Traveling the USA solo is no easy feat. I mean, the country is huge. So how do you even know where to start?

After growing up in the USA and traveling around for fun, work, and family vacations, I know all the best tips and tricks for making the most out of a solo trip. Whether you’re an international traveler looking to venture into the States or a fellow American wanting to explore your own backyard, this ultimate guide to solo travel in the USA has everything you need to get started.

Now, I know America gets a bad rap when it comes to travel. Our public transportation systems suck, our tipping culture is literally insane, and our safety record is, well… you know.

But the USA has some of the most iconic places in the world. Even with the ugly parts of traveling the USA, it’s still one of the most beautiful countries to explore.

Doing it solo lets you be in charge of your own adventure. You can go wherever you want, do whatever you want, and see whatever you want.

Plus, the locals are incredibly friendly (except maybe in NYC, they can be a bit cranky) and are usually more than happy to help. So, let’s dive into this guide to traveling the USA solo.

a girl looking at an amazing view of big sur california
Let’s goooo
Photo: @amandaadraper

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6 Things to Do in the USA When Traveling Solo

Solo travel in the USA can be a bit scary. But with so many things to do in this country and the sheer amount of people, you’ll quickly make some friends or have amazing adventures on your own. Here are six things you can do to make the most out of your solo trip to the USA.

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    1. Explore National Parks

    yosemite national park 5
    Yosemite is just iconic
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    The National Parks in the USA are some of the most beautiful and well-maintained parks in the world. From staying in Yosemite to flying over the Grand Canyon, just about any state you visit will have at least one amazing National Park to explore.

    If you plan on exploring some National Parks solo, make sure people know where you are, and keep in touch with friends and family. It’s also a good idea to have a map or GPS device, as some parks can be quite large and easy to get lost in. But on any given day, most parks will be full of other hikers and travelers, so you won’t be completely alone.

    I took a tour through Lower Antelope Canyon and it blew my mind. It’s one of my favorite National Parks to explore.

    2. Go on a Road Trip

    a girl standing on top of a white car as she looks at the sunset and the ocean
    California dreaming
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    I’m from Texas, and to get from the top to the bottom takes 16 hours—yeah, it’s honestly crazy. So you know what that means.

    Roadtrips! And road trips in the USA can be the best.

    With well-maintained roads and plenty of interesting stops along the way, you’ll never be bored. Plus, road trips are a great way to see multiple states and cities in one trip.

    Some of my favorite adventures include Californian road trips. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway, or take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains.

    Or, of course, cruise down the Historic Route 66 from Illinois to California. Just make sure to load up on snacks before hitting the road.

    3. Eat in a Local Diner

    Las Vegas Vegan Food Tour

    Everyone has heard of the portion sizes in America, and they’re not wrong. I don’t know why we think we need to feed a small village with one meal, but that’s the American way!

    So why not experience it for yourself and eat at a classic local diner? You’ll find some of the most delicious and indulgent food here, from burgers and fries to pancakes and milkshakes.

    It will immediately make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Hallmark film, especially the classic diners that take your order on a notepad and call you “hon“. Just about every smaller town has one, and if you’re headed to the big cities, don’t worry, they’ve got some great diners too.

    If you find yourself in a famous foodie place, such as New Orleans, take a food tour to really get a proper experience of America’s best food.

    4. See the City Lights

    Nic and Shorty taking a selfie on the Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA.
    Selfie time
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    There are so many big cities in the USA that you have to at least see one of them. Whether you’re headed down Times Square or checking out the Bean in Chicago, seeing the major cities of America is a must-do for solo travelers.

    I’ll never forget my first time walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and taking in the NYC skyline. It really is what big city dreams are made of.

    Each city has its own unique charm and offers something different for every type of traveler. From incredible architecture to vibrant cultural scenes, there’s always something happening in the big cities. And they’re full of people, so the chances of making a friend or two is much higher.

    But be prepared… The cities come with a hefty price tag.

    5. Go Bar-Hopping

    Austin Live Music Crawl

    The bar and club scene in America is honestly a hit or miss. This really depends on the city you’re in and the type of nightlife you enjoy.

    Some cities, like Las Vegas, Miami, or New York City, have a world-renowned reputation for their nightlife, and you’ll most likely be up until 6 am with a gnarly hangover hitting you about 3 pm.

    But places like Austin, Nashville, or New Orleans have a more laid-back and fun bar scene, where it’s all about the music and just having a good time. I personally prefer these types of nights out, but I’m also approaching 30, so that could be it, haha.

    The streets are full of people going from bar to bar, enjoying a drink or two, and listening to live music. Chat it up with locals or maybe go out with some people from your hostel. A music bar crawl I did though Austin was one I’ll never forget. It’s one of the best ways to make some friends if you’re traveling solo in the USA.

