Things All International Travelers Should Know Before a USA Campervan Trip - Native Campervans
Things All International Travelers Should Know Before a USA Campervan Trip
The great American road trip is showcased in many classic movies. Depictions of route 66 and the open road of the west are picturesque and drive a desire among many American-born and international travelers to experience an American campervan road trip.
If you are an international traveler traveling in the USA, there is a chance barriers can be encountered that can easily be solved and prevented by researching and planning ahead of arrival. To avoid these obstacles, we have compiled a list of tips to know and research before traveling to the USA in a campervan for a great American road trip.
US Driving Tips
In the USA, the most significant difference you might encounter is that we drive on the right-hand side of the road. Some other customary rules of the road: if you are traveling down a major route or highway with multiple lanes, stick to the right lane unless you are passing (but be aware of road signs as right lanes can become exit or turn-only lanes). Always ALWAYS make sure you have more than a quarter of gas in your tank. When road-tripping, there might be times you find yourself nowhere near a gas station, and you would not want to be stranded without gas in a no-service area.
International travelers should always have American currency before their campervan adventure. You will be able to exchange currency when they arrive in the United States, either at the airport, at a bank, or at a credit union. If you do not want to travel with cash, look into a no-foreign transaction fee card that will allow you to use them overseas.
Phone services often offer international phone coverage plans or US sim cards you can purchase upon arrival and put into your phone, which can come in handy when navigating a new country. There can be obstacles you may face, and whether it’s directions or language, it will be nice to have access to emergency calls or the internet. Plus, being able to search for something on the internet if a question arises or being able to add another stop to your destination will be easiest if you have access to the internet.
Not required but highly recommended. Travel insurance is always a smart idea when traveling in a different country in case something happens. Life is unpredictable, and when experiencing nature, can lead to more accidents. If you are traveling in multiple states and planning on doing different remote outdoor activities, you should look for plans that include the states you will be traveling to as well as all situations you might encounter on your trip.
The United States is huge and has many different landscapes and ecosystems. Depending on where you go on your trip, you might encounter a wide range of weather. It is always best to research the average temperature for the time of year of each location you are visiting and pack accordingly. Remember to check the night and day temperatures, as some places have up to a 40-degree Fahrenheit difference between night and day.
When traveling the west and visiting national parks, there will be long distances when you do not have service, and you never want to find yourself lost when driving or hiking. Some ways to prevent this from happening are to invest in physical road maps and download offline maps of large areas you are planning on visiting or driving through, whether that is through a map app like Google maps / Apple maps, Mapps Me, or All Trails. All of these apps will let you download maps of areas you plan on visiting, so if you find yourself in a situation without service, you will still be able to find your way.
Unlike most other countries, when eating out at sit-down restaurants, a tip is expected to be added to the bill by you. Generally, an 18-25% tip is customary to leave. In order to get the tip amount, let’s use the example of a $60 bill with a 20% tip. Take 60 and multiply .2, and you would get $12, add those two up, and your total amount is $72. Another hack is to move the decimal place one to the left and double that number. This gives you a 20% tip. An example is if you have a $55.00 bill, you would move the decimal place over and double it. To get the final tip, it would look like this: 5.500 x 2 = $11.00.
We hope our international travelers have everything they need for a campervan trip. The most important thing to be prepared for is camping. There are a few options for camping/parking the van overnight while on your road trip. One of those places is designated campsites at or near the location you are visiting. National Parks and other parks are a great start when looking into campsites. They will have campsites nearby but often require reservations in advance. Another option is utilizing public lands. These places are overseen and owned by the government but can be used for multi-purposes. A few different websites/apps to find campsites are freecampsite.net, Dyrt.com, recreation.gov, and iOverland.com. For camping and parking overnight on public lands, we recommend downloading offline maps. You can find locations when you don’t have service. Our final suggestion might seem odd, but Walmart parking lots offer free overnight parking for travelers.
Entertainment and Other Tips
Now, this tip is not pivotal for navigating international travel, but it’s nice to have. There may be moments when you have extra time so having some entertainment is always nice.
Pre-download music, movies/shows, or audiobooks, so you do not need to use the service to listen to your preferred medium.
Cards and travel-size games are a great way to occupy your downtime when you are parked for the night.
National Park Pass!! Entrance fees into each national park can be upwards of $50 USD. If you purchase a National Park Annual Pass for $80, you will be able to enter all US National Parks.
We hope our international travelers are well-equipped for campervan vacation. We hope you feel confident to tackle a road trip across multiple states! Not sure where to go, though? Check out some of our itineraries to get some ideas for your all-American road trip!