The USA is definitely a dream destination. With staggering potential road trips and visiting sprawling national parks, mountains, deserts, vast wildernesses, some incredible seaside destinations and Pacific islands, any adventurer will find something amazing in America.
That’s not to mention the variation in culture, the wealth of cuisine, the music and pop culture of America, the history, the world-famous cities and their museums and attractions to see. There quite literally is something for everyone here, though it’s also famous for something else…
Crime. Gun crime. Mass shootings. It can seem that everyone has a gun in America and they’re not afraid to use it. Fears of being a victim of crime in the USA are, unfortunately, well-founded on statistics. Is this really the American Dream?
Our advice is to ignore the stats. We’ve created this huge guide to staying safe in the USA to help you understand more about this vast country. We’ve packed it full of tips and information – and hopefully, it will give you peace of mind if you’re thinking of travelling to the United States.
Whilst COVD 19 has not gone away, the world is opening up again to travellers. However, at the time of writing, the USA continues to struggle with the pandemic and international travel to and from the States is severely restricted.
The advice of most world governments at this time is to avoid the USA.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
- How Safe is USA? (Our take)
- Is USA Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit USA Right Now?
- USA Travel Insurance
- 21 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to USA
- Keeping your money safe in USA
- Is USA safe to travel alone?
- Is USA safe for solo female travellers?
- Is USA safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in USA?
- Is Uber safe in USA?
- Are taxis safe in USA?
- Is public transportation in USA safe?
- Is the food in USA safe?
- Can you drink the water in USA?
- Is USA safe to live?
- How is healthcare in USA?
- Final thoughts on the safety of USA
How Safe is USA? (Our take)
The USA is a giant of a country. There are so many different landscapes, ecosystems, cultures, and places to visit in America that it can be hard to figure out if the country – as a whole – is safe; and that’s why you’re here.
If you look at some of the fears, from gun violence and police brutality to environmental dangers (like snowstorms, hurricanes and earthquakes) it can seem a little bit apocalyptic.
But, in general, the USA is a safe country to visit.
You will probably have some worries. These may start with the hoops you have to jump to get a USA Visa (and that can depend on your nationality and the countries you’ve recently visited). Things like a Muslim travel ban and other headline hitting worries will no doubt affect how safe you feel about travelling to the USA.
However, the biggest danger you will probably face on a backpacking trip in the USA is more likely to be things like traffic accidents and petty crime – things which also pose a risk in almost every country in the world.
Without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the USA and start checking on those statistics…
Is USA Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
America is no stranger to crime. A lot of the safety concerns that visitors have will almost certainly be related to crime – and the potential threat of being a victim of crime.
Unfortunately, it is true that – statistically, at least – the USA is far from the safest country in the world.
If we take a look at the Global Peace Index of 2019, which measures the peacefulness and general safety of 163 nations across the globe, the United States ranks 128th.
That is below South Africa (127th) and just above Saudi Arabia (129th). To put that into perspective, countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor Leste and Kuwait, somehow all rank way above the USA on the GPI.
When you take a look at the crime rates, however, America’s have been declining significantly since the early 1990s. That said, the USA currently has “the highest incarceration rate in the world” with over 2.3 million people imprisoned in 2009 alone.
Most crimes are violent robberies, assaults and property offences (including burglary) as well as drug offences. America’s crime rate is higher than other developed (specifically European) countries.
With statistics showing that there is a lot of crime in America, we should also consider just where these crimes are taking place. It is important to note that these crimes vary depending on the community, with metropolitan areas having much higher rates of violent crime than in rural areas.
A lot of people wondering if the USA is safe will also be worried about mass shootings, as these always hit the headlines. However, these accounted for less than 0.2% of all homicides in the US between 2000 and 2016.
With all these figures and facts about crime, it could be put people off – and actually the number of international visitors coming to the United States has been falling.
According to the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of tourists between January 2019 and June of the same year were down by 1.7%. Regardless, there were 37 million foreign travellers in the US during that period. British nationals alone, for example, account for 3.8 million visitors to the country per year.
It’s no wonder, really. There are world leading amusement parks, incredible national parks, museums, famous cities and other hotspots to take in. The Grand Canyon, in Arizona, pulls in about 4.41 million visitors every year.
