Traveling in the USA

By | October 22, 2021

Airplane: When time is tight, air connections are your best bet. The domestic flight system is extensive and reliable, dozens of companies compete with each other, there are hundreds of airports and thousands of flights. Flying is usually more expensive than traveling by bus, train, or car, but it is much faster.

The main airports are the international airports, but other large cities are also important for domestic air traffic. Most cities and towns have a local or county airport.

Airlines in the USA

Most domestic airlines have recovered from the 9/11 shock. However, mergers and layoffs have an impact on air travel. For example, free meals have often been replaced by purchasable sandwiches and low staff means that flights have to be postponed for hours or even days during storms.
Air travel in the US is very safe, much safer than traveling on the highways.

The main domestic airlines are:
AirTran – primarily serves the Midwest and Eastern US.
Alaska Airlines – flies in Alaska and the western United States, but also offers flights to cities on the east coast.
American Airlines– national connections.
ATA Airlines – connects the major cities in the USA and Hawaii.
Continental Airlines – flights across the country.
Delta Air Lines – nationwide connections.
Frontier Airlines – flies across the country including Alaska.
Hawaiian Airlines – connects the Hawaiian Islands and cities on the west coast.
JetBlue – Connections between cities on the west and east coasts.
Midwest Express – flies to major US cities.
Northwest Airlines – national routes including Alaska and Hawaii.
Southwest Airlines flights across the United States.
Spirit Airlines– flies to the east coast and Florida.
Ted – United Airlines’ low-cost airline connects major US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Miami.
United Airlines – nationwide connections, including Alaska and Hawaii.
US Airways – primarily flies to the East and Midwest.

Ship: There is no public transport on rivers or canals in the United States, but there are many ferries to United States islands along the coast. Most of the larger ferries carry private cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. The most spectacular coastal ferry sails on the south coast of Alaska and along the Inside Passage. There are a number of islands on the Great Lakes that can only be visited by boat, including Mackinac Island, the Apostle Islands near Wisconsin and the Isle Royale National Park. The Majestic America Line offers boat tours on the Mississippi, Ohio River, and Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Cars: According to TRAVELATIONARY.COM, Americans love their cars – this simple formula can probably be summed up. The practical reason is that the country is so huge. In addition, public transport does not cover all destinations by far. To explore rural America, you must have a car. You can only do without a car when you are in the big cities.

Drive-away cars
“Drive-away-car” means that you drive cars all over the country for people who are moving or who simply don’t have time. This can be ideal for flexible travelers – you can cover long distances and only pay for the gasoline.
Drivers must be at least 23 years old and have a valid driver’s license (non-US citizens must have an international driver’s license). A $ 300 to $ 400 cash guarantee is also required (refunded when the car is properly delivered). A credit card and / or three forms of identification (or a passport) must also be presented. The transport company pays the insurance, you pay the gas. You have to get the car to its destination within a certain time and mileage. As a rule, this means six hours of driving time per day on the shortest route. Most often drivers are sought for the holiday season on routes between the coasts.
Two major drive-away companies are Auto Driveaway and Auto Driveaway Co.

Don’t drive without insurance. Otherwise you run the risk of financial ruin in an accident. financial ruin. If you already have auto insurance (including international insurance) or if you are taking out insurance, make sure that rental cars are adequately covered.

Car rental companies usually offer liability insurance, but always ask. Rental contracts practically never include collision damage insurance for the vehicle. Instead, they offer an optional Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Damage Waiver (LDW). However, most credit cards offer collision damage coverage for rental cars if the rental period is less than 15 days and the entire rental cost is paid with this credit card. This is a good way to avoid additional landlord fees. Please note, however, that in the event of an accident, the rental car company may have to be paid first and this sum can only be reclaimed from the credit card company afterwards. Check your credit card for possible terms.

Buying a Car Buying
a car is usually a lot more troublesome than it is worth, especially for foreign visitors and those traveling for less than four months. It is easiest for foreigners to have friends or relatives in the US with a permanent address for registration, admissions and insurance.

When looking for a new or used car, the best thing to do is to look through newspaper advertisements and visit car dealerships. The Kelley Blue Book provides a guide for estimating prices. It may also be worthwhile to hire an independent auto mechanic to check the car. After purchase, the transfer papers must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. You need the invoice, the title (or “Pink Slip”) and proof of insurance. In some states, a “smog certificate” is also required. This is the seller’s responsibility, do not buy a car without a certificate. Dealers usually do the paperwork for you at DMV.

For foreigners, liability insurance is the hardest part, it’s almost impossible without a US driver’s license. A car dealer can possibly recommend an insurer that will insure even without a US driver’s license. Even with a national driver’s license, insurance can be expensive and difficult to obtain if you cannot prove that you have not had a history of accidents. Bring copies of your national auto insurance to prove that you are not an insurance risk. All drivers under the age of 25 will have problems with insurance.

