I plan a trip to the USA?

USA Travel Tips - 11 tips to plan your dream trip to the USA.  Click inside for important tips about traveling to the USA.
statue of Liberty

After you’ve considered how much time you have and what sights you want to see, it’s time to start the bulk of the planning.

In this guide, we’ve taken steps from… Tips for planning any trip I divided it into planning a trip to America.

1. Obtaining tourist visas for the United States of America

Abraham Lincoln Memorial - Washington, DC
lincoln memorial, Washington, DC

There are many different visa options for the USA and the one you choose will depend largely on where you are traveling from and how long you plan to stay.

They also have different visa requirements for different countries, so it’s best to do so Check the official website of the consulate Let’s see what applies to you.

Here’s a brief overview of each one.

ESTA visas – US Visa Waiver Program

ESTA is the most widely used visa for foreigners. For Australians and those living in the UK and other European countries, obtaining a tourist visa to visit the USA is very simple. You can get a 90-day visa exemption, now known as thisConnected.

This US visa, for citizens of Australia and other eligible countries, is not a visa in itself but a travel permit. This means that you can only travel with it – and do not use it for any other purpose such as remote work.

It is easy to get a US ESTA visa, Fill out a simple application formand wait for the documents to appear in your email.

You can apply for an ETSA at any time before boarding, but it is best to do so at least 72 hours in advance.

It is very important that you have an ESTA and a record of your approval number. Keep the papers with you (just in case) when you leave.

You will be asked if you have your ESTA during check-in and will not be allowed to board without it.

We’ve been caught before and they wouldn’t let us past the check-in desk until we found our ESTA approval number.

If you want to stay in the USA for longer than 90 days, or if you also plan to visit neighboring countries, the US visa situation is a bit complicated.

Important: Once you land in the United States of America, your 90 days start ticking away, and that’s what happens no Reset if you cross the border Canada, Mexico Or the Caribbean.

And remember, if you stop in… Hawaii On your way to the mainland USA, you begin your 90 days in Hawaii.

It is very important that you plan your trip accordingly otherwise you may be deported for overstaying your visa!

Girl on hotel balcony looking at the view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in the distance
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

The ESTA is valid for two years, which means you get multiple entries on one visa, but you must leave a reasonable amount of time between your 90-day visits so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to live in America.

Be sure to keep a record of your ESTA number. You can always check it online to see how recent it is.

Other US visas

If you want to stay longer in the United States, you will have to look at other US tourist visas or non-immigrant visas.

We previously lived in the USA on a J1 and J2 work visa when I was a school teacher North Carolina. We also lived in the US on a 01 work visa, but are now green card permanent residents.

A family poses on top of a cliff with views of the Pacific Ocean beyond at Torrey Pines Nature Preserve
Explore Torrey Pines State Park San Diego, California

But I think you are preparing your trip to the US purely as a tourist, so an ESTA visa is sufficient.

If you are applying for visas other than ESTA that require passport photos, read the photo instructions carefully and talk to the photographer beforehand to make sure he or she takes them correctly.

It is very different and specific and will not be accepted if it is not accurate.

Do you want someone to help you apply for a US visa? Check here…

Need a USA visa

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2. Check the validity of your passport

Don’t forget to check your passport now to make sure it is at least six months valid at the time of travel, otherwise you will not be able to travel to the United States.

You also need to have two blank pages in your passport for the entry stamp.

3. Planning your itinerary to the United States of America

Old building in NOLA with purple wreaths hanging down
french quarter, New Orleans

America is roughly the same size as Australia, but unlike Australia, the interior is also filled with many things to do.

Careful research and planning will help you create the USA travel experience of your dreams.

Think about what you really want to see and do. Do you focus on:

One of the reasons we explored the USA in depth was to help future travelers see that there is so much more to America than just that Angels And Vegas or Disneyland.

To be honest, these three places are at the bottom of my list of reasons to travel to the US. More traps and tourist traps of the soul.

This is just my opinion (formed after living here for over 5 years and many US travel experiences) so take what you will from that.

I can understand why you always dreamed of going there the And Vegas, by all means plan it into your itinerary, but there are a lot of interesting places to see in the USA!

Consider unique and exciting destinations such as nashville, New York, New Orleans, Washington, DCand fascinating southern East Coast cities rich in history and culture Charleston and Savannah.

