Buses and coaches run between major cities and serve some rural areas. Greyhound is the largest
provider, covering all 48 states as well as Canada and Mexico. Tickets can be bought online, at bus stations, over the phone or at some convenience stores.
Other providers include Megabus, which serves more than 100 cities, and Coach USA, which operates more than 20 local bus companies all over the US. If you're not sure which
company to book with, try searching on gotobus.com.
Trains connecting US cities are operated by Amtrak. Tickets can be bought at stations or booked online. Bookings
open 11 months in advance and the earlier you book the better price you'll get. Amtrak also offers USA Rail Passes for 15, 30 or 45 days. If you have the time, it's
possible to cross the country by train, seeing a lot more than you would from a plane. The Man in Seat 61 lists a number of scenic cross-country options. Tailored train trips
and packages can be booked via internationalrail.com.au or railbookers.com.au.
Flights are frequent and competitively priced. Major airlines include American Airlines, Virgin America and jetBlue. You can book via their websites, or compare fares and book using sites like skyscanner.com and kayak.com.
is a great resource for working out how to get from A to B by any means of transport, anywhere in the world.
Getting around towns and cities
will depend on where you are. For example, New York has an excellent subway system, whereas LA is a very car-centric city with limited public transport.
Metered taxis are common in all major towns and cities.
Public transport trip-planners by city
More at publictransportation.org.
In more than half the states, the public transport info line is 511.
Driving is arguably the best way to get around in the USA. Road trips are an American institution and a car or campervan will give you the freedom to
explore at your own pace. Avis, Hertz, Dollar and Alamo are some of the major operators, but you may find cheaper rates with smaller players
such as Ace, Advantage, Fox, Payless, and Sixt. You can compare rental prices on travel
booking sites such as expedia.com or on the dedicated car rental comparison and booking sites vroomvroomvroom.com and autoslash.com (Autoslash will also
automatically search for discount coupons and special offers).
rated highest in a
2014 US car hire satisfaction study.
Be on the lookout for hidden charges and taxes. Unexpected items on your bill could include fees for toll passes, GPS units, child seats, one-way
drop-offs, late drop-offs, alleged damage to the vehicle and grossly inflated petrol costs. Even more baffling charges could come under the headings
"concession fees", "facility charges" or "convenience fees". Some may be valid, but ask the company to disclose and explain them in full. See our guide to
car hire for more advice.
Airport rentals will almost always be significantly pricier. Compare airport rates with nearby locations. You can often hire the car off-site and then drop
it off at the airport at the end of your holiday.
Before you sign up for all the insurance extras that the rental company will inevitably try to sell you, check to see what's already covered by your travel
insurance. Some credit card programs also offer car rental cover.
CHOICE's US sister organisation, Consumer Reports, has produced a comprehensive guide to summer road travel which includes avoiding extra fees or unfair damage costs, finding the cheapest gas and tips for a
stress-free road trip with kids.
Most companies will only rent to drivers aged over 21 who have held a licence for more than a year. Some may have a maximum age limit, or they may charge a
young/senior driver surcharge.
Check the law
in the state(s) you'll be visiting to find out whether you can drive on your Australian licence, but be aware that some car hire companies will only rent
to customers who have an international licence.
Driving in the USA
Vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road.
All occupants must wear seatbelts.
Mobile phone use is not permitted while driving, unless with a hands-free device.
Children under six must have an appropriate child seat. Beyond that age, laws vary by state.
The blood alcohol limit is 0.08mg in most states, 0.05mg in some others.
At intersections with no traffic lights, vehicles give way on a first-come, first-served basis.
Right turns on red lights are generally permitted provided you give way to other vehicles and crossing pedestrians unless signed "No right turn on red".
Most multi-lane roads have marked median areas where U-turns are permitted. These can be used by motorists travelling in either direction.
School zones have reduced speed limits, as in Australia.
If a school bus stops and its lights begin flashing, all traffic travelling in both directions is required to stop while students enter or exit the bus
If an ambulance, police car or fire truck approaches with its siren on, pull over to the side of the road and stop the car until the emergency vehicle has
If you are stopped by the police, DO NOT get out of your car. Wait for the officer to approach your window and keep your hands in plain sight.
Accommodation and tours
in the USA varies from cheap motels to five-star resorts. The cost is similar to here in Australia, if not a little cheaper, depending on the location and
the exchange rate.
Most hotels, motels, resorts and bed and breakfasts are easily booked online through sites such as wotif.com, hotels.com or bedandbreakfast.com. Check reviews on tripadvisor.com before you book. If you're looking for a homestay or apartment rental, airbnb.com is widely used in the United States.
Expect to pay more than the advertised price once sales tax and hotel tax has been added.
can be booked through a travel agent or online through a major tour operator before you go (try intrepidtravel.com or contiki.com). For the easiest option of all, consider a package deal from a travel agent such as Flight Centre, which includes flights, transport, accommodation and sometimes even meals.
Package tours or self-drive tours
are a low-stress option for travellers who don't want to organise their flights, accommodation and on-the-ground transport separately. For deals, check the
airline sites above, as well as viator.com, expedia.com and travel agents.
Got a travel tip about the USA? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.