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Backpacking in USA

The Land of the free, land of unlimited possibilities, from dishwasher to millionaire or The American way of life, these are just some of the attributes associated with the USA. And as diverse as the range of lifestyle variants on offer in the USA is, the United States also presents itself as a multi-faceted travel destination. Travelling to the USA is an event.

No matter what you want to do, you will find something gigantic, unique, breathtaking and versatile. Shop in the Big Apple, in New York, in 5th Avenue, in the noble Disignerstores. Or get infected by the still rampant hippie fever in San Francisco under the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Or you can rent a bike and travel the mystical Route 66. The USA is the travel hot spot on the American continent.

Backpacking in Amerika - grand teton national park

Backpacking in America – grand teton national park

From godforsaken deserts in Nevada, island paradises in Hawaii and snow-capped mountainsides in Colorado to fascinating national parks with unique geography and flora and fauna, you’ll find everything in the USA. Sail down the Mississippi in the style of Mark Twain’s heroes in the adventure novels or take a look at the picturesque harbour towns on the east coast. You wanted to see a canyon where your breath stands still? Then up to the Gran Canyon in Arizona.

There you’ll also meet many indigenous tribes. You’ve always wanted to gamble so rickety? The glamour and glitter city of Las Vegas awaits you with more glamour than reality. You’ll find a concentrated load of nature in the Everglades of Florida. And if you’re looking for Caribbean lifestyle, beautiful beaches, horny weather and Latino flair on your trip to the USA, then go to Miami. There is a lot to discover in the USA, because you travel through the third largest country in the world.

You should know that almost 80 percent of all Americans live in urban areas. There are more than 250 places with over 100,000 inhabitants. You can easily imagine that with an area of 9.83 million square kilometers there is a lot of space left. While driving through the interior of the country, you won’t encounter a soul for hours in some regions. You’ll get to know McDonald and BurgerKing in the original and in the mega cities you’ll be able to eat yourselves in the various restaurants all over the world.

The USA is cosmopolitan like no other country on the globe. The largest US cities are New York with 8 million inhabitants; Los Angeles 3 million inhabitants Chicago, 2.6 million inhabitants; Houston, 2 million inhabitants; Philadelphia, 1.5 million inhabitants, Phoenix, 1.4 million inhabitants, San Antonio, 1.32 million inhabitants; San Diego, 1.30 million inhabitants and Dallas, 1.19 million inhabitants. You can rely on a first-class infrastructure when travelling, which you can use on land with intercity buses, boats on rivers or also cheap airlines in the air. In the USA, traveling is easy and relatively safe.

Tradition and culture in the USA

Whether or not the USA has its own culture may be a foregone conclusion. Basically, it is rather a union of many cultures that immigrants have brought into the country in the course of the many waves of immigration. Whether Asian or European, whether Christian or Muslim, whether indigenous-pagan or Hindu-Indian, in the USA all cultures live together. This fact also shapes the social picture. Unfortunately, despite all its advantages, the USA is by far not a model country in terms of integration. Nevertheless, the approach is there. One can confidently say that in the USA almost every culture is represented in some way somewhere in the country.

Backpacking in Amerika - statue ofliberty

Backpacking in America – statue of liberty

The country is particularly influenced by the English culture. The former conquerors, who were once called Americans by the freedom-loving immigrants, who often already in the 2nd generation called themselves Americans, were chased out of the country. But the socio-economic thinking is the same as the English styles. However, the estimated 315 million Americans are not the same. Black doesn’t like white, white doesn’t like yellow, yellow doesn’t like red, and red doesn’t like any of them. And yet everyone manages to live together again and again without too many differences. What loves, teases itself, one could say.

English is the national language, but Spanish is also widespread. There are also various indigenous languages. French, Chinese and German are spoken here and there. 75 % of Americans describe themselves as Christian. A quarter of them are Catholics. More are attached to the Protestant faith. 20 percent are atheistic. The American food culture is not exactly the hit. Rather, it is the many culinary influences brought by immigrants that you can try everywhere, especially in the big cities. BBQ, Fried Chicken and Apple Pie. Not very original, but it tastes good. The Americans are sports-lovers, even if you wouldn’t expect that from the heavily overweight contemporaries who drive through the country. But no nation is more successful in sport in a broad sense.