People standing on bridge with city skyline
Fun family trip to Nashville, Tennessee country music

My favorite states for exploring natural beauty are Utah (For Monument Valley) And Colorado.

Make sure you have a list of attractions you should see first. Some of the bucket list things to do in the US are…

Once you have a list of the attractions you really want to see, it’s time to plan your attractions USA itinerary – Here’s how to put your own itinerary together…

Write down how many days you have

Family in a boat with snorkeling gear during photography
Scallops in Steinhatchee

As you know, the Visa Waiver Program offers you a maximum of 90 days (12 weeks), but not all of us are lucky to have 3 months off from work!

Are you like most people who get a standard 4 weeks of annual leave? Or just two weeks?

Whatever amount of time you have, start by writing down the number of days you have available on the list, and then you can start arranging your attractions by proximity.

You can usually travel domestically to different major cities, and then Rent a car To drive to the places you want to visit. Factor in a day of travel between major attractions as travel takes a lot of time in America.

To help you, here Example of 2-4 week itineraries:

Find activities and other things to do in the USA

A family walks through Diagon Alley at Universal Attractions at Orlando Studios
Universal Orlando – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Once you have your list of attractions on your itinerary, you can start mapping out the rest of your itinerary with other attractions and things to do.

Remember that the USA is the third most populous country in the world, and the popularity of the USA as a travel destination can mean long lines and overbooked tours.

Therefore, it is important that once you have planned your USA itinerary and found some attractions and things to do, that you look for the best way to book those activities and attractions that you do not want to miss!

Provide a list of:

  • Free things to do
  • Gardens and playgrounds
  • Best for walking
  • Day tours/city tours

Most of the time, you can book them in advance using Get Your Guide or Viator.

It is wise to book in advance, especially if you are traveling in high season. Some attractions like Alcatraz It can take a few days to tour.

Craig’s sister booked her Grand Canyon accommodation a year in advance to ensure she’d get a dream cabin stay.

I would highly recommend Fast Passes at theme parks for places like Disneyland and Universal Orlando Resort (You will spend a lot of time in queues.)

How to find things to do

People on the huge roller coaster are diving
Hulk coster in Islands of AdventureUniversal Orlando

To get ideas on things to do in your destination, use these resources:

  • Tourism Board websites
  • Ask family and friends who were there
  • Travel blogs like ours (see our blogs USA destinations to divide)
  • Facebook (posted an update asking for advice)
  • Twitter (hashtag)
  • Guide books (we use Lonely Planet guide books)
  • Instagram (hashtags)
  • TripAdvisor website
  • Hotel receptionist/bell boy (when they arrive on site they are invaluable)

Doing careful research on things to do in the USA and popular attractions in the USA will save you time and money and help you find amazing places like this rooftop bar in Downtown Los Angeles.

People taking selfies at Perch Rooftop Bar with views of downtown La at sunset
Sunset from Perch Rooftop Bar Downtown Los Angeles

For most people, flying to the USA is not a great idea.

We tend to go with the flow a lot, but we have time on our side and we live in the countryside. We have more flexibility.

You might also consider some free things to do during your trip, like visiting Times Square or… Central Park in New York City.

My parents visited in May and we planned a 4 week road trip from Dallas to Boston Including booking accommodation and activities and putting it all into a Google Drive spreadsheet so we can collaborate and plan together.

Get tickets for sightseeing

For places like New York City has a lot of attractions, so New York sightseeing card It will save you a lot of money – especially the ones that have fast passes. We’ve also saved money by using… New Orleans Sightseeing Card And on this one The most important tourist attractions in San Francisco.

Check for other city permits here.

There are also USA sightseeing passes, which give you access to attractions in multiple destinations. It can save you a lot of money. Click here to see more.

4. Book accommodation in the United States of America

Aerial view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the river
Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

Now you’ve decided on your itinerary, it’s time to start booking accommodation. You have endless options for Residency in the United States of America.

From hotels to motels, resorts, apartments, vacation homes, inns, campgrounds, vacation rentals and more!

But mostly, the United States is a corporate hotel chain experience.

If we’re staying in a destination for a long time, we love apartments or suites that have kitchen facilities to save on the costs of dining out, as well as separate bedrooms! We reserve our apartment for the rest Willow or

If it’s just one or two nights, hotels are fine.

