USA travel advice

Tips from our friends in the USA

Local food tips

Richard Hanson, Managing Director of our leading US supplier, Grand American Adventures, gives great USA travel advice:
Try different seafood in each region. Lobster and clam chowder in New England, gulf shrimp and grits in Florida, conch fritters in Key West, crawfish boil and gumbo in Louisiana, shrimp or fish tacos in California and fresh salmon in the northwest. And to go with it, buy some fresh sweet corn at a roadside stand just about everywhere and boil up some corn on the cob. So, don’t just stick to chain restaurants. There are loads of local options.
Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures:

In Alaska, you can get amazing seafood, with freshly caught salmon and halibut, at a decent price because you are right at the coastline and sometimes you can buy it directly from the local fishermen.

Packing tips

Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures:

Even if you are going to the desert, take something warm. Because even Arizona in the spring can be thirty degrees in the daytime, but it can get really chilly at night.

Wildlife tips

Richard Hanson, Managing Director of our leading US supplier, Grand American Adventures, gives great USA travel advice:
Please don’t invade wildlife space. These national parks are not for us. They are actually for the wildlife, and so let’s keep them wild. Follow the rules, stay on the path, don’t litter, and don’t feed the animals. As tour leaders we really hit home with our guests about these points.

Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures:

Don’t underestimate the wildlife viewing opportunities in the USA. You often associate this with Africa or places like this, but places like Yellowstone National Park, or Alaska, you really have amazing wildlife such as black bears, brown bears, caribou, wolves and lynx.

Health & safety


FCO advice and USA

Most visits are trouble free, however terrorism is sadly a reality of travelling in these times.The USA have suffered at the hands of terrorists’ activities, such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, carried out by Chechen-American extremist individuals, the Charleston church shooting in 2015 where nine people were killed in a racially motivated attack and the 2015 San Bernardino attack, a mass shooting for which the organisation Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) claimed responsibility. 49 people were killed in nightclub in Orlando, Florida by an American individual, motive not concluded. The majority of such terrorism attacks in USA over the last few years have been so called ‘lone wolf’.

Always get up to date information at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advisory department before travelling to the USA.


  • Always dial 911 in an emergency. And ALWAYS get travel insurance when travelling in the USA. A small example: if you injure yourself in a remote spot in the Grand Canyon, a helicopter rescue costs from £25,000+ – get insured!
  • The desert regions of the west and south west can become very arid. Don’t underestimate this and make sure you stay hydrated. Take hydration backpacks, style CamelBak, so you have it on you at all times.
  • You sweat between 0.5-1 litre of fluid for every hour you hike in the heat. This can double if you are hiking uphill in direct sunlight at the hottest time of the day. The sweat evaporates quickly, so you can’t see it. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink – by then you are already dehydrated. Take rehydration powders too if necessary. Eating also helps heat exhaustion.
  •  If you are on a hiking or cycling holiday, in hot areas of the USA, beware of signs of heat exhaustion. These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, pale appearance, stomach cramps and cool, clammy skin. If any of these symptoms occur, find shade, drink and eat. If water is available, wet your hat, shirt or bandana, and carry a spray bottle to cool yourself down. If the symptoms persist after two hours, seek help.
  • Altitude sickness is not uncommon in the high peaks regions of the USA such as the Rocky Mountains. The best way to cope is to adjust slowly. Take short hikes for the first couple of days. A good rule of thumb is that once you are above 3,000m do not increase the altitude at which you sleep by more than 300-500m a night. You can go up higher during the day, but each night go back down to lower level.
  • Don’t drink from the rivers. Although they may look super clean they can be source of the bacteria giardiasis which can be very nasty indeed. You can boil the water, but do so for five minutes in elevated areas. You can also filter, but it is not always perfect, with iodine treatments considered better.
  •  Ticks are a feature of some regions, so read up beforehand. Use a repellent, keep covered, keep checking for them especially in the shower after a hike, and carry tweezers for removal.
  •  Like all trips to the USA, make sure you have up to date travel health insurance.
  • Watch out for poison ivy in most states, except Alaska and Hawaii. You will find it on walking trails, the sides of roads and sometimes even in sand dunes. It contains oil called urushiol that inflames skin and results in painfully itchy blisters and rashes. The expression 'Leaves of Three, Leave it Be' is what most people say to remind you what it looks like. It often grows low to the ground, so you need to be careful if walking off the beaten path, sitting down for a break or, for women in particular, take care in comfort breaks when out in wild places.


