Sunday, 22 May 2016


Very briefly, I'm an english male aged 22. Ive just finished my studies and I'm on the road, hopefully for as long as possible. Just sharing some experiences that I hope you enjoy! 

In this blog I will try give you some tips on accommodation, food, activities and the best ways to get about as simply as i possible can. I want this to be used as a tool for people who are going to the USA as foreigners.

In chronological order the cities and states we went to were;

Manhattan, New York.
Washington D.C.
Miami, Florida.
New Orleans, Louisiana.
Austin, Texas.
Phoenix, Arizona.
San Diego, California.
Honolulu, Hawaii.
Los Angeles, California.
San Francisco, California.
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Manhattan, New York.

New York.

Wow! If you've never been here then this is just like the king of the big cities I've visited so far! I've been to London before and this is just way bigger and way better. If you like the hustle and bustle, the honking car horns and a good shopping district then this is for you.

Times Square, New York.

I stayed here for just 5 days but after it was over i was so exhausted by the city, its nonstop fast paced lifestyle had killed me! I spent most my time seeing the city's main attractions. My biggest tip for New York as a first time visitor would be to buy the City pass which is around $130 but allows you into the city's main attractions including;
  • The statue of Liberty Cruise + Ellis Island.
  • The National History Museum.
  • Views at the top of the Empire State building.
  • Views at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. (The views here are better in my opinion as you can see the Empire State building from here).
  • The 9/11 museum. (The best one i visited so detailed and emotional, a must do!)

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View from the 'Top of the rock" - New York.

There are a couple more options including on the ticket. But certainly check it out and see if it's what you'd want to do. If you only want to do one or a couple it works out cheaper to just pay in individually and if you're after doing them all then the City pass will save you a fair amount.

The Statue Of Liberty - New York.

Other than that, time was also spent in the marvellous Central park which you could spend you're whole day in. Beautiful park with lakes, parks, sports fields, cafe', occasional music events, and plenty more.

I was lucky enough to be there on the day that is called 'Manhattanhenge'.The dates vary each year, but they typically fall in May and July. In 2015, it occurred on May 29, May 30, July 12 and July 13. It allows for a perfect sunset that cuts through the skyscrapers and makes for an impressive shot!

Manhattenhenge - New York.
There is so much to do here i could sit and talk all day. You've got to check out time square, walk across the Brooklyn bridge, visit Wall St and visit the other districts such as Brooklyn, Harlem and more!

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The NYC skyline from over the bridge in Brooklyn.


The best way to get about the city is the famous underground. Its fast, regular and reasonably priced. I got a week pass for $35 which was money well spent. You could spend that in a single taxi ride!


Before deciding to go to D.C i had read a few blogs talking about the place and none of them were too uplifting so based on what i read i booked 1 night and 2 days there. Thank god i read the reviews, they were right! After the first day we had certainly seen everything that D.C had to offer which wasn't much in my opinion. Possibly coming straight of the back of 5 days in New York it was always going to be a big change around. The buildings were mainly government buildings and the White House was much less impressive than id imagined. Shame really but D.C certainly didn't steal my heart, i couldn't wait to leave and get to Miami!

Here's the best picture i could get of the White House, you can probably understand why i was underwhelmed!

The White House - Washington D.C.
Tip - Don't spend more than 2 days there.

Miami - Florida.

Miami is a special place. Out of all the places I've ever been too this was the flashiest place by a country mile! Lamborghini's, Ferrari, Rolls Royce EVERYWHERE! Not to mention that most of the drivers looked under 25 years old. Incredible. Asides from that the people themselves look like they certainly look after themselves. Every other person looks like they're on the front of a fitness magazine!
I stayed on south beach where most of this is apparent. Amazing restaurants, the Versace house, miles of beautiful beaches, Volley ball pitches everywhere and outdoor gyms. It really was a perfect summer stop.

South Beach, Miami.


 The nightlife in Miami is incredible. Being on a travellers budget its hard to get into all the main clubs without massive entry fees upwards of $50 but i have a tip that will save you a lot of money! Stay in the SOBE South Beach Hostel . Here you will be paying around $30 a night which is standard and about a 3 minute walk from south beach, however every night they have a special where they will offer you for $10-$20 tickets depending on the event and location, free entry and drink specials into these clubs. Along with that they give you an hours free bar at the hostel to get you started so all this included is a MEGA saver! Just to add the icing to the cake its FREE breakfast everyday!