Unlock the secrets of traveling on a budget!
Sign up for The Broke Backpacker newsletter to receive regular tips on how to travel for less plus a FREE copy of The Backpacker Bible!
Is it Safe to Visit USA Right Now?
With all those statistics for tourism and crime in mind, you still may be wondering if the USA is safe right now.
You will be pleased to know that, yes: it is safe to visit at the moment.
However, the natural environment can dangerous. It is important to do your research and be aware of the climate and weather patterns of the areas you intend to visit. Things, like earthquakes, are less able to be predicted.
Puerto Rico, for example, experienced a 6.4 magnitude earthquake at the beginning of 2020, causing structural damage in the southwest of the island.
Other places affected by earthquakes include Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, the North Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington State and the US Virgin Islands.
Currently, Hawaii is also seeing continuous volcanic activity on its Big Island.
Hurricane season, which runs from June to November on the Atlantic Coast, and May to November on the Pacific Coast. It can affect US territory adversely.
Places such as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are still recovering from the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both of which hit in 2017.
Forest fires have been increasing in severity in recent years, so if you are travelling to somewhere that is prone to wildfires/bush fires – such as California; in 2019 the wildfire season saw 7,860 fires, ravaging around 259,823 acres of the state.
In conclusion, there are a number of things to consider when you’re thinking about just how safe the USA is right now. The most important thing to do is know what regions are affected by what weather and other natural dangers, and what to do in case of a disaster – though it’s unlikely to occur while you’re visiting.
How Safe are Certain American Cities?
It should go without saying that no one city is the same and each suffers from their own individual problems. The dangers one might encounter in San Francisco could be completely different than ones someone might find in Miami.
We have written comprehensive guides for certain American cities that demand special attention to safety. If you’re visiting one of these places and would like to know more, go ahead and click on one of them and give it a quick read.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in USA, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
With its relatively high levels of crime, petty theft is probably the biggest concern for travellers to America – especially if you are going to be frequenting large urban areas. Added to the natural environment, and there may seem a lot to protect yourself from. However, your trip should run just fine – especially if you keep in mind top safety tips for the USA we’re about to take you through.
- Pay attention to your surroundings – It is very important to stay alert, especially in large towns and cities
- Keep your belongings close to you around tourist sights and busy transit hubs – Petty crime, especially against tourists, tends to be higher in these places
- Only use ATMs in safe areas – During the day, or in busy, well-lit areas at night; again, be aware of who is around you
- Don’t walk around with lots of valuables – This will just put you at risk at having these high value items stolen
- Do not leave your bags open or unattended on tables – This leaves your belongings open to potential thieves
- Instead, leave them in a hotel safe – No pun intended, but this is the safest place for them.
- Be street smart – Don’t walk down dark side streets for a shortcut, or follow Google Maps into quiet neighbourhoods
- If somebody tries to mug you, do not resist – Refusal to cooperate could result in violence; your belongings are not worth coming to harm
- Don’t get involved in “street games” – Such as con artists with card games/tricks or people selling watches or cheap electronics on the street
- Read up about the area in which you may staying – You should figure out if it is known for crime, or has any recent incidents which may have occurred in that neighbourhood
- Laws are different in each US state – If you’re moving around, it is important to bear this in mind
- LGBT travellers take note – Though attitudes are widely open-minded, in some areas there are some very conservative views on same-sex couples; it pays to learn more about where in particular you’ll be going if you are concerned
- Be aware that the legal age for drinking age is 21 – And no matter how old you look, many places will ask to see your ID
- Weed legality varies according to state – In California, Alaska and other states, recreational use is legal, while in others it isn’t. It is important to know the rules of the state you’re in before you light up and before crossing state boundaries.
- Keep away from other drugs – Anything other than weed is definitely illegal under federal and state law; you can face deportation or jail time for possession
- Be culturally aware – The USA is a huge, diverse country. Knowing some of the issues that face different communities across the nation will help you better understand where you are travelling
- Be careful in states that border Mexico – There are issues with drug trafficking in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas
- Pay attention to weather warnings – Extreme conditions, like storms and hurricanes, can result in an evacuation; you should know how to prepare for this
- If you’re heading out hiking, go fully prepared – The American wilderness is real wilderness, and it’s huge. Do not underestimate it
- There are sizeable homeless populations in America’s larger cities. San Francisco is one example.