The 100 cultural facts about the USA are exciting to read – many things will astonish you.

Backpacker Route in den USA

Through the USA you can fight your way from east to west and from north to south. You will find fascinating travel lines everywhere. Since the country is gigantic, only a small part of a limited stay can be visited in selected regions. Only do the east coast or concentrate on the west coast.

Florida alone or the area around Arizona offer enough spots to spend 14 days there without getting bored. If you have a certain budget at your disposal, you can quickly jet to the top highlights with a plane. If you have to do that by bus, there’s hardly enough time. You sit more on the bus than you see anything.

But flights are not too expensive compared to Europe. Road trips along the respective coasts are also popular. With Craigslist, Couchsurfing or similar portals you can still find a few people who want to join you on a road trip.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days), if you have money to fly

  • 2 days San Francisco Hippie Culture, Alcatraz etc. experience
  • 1 day Yosemite National Park
  • 1 day Death Valley National Park
  • 2 days enjoying Las Vegas shows and spending money
  • 2 days New York Museum and Window Shopping (after the money was spent in Las Vegas)
  • 1 day Niagara Falls
  • 2 days multi-cultural experience in New Orleans
  • 2 days down Mississippi with a paddle wheel steamer
  • 2 day super weather, nice Beach in Key West Florida with the Everglades experience
  • 2 days in the footsteps of Al Capone in Chicago

Route 2: All or Nothing ( 32-42 days and more)

  • 2 days San Francisco Hippie Culture, Alcatraz etc. experience
  • 1 day Yosemite National Park
  • 1 day Death Valley National Park
  • 2 day2 enjoying Las Vegas shows and spending money in Las Vegas
  • 2 days New York Museum and Window Shopping (after the money was spent in Las Vegas)
  • 1 day Niagara Falls
  • 2 days multi-cultural experience in New Orleans
  • 2 days down Mississippi with a paddle wheel steamer
  • 2 day super weather, nice Beach in Key West Florida with the Everglades experience
  • 2 days on the trail of Al Capone in ChikagoTag Yosemite National Park
  • 1 day Death Valley National Park
  • 2 days enjoying Las Vegas shows and spending money
  • 2 days New York Museum and Window Shopping (after the money was spent in Las Vegas)
  • 1 day Niagara Falls
  • 2 days multi-cultural experience in New Orleans
  • 2 days down Mississippi with a paddle wheel steamer
  • 2 day super weather, nice Beach in Key West Florida with the Everglades experience
  • 2 days in the footsteps of Al Capone in Chicago
  • 3 days in Alaska – dog sledding race
  • 4 days surfing in Hawaii
  • 3 days to explore the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming
  • 3 days by bus through the Great Plains in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. There is nothing to see. But even that can be exciting.
  • 1 day visit The Alamo Fort in Texas
  • 1 day Yellowstone National Park
  • 2 days Route 66 departure
  • 2 days Highway Number One exit
  • 1 day visiting Capitol in Washington
  • 1 day Orlando Seapark
  • 1 day Upper Market in San Francisco
  • 1 day Padre Island National Park
  • 1 day Huston Space Center
  • 1 day enjoying 8 roller coasters at Six Flags Fiesta in Texas
  • 2 days San Diego Flair inhale
  • 2 Days Visiting Seattle
  • 1 day Palm Springs

You should select your destinations by region. For the South for example: Miami, Florida Keys, Everglades National Park, Fort Myers, Sunshine Skyway, Orlando, Gulf Islands National Seashore, New Orleans, Houston, El Paso, Phoenix, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

In the middle you might do: Washington (D.C.), Charleston, Cincinnati, Rocky Mountain National Park, Laramie, Dinosaur National Monument, Salt Lake City, Great Basin National Park, Lake Tahoe, Desert Area and San Francisco.
Travel Times in the USA

You can travel to the USA all year round. Depending on location and travel time you will always find a warm place. If you need to go to Florida or to the Gulf of Mexico, it’s always nice there. On the east coast the climate in the cities Washington or New York among others is exactly the same as in Europe. From April to November the weather is quite pleasant in the southwest and east.