Travelers on a budget will find hotels, motels, resorts and B&Bs to be the best choice, and can be easily booked online through sites like, or Hostels are not a big thing in America, there are some, but not many. Check for options

An aerial view of the lodge on Lake Lure, North Carolina
We went down (Lake Lure, North Carolina).

Low-cost hotels and motel chains are Days Inn and Super 8, which are usually located on the outskirts of cities and near highways.

They’re not glamorous and will have basic amenities, but they usually come with free parking, free Wi-Fi, and a breakfast consisting mostly of bagels, toast, and sugary cereals.

Craig and I used to stay at these places all the time and would do so if we just needed a place to stay on a long road trip.

Don’t forget vacation rentals, Which has become a bit of a painful experience now in the US due to the addition of excess cleaning fees on top of state and bed taxes.

We’ve found that vacation rentals are the best deal if you’re staying for multiple nights. Cleaning fees are too high to justify a one night stay. Maybe it would be cheaper to find a hotel.

Make sure you do your research to compare costs accurately.

As mentioned before, due to the high numbers of residents and tourists, it is wise to book your accommodation in advance, especially if you are traveling in high season or popular cities.

If you decide to camp, Stay in the hostelor make an RV, you’ll probably be fine flying it.

Campsites can be reserved in high season, especially in popular national parks! Campgrounds at KOA Very popular with families.

5. Flying to and around the USA

Girls look at the plane
Flying Hawaiian Airlines

When traveling to America from Australia, we prefer to fly into Dulles International Airport (DFW).

Dallas is best if you’re traveling to the East Coast because it puts you closer and often means fewer plane changes to get to your destination on the East Coast.

If you’re exploring the West Coast, it’s best to fly into Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).

Air travel can be stressful if you are flying directly from Australia without stopping Recovering from jet lag.

Traveling to the USA from Australia takes approximately 13 hours (to Los Angeles) and 16 hours (to Dallas).

Plan plenty of time between calls

Plan plenty of time between your trips so you can make your connections.

No, two hours is not enough time to get off an international flight in Los Angeles or San Francisco And get your home connection!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run through different airports in the US, especially with kids!

When you clear immigration, you must pick up your luggage and go through security again for your connecting flight, even if you are at the same airport.

In the United States, they do not have separate domestic and international airports. They’re staying in the same section, which means no water bottles (loaded with water) and long, chaotic security lines.

Be prepared to undress – lose your shoes, belts and jackets.

Sunset over the beach
Sunset on Pacific Beach in San Diego

When traveling between major cities, you can usually get direct flights. Otherwise, there is a greater possibility that you will have to change planes.

Factor this into your itinerary and travel time.

Immigration to the United States was often slow.

LAX has improved somewhat with my recent posts, but it seems like most international flights coming into LA land at the same time early in the morning!

Parents, alert!

A family sits in Extra Comfort seats bound for Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines

If you have young children, make sure they go to the toilet on the plane and are fed, as you will be standing in long lines to clear customs!

We know what it’s like to get off a long flight with a tired, grumpy, hungry child who always needs to go to the toilet at inopportune times! (Check our Tips for flying with kids)

For us, Dallas was the best of the best. Fewer flights land at once, and faster through immigration.

Be friendly and polite with customs officials. Even though you have an ESTA or tourist visa, final entry permission is up to customs officials.

Search for flights to the USA

Hundreds of small flags on the grass in front of the memorial in Boston Commons
Boston Common On Memorial Day

Checks Sky Scanner, KayakOr Momondo to find great deals on flights to the USA. Then go directly to the airlines website.

Don’t forget to contact your local travel agent. They can have great deals.

My parents saved $900 on their trips to the US by going into the airline just to check out, and there was a surprise discount.

Domestic flights within the United States are frequent, and you can fly almost anywhere. They are competitively priced, although I find them a little more expensive than they used to be.

But they are known to charge you extra fees, such as baggage.

You’ll have to pay $25 to check in any baggage — and you won’t get any baggage allowance unless you have status.

Some airlines, such as United Airlines, will charge you a fee for overhead baggage on the plane.

Unlike Australia, they do not weigh your checked baggage. Now I understand how a large number of travelers in the United States can do this Carry-on baggage only.

Major airlines include:

You can book through their websites, or compare prices and book using sites like

Look for package deals

When booking a flight to the USA, package deals can be a low-stress option for travelers who don’t want to organize their flights, accommodation and ground transportation separately.