- Get a local sim card – If your phone won’t work in the US, get a sim card, as this will help you to navigate and communicate
- Remember to tip – Not a safety “tip” as such, but while this may not be the done thing in your own country, almost all service establishments require you to tip at least 20%
Overall, America is safe. It is definitely not a dangerous country to spend time in, generally. Our top travel safety tips for the USA aren’t here to scare you, but instead, they are here to keep in mind to ensure that you are following your gut, keeping your wits about you and making sure you have the best time possible during your trip.
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
Keeping your money safe in USA
One thing that a lot of travellers to any country in the world will be worried about is simply this: having your money stolen.
In the USA, where crime levels are relatively higher than many other developed countries in the world, this seems like it could be more of a potential risk.
To ensure that you keep your money safe in the USA, then, we would definitely recommend that you invest in a money belt.
Not all money belts are created equal, however. Many money belts are overcomplicated, feel uncomfortable to wear, and in fact look quite obvious when worn beneath clothing, which is the opposite to what they are intended for.
With that in mind, we would recommend the Active Roots Security Belt.
This money belt is most certainly our favourite – and it is all about simplicity. Where other money belts are complicated with multiple pockets, this one is not. All it has is a hidden zipper compartment to stash your cash; otherwise, it just looks – and functions like – a normal belt.
Having your daily budget stored safely in this belt will ensure that your money is secure on your trip to the US.
If you don’t wear a belt, or don’t want to wear one, then how about an infinity scarf with a secret zipper pocket for your cash? And yes: these actually do exist!
Solo travel in the United States of America is a lot of fun. There are plenty of chances to get out and about to enjoy yourself as a solo traveller, a never-ending list of sites and destinations to stop off, and what’s more – American people are very friendly!
While you should never be stuck for somebody to chat to in the US, solo travel isn’t always easy.
- We mentioned already that American people are friendly, so you should definitely make an effort to chat to the locals. Even in big cities, people will more than likely help you if you need some help, so don’t be afraid to ask or even just make conversation for some small talk. Local advice is always valuable, too.
- With that in mind, ask at your hotel, hostel or guesthouse for tips on what to do, where is safe (and where isn’t safe), as well as what you should eat, and even onward travel information. The staff will more than likely be happy to help you with your questions and be full of helpful tips.
- Most places in America will have a visitor centre, from small towns to boroughs of big cities. These are good places to hit up in order to get an idea of the things you can do in an area, as well as insider information and accommodation information.
- Don’t go off the radar. Ensure that you tell friends and family back home about your travel plans. You should consider sharing a Google Doc or sending an email that lists your itinerary, making sure to let people know where you are and what you’re doing. It’s nice to chat to people you know, too, so that you stay grounded and don’t get too homesick.
- Similarly, be careful when heading out on a hike or into the wildernesses and national parks in America. You should inform staff where you’re staying, new travel buddies and/or friends and relatives back home of what you’re doing; in case something happens, it definitely pays to have someone know where you are going.
- It is a good idea to give yourself access to various funds of money. Instead of just relying on banking or savings account, you should open an additional account, in case you lose access to one (or more) of your accounts or cards. This may sound simple, but it could really save you in a sticky situation. An emergency credit card, for similar reasons, would also be a handy thing to have.
- Listen to NPR (National Public Radio). This will give you a good understanding of the country, different issues that are going on, and stay abreast of things like weather warnings.
Travelling solo anywhere in the world brings with it its own unique set of rules. While you’re going it alone, you will only have you to worry about – however, this also means that nobody will have your back, except you!
Thankfully, travelling solo in the USA is safe. It can definitely be done, and it helps that people are friendly here in general, that there’s a ton of great accommodation, loads of things to see and do, and endless opportunities for you to have an absolutely awesome time.
Just keep your own limits in mind, tell people where you are and what you’re doing, and enjoy.
