Backpacking is a great and easy way to see the sights. While hiking across Europe has been talked about for decades, did you know you can backpack in the U.S. as well? Attempting to cross the entire nation would take some time, but many backpackers choose to do so along the coast, either the west coast, the east coast, or even island hop on the Hawaiian Islands for the time of your life. This type of travel allows you to slow down a bit and take the time to visit and enjoy the sights. There are several sleeping options along the way, as well as travel options from destination to destination. Don’t forget you pack and get ready for an excellent experience.

backpack usa

Ways to Getting Around

The U.S. is incredibly huge, with thousands of miles between the coasts, so backpacking across the entire area may not be feasible or safe. Vehicles and Campers are great ways to get around. When you arrive at your destination, then you can reach for that pack and go exploring. Campers are easy to rent and can range anywhere from full on the motorhome to a small pop-up camper you can tow behind you. You can also travel by bus and in some cases train, like Amtrak, depending on where you are going as it may not be available to your destination. Bus lines to consider in the U.S. are Greyhound, SuperShuttle, and Megabus.

motorhome usa backpack

Where to Stay

On your adventure across the states, you will need a place to stay. But where? Camping is available throughout the entire nation and a little research ahead of time will provide you the information you need on where to camp. Camping can be with your vehicle, camper, or just a tent, whatever with who you are traveling. Most camping areas have some amenities such as toilets, showers, fire rings, etc., and if you look ahead of time, you can find some in the National Parks that have fantastic views and great backpacking opportunities. Most of the major cities in the U.S. have hostels as well. Keep in mind that not all the cities do have hostels, just some of the larger ones especially along the east and west coasts, as those are popular backpacking areas.


Popular Routes

Three popular routes seem to be backpacker favorites. Those are:

  • California Coast
  • Hawaiian Island Hopping
  • East Coast Adventure

California Coast

The scenery of the California Coast is stunning, not to mention the mild weather, cliffs, ocean views and friendly people out to have fun in the sun. The best way to backpack here is to have your vehicle because then you can stop for tours and see some of the sights on your timing as well as some fun stops. You can take the bus, but you may miss out on some stops. The best route is from Los Angles north of San Francisco. Along the way, you can see the Channel Islands, Big Sur Country, Santa Maria Valley, and central coast region. California has beaches, festivals, wineries, high-end resorts, camping, old missions, golf courses, surfing and don’t forget to catch one of the infamous trolleys at your final destination in San Francisco.

The suggested time frame for this trip is seven to ten days so that you can see and enjoy all the sights with enough time. The California coast is legendary and a great place to backpack!

California Coast

Adventure on the East Coast

On the opposite coast is the option to backpack from the starting point of New York and end in Montreal. You could also combine Montreal to Toronto and see the amazing and famous Niagara Falls. New York is a fabulous starting point because there are so many things to see and do, you could spend a week just there! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Broadway, the Empire State building and the list goes on and on. Experience the New England area and see some of the famous beaches and watch the sea lions dance in the ocean. Make sure to grab some clam chowder or fresh lobster for some of the best seafood you will ever eat.

Start in New York and head to Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Burlington and the finally, Montreal. The weather during the late fall, winter and early spring months can be severe, with major blizzards and cold snaps, so plan accordingly. The best time to travel is in late spring, summer and early fall, especially early fall to see all the trees change colors for some beautiful scenery. The suggested time frame for this trip is anywhere from a week to twelve days needed to see everything.

Niagara Falls

Hop Around the Hawaiian Islands

Paradise awaits you on the Hawaiian Islands. Half the battle will be getting to the islands, as flights are for the most part expensive, but now and then good deals can be found. Once you step foot on this paradise, the islands are yours. Experience some of the most famous beaches in the world, see Pearl Harbor, visit a National Park and experience the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle on a tropical island, or two.

The islands all offer their unique features and beauty, and while you’re there, you can see as much, or as little, as you like. Do some whale watching, splash in the ocean, catch a boat tour, or walk around the towns and cities. There are five islands to explore, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island and Molokai. Hostels can be found on all except Molokai. The suggested time frame is two weeks or more to see all the islands and take your time experiencing some of the most beautiful and famous places on the globe.


Acquire a Visa to Visit the U.S.

If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you may need a visa to enter the U.S. to visit. Applying for a visa may take some time, so plan your trip appropriately. There is plenty of information online that can help you determine how and where to apply.

The Experience Awaits

Backpacking throughout the U.S. can be done. Hostels are available in most larger cities and even on the Hawaiian Islands. Do some proper research before you go and ask people along the way for safe suggestions on travel, where to stay and where to dine. Experience the two coasts or hop the tropical islands of Hawaii. Backpacking in the U.S. is exciting and will not disappoint. So plan your trip, as the experience awaits you!


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