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First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

Glasgow, Scotland...
Level Contributor
97 posts
28 reviews
First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice


I am just about to book my flights to travel to America in September for 3 weeks, I will be travelling alone for the first time and I am a little nervous about this. I had originally planned to do a Trek America tour but I thought they where so expensive and I would rather plan my own! I worry a little about meeting people hopefully that won't be a problem as I'm staying mostly in Hostels again for the first time. I'm really just looking for any advice on travelling alone, eating out, meeting people etc, when i'm in New York I would want a night out and a few drinks. I'll put my rough itinerary below and if you could have a look, any suggestions to change it or better ways to travel/things to visit would be great !

5 nights in New York - staying at Hi Hostel (anyone stayed here?. apparently it's great for activities thought this would help in meeting fellow solo travelers)

Megabus - (can't believe how cheap it is) from New York to Washington DC

2 nights in DC again staying at Hi Hostel

Amtrak - from DC to Chicago

2 nights in Chicago again probably in Hi Hostel

Amtrak Californian Zephyr (always wanted to do this)

Stop of for 2 nights in Glenwood Springs, was planning on spending a bit extra here and booking a nice hotel just to relax for these 2 days in the middle of the trip.

Back on the Zephyr to San Francisco

5 nights in San Francisco again probably in Hi Hostel or USA International Hostel

then probably totally exhausted i'll be off home!

any help would be appreciated

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
22,197 posts
292 reviews
1. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

Greetings Jim,

Have your electronics charged before flight to the U.S.

NYC Airport, & Amtrak Stations have info kiosks.

Don't leave your jacket, coat, bag, or backpack unattended, watch your electronics, & protect your private info on them.

Don't count money on the street, keep your money in front pants pocket, & inside jacket pocket.

A secure lock for your bag/backpack & hostel locker.

Watch where you are walking, esp. using your electronics on the street.

On the train, don't leave your items behind when you use the restroom, or the snack bar.

Consider picking up, instant oatmeal packets, trail mix, & snacks for the train, if you ask for a cup of hot water, they will usually give you one, Tip Jar is on the counter.

A few links below.



Food, Fun and Getting About in NYC







Food, Fun and Getting About in D.C. Area






I hope this info helps.

Come & Enjoy!

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
68,187 posts
72 reviews
2. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice


I assume you will also post specific questions in each of the forums for the cities you are visiting. The Hi Hostel in NYC is in a great upper west side location with lots of restaurants/bars/sidewalk cafes etc in walking distance. Your profile doesn't give your age but if you are over 21 then eating at bars that are located inside restaurants is a good way to meet other solo travelers. The normal restaurant menu is served right at the bar and you can chat with people instead of sitting alone at a table.

In San Francisco the HI Hostel Fort Mason is in a nicer location than the ones that say "downtown" . The public transport in that city will get you around to wherever you need to go.

DO follow the great advice above about watching your belongings!!

Level Contributor
1,533 posts
45 reviews
3. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

a small cable lock may be useful for those long train and bus rides. Realistically you will probably have to leave some stuff on the seat to go to the restroom but if you can secure everything inside a single bag, and secure that to the seat with a cable lock you will likely be fine. (Obviously critical things like passport /money/phone should be on your person at all times). Also be aware of securing your belongings if you fall asleep. One of my friends had her wallet stolen while she slept on the train. of course the majority of people will have no interest in you or your stuff but it only takes once.

Oh yes, buy trip insurance that covers medical expenses!

Edited: 10 January 2015, 20:31
Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Charlottesville, Virginia, County Donegal, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
22,197 posts
292 reviews
4. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

Jan. 10, 2015 Not all info relates to EU & other Citizens traveling, however, there are a number of general tips for any traveler.

Air Travel Forum

Travel Tips

Aug 28, 2014, 8:53 PM

Recently on this Forum a traveler was in need of assistance, hopefully the following 'Travel Tips' may provide info that will avoid problems while traveling. This info is for everyone, from the novice, to the well seasoned traveler. Some suggestions, may be common sense to you, but, think about a newbie, (the unseasoned) traveling in today's World.

Your Documents, Passport, Visa, Travel I.D. Card, make colored copies, do not put them in your luggage, consider a security neck wallet, for your PP, I.D. credit & debit cards, front & back copies of both.

Does your passport need to be renewed before traveling?

Info for U.S. Citizens




Do you have emergency contact info for your Embassy & Consular, from the Country that issued you, your Passport?

EU Countries Official Emergency phone contact number> 112.

Are all of your documents, Passport, including airline tickets in your full name? (including middle name?)

Copies of your airline ticket, reservations, accommodations & vehicle rental, (consider travel insurance).

Copies of your Rx eyeglasses.

Copies of your Medication Rx.

Leave the jewelry at home. Why be an easy mark?

Leaving pads, tablets, cell phone's & devices, unlocked, w/your personal info on it.

Charging your electronics at the airport, & walking away for a minute.

Leaving your jacket, bag, on the back of a chair, easy pickings.

Using the rest room, hanging your bag on the stall door.

Leaving your items in the rest room.

Courtesy of AARP


Courtesy of USA Today


Do not put your home address, or, your Nationality, on your luggage tags.

Use your cell # for contact.

Set up a free email acct., just for your luggage.

Put your business card, or, an index card in your luggage, w/cell # ,or, an email address (set up just for luggage).

Use your first night's accommodation address.

Again, do not leave your personal info, (documents or copies) in your luggage, or, in your address book.

Being distracted, 'Keep Your Wit's About You' at all times.

Talking on your cell phone.

Watch where you are walking.

Be alert at the ATM machine.

Leaving your luggage unattended.

Counting money in public, divide cash into your front pockets, inside jacket pocket.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with more than one person, prearranged check-in times.

U.S. Citizens

Charge all of your electronics, before heading for your departure flight to the U.S. TSA/Homeland Security

And, yes, most of us know all of this info, consider those who may not.

Safe Traveling!

Edited: 8:58 pm, August 28, 2014

I recommend travel ins., Read all the T&C, ask questions, before accepting the coverage.

BTW, I wear a neck safety bag, which holds my two passports, d.l, i.d., c.c & d.c, travel boarding passes, cash, I keep my cell phone is in an inside zippered pocket.

Edited: 10 January 2015, 21:12
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
1,633 posts
111 reviews
5. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

When you stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, give serious thought to maybe exending your stay by a day or two and renting a car -- I know, we drive on the wrong side of the road -- and driving to Moab, Utah. It's about 200 miles/3 hours away. In Moab is Arches National Park, which I think is some of the most amazing scenery you will see anywhere in the world. It's also a nice little town with some great restaurants, too, as well as the awesome scenery.

6. Re: First time travelling alone in America - Tips/Advice

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