U.K. Travelers Guide to Getting Around the U.S.A.

If you plan to visit the United States on holiday, you may be wondering how to get from city to city, state to state or – for the truly adventurous – from the Atlantic to Pacific.

Getting Around in the States

You have a lot of options including several low-cost airlines, buses, some train service. Big cities also have subways, taxis, municipal buses and the increasingly popular Uber car service. A good app for city visitors is HopStop which pinpoints your closest public transportation options, plus walking times, directions and more.

But if you want to do as Americans do, get yourself behind the wheel of a car. Preferably a convertible.

Driving in America: What to Know

Outside of commutes to work in rush-hour traffic, Americans love to drive. The interstate highway system is generally very good and so are most secondary roads but yes, you’ll likely run into some bumps along the way (literally). Always be alert to your surroundings, which is good advice for most situations in any country. Here are a few other things you should know.

  • Driver’s Licenses: Your U.K. driver’s license is acceptable in the U.S. but provisional licenses are not.
  • Renting a Car: Most car rental companies require that you have held a full license for at least one year, regardless of age. The minimum age for renting a car is normally 21 although it can be as high as 25.
  • Before You Drive: Your seat belt must be buckled.
  • Where to Drive: On the right side of the road.
  • How Fast to Drive: Obey the posted speed limit. On interstate highways, this usually ranges from 65 to 70 mph (miles per hour) but it can vary.
  • Breakdowns: If you are a member of AA or similar organization, contact them before you travel to see if this entitles you to reciprocal benefits with the U.S. automobile club and how to contact them for services.

What Driving in U.S. Looks Like: There are several videos on YouTube (and elsewhere) about driving in the U.S. Unfortunately, a lot of them feature a good bit of joking around or the drivers are going way too fast, so we settled for this one – even though the driver says “most [American roads] are along some ocean” conveniently forgetting the zillion or so square miles within U.S. that are not along “some ocean”.

But the gentleman makes some good points and the proceedings take place along California’s lovely Pacific Coast Highway so perhaps it’s worth a look (it’s short, too).


Published: July 15, 2014