A heavyweight on the world stage, the United States has more to offer travellers than Hollywood movies make out. Yes, you'll find much-filmed cities like New York and L.A., cultural hotspots like New Orleans and aching cool in Miami. But you'll also find vast open spaces, the Wild West and wilderness, sticky tropical air and magnificent glacial waterways flanked by ice.
Head to New York City for the Statue of Liberty, Broadway and the best gherkin pastrami bagel that money can buy. Move on to Washington DC for monuments and museums, Boston for ivy-clad history and fly on to LA, Chicago, New Orleans or Miami for different tastes of the US of A.
Experience the jigsaw geography of Southeast Alaska and kayak alone with the seals. Check out Glacier Bay National Park and the frontier towns of Juneau and Ketchikan. Walk the shores of the Arctic Ocean and scan icy horizons for the Northern Lights and breaching whales.
Kick off in cool Miami and stroll and strut around South Beach. Check out the natural wonder of the Everglades then pick up a car and cruise down the keys to Hemingway's colourful Key West. Stop off at Cocoa Beach and Bahia Honda State Park, looking out for conch shells and swimming with dolphins.
Big, bold and frequently misunderstood, to travel to the USA is not so much to visit a country as to explore a continent and a living legend. From aching expanses of wilderness to the most congested and confident sass on earth, attitude is big business here.
And each time I visit, I want to return to find out more.
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." Abraham Lincoln.
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The best way to make a trip happen is just to book a ticket and let the adrenaline make everything else fall into place.
However, there are some key things to check out first. ALWAYS check out the health and safety advice for the region you're travelling to and make sure you're up to date with any recommended vaccinations and healthcare procedures. After that, it's up to you whether or not you book accommodation now or figure it out when you get there - or whether you'd prefer to let someone else take care of all the logistics for you through an individually designed tour.
For my general recommendations on equipment, tour operators and more, visit the Travel Resources page. For tips specific to the USA, read on below.
As ever, with any advice you find on the web, this is meant for help and guidance only. Always check with your own doctor, embassy, lawyer and spouse before making any irreversible plans...