For comprehensive deals including flights, hotels and car rentals, visit a website like And travel agents.

If you book your ticket from Australia, including domestic transportation in one booking, you will not have to pay extra for your baggage on domestic flights.

6. Getting around the USA (aside from flying)

USA Travel Tips - 11 tips to plan your dream trip to the USA.  Click inside now for travel tips for traveling to America
Vermont Route 100

Flying domestically can be a nightmare. With long lines and delays, sometimes it may be better to reach your destinations in other ways.

I understand the importance of security but dealing with increased security and chaotic airports due to large populations has taken away the fun of flying.

We prefer a road trip in the USA as much as possible.

Our general rule is that if the destination is less than four to six hours, we’ll drive.

We recently traveled from Raleigh, North Carolina To NYC (8 hour drive) because it was cheaper for our family of four than flying, even with the expensive parking tickets and tolls!

A classic American road trip is always fun because there are so many quirky roadside attractions and great places to visit in America.

Train travel in the USA

Train next to the ocean
Amtrak Surfliner. Image by

Traveling by train is not the most popular way to get around the USA but it is a good option if you plan to visit most cities on your trip.

Trains connecting American cities are operated by Amtrak. You can buy Amtrak train tickets online or at the stations. The earlier you book, the better deal you get. You can book up to 11 months in advance.

Amtrak also offers Railroad corridors in the United States of America For 15, 30 or 45 days.

If you have the time, it is possible to cross the country by train, and see much more than you would from a plane.

Traveling by bus in the USA

Buses and coaches operate between major cities and serve some rural areas.

Saluki hunting dog It is the largest provider, covering all 48 states plus Canada and Mexico.

Tickets can be purchased online, at bus stations, by phone or in some convenience stores. You can get online booking deals sometimes. I rode a greyhound once and that was enough.

Mega busis a cheap bus service that often receives praise, mostly due to the amazing deals you can get.

It’s worth it when you can get a deal like this. They serve more than 100 cities.

USA road trips and car rentals

A car driving on the road
Vermont in the fall

Unless you’re visiting major cities like New York or Chicago, America is truly a driving destination.

But to be honest, when you visit the USA, you will have a better experience in most places when you take a road trip to the USA with your own car.

We have always found the best car rental deals in the USA with (Using it since 2007).

Although car rentals can be expensive, the good news is that gas is cheap!

  • Be sure to check with the rental company on delivery for fuel costs – sometimes you can get a great price if you purchase a tank of fuel on delivery. This way you can return it empty and insure yourself from being late and not being able to top up the fuel and thus paying the premium price.
  • GPS might be a good ad on the service if you have limited WiFi on your phone and can’t access Google Maps. (What did we do before Google Maps – oh, that’s right, paper maps!)
  • List all drivers in the rental agreement (you may have to pay for each additional driver)
  • Although you may pay extra, sometimes one-way delivery can work to your advantage.
  • Make sure you carefully inspect your car and note any defects you see before you leave with your rental car. Take pictures with your phone.

Look out for toll costs – We paid almost $60 in tolls driving from North Carolina to New England on Interstate 95. We weren’t expecting that at all, so you have been warned.

I-95 between DC and New England is terrible.

Check the law in the country You are visiting to find out if you will need an international driving licence.

We never needed one, but we often drove our own car or had a US driver’s license. It’s better to know for sure.

Important information about car rental overpayments
Car on Skyline Drive Vermont during the fall

You may stumble upon an incredibly cheap car rental deal online for your USA road trip, but when you arrive to pick up the car, you learn that it has minimal insurance coverage and huge excess fees.

You will be offered collision damage waiver policies that can double your daily rate. Not such a big deal anyway.

We’ve encountered this before, arriving after a long flight, tired and confused and saying yes (with a grunt) without realizing we could get it cheaper elsewhere.

Car rental companies know this will happen, and this way they lure you in with cheaper daily rental rates.

You can get a cheaper collision damage waiver (or excess waivers) through other insurance providers.

A winding road through the snow-capped mountains of Colorado
on the way to Snow mass in Colorado

Bus tours and group tours

If a bus tour is your thing, or independent small group tours in the USA, check out these companies:

  • Insight Holidays – Every part of the United States of America, from east to west, and from north to south.
  • Trafalgar – Bus tours for the age group from 35 to 65 years.
  • Adventures of J – Small group tours in a responsible and sustainable manner.

