Travel insurance is essential if you do not have health care insurance in the U.S. I am a US citizen residing in Spain. My Spanish health care plan doesn't cover me here (check to see if yours does), so I get travel insurance, even though I just come to visit my family.
A trip to the emergency room can cost hundreds of dollars in the US, a hospital stay into the thousands, and prescription medicine is very expensive. Paying the travel insurance fee is worth it. It will also cover you if your bags or travel documents are lost, or if you have to get back home quickly for medical reasons.
I always thought of travel insurance as a guarantee nothing would happen...if you have it, you won't need it...but on my last trip I did need it, and was very glad to have it! It saved me a lot of money and headaches.
Luggage and bags:
Though a backpack loses a bit of luster when traveling by car rather than train, they do come in handy if you are planning on going into the interior of any of the great National Parks. A day pack is essential for tackling even the shorter hiking trails and comes in handy for walking around town too.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Dressing in layers is imperative when planning an extended extensive USA trip. Many terrains means many weathers. Synthetics are easiest to care for and provide warmth even when wet. Rain gear is one thing not to forget. Good sturdy hiking boots are necessary for the varied trails the National Park system provides.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen is particularly needed in not only the desert but any high altitude area where the sun is stronger.
Photo Equipment: A wide angle lens lets you bring the foreground into your landscape photos, making them more interesting. They are great for shots of buildings too. A good zoom is essential for taking shots of animals in the National Parks too.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: A tent is a great investment. It will pay for itself in a few weeks and also provide you with some amazing places to lay your head. Camping in the NPs is one of the country's great joys. You'll also need good sleeping bags and mats to make it a comfy experience. Cooking gear rounds out your equipment, saving you lots on eating out too.
Miscellaneous: Traveling solo has rewards but I've done it both ways and it's best to have a special someone to share all this incredible beauty with.
My fiance and I travelled to Santa Monica, Anaheim, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon last December/January from Australia (Queensland too for those of you that know Australia so we are very much heat lovers!)
That said we were wearing t shirts and jeans in Santa Monica and too hot! The weather was gorgeous just like our Queensland coasts in winter.
Anaheim was lovely one day but required a light jacket the rest of the stay as we also wore the day we went down to the San Diego Zoo it was pretty chilly down there but still only jeans and jacket needed. The jacket I own certainly isn't anything super warm or thick just enough to block a little of the wind.
Las Vegas was also just a tad chilly but the Grand Canyon had snow around the top and we also wore gloves and probably would have been warmer had we had a scarf also. Mind you don't go silly and buy serious cold weather gear unless you really feel the cold.
This was the answer to a question about where to go in the USA in Winter for a family hoping to make it a once in a lifetime trip but without freezing!
We travelled from Queensland Australia (meaning we are BIG sun lovers) to the US last Dec/Jan. We visited San Diego, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. No where did we need more than jeans and a jacket except at the Grand Canyon where we had gloves and a scarf. It was cool but not too bad.
Have a great trip. We loved ours and are planning to head back again this year.
Luggage and bags:
If you're travelling by public transport like trains, you need small to medium sized luggages. Check the train/bus companies in the area/city you're going.
(We were scared to drive in LA and luckily my relatives drove us around.)
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: You don't need a lot of thick jackets so one or two (if staying longer) would be enough. I made the mistake of bringing lots of wooly scarves, socks, jackets, etc. and I didn't use them at all, probably just one coat for Niagara Falls.
If you think you need something like an article of clothing- socks, singlets, etc..you can buy them cheaply at outlet shops if you researched before hand where they are. I did and I ended up with two extra luggages as I shopped at the Aurora outlet shopping mall outside Chicago just a few days before we went back to Sydney. ( I was lucky to be given extra luggage by my relatives too!)
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Don't forget your puffer/allergy medication as spring is tricky for asthma and other allergy sufferers.
Photo Equipment: Take small photo /video equipment if you plan to to do a lot of walking too at theme parks.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: No need for these unless you plan to stay till summer,LOL! Or if using the hotel swimming pool your swimwear is needed of course!
