United States simple guide: a quick & easy read to get you planning!

The USA is such a massive and diverse country that there is no way every bit of information could be compiled into just one blog post. But I’ve given it a shot and broken it down a bit with this United States simple guide & I hope it will inspire you to find some American adventures of your own!

This is a country unlike any other. Because of it’s size, nearly every type of landscape and terrain can be found between the many borders of the states. The history, although not long, is unique, fascinating and has lead to several sub cultures. It spans 6 time zones and holds excitement of all kinds! So let’s dive in to the quick guide & start planning a USA trip!

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OverviewWhen to visitThings to doWhat to packGeneral CostsInsider tipsResources

United States Simple guide-farriswheel
PHoto of me with american flag reflected in my sunglasses.
No United States Simple Guide would be complete without a photo of fireworks on the 4th of July!


Language: English

Money: United States Dollar (USD)

Converstion rate: 1USD=91 Euro cents

Tipping: Tipping is expected in most customer service roles (restaurants, cafes, etc). 15% is average.

Outlets: 120V with two verticle pins, sometimes one round pin on the bottom. You will need an adapter if coming from Europe.

People: American’s have a wide variety of cultures, so this is very dependant on the area. In general, people like to keep to themselves, but can be very helpful once you get to talking.

Safety: Of course, there are unsafe areas (mainly within major cities), but overall, its a safe country to travel.

Water: Tap water is safe to drink.

Emergency #: 911

A photo of The Nomadic Naturalist overlooking the nature of the United States.


Let me preface this section by saying that different states experience different weather patterns, so it’s hard to be specific here, but as a general rule, the seasons are as follows:

Winter- December, January, February. If you’re a snow bunny, this is the season to be in the Northwestern states. If not, head South!

Spring- March, April, May. This is a beautiful time of year in most states. But bring a rain jacket and be prepared to experience all seasons in one day.

Summer- June, July, August. The South gets very HOT and humid during this season, try the Northern states for the best experience.

Autumn (Fall)- September, October, November. This is a beautiful time to explore the colored leaves of the East coast!

My recommended time to visit: May/June is a great time to be in the United States. You might get a few days of rain, but it’s mostly heading towards warmer weeks and just misses the summer tourism season (smaller crowds for the win!)

United States Simple Guide of things to do. This photo is in Hawaii.

Things to do:

Photo of locks on a gate in Houston, Texas.

Visit a few different states. Your overall experience will be very dependent on which states you go to. The difference between Texas, Boston, California, and Wisconson will leave you with very different views of the USA. Check out a few & see which you like most!

Go to a National Park (at least one). The best way to see the natural beauty of the United States is to explore the National Parks. There are over 400 to choose from, spanning 84 million acres!

United States Simple Guide: Visit a National Park
Photo of buskers in New Orleans

Embrace the different cultures & food in each area. Borders between states are invisible, but the difference between each state’s culture is apparent. Notice the nuances. Listen to Buskers in Louisianna, get coffee in Portland, and a “Pie” in Illinois. Experience New England in autumn and drive cattle in Texas!

Go to a beach. I put this one on the list because I bet your USA beach experience will be different than it would be in most other countries. (Especially if it’s along the East Coast.)

Read about my favorite US beach town HERE.

Looking for more specific things to do?

General Costs:


Food: Groceries are cheapest. Food carts (growing in popularity) start plates around $8.

Accommodation: Hostels can be difficult to find. Try staying with friends, housesitting or couchsurfing for free.

Transportation: Local busses cost cents, but aren’t reliable outside of cities.

Activities: There is so much free nature to explore!

Mid Range

Food: Family style restaurants typically start around $15 per plate.

Accommodation: Airbnb is going strong in the USA. Small, independent hotels are fun options around $100 a night.

Transportation: Renting a car is likely to be the most cost effective and offers the most flexibility. Rentals can be found for around $20 a day.

Activities: The options are nearly endless. 100% depends on your style!

High End

Food: In some areas, you can find gourmet restaurants with meal sets starting around $98 per person.

Accommodation: Chain hotels are abundant (Hello Hilton rewards!)

Transportation: Flights can be costly, but might be worth it, to save time.

Activities: Multi-day tours in the thousands, high-adrenaline activities in the hundreds, etc.

Transportation tip: If you are planning on visiting multiple states, keep distance in mind. The USA is a huge land mass so, in some instances, flying might be the best option. Renting a car & prepping for a long road trip can be a solid idea, depending on your route.

This United States Simple Guide of what to pack is sure to get your prepped!

What to pack:

Okay, so I know what you’re packing with you is verrrrry dependent on the seasons, states and activities you will be doing while you’re there. However, here are a few items I would be 100% sure to pack on every American holiday:

United States Simple Guide Insider Tips. This photo is of my sister on the Oregon coast. Mountain range in the distance.

United States simple guide, Insider Tips:

1 Because the US is so big, try to limit your trip to just a few states. Ideally, ones that are close together. Rather than planning for stops in New York, Houston, Vegas and Los Angeles in one go, try an East or West Coast roadtrip, or stick to the Southern States, for example.

2 Keep in mind that different states offer very different things. Try Lousianna for a culture like no other, Oregon for breathtaking natural beauty, Hawaii for island vibes, New York for a big city experience…the point is do your research and decide what you want to see before you start booking.

3 The USA is not necesarily a backpacker budget friendly country. It can get expensive, but I suggest cutting costs by doing things like camping, housesitting, eating at food trucks, and renting a car to get the most out of your money and experience.

Insider tips for this United States simple guide. Photo of a map on a roadtrip.

If this United States simple guide has you excited, check out the resources below & be sure to follow the adventures of Travelinoldscool for a real-time roadtrip of the USA (& beyond)!

Books to help you plan:

Or take the stress out of planning with these tours:

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