What you should take with you is the Indian Summer in the east of the USA, which curiously falls in autumn. In the summer months of July and August it can get hot there with temperatures around 40°C. The hurricane season in the south and southwest lasts from June to October. In California the climate is quite pleasant in summer. Only further north it gets quite cool faster. The winters in the north of California and the neighbouring states are quite hard.

Backpacker Budget in USA

Once upon a time it was clear. The USA is not a low budget travel country. But if you want to see the United States at a low price, you can also see and experience a lot with a smaller budget. Some of the most interesting spots are free of charge. For example in New York the visit of the Central Park or the Brooklyn Bridge. In San Franzisko it is the Golden Gate Bridge and in the interior the visit to the salt deserts.

You should know that around the best highlights, a whole series of so-called touristtraps have settled. These are no more than tourist traps, which are operated by neppers, trappers and farmer catchers. Hands off! If you want to cover long distances, book in advance with the low-cost airlines. 3 weeks before departure is the best time to get a cheap ticket. You can travel even cheaper by bus. What can be calculated per day on the travel costs?

  • Accommodation 10 to 20 Euro
  • Food 15 Euro
  • Water 4 Euro
  • Local transport 10 Euro
  • Intercity Transport 50 Euro

Food in the USA is quite cheap, sometimes cheaper than in Europe. You can eat cheaply in the fast food chains or fill your stomach in small pizzaria. A hot dog here and there at a stand doesn’t cost the world either. Sandwich shops are a good alternative to save the budget.

Bus prices and domestic flight prices in the USA

The cheapest way to get around the country is by bus. The best known company is Greyhound. But also at Megabus U.S. you can buy bus tickets for trips across the country. From New York to Los Angeles the bus ticket costs a little more than 260 Euro. Other bus companies are Coach USA and Megabus, Trailways and In addition there are a number of departmental bus companies.

USA Backpacking

USA Backpacking


There are a lot of train connections in the USA. Especially the big centers and everything on the way are connected with each other. The east coast is much better connected than the interior or the west. Look for offers on the websites of

  • Amtrak
  • BNSF Railway
  • Canadian National Railway
  • Canadian Pacific Railway
  • CSX Transportation
  • Kansas City Southern Railway
  • Norfolk Southern Railway
  • Union Pacific Railroad


It is best to fly the long distances if you only have a limited travel time available. Low-cost airlines as well as traditional airlines fly to the furthest corners. Well known are JetBlue and Southwest. In addition, AirTranAirways, AllegiantAir, Frontier Airlines, People Express Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and VirginAmerica. A return flight with JetBue from New York to Los Angeles costs around 400 euros. Take a look at what SkyWest, Mesa Air Group and Express Jet have to offer.

By boat

The USA has the densest inland waterborne transportation system in the world. Boating from one place to another in each region is possible with The Erie Canal System, The St. Lawrence Seaway or The Mississippi River.
On foot

You can also reach some destinations near the border on foot free of charge. Niagara Falls for example, Tijuana, Nogales and El Paso. Advantage: No traffic jam at customs.

Backpacker accommodations in USA

Spending the night in the USA is not cheap but also not unaffordable. In the Land of the free there are all kinds of accommodations. The motels are popular. Of course, the USA is a car driver nation. On every highway there are some. 25 to 60 euros a night for a room, depending on quality you should calculate. You can also stay in a hotel. In the USA, there are cheap lodgings and the most expensive sheds in the world. Business hotels charge between 50 and 150 euros for a room. Some hotel chains like Marriott’s ExecuStay, Residence Inn, TownePlaceSuites and others also offer apartment accommodation with kitchen, living room, etc. If you are on the east coast of New England, Bed and Breakfast (B&B) accommodation is a worthwhile alternative.

