Driving across the States

Guest Article

Backpacking in the United States presents a world of travel possibilities with the bus, train and air transport system. However, the US has such a love affair with the car it would be wrong of today’s backpackers to ignore the car hire comparison websites which would allow them to see exactly what they want to on these famous highways at a reasonable cost, especially when travelling as a group with traditional light luggage!

The States is one of the largest land-masses under one federal government in the world and presents a variety of terrain, weather, accent and customs. There are so many famous sites scattered across the country it would be a shame to have to miss any because a public transit route makes things tricky.

For the ambitious, there are 52 states to visit, but even the most frugal backpacker would run out of funds before completing any journey involving all. Hawaii and Alaska providing particular physical barriers!

Popular routes across country are immortalised in stories of Route 66, which originally ran from Chicago to LA crossing 8 states. The route, although preserved in places has been largely superseded by the modern Interstate Highway system but this same system has provided plenty of popular routes, which are taken by today’s traveller.

The northern most cross country route takes the I-90 from Boston to Seattle. Taking in the New England historical highlights of Boston and filling up with the Capes delicious seafood before you set off, prepare to be dazzled by Niagara, stunned by lakes Erie and Michigan, blown away by the windy city of Chicago, spooked by the expanse of Badlands National Park and dwarfed by Mount Rushmore’s famous carved faces. Set your watch by Old Faithful and the grandeur of Yellowstone and arrive in Seattle to sample West Coast cuisine.

Prefer to keep the sea in sight? Then try the Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast from LA to San Francisco. You can take in the most scenic places such as Yosemite National Park with its granite cliffs, waterfalls and giant sequoia trees, Big Sur, the fabulous twisting line of rocky beaches, The Hearst Mansion and the incredibly familiar Golden Gate Bridge. Passing through Santa Barbara, Monterey and Santa Cruz will afford plenty of entertainment along the way!

Meanwhile over on the East Coast, fly into New York City and walk around the city which will feels like home owing to it being the world’s biggest film lot! See Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building and window shop on 5th Avenue. Pick up a car once you leave Manhattan and cruise down the Garden State Parkway to the playground of Atlantic City. Stop in Philadelphia for a Philly cheese steak and head on the I-95 to Washington DC to experience the nation’s capital. If all the history gets the better of you here, you can follow the I-95 south through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Georgia and visit the battlefields and towns made infamous by the American Civil War.

Wherever you head, the United States has something for everyone and the interstate will take you as far as you wish to go.

Linda is a freelance writer and bookseller who, following 19 years in IT for a large airline, loves to write about the places she has visited. She also adores her other job as a bookseller in a local bookstore.