If you're like me and you haven't ever seen a crocodile and you'd like to in a natural habitat then this is a good idea for you. You can get tickets for around $50 including transportation and entry. This will take up your whole day. You get a boat tour around the Everglades and will see tons of Crocodile and Alligators. To finish off you get a free show with one of the workers there where he will tell you some interesting stuff about the animals and feed the animals in front of you.
The Everglades, Florida.

New Orleans, Louisiana.

First thing i noticed was the remaining devastation of Katrina. Still quite run down in areas and not the safest of places I've been too so be aware of the areas you're walking around in!

Other than that, the hostel we stayed in was brilliant, India House hostel. Only a 15 minute walk to the city centre. The obvious places id recommend is the famous Bourbon St, the French quarter and you can actually see part of the Mississippi. Renowned for its french cuisine and amazing fish food, give them a try!

The French Quater - New Orleans.

For the nightlife we only went on one night out in the two days but we visited a college bar called 'The Boot'. This bar was amazing, lively and cheap. On Tuesdays they do 50cent specials! Perfect for young travellers wanting to meet a bunch of young people and save money.
I would certainly recommend a visit. I think two whole days is ample for New Orleans.

Austin, Texas.

This was one of my favourite stops of the whole trip! Here we stayed in a hostel called 'Drifter Jacks' which was brilliant. Locations was right near the University campus and not too far from the centre. This place has an incredible vibe about the place, live music, amazing weather and just an all round good feel.
One of the days was spent at Barton Springs. There we rented a canoe and went out into the river. Rental was around $10 for an hour. By the end my arms wouldn't move!
Barton Springs - Texas.

Where else to shoot your first gun than the mighty Texas ey? So that's just what we did and again i was pretty pleased with the pricing. For a full round of ammunition on both an AK-47 and a Magnum handgun and the rental of the guns the cost was $30.

Shooting an AK-47.

While we was in Austin we heard about a Rodeo festival going on a couple of hours away in a place called 'Cuero, Texas'.. we couldn't say no! So we entered the Rodeo and watched a full show of real cowboys doing the Rodeo and even the youngsters had a go. It was a surreal experience, one i probably wont have again. It was literally like being dropped into the 1900's, stuff you see in the old movies! If you're ever in Texas make sure you check the internet for upcoming events, you wouldn't want to miss it

Phoenix, Arizona

Coming straight from Texas we were looking forward to something not so hot and a little less of a chilled place to be just for a day before we moved onto California. So what did we do? We skipped research and went to Phoenix and climbed a mountain in the middle of the day with temperatures being 44 degrees Celsius! Not so chilled ey?! One of the toughest and yet most rewarding moments of my life. From the top you could see all the different areas of Phoenix from either side. If i could give you one recommendation it would be to climb the mountain but just at a more suitable time of day where the temperature is slightly lower.

The top of Mount Camelback - Arizona.

San Diego, California.

Planned to stay just 3 days here but ended up doing 5 because we liked it so much! Being English, for the first time on the trip the weather was bearable, at around 25 degrees it was just right for us.
Walking round the city you get a great vibe. It's a really great size of city where you can walk from end to end in no more than 30 mins. Also there's a beautiful harbour right on the edge of the city centre.

Mission Beach - San Diego.

Just outside the city is the main beaches being Mission and Pacific beach. These are great long stretches of golden coastlines and well worth the small taxi fare. There is also an old amusement park right next to Mission beach.

One thing you should probably know is that its right on the border of Mexico. So i went over to Tijuana for a day to check it out. In all honesty i wasn't too impressed, i think coming from a beautiful, clean and vibrant city it was totally different and quite deprived. Nonetheless it was cheap and the sun was shining so it wasn't a total disaster. I have spoken to people who mentioned it has great nightlife there but i just went for the day and didn't experience any of that.

Honolulu, Hawaii.

Well I don't want to go too overboard on this but it was hands down the best place ive been too as of yet! just like i had imagined from all the movies id seen involving Hawaii; Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, clear sun, happy people and stunning nature!

Waikiki Beach - Honolulu.

The trick with Honolulu is to get out of the main city. In the main town its been very Americanized and the whole place is commercial business', high street chains, tall buildings.. you get the idea. So we rented scooters for around $40 for 24 hours. In this time we scaled the perimeter of the Island witnessing the most breathtaking landscaped we'd ever come across is was pure bliss! By getting the scooters we had the chance and the freedom of stopping and taking a break where ever we pleased stopping at local food shops and sitting at remote beaches on the north side of the island and even getting the chance to do some small cliff jumps. On the second day of our rent just before we had to return the scooters we drove up to Pearl Harbour and got a quick history lesson on what happened here many years ago in the war. Interesting!