Is USA safe for solo female travellers?
The USA is safe to travel for solo female travellers – for the most part. If you are thinking about travelling alone as a female, you will certainly have to be more careful than usual, however.
You shouldn’t come across any majorly crazy problems and it’s not as if the USA is a special case for solo female travellers in the world. Many American females travel by themselves in their own country and have an amazing time while they are doing so. That said, the more you know about a place, the less likely you are to put yourself at risk. With that in mind, here are some tips for solo female travellers.
- You should assess the risk before you head to any given destination – America included. Make sure you know where you’re going, what cities are safer other than others, what you should pack on a hike, who you should talk to, what sort of people to avoid. Getting a good rounded view of the safety of a country for females before you head off is always a good place to start.
- Make connections with other travellers or local ladies in the destination you are heading to. It may seem scary to reach out to people you don’t know, but these kinds of meet-ups can really enrich your trip, and give you not just a support network, but a real insight into where you are travelling. Good options are Facebook groups like Girls Love Travel and Host A Sister.
- Make sure that you stay at accommodation that is safe for solo female travellers. This goes for everything from staying in one of the many hostels in the US to secure (and well reviewed) Airbnbs, as well as comfy hotels. Always do your research ahead of time, don’t opt for a kneejerk decision; read reviews from other female travellers who’ve gone before and only stay somewhere you can trust.
- A guide wouldn’t be a bad idea to show you around a new city or national park, if you are by yourself. However, do be aware that putting your faith into one person who will spend time by yourself with can be daunting and potentially risky. Make sure you go with a guide who is well reviewed by previous clients, or go for a group tour – often a good way to get chatting to new people.
- Walk around confidently, like you know where you’re going – head high and with purpose. Even if you don’t feel confident, or even if you’re lost, it is a good idea to not look that way, as this can easily have potential criminals single you out. The Canadian government, for example, advises women travellers to “lower your tourist profile.”
- Be careful if you want to go out partying by yourself: not every party district or neighbourhood across the country is going to be the same. Make sure you stay aware of your surroundings and, if you’re worried, pair up with people from your hostel or find a trusted bar crawl event that you can join.
- Don’t drink to absolute excess when you’re out. Not being able to get home, and not having your wits about you, will really put you in danger. A few drinks is fine, of course, but staying level headed is definitely much safer. Being drunk somewhere you don’t know can be very risky.
- Another tip regarding going out partying is something you probably already think about in your home country: do not leave your drink unattended. Drink spiking can occur. Equally, do not accept drinks from strangers – it’s just not a good idea.
- Dress appropriately for the situation and area you are in. The USA, in general, varies from state to state and between city and country. A good rule of thumb is to look around you and see how other women are dressed, and to take this as a cue for how you should be dressing yourself. This goes for anywhere in the world.
- Don’t worry about being polite when it comes to unwanted attention. If someone, or a situation, is making you feel uncomfortable then you should be clear about how you feel, and/or remove yourself from the situation. Don’t linger, or hear someone out who’s bothering you, out of politeness. In fact, don’t be afraid to make a scene if you feel threatened.
- Similarly, don’t tell people all of your personal information. Strangers don’t need to know your relationship status, where you’re from, your travel plans, and where you’re staying. Do not disclose this to somebody you don’t know.
- Your phone should be charged at all times. This might seem like a superfluous thing for us to add, but it is something you should remember. Without your phone, you will really be unable to call for help – or even simply get directions – when you really need to. Consider investing in a battery pack so that you’re never caught on 5% with no hope of charging your trusty smartphone.
- It almost goes without saying, but really do avoid walking by yourself down poorly lit roads and remote, particularly beach, locations. If you wouldn’t do it at home, then it makes sense to not do this while you are abroad, too.
Travelling by yourself as a woman is life affirming. You get to enjoy all the things you want, travel at your own pace, enjoy new cultures, and meet new friends along the way. Travelling the USA alone is, in essence, no different, and many solo females have a great time here.
However, as a woman travelling alone, you will be at more of a risk than your male counterparts. This means you have to be a little more careful than you would be in your day to day life, and remember that just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t mean you won’t be at risk.
