1. Take the fastest route

The fastest route ain’t always the greatest route. If you are on a road trip through America, chances are you are going to be spending A LOT of time driving along the same mind-numbing highway.

Let’s just say even tumbleweed sightings can become pretty dull after a while. Hence, when you have a chance to take the scenic route, you should jump at it! You’ll discover all the greatest vantage points and quaintest towns aren’t found along the obvious routes.

Trade google maps for resources such as Roadtrippers, which is an app that helps you plan the ultimate road trip by sharing the best spots to eat, see, stay along the way.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination.”

Grand Canyon (34)

2. Forget to Tip

If there is one major faux pas to avoid in the USA, it’s forgetting to tip. Wages in America are particularly low in the hospitality industry, which means staff rely heavily on tips for their livelihood.

The plus side to this is the level of service in America tends to be extremely high. Restaurant staff tend to go out of their way to make sure you are very happy with your dining experience.

Of course, getting used to the USA tipping culture can be a headache if you hail from a country without this system in place. Avoid the panic of fumbling around your wallet for loose change by familiarising yourself with this quick guide to the tipping system:

  • Fast food/ takeaway- no tip required
  • Restaurants/ table service- 15 to 20% of the total bill, depending on how good you felt the service was. An easy way to work this out is double the total price and move the decimal point to the left.
  • Ordering a drink at a bar- $1 per drink
  • Porter carrying your bag- $1 per bag
  • Guided tours- $5 per person
  • Taxi- $5 per ride


3. Stop at Taco Bell

Unless you enjoy the taste of flavourless plastic, avoid Taco Bell and other cheap fast-food joints. There are an abundance of chain restaurants and supermarkets that offer fresh, affordable food- minus the indigestion.

Supermarkets such as Trader Joes and Wholefoods are the perfect place to pick up healthy snacks, ready-made salads and organic produce if you fancy yourself a nice picnic lunch.

Panera Bread offers an extensive range of sandwiches, salads, soups and smoothies, whilst Chick-fil-a and In-and-out are more traditional fast-food joints that pride themselves on using high-quality ingredients in all of their food.

Icecream Brooklyn

4. Flock to the popular vantage points

Most of us share the same sentiment… Tourists suck. Even when you are one, you’ll still spend the course of your travels hating on every other selfie-stick-bearing individual. Fear not! There are ways to avoid the crowds, particularly taking photos outside famous landmarks.

Take the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, for example. Flock to Vista Point, and you’ll battle crowds of tour buses to get a half-decent shot of the bridge.

Alternatively, you can head to Fort Point on the other side, follow a little path down towards the river and you’ll have an unobstructed view of the bridge, free from the crowds! With most landmarks, you can do a little bit of internet research and scope out the best vantage points, minus the crowds.

San Fran (7)

5. Skip once-in-a-lifetime opportunities

Travelling has a sneaky way of eating out your bank account, and it can be a challenge to stretch your cash across the length of your trip.

Instead of frittering your money away on tacky keychains, overpriced adult beverages or one-too-many ice-cream cones, save up your pennies for the experiences you will ACTUALLY remember.

In the end, a lot of the places you visit you might never come back to, so when you have the opportunity to take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, see a show on Broadway or high-wire over Vegas, jump at it!


“You’ll never regret the things you do as much as the things you don’t.”

Nicola Easterby
Nicola Easterby is the avid photographer, writer and adventurer behind the travel blog Polkadot Passport. Having travelled to over 25 countries in her 21 years of life, she aims to inspire other young adventurous souls to go and see the world.