Finally, reselling a car can be problematic. Selling to a car dealer brings the worst price, but minimizes the formalities. Otherwise, you may be able to sell the car to fellow travelers or college students – but make sure that the sale is properly reported to the DMV, otherwise you will remain responsible for possible traffic violations.
Auto Tour USA, based in Seattle, specializes in helping overseas visitors purchase, license, and insure a car.

Car rental
Most car rental companies require you to have a credit card, be at least 25 years old, and have a valid driver’s license (the national one is usually sufficient). Alamo, Thrifty, Enterprise and Rent-A-Wreck charge an additional fee for drivers between the ages of 21 and 24. As a rule, no vehicles are rented to drivers under the age of 21.
Large national companies are: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Rent-a-Wreck and Thrifty.
Companies that specialize in RVs include A dventures on Wheels, Cruise America, and Happy Travel Camper Rental & Sales.

The pricesfor the car rental companies can vary greatly. Compare the different offers. The tariffs for weekends and whole weeks are usually cheaper. On average, a small car costs between $ 35 to $ 50 per day and $ 175 to $ 250 for a week. If you are a member of a car club or frequent flyer program, you can often get a discount. Reservations are recommended.

Train: Amtrak has an extensive rail system in the US, and Amtrak Thruway buses offer cheap connections from the rail network to some smaller towns and national parks. Compared to other modes of transport, trains are not particularly fast, cheap and comfortable, but train travel is a relaxing and scenic experience.

Amtrak has several long-distance routes that cross the US, connecting larger cities with smaller ones. On the long-haul routes there is usually a daily connection, but on some only three to five times a week.

Amtrak’s city trains provide fast, frequent connections on shorter routes, most notably along the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington DC. There are additional commuter connections in the Chicago area along the Lake Michigan coast, between major cities on the California coast and in the Miami region.
The earlier you book, the lower the price.

Buses are an inexpensive way to travel between major cities and towns in the United States. Middle-class Americans prefer to fly or drive, but buses are a great way to see more of the landscape and meet people. As a rule, buses are reliable, clean and comfortable and have air conditioning, reclining seats and toilets on board.

Greyhound is the largest long-distance bus company with connections in the USA and Canada. To improve efficiency and profitability, Greyhound recently stopped driving to many small towns. The company focuses on routes along major highways and between major population centers. To get to smaller cities, you often have to use local bus companies.

The frequency of bus connections varies greatly depending on the destination. Although many smaller destinations no longer serve, Greyhound buses stop and pick up passengers every 50 to 100 miles.
Many bus stations are clean and safe, but some are in not very safe areas, so you should take a taxi here in the evening.

If you book seven days in advance, the ticket prices are sometimes considerably lower, and special special tariffs are regularly offered. If you’re traveling with a friend, ask about Greyhound’s Companion Fare, which gives the second traveler a 50% discount (if you book at least three days in advance).
Additional discounts include: children ages two to 11 – 40% off, travelers older than 62 years – up to 5%, companions of a disabled passenger – 50%, and students with a Student Advantage Discount Card ($ 20) – on most routes 15%.

Most major cities have reliable local bus systems. However, these are often set up for commuters and only drive to a limited extent in the evenings and on weekends. Fares range from free to $ 1 – $ 2 per trip.

Subway: Some cities have subways. The largest are in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In other cities there are smaller, one- or two-lane train systems that mainly serve the inner cities.

Taxis in the United States are metered and the base rate is between $ 1 and $ 2 plus a minimum of $ 1.20 per mile. A fee is charged for loading luggage and a tip of 10 to 15% is expected.

Bicycle:Some cities are far more suitable for bikes than others, but bike rentals are usually available everywhere. Most cities have at least some bike lanes, bikes can usually be transported on public transport.

Regional bike tours are very popular in the United States. Bicycles are not allowed on the freeways, so you have to stay on smaller roads. The same rules for motorists apply to cyclists, but don’t expect motorists to respect the rights of cyclists.

If you are bringing your own bike to the US, pay attention to airline regulations. In the past, most international and domestic airlines carried bicycles free of charge if they were packed in a cardboard box. Recently, however, many of them have changed their regulations and now have fees (usually $ 50 to $ 100, but sometimes higher). Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses carry bicycles and fees sometimes apply.

It’s not difficult to buy a bike in the US and sell it again before you go. Every town and municipality has bike shops. Cheaper bikes can be found at flea markets, garage sales, and bulletin boards in hostels and colleges. These are also the best places to resell your bike.

Traveling in the USA