With that said, there are so many awesome resources out there for solo female travellers; a wealth of groups and likeminded ladies who will be more than happy to share tips or meet up. Do thorough research on guides, tours, accommodation – and be kind to yourself.
There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while traveling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.
The Active Roots Zipper Scarf is your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!
Is USA safe to travel for families?
Our verdict is that the USA is definitely safe for families. There is a ton of stuff that makes it a fantastic family destination.
While you might not have been to the USA with children before, having your kids in tow will bring a whole new layer of fun to your vacation.
New York City for example, has the wonders of Times Square, Central Park, its multitude of museums and skyscrapers to marvel at. Florida has Orlando’s Disney World and some beautiful beaches. California has redwood forests and laid-back, family-friendly living.
Having your children with you in the US usually means that you will be treated kindly by locals and businesses alike.
If you want to go out to eat in restaurants, a lot of eateries are geared towards families. You will be well accustomed to children’s menus by the end of your trip. Plus there are things like entertainment, high chairs and sometimes even free food for little ones. This really makes eating out a stress-free experience.
You shouldn’t have any problems finding things for picky eaters or strict dietary requirements almost anywhere. Even in small towns, you will be able to pick up fresh goods at farmers markets to whip up a lunch or dinner for your family at self catering accommodation.
Accommodation is something that varies throughout the states and different regions, but you will often be able to bag yourself a family room. Even basic motels should have beds for children as well as cribs. Larger hotels & chains will have offers for children and other children’s amenities. Only B&Bs may not accept children as guests.
You can find baby changing facilities in public toilets, as well as family facilities for both parents.
Coming across diapers, baby food, and other items for toddlers and young children shouldn’t be an issue at all.
When it comes to planning your trip, however, there are some things you will want to think about in terms of safety. The weather, for example, can have a big impact depending on when you travel; make sure to research in advance before you start booking.
Similarly, from June to August a lot of schools are out for summer vacation; things get booked up and the weather gets very hot in some places.
The same goes for winter resorts during the winter months, when the holidays sees schoolchildren out and American families going on vacation, too.
The key is to be prepared. Children will feel the heat, and the cold, more so than adults. Covering up against the sun (and mosquitoes) is important, as is wrapping up warm. Beaches often do have lifeguards, but swimming in the sea can sometimes be dangerous; pay attention to beach flags and warning signs.
Is it safe to drive in USA?
The USA is the land of the road trip. Home to the epic Route 66 which runs West-East across the country, as well as the glorious Highway 1 tracing its way through coastal California, the scope for a road trip in America, is unmatched.
Having your own set of wheels when you travel around the United States is a great way to travel. You get to experience the grand distances and majestic landscapes all for yourself. It’s also probably the most convenient to get around, in fact.
What do you need to drive in the USA? You will need your own drivers license from your home country, but an international driving permit could come in handy too.
Driving in America can be expensive. The cost of hiring a car can be pretty expensive and, depending on the state, you may have to be at least 25 years of age in order to rent your own wheels.
The cost of fuel, too, can soon add up to eat significantly into your budget.
On the upside, America’s highways shouldn’t cause you too much concern. There are, as with any country, some hazards that you should be aware of.
If you are thinking of driving around a city – as a lot of Americans do – you need to be aware of potholes, heavy traffic, road rage and sometimes crime. Theft from cars is quite a big problem in certain areas (Hawaii, for example). As a rule of thumb, don’t leave any belongings on display, don’t leave valuables in your car at all, and make sure to park in a secure area.
Outside of cities in rural areas, you should know about the road conditions before you start your trip. In winter, some places do require you to fit snow tires or chains – such local knowledge about whether you to need to, or not, is helpful. Local knowledge regarding road closures and conditions is invaluable.
On the other end of the scale, in desert areas and the prairies, you should be aware of things like animals and livestock wandering across the road. Deer, especially in forested areas, can be a real hazard.
Distances can be vast, so ensure that you always have enough fuel and leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination before it gets dark – particularly isolated journeys or mountainous areas. Have plenty of water in your car and, if possible, a spare jerry can full of gas.
