Places in the US
Stay – Average prices for accommodation are very similar to Europe. Hostels start at about 20 USD (€18) a night. If you prefer to have a little more privacy, definitely check budget hotels and/or motels. In comparison to Europe, most rooms are quite spacious and quite luxurious. For a budget hotel or motel you pay 45 to 70 USD. (40 – 63 EUR)
Nicer hotels start at 90 USD (€80) and easily reach a couple of hundred dollars.
These given prices are averages. In most bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles costs are usually a lot higher.
Eat – Very similar to Europe too. Maybe a little cheaper. For a main course, dessert and fizzy drink you’ll pay just a bit more then 20 USD. (€18)
Fastfood prices float in between 5 and 15 USD (€4 – €13) a meal, drink included. Also keep in mind that at most places soda gets refilled for free.
When you’re eating at a restaurant, keep in mind that you have to tip at least 15% of the total cost of the food and drinks. Giving tips in fastfood chains is unusual.
Transport – The public transportation throughout the US is good. Prices for a single ticket change from city to city. Some cities ask only 75 cents, others charge $2,5.
Long distance busses like MegaBus and Greyhound are the cheapest option if you want to take longer distance busses. If you book way ahead of time, you can even book trips for $1!
Most big cities have their own metro system. Prices are similar to the busses.
Taxi’s are all over the place, but in most cities they are very expensive. Actually the only place where a taxi isn’t too much money, is New York.
Definitely install the apps Uber and Lyft on your smartphone. In Europe they are a bit controversial, but in the USA they are used in most states. Uber or Lyft is almost 50% cheaper than a taxi, definitely in Los Angeles.
Rent a car or use Uber / Lyft – The United States is huge. If you want to do more then just a city trip, it is recommended to rent a car. Try to rent one in advance, since this can save you a lot of money. Are you scared of driving in foreign countries? Try MegaBus or Greyhound to travel around the country. Shorter distances are doable with the apps Lyft and Uber. With these apps you basically pay locals to drive you somewhere. It’s about 50% cheaper than renting a cab.
Don’t tip everywhere – Tourists often know that Americans expect them to tip, but it’s not always clear when and how much to tip. Tipping is pretty much always expected when in restaurants, bars and clubs. Fastfood chains do not expect to be tipped. The same applies to most chains like Starbucks, Jamba Juice, …
Of course you also don’t need to tip when you’re shopping for groceries, enjoying a theme park or hopping on a bus.
Guides don’t always need to be tipped, but they very much appreciate it.
Couchsurfing – Couchsurfing was invented in America, and of course it still has a very active community over there. When you couchsurf, you stay at the place of a local and pay them something or help them out with some tasks. That way you get a nice place to stay, get to know the culture a little bit and save on expenses.
All-in-one passes and tickets – Are you heading to the city or will you visit nature? There pretty much always is a possibility to buy a ticket that bundles the most touristic sights or places. That way you can save a lot of money on things you were planning to see anyway.
Buy alcohol in advance – Or go to a preparty. Buying alcohol in a club is pretty expensive. For an ordinary beer, you already pay $8 (€7). If you really want to party hard, drink some alcohol beforehand.
If you want to get drunk, it’s better to buy shots. They are often cheaper and get the job done quicker.
Citytrips – With so many big cities in one country you can easily do multiple city trips.
The classics like New York and Los Angeles definitely are worth the effort, but other worthwhile cities in my opinion are Washington D.C., New Orleans and Chicago.
If you don’t mind that much about sightseeing in a city, Miami might be a welcome choice. Especially if you just want to relax or party.
Natonal Parks – With just under 60 National park’s in the US, there is plenty nature for you to explore.
Most national parks are found in Alaska and California, but actually there is at least one in every state (except for Delaware).
Monuments – Every city has at least one world renowned monument worth going to. Take your selfie stick and make facebook jealous!
Shopping – Does this really need any clarification? SHOP TIL YOU DROP.
Fastfood – Burgers, fries, pizza’s, Burrito’s… They are just a handful of delicious examples from the fast food culture in America.
Fastfood doesn’t always mean unhealthy or not very tasty. In Europe we only know a couple of fastfood chains, but other chains like Wendy’s, In N Out Burger, Chick-fil-a and chipotle are deliciously yummy and spread out all over the US.
Burrito’s – Throughout the US there has been a huge influence from the Mexican and South-American culture. This has a lot to do with the two countries being neighbours of each other. Because of this, a lot of Mexican food has come over and changed to the tastes and likes of the Americans.
Every time I go to America, I immediately go to Chipotle. A tex-mex (mix of American and Mexican) restaurant that serves delicious burrito’s for only 10 USD a piece.
Definitely add some guacamole! The recipe of Chipotle is mouth watering.
Theme parks – Everyone who thinks that theme parks are just for kids or youngers are wrong. Theme parks are everywhere in the US. Some have thrilling rides, while others are more child friendly. Some also offer a unique insight in the American film industry.
Party! – If you want to party like never before; go clubbing in the US. The best music, amazing and gorgeous people and a not so European atmosphere make the American clubbing scene very interesting.
Keep in mind that most clubs shut their doors at 02:00 AM. This is because their liquor permit ends at this time and they don’t think people can have fun without alcohol…
Definitely have some pre-drinks. Because going out in the USA can cost you a lot of money!
Go out late – The USA has some of the best parties in the world, but still there is one thing I really didn’t like… Pretty much everywhere the parties stopped at 02:00 AM. This has to do everything with their liquor permit.
If you know some locals, they can take you to their places where the parties don’t stop until the sun comes up again.
Racist remarks – The USA still has a lot of problems with racial issues. Therefore it is best to not make any jokes about racial differences or whatsoever. In Europe we are more open to this, and some television shows make it seem like it is okay in the USA. But really, it’s not.
Bad neighbourhoods – You don’t really have to be scared of these bad neighbourhoods, since they often lie far away from the city center. Don’t go searching for trouble and you’ll be fine. I never had any problems while living in the USA.