The United States of America is a dream travel destination for anyone who has not yet had the chance to visit the iconic country. Whether you want to go sightseeing to see some of the most famous landmarks in the world, or have a more beach-based holiday, you have so many options when you visit somewhere the size of the US.
I had always dreamt of visiting the US but I needed to save up so that I could afford to do all of the things that I wanted to do when I got there. Travelling to the US from the UK takes around 6-11 hours, depending on which part you are travelling to. So, it is not really a quick trip where I would go every year, I tend to travel to Europe instead, on 3-4 hour flights, especially now in the pandemic.
When I was planning my trip to the US, I knew there would not be too many more opportunities to go again in the near future, so I was determined I would fit in as much into my trip as possible. This involved weeks and weeks of careful planning to ensure I was able to visit every place I wanted to and was able to pack in plenty of amazing experiences.
List of destinations
My first planning stage involved writing down all of the places I most wanted to see. New York was top of my list, I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, walk through Central Park and do all of the other magical tourist attractions we see on TV all of the time.
I also wanted to visit LA and particularly Hollywood, but it is on the west coast of US, while New York is on the east coast. I managed to find flights that were within my budget and decided that I would visit both coasts, despite it being logistically challenging. So, I was able to get flights from New York to LA, so I could visit Hollywood and spend some time at the beaches near LA.
The one other place that I was really keen to visit was San Francisco, which was a short internal flight from LA. So, these three locations would be my bases.
Accommodation and flights
I made sure that I booked flights as early as possible to avoid missing out and to help me to know what budget I was working with. Then I decided to book my accommodation too, so I could start planning my travel from hotels to the places I wanted to visit.
I did a bit of research to understand which event tickets I needed to book in advance, to avoid missing out. Tickets for a West End show, tickets to visit Alcatraz in San Francisco and tickets for Disney California Adventure Park were the ones that I decided to book in advance, as they seemed more limited than the other activities I was interested in.
Fortunately, somebody had told me that you required an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) to enter the US. It was very quick to complete the online form to apply for my ESTA. I got some additional advice from estaform.org where there is a step-by-step guide of how to apply.
The ESTA works by electronically linking to your passport, so as long as your passport is valid, the ESTA application process is really easy. I received confirmation that it had been approved on the same day. The same ESTA allows you to travel around any part of the US.
Local travel options
The last part of planning for my trip to US was to decide how to get around in the various areas to see places. In NYC, the Subway was an easy way to get around places. I also booked tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour, which visits all of the main tourist attractions.
In LA, the Metro was a really convenient and budget friendly way to get around and in San Francisco, my hotel was fairly central so I could walk to a lot of the places. I did make sure that I took a trip on one of the famous San Francisco streetcars though when I was there.
Those are all of the key planning details, as well as checking my travel insurance covered everything it needed to and of course planning what clothes to pack. Doing all of this careful planning before I travelled meant that I could fit more into my visit, rather than spend time looking for information once I was there. The holiday was amazing and I will be going back very soon to visit more places in the US, which I will plan for in a very similar format to this.