North America Travel Guides

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Ready to plan your next solo trip to the U.S. or Canada? You’re in the right place with my North America Travel Guides!

Although most of my travels have been concentrated in Europe and Asia, I have explored more than a bit of my own country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent an exciting (mask-filled) week exploring Colorado in Denver and beautiful Fort Collins. Before the world ended, I toured the best of Toronto during a January snowstorm (if you want Canada on a budget – go in January). And, after my sister’s 2021 move to Portland, we spent a jam-packed 10 days stuffing our faces on the best food, desserts and brews in Portland, OR.

There are many places in North America on my bucket list – so stay tuned for exciting destinations like Napa, New Orleans and every national park trip I can get my hands on!

Happy Travels! xx Madison

North America Travel Guides – QUICK LINKS
Toronto / Portland / Fort Collins / Denver / Madison

United States Travel Guides

Things to Know Before Visiting North America

  • North America is HUGE. If you’re from another country, you may have heard the stereotype of Americans thinking that 10+ hour drives are no big deal. That’s because the U.S. is so freaking massive and the flights are so freaking expensive. My advice if you only have 7-10 days? Pick a destination and stick to that general area. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a ton of $$ on flights and a ton of time on travel.
  • North America is EXPENSIVE. Seriously expensive. There’s a reason why the U.S. and Canada never come up as budget-friendly destinations…because they’re not. I’m from the midwest, which tends to be one of the least expensive areas of the U.S. Spoiler: it’s still hella expensive. If you want a budget trip, I suggest flying 180 degrees in the other direction.
  • There’s a tipping culture. As someone who once made $3/hour waiting tables in a college town, I cannot express to you the frustration of people not tipping for good service. Know the customs in the country you’re visiting and leave a tip. 20% for good service, 15% for okay service and 10% or a bit less for not very good service.
  • Prices listed in the U.S. often exclude sales tax. Be prepared to pay 10% more than the cost listed on the price tag, unless you’re in a handful of states with no sales tax.
  • Never visit the U.S. without travel insurance that includes healthcare. I would also recommend this when visiting Canada, but it’s not as serious. Without insurance, a simple procedure like stitches could cost you as much as $5,000 in urgent care.
  • We drive on the right side of the road and almost all of our vehicles are automatic.
  • The U.S. and Canada combined have some of the most breathtaking national parks in the entire work. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Canyon during my travels, but there are so many others out there to explore. Banff National Park & Lake Louise is on my bucket list, as well as Glacier National Park and Yellowstone.

North America Travel FAQs:

Q: Is there public transportation in North America?

A: Yes, but it’s not as efficient or cost-effective as public transportation in other parts of the world. At least in the U.S., it’s severely lacking in convenience in many cities. If you’re visiting a huge U.S. city like New York or Chicago, you’ll have plenty of transportation options – even if you pay more than you should for them. In smaller cities and towns, it could be all but nonexistent.

Consider Madison, WI (my hometown), a city of 270,000 people…without a single train. We have a poorly run bus system, and that’s it. The closest train is an hour and a half drive away in Milwaukee.

Q: How to get a local SIM when traveling to the U.S.?

A: In most airports around the country you can purchase SIM cards in convenience shops around the terminal – like Hudson News. Temporary cell phone data in the U.S. costs around $60/month.

Q: What is the currency in North America and how do I get it?

A: The U.S. takes the United States Dollar while Canada takes the Canadian Dollar. The easiest way to get either of these currencies is from a reliable ATM. Follow some basic practices when taking cash out in a foreign country:

–Make sure your bank knows you’ll be traveling (and where) so your card isn’t declined
–Hide your PIN number when you type it in
–Only use ATM machines attached to a bank or another reputable establishment

Q: What is the drinking culture like in North America?

A: Canada is definitely more chill about drinking than the U.S. Growing up in Wisconsin and attending a U.S. university has left me shooketh in other countries where no one gives a shit who’s drinking a beer or where. The drinking age in the U.S. is 21 (stupid af, right?) and most cities are very strict about enforcing this law. If you look under 30, chances are you’ll be carded everywhere you order a drink. Be sure to have your ID on you!

Excluding a few very special cities, most places in the U.S. have open container laws. Essentially, if you’re drinking on public property and a cop catches you, prepare to be apprehended and fined.