The United States

No matter where you’re from you probably have heard the phrase: The American Dream. Many people emigrated to the United States to pursue happiness and a better life for their families. 

The United States has much to offer regarding nature, climate, and cultural activities. In a day’s time, you can go from the heat of the desert to the cold mountains. There are a lot of national parks to preserve nature.

Of course, we have to talk about food because there’s a lot of it. And when we say a lot we’re mostly talking about the portion size. Forget our European small sizes, they don’t exist. But the great part about bigger portions is that dinner turns into lunch!

Before you go

If your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you need to apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before departure. You have to pay a fee of $ 21.00 USD. If access to the United States is granted you’re able to stay up to 90 days.  

Things to keep in mind

In the United States, your credit card is accepted (almost) everywhere. It is the main method of payment. Sometimes you will be asked if you have a debit or credit card. 

The US dollar has both coins and notes. The coin series consists of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents, and 1 dollar.  The banknote series consists of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.  Many ATMs issue $20 as the highest bill. 

In the United States, tipping is a common practice. Whether you’re eating in a restaurant, staying in a hotel, going to the hairdressers, or hiring a guide, don’t forget to leave a tip.

In many states, the sales tax is not included in the price listed on a product. So if you buy something, keep in mind that usually a percentage is added. This sales tax varies from about 4% to 10%. It applies only to non-primary necessities of life.

Our route through the United States - 2 months

Our first road trip starts in Los Angeles, where we pick up our rental car. Via Route 66 we drive to Flagstaff, a great base for a visit to the Grand Canyon. Via the Horseshoe Bend, we drive to St. George, Utah. We only stay here for one night and because of this, we don’t have time for Zion National Park. We continue to Las Vegas, where we celebrate Kenji’s birthday. On the edge of Death Valley, we drive towards Yosemite National Park. We sleep in Fresno and can’t go to San Francisco because of the forest fires. Instead, we go to Santa Cruz, a small coastal town with a completely deserted boardwalk. Before we know it, it’s time to hand in the car and fly on to Colombia.

We start our second road trip in the United States in Fort Lauderdale. From here we drive on to the Everglades, where the damage caused by Hurricane Irma is still clearly visible. We make a stop in Naples and see dolphins from the pier! A long drive to New Orleans and therefore we spend the night in Tallahassee. In New Orleans, we enjoy the music and the beautifully decorated buildings, full of color. Unfortunately, the weather changes and we walk through Memphis in the rain, not the best way to get a good impression of the city. We quickly move on to the Great Smokey Mountains with a stopover in Cookeville. In Cherokee, we take a walk in an autumnal environment. We want to further explore the Southern charm of the United States and Charleston is the city of choice to do this. We continue to St. Augustine, one of the oldest cities in the United States with a strong fortress. Of course, Orlando cannot be missed during this road trip and we spend no less than two days in Walt Disney World. Then unfortunately our road trip has come to an end.

We fly on to New York City and have some time to catch up with old acquaintances. It turns out that we have become really cold again during a weekend in the Catskills. But for our three days of exploration in New York City itself, we’re lucky, the sun is doing its best. We visit Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Our 3 favorites things to do

Grand Canyon

When you get to the Grand Canyon you can’t quite phantom how big it is. There are several platforms where you have a nice overview. But we recommend going in to really get a sense of the enormity of this spectacle. The visitor center has information about different routes and makes sure to bring plenty of water because it gets quite hot!

Disney World

You can’t travel to the United States without visiting at least one theme park. We went to Disney World for two days, to visit the animal kingdom and Disney world itself. You can feel the magic as soon as you arrive by air train. Make a plan before you go as to what you want to do because some lines get real long real quick. Or buy a fast pass to skip all lines completely. 

New York

New York, New York, what can I say other than you have to visit it to soak it all in yourself. There is a lot to do, so if you don’t have a lot of time pick your favorites. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, visit Ellis Island, sit in the subway and just go with the flow. If you’re into shopping you won’t be disappointed either. And don’t forget about Broadway!

Where to stay

If you travel to the United States you have a lot of options of where to stay. We love Airbnb for longer stays, but we’ve stayed in motels a lot as well. It really depends on where you’re going.

Some of our favorites:

Nestled in a quiet, residential setting in Naples, Florida, this cozy motel offers convenient facilities and services just minutes from white, sandy beaches, restaurants and shopping.

Naples, Florida

Ventura Grand Inn is located in Mammoth Lakes in the California region, 3.1 mi from Mammoth Mountain. A great place to stay if you want to visit June Lake.

Mammoth Lakes, California

This New Jersey hotel is minutes from the Jersey Garden Outlet Mall and offers a free, 24-hour shuttle service to nearby Newark International Airport.

Newark, New Jersey

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