On the Move — Backpacking Around America

The diverse landscape and destinations of the United States provide abundant possibilities for any intrepid backpacker. Bringing together crowded cities with expansive natural terrain, travelers can choose to discover the origins of America’s culture or get lost in the wilderness.

But planning and preparing such an epic adventure potentially takes a lot of time, effort and money. On top of that, choosing where to go and what to do is a tricky proposition. So here are a few destination guides and travel tips about backpacking in America.

The Bright Lights and the Big Cities

The silver bean in Chicago - Flickr CC olekvi

Chicago — Perfect for any traveler with an interest in music and the arts, the Windy City is one of the USA’s leading cultural destinations and home to various theatres, galleries and museums. You can also explore the extensive yet beautiful Lake Michigan nearby. If you’re a backpacker looking for affordable accommodation there are several hotels in Chicago that will satisfy your requirements.

Las Vegas — Even if you don’t wish to gamble away your travel budget, Las Vegas’s location still opens up limitless opportunities for explorers. From there, you can visit Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. While you’re in Las Vegas, you’ll find plenty of fairly priced accommodation, food, drink and entertainment, as this is one of the USA’s cheapest destinations. When you’ve had enough of the strip, consider heading to Los Angeles and up the Californian coast.

New Orleans — Situated at the mouth of the Mississippi, Crescent City is the ideal starting point to explore America’s Deep South. Before you head west through to Texas or east towards Florida, however, make sure you stick around and soak up the distinctive identity of New Orleans. Famous for its Mardi Gras Carnival, the city possesses an intriguing mix of European, African and Caribbean cultures, with good food, vibrant music and lively nightlife.

New York City – The Big Apple might be a touch on the expensive side, but that doesn’t mean a backpacker should cross it off their list. Staying in Manhattan will be pricier than say Brooklyn, but once you’re in a central area you can get around and go sightseeing easily. Further afield, popular destinations such as Boston and Washington, or even Toronto in Canada, can be reached by bus.

Holding On to Your Dollars

Green Line Train - Flickr CC smaedli

Getting around — Rather than hiring a car, consider travelling on the bus. For long distance journeys, some internal flights are relatively inexpensive too.

Accommodation — Most accommodation prices are based on a per person scale, so sharing with friends or fellow travelers will be cheaper. Holiday rentals could also cost less than motels or hostels while couch surfing is becoming increasingly popular.

Eating and drinking — Restaurant prices may seem low, but this doesn’t take into account the standard 15 to 20% and possible local sales taxes. Although portions are usually generous, cuisine at roadside diners and fast food outlets is an option but not always the healthiest.

So even if America’s vast terrain feels overwhelming, there are certain destinations where several different activities and experiences are available. What’s more, staying on budget doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out on anything.

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