The Globus family of brands has amazing tours across the USA visiting all the destinations on the list. We have traveled with them on numerous occasions And I love them. We have an exclusive discount for you in the blue box below! See USA tours:

Globus discount just for you!

We got an exclusive discount on yTravelR: Save $100 per person On select holidays in 2023 and 2024 from Globus and Avalon Waterway. Use the code: YTRAVEL When booking online at Globus, UniverseAnd Avalon Waterways websites, by contacting Globus and Avalon Waterways directly, or booking with your preferred travel advisor. Terms and conditions.

7. Sim cards and data plans

Golding man phone next to coffee

You’ll want to stay connected during your trip, but before you buy the first data plan you see at the airport, the biggest question you’ll want to ask yourself is; How online do you want to be and for what purposes?

If you just need to connect to stay up to date with family, friends and social updates, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in the US with a wealth of free Wi-Fi available.

In fact, you can probably get away with using this throughout your trip, even if you want to stay connected a little longer.

Almost all hotels and rental accommodations now offer free Wi-Fi.

It will have a lot of cafes and restaurants, even grocery stories, movie theaters and sometimes entire cities!!

Popular attractions will do this too, because they want you to share your photos of their attractions (with their hashtags, of course).

However, remember that the more visitors in an area use the same Wi-Fi network, the harder it will be to get decent speeds.

And for Netflix viewers, your downloads are often limited to free Wi-Fi.

While we’ve stayed at plenty of hotels that offer Netflix as part of their services, many Airbnb’s will tie it all into their home entertainment systems.

If you’re using free Wi-Fi, we recommend using a VPN to keep your data private and secure. We have a review of this service here.

If you want a SIM card for your phone, don’t bother trying to get one in the USA, just use an eSim provider like Airalo. They offer amazing prices and data packages, and once you’re there you’ll be online. You do need an unlocked phone though. See all USA plans here.

Pocket Wi-Fi and data providers

If you want to get a data plan, Go to a US Verizon store (best service connection) or AT&T and with a local sim card with a short term plan.

When we visited Denver on a short trip, we got a $60 plan that gave us unlimited Wi-Fi and local calls and texts for the entire month. This was in 2016, and it will likely be more expensive now.

Data in the US is ridiculously expensive. Compared to the UK, Asia and Europe, data prices are more than double what you would pay in your home country – and frankly, the service isn’t always that good.

Data plans typically cost between $60-$80 per month, so if you’re a heavy internet user, you might be better off getting pocket Wi-Fi via a sim card. There are two options:

Roam devices like SkyRoam will get you that, although I feel they can be a little pricey for travelers who are on holiday for an extended period of time.

Double check when you sign up for any plan, but the plan may include free text messages to international numbers.

Our plans with Verizon do this, which is great when I quickly want to tell my mom something.

8. Access your money on your trip to the USA

A tall waterfall surrounded by green forests
Akaka Falls, Big Island of Hawaii

Access to your money in the US will depend in part on what type of cards you have in your country.

Accessing your money in America is easy because there are ATMs everywhere and, unlike Australia, everyone accepts credit and debit cards.

I rarely come across cash-only institutions. This can be good news because you won’t have to carry as much cash, and you may be able to collect some reward points.

However, this may not be good news if your card issuer charges you large fees.

Using ATM machines

Withdrawing money from an ATM in the USA that is not your bank’s ATM can have hefty fees.

The average is $3 (plus what your card issuer charges) but I’ve paid up to $6 before on a cruise. I know. Outrageous!

Check if your card issuer has a relationship with a bank in the US, so you can withdraw money from an ATM without being charged fees.

However, some banks charge international transfer fees on any money you withdraw, which is outrageous. Most will only charge it on card purchases.

As Australians, our favorite way to access money in America is Qantas Cash Card(or even Virgin Global Wallet). Both are the best when it comes to fees.

You won’t be charged anything when you use the card like a credit card and you’ll earn points.

You also have low fees when withdrawing money from ATMs. Make sure you withdraw large amounts at a time, so you don’t get hit with too many fees.

