• Login
Western USA
  • Compare your :
  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Flight + Hotel
  • Private Rentals
  • Cars
  • Holidays
  • Destination

Practical information Western USA

Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Section editor

Western USA : Travel Information before you go!

Area

The State of Washington covers 71,300 miČ, Oregon 98,380 miČ, Montana 147,041 miČ, Idaho 83,570 miČ, Wyoming 97,814 miČ, Nevada 110,560 miČ, Utah 84,899 miČ, Colorado 104,094 miČ, Arizona 113,998 miČ and New Mexico 121,589 miČ.

Flights

Many different airlines fly to the Western United States from the UK, including Air France, American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, British Airways and KLM. Travellers usually have to take at least one connecting flight, either in Europe or the US.

Direct flights with American Airways from London and Manchester to Seattle take around 11 hours.

Jet Lag

The states of Washington, Oregon and Nevada (Pacific Time) are 8 hours behind the UK.

The states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico (Mountain Time) are 7 hours behind the UK.

Like in the UK, the clocks change in all of these states in the summer, with the exception of Arizona, which is therefore 8 hours behind the UK in the summer and 7 hours behind in the winter.

Population

In total, the Western United States is home to 33,414,239 inhabitants.

In 2012, the State of Washington had a population of 6,897,012 inhabitants, Oregon 3,899,353 inhabitants, Montana 1,005,141 inhabitants, Idaho 1,595,728 inhabitants, Wyoming 576,412 inhabitants, Nevada 2,758,931 inhabitants, Utah 2,855,287 inhabitants, Colorado 5,187,582 inhabitants, Arizona 6,553,255 inhabitants and New Mexico 2,085,538 inhabitants.

Airports

Seattle-Tacoma Airport is situated to the south of Seattle, and is one of the principal airports on America's West Coast.

Others include Denver International Airport (Colorado) located northwest of the city centre, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Arizona) located east of the city centre, and Salt Lake City International Airport (Utah) located west of the city centre.

Security

The United States is not an unsafe place for tourists. Nevertheless, given that numerous roads in the Western United States run through very long stretches of desert, it's important to take the necessary precautions. If you plan on making a long car journey through the deserts of Arizona or New Mexico, be sure to take plenty of water with you and stay hydrated throughout the day. You are also advised to check the road conditions before setting off.

There are a number of dangerous animals in the region, including brown bears, grizzly bears and wolves in the north and snakes in the deserts of the southwest. Thankfully, they don't tend to come near humans and so they are rarely encountered.

Languages

English is the official language of the United States and is spoken throughout the whole country. Although not an official language, Spanish is widely spoken, espcially in the south. You'll also find pockets of the country speaking French as well as a few native languages fighting for survival.

Required travel documents for

British citizens' passports must be valid for the entire duration of their time in the United States, however, there is no need to have extra validity beyond this. That said, it is always wise to have some extra time on there just in case of any unforseen circumstances that arise while you are in the US which might delay your departure.

Those with 'British Citizen' marked on the photo page of their passport do not need a visa to enter the United States and qualify to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travellers with any other status appearing on their passport, as well as those who fall into a number of other categories, will have to apply for a visa at the US embassy.

Those who are able to go to the US under the VWP must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applicaiton as soon as possible before their date of travel. This application determines an individual's eligibility to enter the country. Once accepted, you will be free to travel under the same application for a period of 2 years, or until your passport runs out (if it expires within those two years). After two years you will have to re-apply. You will also need to re-apply for the ESTA if any of your personal details change.

For full details for entry requirements into the US, go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Religion

Protestantism is the main religion in the United States, but with the large community of Latin Americans living in California, Catholicism is also widely represented. The Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim religions are also represented, as well as a litany of more or less eccentric sects and cults, inspired by the way of life called the "new age".

Currency

The currency is the United States Dollar (USD), the rate of which can fluctuate quite significantly (so withdraw or change a small amount at a time). The dollar consists of 100 cents. The country has many bureaux de change, and you'll have no problem cashing travellers cheques, but the exchange rates offered at the airports are higher than those you'll find in towns. There are plenty of ATM machines and 24-hour banking facilities in all the towns, enabling you to withdraw cash anywhere with any international credit card. Payment by card is common, but cheques are rarely used. Banks are generally open from 9:00am to 4:00pm from Monday to Friday and from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays.

Local transportation

Getting around the United States can be as easy or as difficult as you want! Of course for the most amount of freedom, a car is by far the best option. A vehicle-friendly nation, you can get just about anywhere by car. The minimum age required to hire a car in the US changes according to the rental company and the state, but in a wide number of cases you must be a minimum of 25 to be covered by the insurance they provide. Speed limits also differ from state to state so if you are travelling inter-state make sure you know the different rules so as not to get caught out. There are a plethora of rental agencies present in every state meaning you can pick up in one place and drop off in another.

Other options for getting around the country are by internal flight (operated by all major US airlines as well as some local ones such as Jet Blue, Southwest, Virgin etc), Amtrack (the rail network, although there are huge chunks of the country not served by the company) or by bus (much slower, but cheap, reliable and it serves more destinations). Greyhound and Peter Pan are two of the largest bus companies operating in the US.

Health

No particular vaccine is required, but very good health insurance is strongly recommended (care and repatriation costs) in case of an illness or accident as medical costs are very expensive in the United States.

Electricity

Voltage in the United States is 110 V, 60 Hz. Electrical plugs have two or three flat pins. Adaptor needed.

Tourist numbers

There were 62 million international visitors ot the US in 2011.

Taxes and tips

In general, prices in the United States do not include tax, so make sure you factor that in before making a purchase. You can find the different rates here.

Telephone

To call the USA from the UK, dial: 00 1 + the area code (for example 208 for Idaho) + the number you are trying to reach.

To call the UK from the USA, dial: 011 + 44 + the number without the initial 0.

To reach the emergency services in the United States, dial: 911 (police, fire brigade and ambulance).

Western USA : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

United States Embassy
24 Grosvernor Square, London, W1A 2LQ, United Kingdom. Tel: [44] ( 0 ) 20 7499-9000.http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/
U.S. Consulate General - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Danesford House, 223 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5GR. Tel: [44] (0) 28 9038 6100
U.S. Consulate General - Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH7 5BH. Tel: [44] (0) 131 556-8315.

At the destination

British Consulate-General
1 Sansome Street, Suite 850, San Francisco, CA 94104. Tel: (415) 434 2018.
11766 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-6538. Tel: (310) 481 0031.
Tourist offices in California
Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
633, W 5th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles. Tel: (213) 624 7300.
San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
900, Market Street, San Francisco. Tel: (415) 362 7323.