The USA is full of exciting attractions and vibrant cities, and seeing it all can be a challenge. We share how to plan your first trip to the USA, so you can visit with ease.
Planning a trip to the USA requires careful consideration and preparation. This guide will help you navigate through the various aspects involved in making your first trip a memorable one.
How to plan your first trip to the USA
Visa Requirements and Documentation
Ensure you have the necessary travel documents, including a valid passport and any required visas. Check the U.S. Department of State website for detailed information on visa requirements and the application process. If you will need a visa, the digital application should be done as soon as possible, as this process may take some time depending on the country you are applying from.
Setting a Budget for the USA
Determine your budget for the trip, considering factors such as accommodation, transportation, meals, activities, and souvenirs. Research the cost of living in different cities to plan your expenses accordingly. Once you have chosen your destination, it’s easier to determine how much time and money you will need to cover it all.
Booking Flights to the USA
The earliest you know when your trip is, the cheaper it will be to book affordable flights. Compare prices across different airlines or use flight search engines, such as Kayak or Kiwi. Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts.
Accommodation Options for the USA
Choose accommodation that suits your needs and budget. Options range from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, vacation rentals, and even camping sites. Research the location, amenities, and reviews before making a reservation.
Getting around the USA
Decide on the mode of transportation you’ll use during your trip. Consider renting a car for flexibility, or explore public transportation options like trains, buses, or domestic flights. Familiarize yourself with the transportation systems of the cities you’ll be visiting. You may be able to download their local apps for your convenience.
Creating an Itinerary
Plan your itinerary based on the duration of your trip and the activities you wish to engage in. Allocate sufficient time to explore each destination, allowing for flexibility and relaxation. Include both popular attractions and off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Best places to visit in the USA
New York City, New York
New York City is a must-visit destination known for its towering skyscrapers, bustling streets, and world-famous attractions. Experience the crazy energy of Times Square, visit the Statue of Liberty, explore Central Park, and immerse yourself in the cultural melting pot of diverse neighborhoods like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
You can’t miss getting tickets to a Broadway show. It’s worth its price!
San Francisco, California
San Francisco captivates visitors with its picturesque setting, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and charming neighborhoods. Take a ride on a historic cable car, explore the vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf, visit Alcatraz Island, and enjoy the stunning views from Twin Peaks.
Don’t miss the chance to indulge in delicious cuisine and explore the unique culture of this West Coast gem.
Chicago offers a blend of stunning architecture, a hipster art scene, and a thriving food culture. It’s a must to see Chicago from the Willis Tower Skydeck, take an architecture river cruise along the Chicago River, explore the Millennium Park, and indulge in deep-dish pizza.
If you are into art, then definitely visit the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a city rich in history, music, and cool street life. Feel alive in the lively atmosphere of the French Quarter, visit the famous Preservation Hall for live jazz performances, savor the unique Creole and Cajun cuisine, and join in the festivities of Mardi Gras.
If you have time, explore the historic Garden District and take a steamboat ride along the Mississippi River.
As the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. offers a wealth of historical and cultural landmarks. Visit the iconic National Mall, home to the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and numerous Smithsonian museums.
Explore the grandeur of the White House, Capitol Hill, and the solemnity of the National World War II Memorial. The city also boasts beautiful cherry blossom displays during the spring season.
Best attractions in the USA
Grand Canyon, Arizona
One of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Carved by the Colorado River, this immense canyon offers panoramic vistas of colorful rock formations that have been shaped over millions of years.
Hike along the rim, take a scenic helicopter tour, or trek through the canyon itself for an unforgettable experience.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
This Park is a true gem of the United States, renowned for its geothermal features, stunning landscapes, and diverse wildlife. Witness the iconic Old Faithful geyser erupt, explore the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring, and feel inspired at the majestic Yellowstone Falls.
The park also offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and camping.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Admire the towering granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, hike to the majestic Yosemite Falls, and explore the ancient giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove.
The park’s breathtaking landscapes, including lush valleys, serene meadows, and pristine lakes, make it the place to be for nature lovers.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Home to the highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. This vast wilderness offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains, sweeping tundra, and abundant wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, and caribou.
Take a scenic bus tour, go hiking, or try your hand at mountaineering in this pristine Alaskan landscape.
Niagara Falls, New York
Sharing the border between the United States and Canada is a magnificent natural wonder that deserves a spot on any traveler’s list. Witness the thunderous power of the cascading waterfalls as millions of gallons of water plunge over the cliffs every minute.
Take a boat tour to experience the falls up close or explore the surrounding parkland for stunning views.
Best things to do in the USA
Planning your first trip to the USA is an exciting plan. By conducting thorough research, understanding visa requirements, setting a budget, and creating a well-structured itinerary, you can make your journey smooth and enjoyable.
Chances are you will want to return to the US since there are infinite things to see and do, so don’t worry much about choosing the right place your first time. They are all worth visiting!
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.