Driving in the USA is safe, but the stats aren’t great. In 2018, there were 36,750 road deaths in the USA; that’s 11.2 road deaths per 100,000. Compare this to the average of 2.8 per 100,000 in the same year, and this gives you a clearer picture. It’s not unheard of for foreigners to get into serious accidents while road tripping in the States.
Make sure you are aware of traffic laws. Like all laws, these vary state to state. Everywhere, however, you drive on the right!
Take your time, be aware of other vehicles around you, and try not to drive after dark. Driving will definitely open up the country for you – it’s a dream trip. However, like driving anywhere in the world, we recommend that you are an experienced, confident driver.
Is Uber safe in USA?
The USA is the home of Uber and, of course, it is available. It is also safe – for the most part, anyway. There are some safety rules you should note if you are going to be using the ride sharing service.
You should always make sure that the car you are getting into is the same car as on the app.
Before you get into the car, ask the driver their name to be sure that it corresponds to the name of the driver you’ve booked with. You should also check out the make, model and plates of the car to make sure those match up, too.
Tell somebody where you are and where you’re going to if you’re about to jump in an Uber, and tell them your destination, too. You could even send a screenshot of your trip.
If you’re really worried about getting an Uber for yourself, call somebody you know while you are in the back of the car – just so that you are in contact with somebody who knows where you are and what you’re doing.
The main issue, however, is getting into the right car in the first place. Trust your gut; if the driver isn’t answering your initial questions properly, then don’t get in.
Are taxis safe in USA?
Taxis are generally safe in the USA. There are, of course, the famous ubiquitous yellow cabs of New York, but there are numerous types of taxis spread throughout the nation.
Most taxi companies in big cities have cabs that you can flag down on the street. Using them is an easy way to get around the city; just wave your arm and say where you want to go. Taxi drivers are obliged to stop if they’re on duty.
Make sure that you get in a licensed taxi. The driver will have their ID on display inside, and have the city registration – as well as the taxi company colours and logo on the outside.
Do not get in any unlicensed taxi; doing so will just increase the risk of you becoming a victim of crime. These tend to hang around at airports and other busy areas, particularly outside nightclubs.
If you get into a metered taxi, ensure that the meter is indeed running; somewhere inside the cab, there will be a sticker showing the rates per mile. Don’t be surprised if there are additional fees, such as for airport trips, additional baggage, that sort of thing.
Another thing to think about is tipping, especially if you’ve got big bags that the driver is going to handle; the driver may expect anywhere between 10 to 15% (or more) of the cost of the ride.
You can also book a taxi in advance. This is a good way to get around as there aren’t always taxis readily available on the streets across the country. You should ask at your accommodation for a recommended taxi company, so that you have a number to book one in advance. Alternatively, you can ask the staff at your accommodation to book a taxi for you.
It may be a good idea to have the route planned on Google Maps, or another maps app, so that you can see that you are heading in the right direction to your destination.
Sometimes, unless you have your own wheels, it is the only way to get around in the USA as public transport tends not to be readily available in many cities. Speaking of which…
Is public transportation in USA safe?
Public transportation in the United States varies from buses to metro systems and ferries. Present in many urban areas, there is, however, a tendency to lean towards cars to get around across the country.
In large US cities public transport can be the most convenient option to get around – but not always.
The subways in large cities such as New York, Washington DC, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta are comprehensive networks; New York’s has the most stations of any metro network in the world, for example. However, smaller cities tend to have either no subway system or a much smaller network.
As with most places in the world, it is important to watch your belongings when travelling on any subway system in the US, as petty thieves do operate. They are mostly safe, but if you are travelling very early in the morning, or late at night, it is a good idea to not sit in isolated carriages by yourself, as this may put at more of a risk of crime.
Many cities also boast bus networks. These may not always connect to the places you want to be as a tourist, being more commuter centric. Again, you should keep your belongings close to you and be extra vigilant when travelling after dark.
New York City, amongst other cities, have ferries in place to get people from A to B. These provide efficient links to different islands and other boroughs. The Great Lakes region also offers ferry services, as do the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Ferries in the United States are safe and reliable and are a pretty cool way to take in some scenery at the same time.
