When you move to the US, you will find many things different from the UK, travelling is just one of them. America is a country that has around 42,500 miles of freeway and 4,000,000 miles of roads so travelling is very much integrated into the American way of life. Nearly everyone has a car so it seems relevant to talk about motoring in America before moving onto public transport.
Motoring in America
Traffic laws and driving practices in America are very different so it may be wise, if you are planning to stay in the
USA for a while, to get a local driving licence. Otherwise here are a few basic driving tips:
- City speed limits are generally 25mph; streets with 2 or more lanes are 35mph; Highways are 55mph and some interstate highways are 65mph.
- Americans drive on the right
- At a crossroads drivers let each other out in the order they arrived.
- Never overtake a school bus which has stopped to let children on or off.
- Most highways have tolls which are around 2 or 3 cents per mile.
- Parking rules vary from state to state so research your particular state and make sure you know what the different coloured kerbs mean.
Nova car hire has produced a very handy blog on driving in America for visitors.
Travelling by Train in America
Travelling by train for long distance journeys is not something many Americans do, due to the sheer time it takes, so you may struggle to find many routes available. Acela Express is a great service which connects Washington with Boston and New York and the high speed commuter trains within the city centres offer great value.
The major train operator is Amtrak and unlike trains in the UK they offer luxurious travel with comfy reclining seats and even separate cabins.
If you are to be a regular traveller then ask about the USA Railpass and All Aboard America fares. Visit the Amtrak website for more information about American rail travel and fares.
If you travel long distances by bus then be prepared to share your space with backpackers, tourists and students. Bus travel is one of the cheapest ways of getting around America and certainly one of the more exotic. By the end of it however we guarantee you'll have made at least a couple of lifelong friends.
Greyhound is the most famous of these bus services and it runs from practically every city in America. There are a variety of passes such as the Ameripass and these are cheaper if bought beforehand in the UK and great value if you are planning a sightseeing tour. See the Greyhound bus website for more information.
City Transport in the US
To get around the city there are a myriad of possibilities including the underground, trams (streetcars), buses, taxis and commuter trains. Most Americans use the subway as it's the easiest way to get from A to B. If you do decide to travel by taxi then don't be surprised if someone else asks to share as taxi-sharing is quite common although both of you have to pay the full fare.
The best advice of all when travelling in America is to invest in a good map!