    6. See National Monuments

    The statue of Liberty with the sunsetting behind her. New York, USA
    In all her glory…
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    America, the land of the free and home of the brave (or so they say), is full of rich historical sites and landmarks. From the Statue of Liberty in New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there’s always something monumental to see when traveling through America.

    These National Monuments are some of the best places to visit in USA and are a great way to dive into the country’s history and culture, and they’re usually pretty affordable. Some even offer free entry on certain days or during specific times.

    Also, you can find loads of tours going, so you’ll be able to join other travelers. This way, you’ll have a guide to give you all the interesting details.

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    5 Best Solo Destinations in the USA

    The USA isn’t known as a backpacker haven, but I think more and more people are starting to venture out to the land of opportunity for an adventure. And if you’re traveling solo, there are some amazing destinations that are perfect for you! Here are my top 5 solo destinations in the USA.

    New York City

    Starting off strong with the city that never sleeps – visiting New York City is so iconic, she’s featured in just about every movie. It doesn’t matter if it’s Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter; NYC is always busy.

    New York City is not only great for the vast amount of things to do, but it’s surprisingly walkable. Which is a huge thing if you’ve ever tried to navigate through other major US cities.

    The view of Downtown Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry, New York, USA
    I <3 NYC
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    You can explore the different boroughs, take a stroll through Central Park, and I have to say, NYC has some of the best food in the country, so be prepared to eat. Take a tour out to see the Statue of Liberty, you can even climb up to the crown of Lady Liberty for a gorgeous view of the city from the water.

    The Local NY hostel is a great place to stay. It’s located in Queens, but there is a metro station nearby. The staff are absolutely incredible if you aren’t sure what to do with your day (or how to fit it all in.)

    They will help you figure out what to do and give you all the local tips. The bar downstairs is perfect for meeting other travelers. But remember, it’s the US… gotta be 21 to drink, so don’t forget your ID or find a good fake (you didn’t hear that from me).


    When I traveled to Hawaii, it quickly became my favorite destination in the US. It’s also the perfect place for solo travelers, and probably the most popular. While it’s often a honeymooners paradise, the islands are more than just big hotels and couples activities, it is literally crawling with things to do and travelers looking for an epic time.

    On Maui, you can go hiking on volcanoes, rent a jeep, and let your hair hang out with the top down. Or visit Pearl Harbour on Oahu. It’s also one of the best places to learn how to surf. If you’re looking to get outside and explore the world, then Hawaii is the place to be.

    Oahu Hawaii USA

    And while some hostels in the USA can be empty or full of old people (sorry, not sorry). The ones in Hawaii are full of fun-loving travelers who are dying to be your friend. You can go to the beaches together, head out for a sunrise hike, or spend the day snorkeling with sea turtles.

    I highly recommend staying at Howzit Hostel, they have free pancakes in the morning, and a big kitchen to cook in, because Hawaii can get expensive if you’re eating out for every meal.

    San Francisco, California

    California is on everyone’s bucket list. Whether you want to see the Hollywood sign, catch some waves at Venice Beach, or explore the vast national parks, it’s a must-visit destination. But I personally think that San Francisco is the best city to visit in California for solo travelers in the USA.

    It has one of the better public transportation systems in Cali, and it’s walkable. You can spend the day walking through the colorful streets of Chinatown, take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, or visit some of the best museums in the city, like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Or head out across the San Fran bridge to the Redwood Forests and explore some of the most beautiful nature in the United States.

    Two girls riding bikes across The Golden Gate Bridge
    San Fran gang
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    There are also plenty of hostels in San Francisco that offer affordable accommodations for solo travelers. My favorite is the HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel, it’s in a great location, and they offer free breakfast.

    Austin, Texas

    Maybe because I’m Texan, I’m biased. But based on the number of visitors and people moving to Austin every day, I think it’s safe to say that Austin is one of the best cities for solo travelers in the USA.

    There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, like kayaking on Lady Bird Lake and some of the USA’s most glorious hikes. In the summer, the lake is full of blow-up paddle boards and coolers of beers to beat the heat.

    austin texas

    The city calls itself the live music capital of the world and it’s the perfect place to visit if you consider yourself a bit alternative or hipster. The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” and let me tell you, they’re really good at it.

    Aside from the vibrant music scene, Austin also has a great food and cocktail culture. You’ll find some of the best BBQ and Tex-Mex in the country here. (The mac and cheese at Terry Blacks is reason enough to visit Austin.)

    Unfortunately, Austin’s public transportation system is a little lackluster, so plan to walk, Uber, or hop on a scooter to get around. Thankfully, the city is small enough that it’s not that big of an issue, especially if you stay downtown. I recommend staying at Firehouse Hostel, it’s located in the middle of everything so you’ll be able to walk or take a short ride to most places.

    Washington D.C.

    If you’re a big history buff or enjoy politics, then visiting Washington D.C. is perfect for you. The city is filled with monuments and museums that will give you a deeper look into how the country was built and continues to run.

