8 Things to Know When Visiting America for the First Time

America is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There is no denying that it holds a certain allure to foreign travelers that keep people coming back time and time again with so much to see and do.

However, in the face of the recent Covid19 pandemic, international worldwide has been all but halted, and the tourism sector has taken quite a hit. However, looking forward to the end of 2021 and into 2022, the world is looking to regain its equilibrium and get everyone traveling again.

Should you wish to visit The United States of America for the first time, it is a good idea to do some research into what a trip to the States involves and the process before you even board the plane to leave your home country. 

Where Exactly Are You Going?

America is a vast country, and as such, you need to have a good idea of which part of America you want to visit. From sunny Florida, with its theme parks, sandy beaches, and beautiful weather, to Route 66 that travels through many different states, showing you some of the most scenic parts of this continent. or how about heading to Niagara Falls and taking a day trip over the border into Canada?

The options are endless, and before you even confirm any booking plans for a trip to America, you need to be certain about where exactly you are going.

Get The Right Visa

Making sure you have the correct visa to travel in plenty of time is advisable. Many different rules apply when obtaining a visa to travel to the US. The ESTA America homepage can give you all the information you need on the type of visa you need and what you can not do when traveling to America.

Cultures and Customs

America has many different customs and cultures and depending on where you travel to. You can experience everything the country has to offer in a completely different way.

For example, there is a big tipping culture, and when eating and drinking in bars and food establishments, you are expected to tip your server a percentage of your bill. An unofficial rule is to tip between 15 and 20% of your total bill as standard to account for low wages in the industry.

Health Insurance

As many people are aware, the health service in the USA is privatized, meaning; if you require hospital treatment, you will likely be landed with a huge bill.

Ensuring you have appropriate and extensive health insurance will cover the cost (over your excess sum), meaning you won’t be liable to pay for your treatment. Without health insurance, you could be left paying back thousands of dollars in healthcare costs.

Allow Time to Explore

Suppose you are planning on visiting a lot of different sights or attractions. Or even multiple states, make sure you leave sufficient time to enjoy and take in everything you want to thoroughly.

Travel times can be long, especially when you want to see more than one part of the country, and as such, air travel is always your quickest option. But try not to rush your trip and take extra time to fully immerse yourself in each place you visit to make sure you have a delightful and memorable trip.

Sales Tax

One major difference when shopping in America is that you should always be prepared to pay more than the price that is on the ticket. Sales tax isn’t included in the ticket price, and as such, you can expect that at least 10% will be added to your bill when you pay for goods. This rule also applies to accommodation too, with resort fees bumping up the total cost.

When budgeting for your trip, always remember that your bill will not be the same price as the price tag in stores will have you believe, as is the custom in other countries, notably in the UK or Europe. So it might be prudent to allow for this in your spending.

Driving Rules

Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road. This won’t be any different for many countries, and right-hand drive cars will feel easier to navigate if you are used to this. Fly-drive vacations are popular options for many travelers as they can be the best way to explore your own time and in your own way. It can also be a cheaper option with the price of car hire included in your package.

However, crushing upon driving rules in America is advised, especially the ‘turn right at a red light’ rules. This will avoid you stopping at red lights and having drivers honking at you to turn. If it is safe to do so and there is no right turn prohibited signs, you should always assume that you can turn right at a red light if it is clear.

Bigger Is Better

If there is one thing Americans exceed, it is portion sizes. Be aware that compared to other countries; portion sizes are a lot larger. So whereas in the UK you might opt for a large-sized meal from McDonald’s or Burger King, choosing a large or even super sized portion in the US could land you with more food than you were expecting.

You absolutely do get value for money when it comes to portion sizes, but it is worth bearing in mind when ordering for those with smaller appetites.

There are so many amazing things to see and do when you visit the US, no matter which of the 50 states you choose to visit. The last thing you want is to be unprepared when planning your visit and not be able to or experience everything you want to.

But doing your research beforehand and digging a little bit deeper than the tourist brochure will help you better understand what you should know before visiting America, meaning you can get the most from your trip while you are there.

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We are Karolina, Patryk, and Mia, the lazy traveling family. After spending 5 years as digital nomads, and living in many countries in the world, we decided to make Poland our base.

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