Many states don’t wear helmets for outdoor activities, but awareness is changing. People don’t even use them when rafting, unless on the wilder class 4 and 5 rapids, so do ask for one and set a good example! They all supply them, they just don’t shout about it. All kayakers use helmets.

Wildlife awareness is important in the national parks. With animals like bears, mountain lions and snakes, you need to inform yourself of what to do in the event of an encounter before you go. Do not let your children wander too far ahead of you, so that you can keep a close eye.

Temperatures can plummet in many regions of the USA. So always carry a sensible layer or two. Hypothermia can be life threatening and happen at any time of year. if you are hiking a canyon, it could be five degrees in the morning at the top, and forty by the time you hit the bottom. So, check the weather differences before you pack, and cater for extremes.

Lightning storms are common in many areas in the USA, and usually take place on summer afternoons. So best to hike early if you are going high, so that you are descending by the afternoon. If lightning does occur, get below the treeline and stay away from summits or isolated trees. Stay as low as you can and take your backpack off if it has a metal frame in it.

The USA have big areas of wild spaces so, if you go exploring, always be prepared with maps, compass, rain gear, pocketknife, matches and a whistle. And always tell someone where you are going. Most trailheads in national parks have a book you can sign to say where you are going, and how many are in your party.

Flash floods do happen in some of the canyon areas, and waters can rise very quickly. People do die in these every year, so you need to very cautious. And, ideally, travel with an expert guide who understands the risks.

Never throw or roll rocks on from cliff edges, as you could start a rock fall and, more likely, there might be hikers below you whom you could hit.

Be careful if you are driving as speed restrictions vary per state. Also, so do stop signs. In general, if there is a stop sign at an intersection, you have to come to a complete stop. If the traffic coming from your right also has a stop sign, it is their right of way. However, in Colorado, you give right of way to the vehicle that arrived at their stop sign first. Confused? Just make sure you ask a local what the ‘four way stop sign’ rule is in their state.
If you'd like to chat about the USA or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700

USA tips from our travellers

Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful USA travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
I would recommend taking some dancing lessons before you visit Texas! Everyone in Texas can dance the 2-step and if you’re out listening to country and western music you’ll inevitably be invited to dance by one of the locals, so be prepared!Elfie Burgess

Mostly don't bother to pitch the tent - just sleep under the stars! Take as little baggage as possible - you live in the same pair of shorts for most of the trip - Helen Perry on our family camping holiday in America

The tour is offered in two different directions. I went from San Francisco to Las Vegas with my major highlights at the start. If you take the opposite route you get Yosemite as your final highlight. Consider also when you go. The temperatures in the second half of May ranged from 29°F (in the morning at Bryce) to the high 90s°F but it was comfortable most of the time - Paul Rimmer on our West Coast tours in America holiday

Don’t be afraid of white water rafting. If you have never done it before, make sure you join a trip where you have a guide doing most of the paddling for you. Then you just get to scream, laugh, get soaked, and be thankful that you had the guts to do itCatherine Mack

The whole stay in Alaska was wonderful from start to finish… I loved the part when we got to kayak on very beautiful Sunday morning, on very calm water, and the aim was not to reach a certain point or to be as fast as possible, but just to enjoy the wonderful scenery of this bay, kayak along the rocks and look at the sea stars and jelly fish, while encountering sea otters swimming nearby and even spotting a whale at a relative distance - Bettina Bernhardt
Photo credits: [food: Simon Shek] [packing: Kai Schreiber] [wildlife: Yellowstone National Park] [San Francisco: David Ohmer] [Wrangell national park: Wrangell-St. Elias National park]
Written by Catherine Mack
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