    One of the must-see attractions in D.C. is the White House. While it may be difficult to get a tour inside, you can still take photos and admire this iconic building from the outside.

    a photo of the white house in washington dc the capital of the usa
    Welcome to my house
    Photo: Samantha Shea

    You can join a walking tour and also stop by the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building. You can easily spend a whole day just walking around and taking in all of these iconic sites.

    Duo Nomad is the perfect hostel for solo travelers in DC. It looks like a typical home in a neighborhood, giving you that cozy feeling. It’s close to the metro, and people from all over the world are staying there, giving you the opportunity to meet other travelers.

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    The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in the USA

    Solo traveling can feel hectic, but with a few good travel apps, getting around will be easy, breezy, and beautiful.

    Here are my top apps for traveling solo in the USA…

    • – Hostels aren’t extremely popular in the US, so I highly recommend using to book your travels. You’ll have more options, and the reviews can really help when deciding.
    • Google Maps – Make sure to download Google Maps. The roads in the US are good and pretty well marked, but when taking public transportation, it’s best to have a map.
    • Uber/Lyft – The cheapest form of travel in most American cities is through ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. It’s also convenient when you don’t feel like dealing with public transport or walking long distances.
    • GetYourGuide – If you feel like exploring with a group of people, book a tour through GetYourGuide.
    • Tinder – Because the USA sees fewer solo travelers, why not meet a new friend on the road? Tinder whist traveling isn’t all No Strings Attached agreements. It’s been known to find great new friends and even scoring weed…
    • TravelSpend – This is my favorite app for tracking my expenses when I travel, and with America being so expensive, it’s easy to go over budget.
    • Holafly – An e-SIM app to download a data-only SIM card – without installing a physical SIM card.

    If you want to meet friends, my best advice is to use facebook groups to try and connect with others. Actually, no; my best advice is to put your phone away and get yourself out there!

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    Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in the USA

    I feel like everyone’s biggest concern when coming to the USA is getting shot. And honestly… valid.

    But I’m here to tell you that staying safe in America as a solo traveler isn’t as scary as it seems. We have our crazy people just like everyone else. But if you are smart and take normal precautions, you should have a safe and enjoyable trip.

    a girl sitting on a skateboard with the beach and palm trees behind her in ,Miami, Florida, USA
    Go for it!
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Pickpocketing isn’t as common in the USA compared to other countries, but it still happens (especially at American festivals!!).

    Be mindful of your belongings and keep them close to you at all times, especially when in crowded areas like public transport or tourist attractions. It’s always a good idea to have a small bag with you containing your essentials such as money, phone, and ID.

    If you’re hitting the bars, be smart, watch your drinks, and ladies, try to stay in groups. Walking alone at night is a big no-no.

    Take Uber. I don’t care if it’s double the price, just take it.

    Tips for Solo Traveling in the USA

    Traveling to the USA isn’t one of the most common solo trips, so I know any tips are helpful. So here are my best ones.

    • Get outside of the major cities. (I know I told you to go to the major cities…) But there is so much more to the USA than just NYC or Miami. Make sure to explore the best American national parks, small towns, and rural areas.
    • Don’t skip the hostels. I know they might not be as good as the ones in Europe or SEA, but it’s one of the easiest ways to meet people, and it will also save you some money.
    • Facebook groups are the perfect way to enjoy a city with locals. From Saturday hiking groups to yoga in the park, there is always something going on that you can join.
    • Usually, I would tell travelers to be flexible with their plans, but in the USA, it’s important to plan ahead.
    • Take advantage of free activities and events. Many cities offer free walking tours, concerts, movies in the park, and more.
    • Water is free in restaurants, bathrooms are free to use, and sodas are unlimited refills—TAKE ADVANTAGE.
    • Rent a car! If you’re traveling through states like Texas, California, or Florida, it’s almost necessary to rent a car. Public transportation is not as efficient and can limit your ability to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
    • Tip… I’m so sorry, but you have to tip. 15% minimum on restaurant servers, but 20% is normal. Unfortunately, our government doesn’t pay them.
    • Book travel insurance for the USA. The Land of the Free has a tragic medical system that is EXPENSIVE, and you never know what could happen.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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    Final Words for Your Solo USA Trip

    I’m so excited more solo travelers are starting to see the beautiful side of the USA. We’ve been getting shit on for years for not using our passports, but it’s because our own country is so damn big that it takes forever to explore.

    From the Pacific Ocean in California to the Atlantic Ocean in New York, there’s so much to see and experience. And with these tips and tricks, your solo trip to the USA might just be more than you could have imagined.

    If I had to pick two places to recommend to backpackers, I would have to say that exploring Hawaii is just unbeatable and a Californian road trip ain’t a bad idea either. 😉

    Oh, and don’t forget, we like the air conditioner on at all times and ice in our drinks, and we don’t want to hear any complaints about it!

    A person walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
    Have fun out there, folks
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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