You can also take advantage of the American Youth Hostel Assocation accommodation. Let’s have a look at the prices for a bed in a dorm of a hostel in different cities. They are not cheap. According to the average price for a bed is in

  • San Francisco 14 Euro
  • Los Angeles 14 Euro
  • Yosemite 20 Euro
  • San Diego 15 Euro
  • Monterey 21 Euro
  • Santa Barbara 22 Euro
  • New York 17 Euro
  • Buffalo 12 Euro
  • Niagara Falls 23 Euro

Bed and Breakfast in USA

The Bed and Breakfast Option is not quite as inexpensive but much more comfortable. As already mentioned, the east coast offers many possibilities to stay overnight. In New York this kind of accommodation costs on average 50 Euro, in Los Angeles the same. In Miami, however, even up to 100 euros. Washington DC is with about 30 Euro again cheap New Orleans with 80 Euro on average is so in the middle.

Camping in USA

If you want to travel cheap through the country, camping is probably the best alternative. Well, that’s not possible in the mega-cities, but otherwise the USA can offer camping at its best, even in the best places. You benefit from large campsites with their own small area, which includes a picnic table, fireplace and barbecue. The prices vary, however, depending on the region and attractiveness of the location plus the equipment of the campsites.

If you visit the hip visitor highlights Death Valley, Glacier, Grand Canyon Joshua Tree, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia-Kings Canyon or Yosemite, you should reserve a place at BIOSPHERICS in the listed national parks, especially during the holidays or weekends. A pitch on a private campsite can cost 12 euros. Something more on the state in the national parks. An alternative is to buy the Interagency Annual Pass. It costs about 60 Euro. This gives you 1 year free entry to all national parks – including three companions.

Backpacker Trips, Tips und Highlights in USA

Traveling all the way to the U.S. on a single trip is likely to take months, if not years, to complete. The country is simply too big. It is therefore worth concentrating on certain regions and then taking a closer look at them. For example, New England with the states Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Backpacking in Amerika - grand canyon

Backpacking in Amerika – grand canyon

In the region you will not only find the famous Yale University, but also small dreamy fishing villages such as Mystic and the largest Indian museum in the USA in Ledyard, 20 km away, but also idyllic mountain regions in the northwest of Massachussettes, where you can meet cities with their rustic wooden architecture. Pennsylvania, the state of the founding fathers, is also worth a visit because of its many historic buildings. Check out the IndependenceNationalHistorical Park in Philadelphia and visit the battlefields in GettysburgNational Military Park.

Characteristic of the region are the Covered Bridges you can see here and there (here a list). If you want to go to the Midwest, you’ll encounter Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin bizarre canyons, Buttes (Nebraska) and Badlands (South Dakota) or explore Chicago’s Great Lakes. In the High West region, the Yellowstone National Park, the massive Grand Canyon, the magnificent RockyMountains and a visit to Utah Parks should be on your itinerary.

A detour to the Indian reservations with USA road trips, for example to Monument Valley near the Navajo or to the ghost towns, is a must, just like a few days in Las Vegas. In the south, New Orleans, Charleston and the Mississippi await your visit. In Texas you should take a boat trip on the RiverWalk, San Antonio and visit The Alamo.

Not to forget a trip to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The landscape in the Big Bend National Park is impressive and you can experience the original Texas flora and fauna on the Prairies and Pinewoods Trail. German traditions can be found in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels. You can also visit the dream beaches in Florida. There you will also encounter a multi-faceted biodiversity in the Everglades. Enjoy the world-famous Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme parks.

Backpacker Highlights in the USA

You can do a lot in the USA, but some things are among the highlights that you shouldn’t miss out on. Check out a baseball or football game. You’ll experience America with popcorn and ice pure. A trip to the USA isn’t complete without eating one, two or more hamburgers and hot dogs. Visit a farmersmarket, which usually takes place on Saturday mornings, or dine once in a while. You can also grill on the beach or in parks at special places. It’s also worth visiting a craft’s fair where you can discover handicrafts. Sure, Route 66 should be at least partly deserted once. If you have enough budget, then go down the Mississippi with an original paddle steamer or experience real USA feeling in a traffic jam in Los Angeles. Are you hungry? He disappears at an “All you can eat” buffet in Las Vegas.

Backpacking in Amerika - New York

Backpacking in America – New York

Backpacker insider tips in the USA

Many travelers follow the well known routes that can be found in the usual travel guides. Here are a few suggestions that not everyone makes. Take the Utah State Route 12, which leads from Bryce Canyon and Dixie National Forest to the Grand Staircase Escalante. There are numerous trekking routes in the region.