Miscellaneous: Make sure what you booked (re accommodation) is what is given to you. Sometimes if we have a late arrival at a hotel we don't bother, we just want to crash on our beds. Take time to ensure you are getting your money's worth. If you paid for a two bedroom or suite, etc..make sure that's what you get!
Request for pillows if you are not very comfy with your bed. This should be free in most hotels. If there is no microwave in teh room ,ask if there is a way to hire it, in case you got kids who need warm drink at night.
Research for shopping outlets so you get reasonable prices for quality goods like th e one outside Chicago- Aurora shopping mall where I got heaps of bargains for name brand and quality goods.
I went in late september eraly october and its so brisky at dawn and coldish at dusk and during the night so take with u some warm jacket and a light one for treekings, water bottle is so needed cos its so warm and hot during the day, a good mountain shoes if u want to hike is also specially suggestable. Waterpoof plastic is a good idea to bring with u .. the weather changes swiftly in rocky mountains.
I usually bring with me nuts, bread, ham, banana, cheese that i bought first in the visitor center market as a lunch. Also a knife and some other tools should be nice to take with u
as a last item energy powerbars were so useful during my hikes in US.. affordable in every visitor center market or gas stations on the way to the national parks !!
I suggest to carry with u a sleeping bag and a tent if u are on the mood to visit the Colorado river trail from North Rim.. its such a long and weary way to afford in just one day as i tried..
Photo Equipment: My pictures were taken with a Lumix optical FX8 digital zoom Panasonic FX8
Luggage and bags: At American airports, your checked baggage is subject to random searches, and if your bag is locked, the security staff have the right to break open the lock with force to gain access inside your bag (I have seen someone with a hard case, which was slashed open down the side because the locks were the the number dial locks). You can purchase TSA padlocks for your bags - these are padlocks which allow security staff to access with their own special key, and so your bags will still be locked after it has left their hands - these are available from luggage goods stores.
Luggage and bags:
Instead of a backpack, try a messenger bag which is more accessible. It's great for keeping your camera, reading material such as guidebooks, as well as your phone and your travel documents. It has interior and exterior pockets so your cellphone is easy to get to and your passport is contained. One of the best ones is Railroad Messenger from Yak Pak.
Also, most people love music, so don't forget your iPod. Even if you don't want to listen to music, you can use it for its alarm clock, digital photo storage, address book, and downloaded audio books.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It's a good idea to have Ziploc bags for wet simwear, toothbrush, shampoo bottles that might leak, or dirty underwear. Of course, all of these go in different zip lock bags!
Last time I traveled, I used one of the new 24-inch bags for my dirty clothes to keep the dirty and clean clothes seperated.
I take a black, tan, navy pair of slacks with v-neck light-weight sweaters to match and a few blouses as well as one dress or skirt for dress up. I always take more than one pair of shoes in case my feet get wet [I learned the hard way].
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Laundry supplies helps you take less clothes. I also always take a sewing kit. I get them when I stay at nice hotels and keep them for foreign travel. Or, if you must, buy one from someone like Walkabout Travel Gear for about $3.00.
Don't forget a plug adapter
I also always bring a COMPASS because I'm not a "natural" with directions in strange places. I have a mini-compass that I clip into my messenger bag.
Miscellaneous: I always have a Nalgene water bottle because this polycarbonate bottle does not pick up flavors, so if you want to carry cola, tea, lemonade, or water, the flavors never remain.
Since if love to play games, I manage to slip in a deck of cards, mainly to play solitare.
Luggage and bags:
When packing your luggage, remember to use Ziploc bags to keep your suitcase ORGANIZED, dry, and accessible. I put items such as duct tape [for repairs], Super Glue [for what tape can't repair], containers of detergent for washing undergarments, and a sink plu [just in case] into these bags.
I always put one set of clothing and undergarments, medicine, cosmetics, jewelry, important papers, & anything I just could not lose into my "carry-on-luggage".
Make sure you have a list of phone #'s of your credit card companies, insurances, airlines, doctors, & your country's embassy. In this day and age, I have a card with e-mail addresses of family & friends.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: When you visit the USA, you must research the particular area to know the high and low temperatures for the time of year you will arrive.