Diamond head

Amazing views of Honolulu city centre. It's about a 10 minute scooter ride to the bottom of the 'mountain' and about a 30 minute moderate walk up. Well worth the wait as the views are spectacular.

Diamond Head, Hawaii.

When we eventually reached the north side of the islands, we were treated with some on the most incredible coastlines you will come across. Here's what we saw;

The north shore of Oahu.
One thing that is next on the 'To Do List' is to check out the other islands as they are much less populated and nature is its thing a little more than perhaps Oahu.

Los Angeles, California.

Again i feel like im getting repetetive but im just telling the truth, great city. My one problem is the pure size and the traffic problems here. Other than that its great. We rented a house in Santa Monica which is one of the wealthier and safe areas of Los Angeles. Be sure to check out the area youre going to stay in LA purely because there are a lot of dangerous places you should be avoiding.

Venice Beach

 This is just a short stroll from Santa Monica and is amazing. Its got a large 'Hippy' vibe going on which attracts great art pieces and live music. Its just a short stretch of coastal front that makes up Venice but its certainly worth the walk. There is a gym on the beach, an amazing skate park and floods of tourists check it out.
Venice Beach skate park, Los Angeles.


This is a cool place too. Also the hall of fame is there so you can see all the celebs who've got their gold plaque star on the walk way which is sweet. While you're there you can check out the Hollywood actor and actress houses on a tour which costs about $20. I would recommend doing this even if you have a car because you probably don't know where they all live.

Pacific Highway

Here you will be greeted with one of the most enjoyable drives of your life. It does take a long time from LA with all the stops you have to take for photos ect but its so worth it. The best thing you can do is rent a car and soak it all in!


San Francisco, California.

Possibly the coolest place i went however that didn't dampen what San Fran has to offer! The city is beautiful, very hilly but beautiful. Plenty of time was spent at the wharf, theres a lot of tourists there and a lot of good food.

The world famous cable cars - San Francisco.


 This tour is the best tour I've been n EVER! Attention to detail is incredible! With a ticket you get the ferry over to the island and a full audio tour of the complete prison with a whole bunch of tales along the way. Really sent shivers down my spine at times as its such a personal and interactive tour. You are standing in the same prison where some of the most infamous prisoners of all time were kept, for example Al Capone.

The Alcatraz Island Tour.

Tip - Make sure you book your tickets in advance as these sell out almost imedietelly when they are released. I found out the hard way and had to que from 3am to get the first ferry at 7am which is the only ferry you can buy tickets for on the day and with there only being 100 available its a risky way to go about it! Be Prepared.

Golden Gate Bridge 

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It this its name and legacy is better than it as an actual structure, nonetheless it does have a sense of ore surrounding it and is well worth a see!

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.


This was a day trip idea which we'd planned in advance. So again we rented a car as it was the best option, one for price and two for the freedom of going to the parts of the park that we wanted to go to.

Yosemite National Park - California.

The drive took around 4 hours each way so it was a long day but once to get in and around the park it is just spectacular. 

Driving through Yosemite National Park.

There are tons of trails you can do and so many separate spots to visit, it really takes up the whole day. If i could give any advice it would be to stay over one night and do another day so you can visit even more parts of the park because in one day you can get most of the main parts in but theres certainly going to be bits you miss which is something id change next time i went.
Park entry is only around $10 and thats the best $10 you will probably ever spend. The views at sunset are incredible and the whole day just took my breathe away, still the best National Park I've ever visited.

The Giant Sequoia Trees, Yosemite National Park.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Final pit stop before our return back to England. We Spend an astonishing 8 days here which we'd been warned repetitively was far too much however we took it in our stride and just about made it!

Its a super fast city, one that doesn't sleep. The mixture of sun, pools, gambling and alcohol is always a recipe for a fun time, even if it costs you a fortune!


So in terms of accomodation you're probably only going to want to stay in a hotel here because thats where everything happens. Be sure to chose your hotel wisely based on what you like doing because certain hotels offer special offers to their guests such as cheap or free entry to the pool parties they host, discounts of gambling and food. I stayed at the stratosphere hotel which is a little bit down the stip but everything is accesible with around a 15 minute bus ride. Here they offered you free entry to the top of the stratosphere which is the tallest building on the stip and overlooks the whole of Las Vegas so that was a cool perk.

