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However you plan to get around America, check out our useful guide

Consider doing a tour

As it can be both difficult and expensive for young people under 25 to hire a car in the USA, you might like to consider doing a tour with a reputable small group adventure travel operator, helping you make the most of your time and money on your journey through the USA.

They’ll not only take care of all the driving, leaving you refreshed and ready to have fun when you reach your destination, but you’ll also benefit from your tour leaders local knowledge, enjoying the companionship of your fellow travellers (very important) and experiencing things that are virtually impossible to do when travelling on your own.

Travelling by train

Long-distance trains are the most relaxing and enjoyable way to see America in style. Amtrak’s 25,000 mile network features more than 500 destinations, including such tourist essentials as San Francisco, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. It may be faster by plane, even allowing for airport journeys and security checks, but for anyone not in a rush trains have many advantages. The pace is ideal for sightseeing, it's a great way to meet the natives, you can sleep comfortably, stretch out or walk around, and you stay in touch with some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.

Ticket prices are often less than the air fare and overseas visitors can choose from a range of passes that make this one of the world's great travel bargains. You can stop off en route as often and for as long you wish, although it's best to allow at least an hour between connections. Note: Passes can only be purchased outside the USA so buy one before you leave home. A full list of Amtrak agents abroad, as well as everything else you need to know about North American train travel, can be found in the USA by Rail guidebook.


As a visitor, you can drive in the United States if you have a UK valid drivers license (but not a provisional one). If you are entering as a temporary resident you need to get a driving license from the appropriate state authority when you arrive.

Driving laws vary from state to state. Speed limits are measured in miles per hour like the UK but make sure you check the road signs, as speed limits can vary a lot. As a general rule you could follow this...

Motorways - 75mph
Urban stretches - 70mph
Dual carriageways - 65mph
Outside built-up areas - 50-65mph
Built-up areas - 25-35mph

Speed limits are strictly enforced in many states, especially the highly populated eastern areas. In the western states, enforcement can be much more lax and motorists often drive at 85mph or more.


Speed and drink driving limits are lower than in the UK. If you are planning to hire a car in the United States you are advised to get an International Driving Permit before you leave the UK. Most car hire firms insist that you need to have held a full license for at least one year. The minimum age for hiring a car is 21, although it can be as high as 25, and there is often an additional charge for drivers who are under 25.