Thinking about visiting the United States? Reasons for that are numerous, and you are bound to have a great time, meet interesting people, learn more about history and culture, and make great memories. But before you pack your things and go, there’s a lot to learn about traveling to the USA. Read on to see everything you need to know before your USA trip.
It’s a really big country
The USA is a big country, we all know that, but have you ever wondered just how big it is? Before you head to the US, it’s useful to learn a basic thing or two about the country. So, the USA is about 3.8 million square miles big and home to 327.2 million people. Not only the biggest, but the US is also one of the most popular and powerful countries in the world. Bearing in mind, it’s a huge country, the best way to travel long distances is by plane. For example, if you were to drive 2800 miles from New York to Los Angeles without stopping, it would take you 40 hours. Of course, long drives may suit people who want to make a cross-country road trip.
You’ve probably seen it a lot on TV; people leave tips whenever they’re in a restaurant, coffee shop, or elsewhere. That’s not just for the show; the USA has a tipping culture, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Tipping a waiter for his or her service is an entirely natural thing. In fact, the lack of tipping is considered rude. Bearing in mind the minimum wage in the US is low, it’s recommended to leave a 15% to 20% tip to compensate. Many countries around the globe don’t have the tipping culture, so it’s easy to overlook that in America, try not to.
You may pay more than price tag shows
When you’re in the store about to purchase some product, the logical flow of events is that you pay exactly what’s displayed on the tag. But, that is not always the case in the US, so you should be prepared to pay more than that. Why? The reason is simple: most prices you see in stores exclude sales tax. Therefore, when you’re on the checkout, the cashier says you need to pay more than you initially thought. If that happens, bear in mind it’s not a mistake, and the cashier isn’t trying to take your money. Sales tax varies from one state to another, but generally speaking, it’s at least 10% in addition to the total cost. The same applies to accommodation.
You need proper documentation
Wherever you want to go in the world, you need to have proper documentation first. Therefore, the most important thing to take care of prior to the USA trip is to make sure your passport is valid, and you have a valid visa. That also means you may need to obtain a visa if you don’t have one because it’s required for people from most countries. Also, people from Visa Waiver Program countries need their ESTA visa. Before you go to the US or start planning your trip, make sure you apply or perform an ESTA application check online. To apply for this visa, you will need to provide basic information, valid passport, payment details, and other relevant information in an online application process that takes about 25 minutes or less.
Public transportation isn’t the best
Bearing in mind the US is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, one might expect their public transportation system would be incredibly functional, but it’s not. While some cities have decent public transportation systems, others don’t, and you may need a car. Renting a car is not allowed for people younger than 25. But luckily, there’s always Uber, Lyft, cab, or other services.
Other things to know
- Americans are friendly and will gladly show you directions
- English is the spoken language
- Climate is different across the country so dress and pack accordingly if you plan to see different areas
- No metric system so make sure you know how to convert values for length, weight, and pretty much everything else
- Road trip is the best way to explore the whole country
- Food portions are huge
- State laws differ so you may want to explore what’s legal or illegal in each state you will be visiting
Before you travel to the US, make sure you have a valid passport, proper documentation, and know laws of the states where you will be spending your time. In terms of prices, some things are expensive in the US, but when you know where to look and shop, you may end up paying a reasonable amount, just bear in mind prices are shown excluding sales tax.