Surely there’s some USA activity on everyone’s bucket list. Take a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. Party in New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras. Spot alligators in The Everglades. The diversity of landscapes and cultures in the USA is astounding. A trip in the USA can cover ocean and beaches, deserts, snow-capped mountains and wild, wooly wilderness. But it can also cover modern cities, cowboy towns and historic sites. In a word, the USA has everything. Which is probably the reason why so much of my bucket list, at least, was ticked-off when I travelled in the USA last summer. In fact, this time last year I was working on an organic strawberry farm in 30+ degree heat in California’s Monterrey Bay, just 5 minutes walk from the beach. If that’s not the dream then I don’t know what is.
I’m always telling friends and acquaintances that they should travel in the USA, precisely because there is so much to see, but also for a few other reasons. For one, solo travel in the USA is both safe and wise. There’s nothing quite like keeping your very own schedule, not having anyone else’s travel desires to satisfy. Solo travel also forces you to meet new people, people you’ll still be in regular Facebook contact with a year later, reminiscing about those sunset bonfires on the beach. Solo travel works great in the USA because (most) people are astonishingly friendly. Stand at a crossroads with a map for 20 seconds and someone will ask if you need help, guaranteed! But if you do take a friend, or several, the USA also has an amazing ability to defy expectations. So much of what you see on the TV and in films focusses on busy, overcrowded cities like New York and LA. But travel just a few hours outside of these cities and you can, without even paying for any sort of organised adventure tour, stumble upon wild wales in Cape Cod and sunset dolphins in California. So whilst you may conquer your bucket list, you’ll probably also discover more than you expected in the USA.
One huge bonus: it’s cheap. Not only does the USA have the diversity of activities and landscapes contained in one visa that you’d have to travel to tens of countries in Europe to achieve, travel can be done on the tightest shoestring. In perhaps one of my proudest moments as an avid traveller come seriously cash-poor student, I took a megabus from San Jose to LA (a 6.5 hour journey) for the heart-racing price of five whole dollars. While it’s not going to be as laughably cheap as some parts of Asia, some savvy attention to detail could perhaps get it close to being as cheap. You can camp in some national parks for free, after all. Wwoofing is also a great idea to keep costs down. Work on a farm or ranch for a few hours every day, receive free bed and board and settle into one place that you can thoroughly explore, rather than just skipping through.
The USA is, of course, also home to some of the best and most iconic road trips. Crank the tunes (Will Smith’s ‘Miami’ and Flo Rida’s hits are a personal suggestion) and head south from Miami to Key West (the USA’s most southerly point) across 40 miles of ocean highway and bridges up to 7 miles long with turquoise sea on either side. Thelma and Louise eat your heart out. A campervan is a great way to experience true freedom in the land of the free. STA Travel can set you up with a campervan for your own, independent adventure from just £34 a day! Go where you want, when you want, and take your home with you. Park up in some of the USA’s most spectacular national parks and enjoy the wilderness or go city to city and soak up the culture. If you’d rather go hassle-free and have someone else drive then grab up to £760 off adventure tours at the moment, just head in to the store on Elvet Bridge to find out more. Whatever your plan, STA has the best deals to keep costs down and help you conquer that bucket list! Even if you don’t have a plan, return flights from £329 are a pretty good reason to start making a plan. I’m already itching to go back, and I’ve only been back in the UK for a year, there’s so much to see and do in the USA, I feel like I only just scratched the surface.