The United States is the perfect destination to explore by motorhome. The size of the country means that distances between cities and places of interest can be quite large. With a motorhome, you have the freedom to go wherever you want. You are no longer dependent on public transport, and you do not have to worry about booking hotels during your trip. For a motorhome trip across America, a number of preparations are required, including applying for an ESTA.
Planning your route
The United States is a huge country. The distance from the east coast to the west coast is about 4,500 kilometres. From New York in the east to San Francisco in the west, it takes almost two full days by motorhome. It is therefore necessary to focus on one or a few regions at most, depending on the number of weeks you spend in America. To make the most of your time in the USA, it is a good idea to map out a route in advance. Do not be fooled by the distances between cities and national parks, and stick to a maximum travel distance of, for example, 200 kilometres per day.
Popular states in America for a motorhome trip include California, Florida and Alaska. California is popular for its famous cities Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco and its many national parks, such as Yosemite, Death Valley and Sequoia National Park. Florida is also popular because of its pleasant climate. Itʼs called the Sunshine State of America for a reason. The state is well suited for a tour with a motorhome due to the many camping sites. Alaska is the perfect destination for those who prefer to explore unspoilt nature. A tour of The Last Frontier requires a bit more preparation, as there are fewer campsites in the state and the road network is generally of poorer quality.
What driving licence and other documents do I need?
In the United States, motorhomes with a maximum weight of 3,500 kilograms can be rented with a standard UK or Irish driving licence. It is therefore not officially required to carry an international driving licence. However, rental companies in America often require an international driving licence in addition to the UK or EU driving licence. It is therefore advisable to get an international driving licence before you leave, or to check with the rental company of your motorhome whether your own licence suffices.
For a trip to the USA, you will also need an ESTA or a visa. The ESTA is an electronic travel authorisation that is usually granted within 3 days after submitting the application. UK and EU tourists generally meet the requirements of the ESTA and therefore do not need to apply for a US visa. As the ESTA is easier, cheaper and faster to apply for than the visa, most travellers opt for the ESTA.
Usage of credit cards is widespread in the USA, and some companies might only offer payment via credit card. Debit cards or bank cards are less common.
Staying at campsites or dispersed camping?
There are campsites all over the country offering facilities such as toilets, drinking water, electricity and picnic tables. It is advisable to book campsites in advance as campsites can be booked up quickly, especially in the high season. Campsites near national parks are the most popular and as a result need to be booked further in advance. On the website of the American Bureau of Land Management, you will find a list and an interactive map of campsites and RV parks in the USA.
Dispersed camping is allowed on most public lands in America. You cannot camp at the same site for more than 14 days, and you cannot leave behind any rubbish or hazardous substances. Certain areas are closed to dispersed camping, for example areas where campers have a negative impact on the animals that live there.
Apply for ESTA visa online
If you plan to hire a motorhome in the United States, apply for an ESTA visa immediately. The American authorities recommend that you submit your ESTA application at least 72 hours before departure. Are you leaving for America within a few days, and you did not apply for an ESTA yet? Then you can submit an urgent application. Urgent applications for an ESTA are on average approved within an hour.
With an ESTA, you can stay in America for a maximum of 90 days per visit. This will give you more than enough time to make an extensive tour by motorhome. Do you want to stay in America longer than 90 consecutive days? Then you need to apply for a US visa.