You’ll need some cash on hand when you travel to the US to pay for all these tips!

important point: If you have access to a bank account in the USA, the best way to access your money is Transfer money using OFX. It’s by far my favorite method and has saved me hundreds of dollars in fees and has good conversion rates.

You may be able to pay for accommodation and tours using OFX and pay via direct deposits.

9. The cost of traveling in America

A family standing on the Brooklyn Bridge

It’s a smart idea to know the costs of traveling in America before you leave so you can save and bring enough money for spending. A word of warning, the US is no longer the cheap destination of a decade ago.

As of 2023, prices are exorbitant. I realized how bad it was after traveling this year to Greece, Italy, And France And ours Avalon Waterways River Cruise. I had a glass of excellent chardonnay on Eiffel tower in Paris For $9 – I’d be lucky to find a cup of low-quality cat drink at my local dive bar for that price. And I got a pint of great Greek white wine for $5 The amazing ancient city of Nafplio!

Then, when you add the tip tax and sales tax, it gets even bleaker – plus many other foreign travelers have to count a solid US dollar, so your money’s worth less. I’d say I’d still visit here, but plan carefully, and don’t expect any great deals. It’s definitely at the top of the list of most expensive countries to travel to at the moment, which is sad, because it needs tourism!

Budgeting is no easy task, but don’t worry, here’s a quick overview of the likely cost of each aspect of travel…


  • Low Budget: $50-$100 per night
  • Average range: $100-$300 per night
  • High: $300+
  • Airbnb: $80+ (varies greatly by property type)


This can vary greatly depending on where you visit. Popular destinations will be much higher.

  • Fast food: <$10
  • coffee:
    • $2.50 per drip
    • $4.50+ for espresso
  • Alcohol:
    • $5 + pint of beer (look for happy hour prices and local bars to reduce)
    • $8-$16 a glass of wine
  • Healthy prepared meals: $$12 – $15
  • Restaurants:
    • Appetizers, wings, and burgers: $$8-15
    • Entree (main courses): $15-$20 ($30+ for upscale restaurants)


  • fuel: It will vary from state to state. In Arizona, it’s only $3.9 a gallon, but in California it’s $5.4 a gallon. the GasBuddy The app can help you find good fuel prices.
  • Flights: Average around $120 per leg (what we’ve seen so far, but can vary greatly)
  • Buses: As mentioned with Megabus, you can get a ride for as little as $1, but prices are also around $10. My trip with the Greyhound from Huntsville to Nashville (2 1/2 hours) was $30
  • Rented car:
    • budget: About $200 per week (good for two people + luggage). We’ve had to upgrade before when we arrived to see our budget car and realized we couldn’t fit all of our luggage. If you plan ahead, you can get a rental deal for $15 per day.
    • Medium range: almost $250 – $300 (good for 4 people + luggage)
    • High-end: almost $350 – $500
  • Train: Our 7-day unlimited ticket to ride the New York subway costs $34 per person
Ride the subway in New York City
get down!

Sightseeing costs

It’s difficult to set a budget for yourself because it depends on your preferences, your family size, the type of activity, and the city.

Take advantage of free activities (of which there are many), free museum days and attraction days, use sightseeing passes and check out to gather For any local deals.

But your careful research from Step 3 above will give you a good understanding of these costs before you leave on your dream trip to the USA.

Two things you should be aware of in your budget for your trip to the USA

1. Taxes

Sales taxes are added to the purchase price once paid.

It’s very annoying and it still surprises me. The tax varies by state, but you can expect to add anything from 0% to more than 8% of the purchase price.

2. Tips

Again, this is a cost that should be added to your bill.

As an Australian, you hate tipping and it can get expensive. We’ll have a whole post on this topic with lots of tips to help you out because it can be confusing.

Basically, you’re looking at an extra 15-20% for any services you receive.

This is one of the reasons why I prefer to stay in an Airbnb and will prepare my own food or eat out instead of restaurants. It can seriously eat up your travel money.

Verify Guide to Tipping in the USA.

10. Travel insurance for the United States of America

People white water rafting on the Colorado River

Do not travel to America without travel insurance. Just don’t do it.

A friend’s son here in North Carolina recently broke his arm. Hospital costs were $30,000. Even with their health insurance, they still had to pay several thousand dollars.

It’s crazy.

Anything can happen during your travels and the last thing you want is for your dream trip to the USA to turn into a bankruptcy nightmare.