The New York Hotel in Las Vegas which is a great replica of the City itself.

Pool Parties

Pool parties are a main feature of Las Vegas and almost every hotel will be hosting one so the choice is simply yours. Some of the music will vary from place to place just do your research and book in advance to save yourself the disapointment of it being sold out. The main ones are at the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace.

Hard Rock Hotel - Las Vegas

Grand Canyon

There are two ways of doing this; Either you can go while you're visiting Arizona, or you can go while you're visiting Las Vegas. Most people tend to go while visiting Las Vegas. We looked into tours and found that it was cheaper again to rent a car and go about it that way. Its around 5 hours each way so be prepared again for a FULL day.

Once you're there you just pay a small entry fee of around $10 and in you go! Easy as they, then you get to enjoy one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! In my honest opinion i preferred Yosemite National Park to the Grand Canyon however its only my opinion and id still advise anyone to go.

Accommodation Options.

When it comes to accommodation in the US the options that you have are dependant entirely on your budget. So there are the obvious Hotel, Hostel, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. This changed with each location what was the best option priceless. So throughout the trip we used all hotels, hostels and Airbnb's or motels.

Hostels - These are usually the cheapest type of accommodation available. Most of the hostels i stayed in were between $20-$30 USD. They are also the best way for you to socialize particularly if you are travelling alone.

Hotels - These are usually the most expensive type of accommodation and due to this reason i only stayed in a hotel once in the two months. This was in Las Vegas. If you book in advance there is always a chance you can get discounted prices.

Airbnb - This is a website that allows you to rent either a room, or a whole house/ apartment of an individual. I chose this option several times due to the fact that there was 3 of us so we could combine out money and spend it all on a better room. New York, and Los Angeles were just a couple. If you're going to travel in groups i would certainly recommend using this service. Just make sure to read reviews before booking.

Motels - These are super common in the US especially on the highways. Perfect if you're doing long distance driving and just need a cheap bed for the night. Usually reasonably cheap between $30-$40 a night.

Couchsurfing - Although i never couchsurfed in the US, i have spoken to people who have done it in the states and have had amazing experiences. Its a great way to meet the locals, learn more about the place you're staying and most of all its FREE!


Again, just like the accommodation situation, there are numerous ways to get around the US but options vary depending on budget. All the forms mentioned were used at one point during the travels. Each time i always would check all 3 options and just chose the cheapest and most convenient.

Rent a car - If there are a number of you this is a great way to get about. You must be 21+ to do this. It gives you the freedom to get to certain places maybe public transport can get you easily. We rented a car in Los Angeles and drove down the Pacific highway up to San Francisco. It worked out around $50 each including the petrol which was even cheaper than getting a bus and obviously much more enjoyable seeing the amazing views!

Greyhound - This is a great way to get around on a budget. They span a HUGE part of the country, they're frequent and pretty cheap if you book in advance. Wifi onboard also is a nice touch.

Planes - We used this plenty of time as the domestic flights in the USA tend to be amazingly cheap. With baggage we didnt pay over $60 for a single flight and we got around 6. Check Skyscanner for flights and the obvious remains that the earlier you get it booked the cheaper it will be.

Hitchhike - This is a great way to get across from state to state! I used this methond getting from New Orleans to Texas and have spoken to people that have used it all the way across the country. Using stuff like 'Craigslist' is a great way to find people by searching to see if anyone is going your way. Beware of who you're jumping in a car with and try figure out if its a safe option for you. But at the end of the day its FREE!


I now have a much larger set of travel equipment now as i get more and more into i tend to pick up new items along the way. But while in the USA all i was using for photos were either;

GoPro Hero 4 Silver - Get One! Especially if you're into adventure sports they're perfect.iPhone 6 - Good quality photos and videos.
Nowadays i also carry around a Macbook Pro and a Nikon D3300 for even better snaps than my iphone can take.
(All photos used are mine)

Other Essentials.


This is a must have! Without this you wont be able to enter the US. You can go onto the government website ( and fill out the application. It costs around $12. Responses tend to be quite fast, usually within the same day.


America don't have free health care so in case of emergency you need to get some insurance. You can cover yourself for anywhere between $10- $100+ depending on the activities you will be doing and the length of time. Using a comparison website to get the best deals such as is a wise idea.

Thanks for reading i hope this has been of some use!
Follow me on instagram for more up to date news on where i am and what im doing! Usermane - LewisThewlis