In terms of long distance travel, buses are a good way to get around – especially if you are on a budget. These connect major towns and cities, are pretty reliable, are fairly clean and often come with toilets and air conditioning for extra comfort.
The most famous of these companies is the quite affordable Greyhound, which connects cities all across the States and over the border into Canada, too. These don’t always travel into rural areas, but provide a good way to get from one major destination to another.
Other bus companies include Trailways, as well as Megabus and BoltBus. These kinds of long distance buses, including Greyhound, involve a baggage checking process which sees your luggage stored safely and securely in the bus. It shouldn’t go missing or get lost that way.
Long distance bus travel in the US is generally safe; bus terminals are usually clean, but can be sketchy depending on the time of day you are arriving and where exactly it is.
America’s long distance train network is pretty legendary – think Jack Kerouac. Amtrak has a wide-reaching network throughout the whole of the USA and is a good way to reach top destinations, as well as national parks (shuttle buses usually connect from train stations to these sorts of outdoors places).
Long distance trains in the United States, however, are not always the cost effective or time efficient ways of getting around the country. If you are in America for the whole railroading experience, then you’ll be pleased to note that the riding the train network is pretty safe – and it can be relaxing. Some trains even come with lounge cars and panoramic windows.
Is the food in USA safe?
You may be thinking of junk food, and not much else, but trust us: America is a foodie destination. A ton of different cultures coming together in different areas of the country has resulted in a wide array of varying culinary traditions and regional specialities that have had a huge impact on world cuisine.
Let’s see how you can eat your way around the States like a pro…
- Beware the hotel buffet. Though it may seem convenient to just stay in your hotel and grab a buffet breakfast, then maybe a buffet dinner as well, be aware that there is a whole world of food out there to try. Eating at the buffet is actually one of the top ways that people get sick during their vacation; if something’s been sat around for a while in a metal tray, you can see why.
- Don’t just eat at fast food places. There are a lot of these in the US and it might seem like the safe option to always go for a McDonald’s or a KFC or a Burger King. Or a Taco Bell, a Wendy’s… You get the idea. Branch out and see what there is on Google Maps near you.
- Saying this, don’t avoid fast food joints. Some, like White Castle, are infamous for their succulent sliders. Others, like California’s In-N-Out, feature a “secret menu” that you should definitely research and try out if you are in the area (try fries “animal style” for example).
- Portions in America are notoriously humongous: it’s not a myth. This may be overwhelming. If you are not used to eating large portions, then just order one dish. Take it easy when you first arrive, as you may not be used to the sorts of things on offer here.
- Food trucks are absolute gems – especially if you are on a budget. The USA has a healthy food truck culture, with some food trucks in certain cities only giving out their future stops on Twitter, for example, and boasting a loyal, hungry following. Do research on what food trucks you can find where you are in the States and hunt them down accordingly.
- If you do eat anywhere you can see the food getting prepared (like a food truck, for instance), make sure that the food hygiene practices are high. Things like clean surfaces, gloves being worn and food being cooked at high temperatures before your very eyes, all indicate that it’s probably ok to eat there.
- Don’t get sucked into a tourist trap. It is very easy to do this in the US – like anywhere in the world – especially if you are in a busy, touristed area. Think Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Our advice is to walk just a block away from a major tourist sight and find something local, but bustling.
- While it’s part of the “culture”, we recommend not just eating “American food”. There are so many different people from all over the world living in the United States; it’s so diverse – especially in the cities – and the food on offer is just as diverse. Chinese food, Japanese food, Lebanese food, Indian food, Creole, Mexican, Caribbean cuisine. It’s all here, so you’ll never be stuck for options.
- One last thing: don’t forget to wash your hands before you eat. This is such a simple thing, but it’s our main tip.
- Oh, and remember to TIP your waiting staff.
A trip to the USA means that you will be in food heaven. From plain old burgers, Chicago style pizza and ramen in Los Angeles, to nouveau cuisine in Oregon, incredible barbecue in Austin, Texas, and oysters in Maine, there’s so much on offer.
Try food trucks, try diners, try everything – but make sure it’s well reviewed. You will only be disappointed, and possibly return to your accommodation feeling ill, if you choose to go somewhere that doesn’t have great reviews. Take it easy and enjoy!