For a small investment, you get a lot of security and peace of mind.

We always say,

“If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”

The United States is the only country in the world where I have lost my luggage or been delayed during a flight multiple times.

Flights can also be delayed due to weather (especially in snow storms), and it is very easy to miss a connecting flight, especially when flying to America from Australia.

Make sure to include any additional adventurous activities you may be doing so you can ensure coverage is adequate, for example skiing.

And name any pre-existing conditions so you can include a waiver if you need assistance when traveling to the USA.

important point: Get your travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and/or accommodation so that you are protected in the event of any trip cancellation emergencies.

Woman stand-up paddleboarding in Mission Bay
San Diego, California

What happens if:

  • You need to cancel your flight unexpectedly
  • Hurricane destroys your destination
  • You get sick or injured during your trip
  • Your luggage is lost or stolen
  • Lose your passport

All travel insurance policies will be US specific and will cost more than travel in other countries.

We were an Allianz Travel Insurance customer before becoming Ambassadors and were impressed with the customer service.

We experienced a very smooth claims process due to the interruption of our cruise line thanks to Hurricane Irma.

I also spent some time with the Allianz team in New York last month, learning more about the products and emergency medical assistance.

I was very impressed with the quality of care and focus on client safety and health. It is Allianz’s first priority.

We recommend the following travel insurance companies for Australians:

  • Safety suite: It is travel medical insurance for Bedouins. They cover people from all over the world, while outside their home country.
  • recline: Travel insurance for traveling around the world. Easy to use with comparable rates and instant policies. Great for long term travelers, nomads and travelers working abroad. We think it’s an essential travel purchase.
  • Coverage – More insurance It is a great travel insurance option for Australians.
  • Visitor coverage: Which provides travel insurance to millions of travelers around the world in more than 175 countries. They are the largest provider of visitor insurance for domestic travel to the United States
  • Allianz travel insurance. we’ve got Annual travel insurance policies With Allianz. It’s really worth getting an annual insurance policy if you travel frequently.
  • Bedouin world Travel insurance is designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for over 150 activities plus emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellations and more.

11. What to pack for your trip to the USA

A woman stands outside the hotel with a bag
Inside the New York Nomad Hotel, New York City

This will depend on what season you are visiting the US, and how long you are staying.

But in general, you do not need to pack a lot of luggage for your trip to the United States.

North America can be cheap for many travel-related items, so you can always pick up anything you forget.

Leave room in your bag for shopping as you can find some great shopping offers in US stores. Then there Amazon!

However, depending on the Australian dollar rates at the time of your travel, shopping may not be as good.

You’ll know the basics of what you usually pack when traveling, so I won’t go into too much depth here.

Tips for visiting the United States of America

Now that you know how to plan your trip to the USA, here are some helpful tips to make the most of your experience…

  • Bring any prescriptions you may need. You don’t want to repackage it in the US. We have a medical packing checklist here.
  • Ladies, in the United States, tampons are usually the disposable type. Bring your own if you don’t like them. Otherwise, you can get it in All foods stores and Trader Joe’s.
  • Electrical transformers and voltage. this International travel plug adapter Allows you to connect your charger, phone and laptop. USA operates with a supply voltage of 120V and 60Hz. It can be dangerous to use an electrical device that is rated at a different voltage than the mains supply and may affect the performance of your devices. For example, your laptops will be much slower to charge. You may need to use a Voltage transformer or transformer While in the USA.
  • Even if you are traveling in the summer, be sure to bring a cardigan or jacket. Americans are obsessed with air conditioning, so you’ll freeze when you step inside.
  • Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes and hiking boots (more Tips on finding the right travel shoes here). America is full of great cities and exceptional outdoor activities. You’ll be using those feet a lot – at least I hope you will.

Final thoughts on planning a trip to the USA

People walking alpacas
Walking with alpacas in Virginia

So, here are 11 things to consider when planning your trip to the USA.

I know it can be stressful at first, but planning can be fun once you start researching all the places to see.

My final piece of advice to you is to make sure you do this research as early as possible, to allow yourself time to make changes and get all your ducks in a row.

And of course, if you have any further questions, hit us up in the comments – we’re always happy to help!

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We hope you found our USA Trip Planner post helpful? If you have any questions or travel tips for visiting the USA, please leave them in the comments section below!

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