The Statue of Liberty.  Mount Rushmore.  Jazz.  The Grand Canyon.  The Hollywood sign.  Death Valley.  Santa Monica Pier.  Yosemite.  The Golden Gate Bridge.  Yellowstone.  Route 66.  The White House.  Vegas.  Disneyland.

The USA is truly larger than life: a place so documented in pop culture that to visit there feels, in the strangest and yet most comforting sense, uncannily familiar: a feeling of coming home - and yet completely unlike anything you were expecting.

Each city is its own microcosm of culture: LA electrically hums with the energy of dreamers, artists and wide-eyed hopefuls; whilst in Las Vegas, the feeling of excitement, freedom and revel is palpable - everyone is there to have a good time.  And Americans are a friendly lot: generous, polite and always up for a chat. 

We might have known to pack jeans in a larger size even for such a short stay: truly, the dining experience in the USA is reason enough to visit.  From authentic Mexican cuisine to hot dogs at Disneyland, to the world class all you can eat buffets in Vegas, America is a food lover's paradise: and it's fantastic value for money to boot.

At least if you're an Aussie thinking of planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to LA, there's never been a better time. There are seemingly squillions of flights and holiday packages for a week in LA going cheaper than holidays to Thailand at the moment and we think that's amazing.  California is breathtaking, the people are lovely souls, and we think it should be on everyone's travel bucket list.  But with so many of these package deals only offering five night stays, is that REALLY enough time to be able to see and do what you want to do in California?  We think so.  Whilst of course a week isn't nearly enough time to see and do EVERYTHING in southern California (we had to sacrifice seeing a few things in order to really be able to enjoy others), we were able to cover a lot of ground in one week, including a fantastic road trip across the desert for a weekend in Vegas, two days in Disneyland and a day trip to San Diego.  We put together a guide for how we did it.  

We absolutely loved our time in the USA and hope to be able to go back someday soon so that we can add to this guide.  Watch this space.

Facts

Population: 323.1 million (2016) | Capital: Washington DC | Land Area: 9.834 million sq km | Language: English | Religion: Christian  | Currency: US Dollar (USD) | Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5) (UDT-4), Central Time (UTC-6) (UDT-5), Mountain Time (UTC-7) (UDT-6), Pacific Time (UTC-8) (UDT-7), Alaska Time (UTC-9) (UDT-8), Hawaii-Aleutian Time (UTC-10) (UDT-9) | Drives On: Right

TRAVEL COSTS PER DAY ($aud) (BASED ON MID-RANGE TRAVEL)

Accommodation: $200 twin share | Food: $40 pp | Local Transport: $30 pp  | Travel Between Cities: $152 pp | Attractions: $50 - $150 pp | Alcohol: $7 | Tipping: 15-20% of the pre-tax bill, $2-$5 per night for housekeeping