Can you drink the water in USA?
The tap water in the USA is safe to drink.
Virtually all across the nation, the tap water is clean; the water is regulated by the government and is required to be tested regularly.
If there is a problem with the water supply in some areas, it will be well publicised. There will be emergency notices for this sort of rare occurrences, such as if there has been a major water mains break.
Bring a refillable bottle if you are going out and about, making sure to fill up before you head out so that you don’t waste plastic by buying bottled water.
Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.
The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Whether you need to purify the water from a hostel sink in Kathmandu or a stream trickle in the Andes, the Geopress has got you covered.
Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS!
Is USA safe to live?
If you want to live the American Dream, you can do so in the USA. It’s where the idea was born, after all.
The question of whether it is safe to live in the US or not is a big one. It depends squarely on where exactly you choose to base yourself and how much money you have. Quality of life, crime rates, and weather conditions vary wildly across the nation.
A survey by expat company InterNations in 2019, however, ranked America as number 16 on a list of 20 most dangerous countries to live. That was the result of 20,259 expat respondents to the survey living in 187 countries and territories around the world.
That is an improvement on the previous though; the 2018 survey ranked the US as the 13th most dangerous country to live in the world.
Why? Respondents typically cited “safety factors” and “current affairs”, as well as “lack of gun control”, as the reason for their response to the InterNations survey.
When looking at how safe America is to live in, it might seem like every time you turn on the TV there’s been some sort of violent event, or controversial story relating to politics, coming out of the United States.
However, as we mentioned already many times, the US is a vast country. In general, it is a safe place to live. Millions of Americans do live in America, after all.
Being dependent, basically, on where you choose to live, you will want to take into consideration the sorts of places that have high crime rates. Many large cities are where most crime happens, but even then crime tends to be isolated in certain neighbourhoods. Issues such as homelessness, gangs and drugs can have an impact on poorer neighbourhoods, as well as burglaries and other street crime.
Being a potential to expat to America, there is almost no doubt that you will not be basing yourself in one of these areas. You really will want to do some very in-depth googling about the city, or type of area, you will want to live in. Do your research and come up with your own conclusions.
So much of the USA is very safe and very liveable, and there is no need to heed fear mongering stories. A simple search will very quickly find you the most liveable cities in the USA, which certainly are not hotbeds of crime.
How is healthcare in USA?
The USA is famous for its healthcare, for two reasons. 1) It has excellent standards, and 2) It costs a lot of money.
The cause of much debate and controversy, the American healthcare system is very comprehensive, but you must make sure you have good travel insurance. This can be very expensive, as medical travel insurance often needs to be USA-specific.
If you have an emergency, you should find your nearest hospital and head straight to the emergency room. Dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should also, if you can, contact your medical travel insurance company as soon as you can.
At the hospital you may be asked, as a non-US resident, to be asked to pay a deposit on admittance; this can also be called “good faith” payment. If you are asked to do this, you should direct the inquiry to your travel insurance provider, and only pay the hospital directly if you are advised to do so by your insurance company. Of course, this may not be so easy to negotiate if nursing a broken head or gunshot wound…
While your insurance claim is being processed, your medical treatment won’t be affected.
If you are ill, but it is not an emergency, you can call a hospital nearby and they can then refer you to a local doctor’s clinic. This will be a lot cheaper than making an unscheduled visit to the emergency room.
There are also urgent care centres, which are standalone, for-profit businesses. These will give you thorough care, and are convenient, but they can be expensive.
Seek a pharmacy if you are feeling under the weather. These are found all across the USA in different towns and cities, and are often open late; pharmacists can give you advice over the counter, but many drugs won’t be available without a prescription.
While the healthcare is of a high standard across America, insurance – and good insurance at that – is an absolute must.
Final thoughts on the safety of USA
There may be a fair bit of crime going on in the USA but, being such a vast and varied country, not everywhere is unsafe. The places you’ll be going, as a visitor, will practically be crime free compared to what some US citizens see on a day-to-day basis. Count yourself lucky!
And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking on the link below.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
“Find out how YOU can support the site. We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web, for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers [that’s you!]. Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support.