Where to stay in United States of America
There is lots of great accommodation in the USA, including a majority of modern national and international hotel and motel chains, often with reasonable prices. In general, the quality of accommodation is high, with standard amenities such as television, telephone and very often broadband or Wi-Fi in each room. Hotels expect payment in advance and reservations are held until around 1800, unless late arrival is requested. Check-out is often at 1100 or noon.
Several hospitality companies offer a pre-paid voucher programme for use at various hotel and motel chains throughout the USA.
Grading: Basic categories fall into Super, Deluxe, Standard, Moderate and Economy. Prices vary according to standards.
Bed and breakfast
This long-established tradition in the UK is now spreading across the USA. Bed & Breakfast signs are not generally displayed by individual homes, but most homes offering this service are listed in directories, which may be purchased by interested travellers. 'Bed & Breakfast inns' have up to 20 or so rooms, and are distinguished from 'country inns' in that the latter offer meals as well as breakfast.
This is extremely popular, especially in the Rocky Mountains and New England. The camping season in the north lasts from mid May to mid September; reservations are recommended if camping during the high season. Camping alongside highways and in undesignated areas is prohibited.
The 24,000-plus campsites fall into two general categories:
Public sites: Usually linked with national or state parks and forests, offering modest but comfortable facilities from US$10-22 per night. Most of them will have toilet blocks, electricity hook-ups and picnic areas. Campsites are usually operated on a first-come, first-served basis and will often restrict the length of stay. Advance reservations are possible at some national parks.
Privately run sites:These range from basic to resort luxury. Most have laundry and drying facilities, entertainment and information services. Reservations can be made through a central reservation office in the USA. Fees range from around US$20-40.
Backcountry camping (a general term for areas inaccessible by road) requires a permit, available free of charge from Visitor Centres or Ranger Stations. Visitors are advised not to drink water from rivers and streams without taking recommended precautions. It is also important to check fire regulations and inform respective park rangers of planned itinerary before setting out to a backcountry area.
RVs (recreational vehicles, or camper vans) are available for hire.
Other accomodationThere are several agents who offer home exchange programmes between Americans and nationals of other countries.
There are over 2,660 YMCA centres throughout the USA. Membership is not necessary but reservations should be made two days prior to arrival via the Head Offices. The YMCA offers centrally located accommodation at attractive rates, coast to coast throughout the USA. Most centres offer single and double accommodation for both men and women and many also have sports facilities.
Youth hostels offer their members simple, inexpensive, overnight accommodation usually located in scenic, historical or cultural places. HI-AYH (Hostelling International - American Youth Hostels) operates some 150 hostels in both urban and rural locations. Membership is open to everyone, with no age limit. European visitors should secure membership before travelling.
There are ranches all over the southern and western States offering riding, participation in cattle drives, and activity holidays in mountain and lakeland settings.
Self-catering facilities, known in the USA as apartments, condominiums ('condos'), efficiencies or villas, are also available.