If the area is hot and dry, then bring cotton items of light color and that fit loosely, sandals, bathing suit, sun hate, sun glasses, & sun lotion.
If it is cold and/or snowy, have a heavy coat, hat, gloves, boots and use "layers" of clothing for insulation.
Regardless, always bring a plastic poncho that folds into a tiny pouch in case of rain.
DON'T BRING BRAND NEW SHOES. YOU ARE ASKING FOR TROUBLE!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Try Liquid bandage to be prepared for minor accidents and blisters. Carry in your money belt and also in your luggage Imodium pills just in case of a gastrointestinal situation. Speaking of medicine, keep a list of inoculations, medication prescriptions, & telephone #'s of doctors. If you wear glasses and/or contacts, make sure to bring an extra pair.
Photo Equipment: If you have a digital camera, set up an online photo account so you will be able to upload digital photographs as you go along, freeing up the memory card.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you plan to camp or do lots of outdoor hikes, brink boots, camping gear, and swimming wear...even if you don't do outdoor activities, bring a bathing suit for the motel/hotels.
Miscellaneous: Inform your credit-card company of your travel plans, especially if you are visiting from out of this country. The credit-card company may put a block on your account because of the foreign purchases unless they are aware of your travels.
Leave one copy of all your important documents such as PASSPORT, VISA, ETC. with a family member or friend back home as well as a copy of each with you [not in the same location as the original!]
For 'grounded' plugs, flat blades (see previous tip), but with round grounding pin plug and receptable with side grounding contacts is used (see picture)
An adapter will allow you to plug an appliance designed for one type of outlet into another type of outlet. Despite the fact that more than a dozen different types of plugs are in use, a typical travel adapter kit usually contains about five adapters which are capable of dealing with most of the outlets shown here. Adapters often manage this versatility by bypassing the ground/earth wire.
Beware : an adapter by itself will not change the electrical voltage. You must be sure that your appliance can handle different voltages (either automatically or through a voltage switch). If it can't, you will need a voltage converter.
In case you want to bring any electrical appliances with you, here is the system the USA uses : 120 volts and 60 Hz. It is a flat blade attachment plug (see picture)
The two-blade plugs are often polarized, with one blade larger than the other. Most outlets are designed to handle these. The larger blade is the neutral side of the current. This is a safety feature intended so the plug can be inserted one way only to reduce the chance of accidental shock. If you try to plug a modern plug into an old-style receptacle for equal size blades, it won't go in unless you file down the larger blade to the older plug size.
Okay, I admit it, I love the snow, LOL. I was supposed to be on a summer vacation, and it looked like summer in the morning... so I can't help it that I am wearing a miniskirt and sandels, now can I? hahaha, but the sight of snow I just couldn't stand the temptation and I had to throw a snowball. Yes.... it was cold on my feet, all the snow creeping in my shoes, but it was fun!!!
Hahaha, this picture does show though how unexpected the weather can be when you are on a roundtrip like this. One day you can be in a super hot place like Death Valley, and the next you can drive through the snow in the mountains. The best thing to do is dress in layers, so you can easily adjust to the weather you encounter.
Take lots of everything when it comes to clothing. We went through every climate possible it seemed. The 1st part of our road trip was cold, then got very hot, then windy, then rainy and finally sleet and snow. This definitely applies if you're traveling in the spring or fall...you could encounter any sort of weather condition
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: LOTION. It was so dry most of the places we went. Sunblock is also important:)
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: The rain guard and stakes are definitely necessary
Miscellaneous: The Fodor's Guide to the National Parks has been a sort of bible of mine. I always take it with me while traveling...even if I'm not planning on going to a Park, there might be some crazy national historical site I could visit on my way. Point in case: In NY we stopped at Women's Rights NHS. It was really a lot of fun! The road atlas is an easy one. Without that, we might have stayed on the interstate the whole time and missed everything.
Miscellaneous: If you bring any elctrical devices (hair dryer, camera, battery charger, laptop,...) don’t forget to bring a power outlet adapter and/or a voltage converter!! The electrical voltage is 110V and the plugs have 3 pins
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