The Best Ways To Explore The United States

28 March 2014

Discover your own slice of Americana by exploring this mammoth country by air, road or bike. From the classic road trip to a diverse range of tours, here's how you can get acquainted with the United States, whatever your travelling style.

 Taking a bus tour is one option to explore America

Hire a car
Hiring you own wheels is the only way to experience the thrill of a classic American road trip. To rent a vehicle, most companies require that you are at least 25 years old and have a valid driver’s licence (Australian driver licenses are widely accepted). Rental companies abound, so chat to your travel expert for the best deal and always check that adequate insurance is included to cover your rental vehicle. 

Book a bus
If you can’t rent a car, the next-best plan is to take a bus, either on a long-distance Greyhound service between major towns and cities or a local service to smaller locations. For long-distance tickets, lock them in at least seven days in advance for the best price. If you’re travelling with a buddy, take advantage of Greyhound’s companion fares, where the second (and third) traveller can receive 50% off with a three-day advanced purchase.

Take a flight
If you’re short on time, the best way to get around the States is by air. The US boasts an extensive air network that services nearly every destination. While all the major airlines fly throughout the country, there are also a number of budget airlines such as Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines. Speak to one of Flight Centre's airfare expert as sometimes the best price does not always mean the best flights. Don’t forget to double-check your arrival time too, as some of the cheaper flights will have you touching down in the middle of the night or departing before the sun rises. 

Board a train
The US has a limited rail system, but it proves a pleasurable way to get from A to B. It’s essential to book tickets as far in advance as possible as there are no standard fares and the price is dependent on how many tickets have already sold; similar to how airfares work. Reservations are generally required, so don’t consider the train if you’re a spontaneous traveller. The easiest way to book continual travel is by buying a USA Rail Pass for 15, 30 or 45 days of travel on the Amtrak system which covers a vast majority of the country.

Join a tour
It's no secret that the US is huge, so why not consider a tour to make the most of your time? You can book everything from the 'Philly on Tap' beer-lovers day tour that takes in the sights, sounds and brews of Philadelphia, or head off on a 44-day Best of the USA tour through the country’s major cities and national parks. Tours are a great way for solo travellers or those who’d prefer not to drive themselves, to meet other people and see more of the States. Often they are more cost effective than trying to organise your own way, as accommodation is normally included. 

Ride your bike
If you’re happy to stick to the back roads, getting around the US by bicycle is an awesome way to explore the country. Bikes are cheap to buy and easy to sell, so consider buying yours once you arrive. Alternatively, you can rent bikes once on the ground, although for long-term rentals you’ll need a credit card and authorisation for several hundred dollars. When planning your route remember that bikes aren’t allowed on freeways. Most bus and train companies, however, will allow you to take your bike along for a small fee.

Cassie Harrex

Writer by profession and traveller by choice, you can find Cassie anywhere between the Alps and the Andes with her young family in tow. For Cassie, nothing beats the vibrancy of South America – she has lived in both Argentina and Colombia. Her passion for collecting recipes has led to a lifelong mission to discover the world one dish at a time.