How the sunrises and sunsets of the Hammer are there at all. Grafton and Bodie on the California border with Nevada are the most impressive ghost towns. And when you walk through the Narrows in Zion, you seem to be almost crushed by steep cliff faces rising into the sky. Check out the Caribbean Shipwreck Museum in KeyLargo in the Florida Keys or take a look at the starry sky at the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis.

There are also castles in the USA. If you don’t believe it, you have to go to Bishop Castle in the San Isabel National Forest. Not only into a canyon, but deep into the earth you penetrate with a visit of the Kartchner Caverns State Park caves. The Vintage Bargain Barns in Maine offer you real flea markets and no commercial stuff. Art lovers looking for the unusual must visit The Heidelberg Project in Michigan.

In the Hudson River Park in New York you can go on an old aircraft carrier. If you want to explore untouched nature in the USA, you can go to the Linville George Wilderness, or to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The White Cold Mountains are also worth a visit, as is Lake Chelan Sawtooth.

Food & Drinks in USA

The USA is not now considered the gourmet country on the globe. Although there are certainly some of the best restaurants there. But the USA can only show its own cooking culture to a very limited extent. Whoppers and burgers, McDonald can be found across the USA in the original style. But is that the fulfillment? In any case, the prices are still quite pleasant in the well-known fast food chains. Otherwise, American cuisine is marked by the many waves of immigration that have flooded the country over the centuries. Whether the immigrants came from Italy, France, Ireland, Scotland, Germany or the eastern Slavic and Asian countries, they all brought their often centuries-old cooking traditions with them.

The cowboy knew more about barbecue fun. Meat was then also available in masses. At the beginning of the 20th century, during the so-called Progressive Era in the USA, the various non-American kitchen trends began to merge with each other. It is clear that you will find different basic ingredients in the USA, depending on the location.

In the region of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and other states on the east coast are fish and seafood. The cuisine in the south, in Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, is strongly influenced by the immigrants. There are also indigenous influences. Jambalaya is reminiscent of Spanish paella. Game is also prepared with pleasure. In the southern west, Mexican cuisine has left its mark. What is there to eat?

  • Hot dog
  • Pizza in all variations
  • Burger and Co
  • Grilled meat – Barbecue
  • biscuits
  • brownies
  • Burritos (stuffed tortillas)
  • Chili conCarne
  • cornflakes
  • Donut (fat baked doughnuts)
  • peanut butter
  • hamburger
  • hushpuppies
  • popcorn
  • sandwiches
  • steaks
  • tabasco sauce
  • Tacos (Tex-Mex dish with corn tortillas)


Beer is drunk in the USA – yes, drunk, similar to Germany. The national beer culture and the American beer ego, however, were severely dampened when the cult brewery Budweiser was taken over by the Belgian-Brazilian “InBev Group” based in Leuven/Belgium. There are many other local American beer brands you can try on the way, including Anchor Steam beer and Samuel Adams Boston Lager. This is the first American beer brewed according to the German Purity Law. Or the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

USA Backpacker

USA Backpacker


The American whiskey, not whisky as in Scotland, is world famous. Famous brands include Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark.

Anti-alcoholic beverages

You have to try Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola if you haven’t done so yet. By the way, Dr. Pepper is also a well known cola brand in the USA. Delicious is also a Long Island IcedTea.

Some wines grown in California have now reached world-class levels.

Backpacker Visa and Vaccinations in Indonesien

According to the Federal Foreign Office, the entry regulations for the USA are currently as follows for German citizens:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes, visa required
  • Identity card: No, not approved for US travel
  • Temporary identity card: No, not approved for US travel


It is important to note that all travel documents must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the United States. If you want to enter without a visa, you must have a machine-readable (Bordeaux red) passport. If you only have a temporary (green) passport, you will need to apply for a visa.

Vaccinations & medical advice

You should have the complete vaccination package of the Robert Koch Instiute. The Hantavirus is known in Yosemite National Park. West Nile fever can occur on the east coast as far as California on the west coast.

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