The Essential Backpackers Guide to North America – Part 4

Published: 05/30/2014

Welcome back to DUInsure and our five-part series dedicated to backpacking through North America. In part four, we want to let you know about some of things you can do as you make your way through the States, down toward Mexico.

The first thing you need to know is that transportation options in the US are very different from what you find in Europe. Americans prefer to spread out rather than concentrate in cities, so public transportation is virtually non-existent except for places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Travelling across the US requires you to take either a train, a plane or a coach. Each of these options is expensive. If you would rather not pay for transportation, you can always beg rides from strangers. More than one European has seen the continent with an extended thumb.

What to See and Do

In part two of our guide, we had you traversing Canada from east to west, ending up in British Columbia. That's as good a place as any to enter the States. Be sure to make stops in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. And by all means, make a point of seeing the Pacific Coast Highway. There is not another highway quite like it anywhere else in the world.

From California, turn east toward the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular 'holes' in the world as well as one of the most popular tourist attractions in America. From there it is only a short distance to the nightlife and party scene Las Vegas. We know – you’re backpacking. However, you may never get back to America again. You have to see Vegas as long as you're there.

From Vegas, head toward the nation's interior. The states of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, and the Dakotas are large swathes of open space that will simply take your breath away. Colorado is especially beautiful thanks to the Rocky Mountains.

Pushing further east through the Plains states you will see the bluegrass of Kentucky, the hills of Tennessee and the mountains of West Virginia. If you want to head north, you can see cities like Chicago and Minneapolis St Paul. It all depends on your preference. Then head for New York City before making your way down the East Coast. Finally, if you can make it all the way to the southern tip of Florida and the Keys, you are in for another treat.

The most important thing for you to remember when backpacking through the US is that spirit of independence. While people are very welcoming and hospitable, they are not likely to help you along the way unless you ask. It is not that they are being impolite; it is just that Americans have an attitude of independence and self-reliance. It is a different way of thinking then we are used to.

In the final instalment of this five-part series, we will talk about backpacking through Mexico. We hope you are finding this series helpful thus far.

 
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