The golden rule anywhere in the world is: “Do for others as you wish them to do for you.” While in the United States, be sure to smile, ask questions, say “please” and “thank you”, and be patient. In almost all cases, locals will reward you for your kindness and will want to bring out the best in their cities and towns.
Despite the difficult procedures you may have endured to reach the United States, including visa problems, airport security checks and the like, the United States is a fairly comfortable place once you arrive. But we do have some rules that a lot of people may not know about. Here are some basic tips on traveling in the USA.
Do not try to see and do too much
The continental United States is bigger than Europe, so the most important advice we could give upon arriving to there is: don’t try to see and do too much in a short time. A lot of foreigners who visit the United States try to visit New York, Washington, DC, Miami, and Los Angeles all in one trip. Such type of tour could leave the traveler extremely tired if he/she has a limited vacation days, and it could also contribute to increasing sensory burden.
The best way to see the United States is to focus on one region and travel deeper. A lot of first-time travelers choose to take a trip to East Coast destinations like New York City and Washington, DC, while others may want to focus on a few West Coast destinations, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Other areas to consider include the Southeast, Southwest, Northwest and Midwest.
Leaving tips is a usual thing in the United States. Tips make up a large percentage of some service workers’ salaries, especially restaurant workers, whose average wages can range from $ 2.13 an hour to $ 7.25 an hour, depending on state guidelines. It’s actually rude to wake out of a restaurant without having to leave a tip here, so make sure you tip. You can tip between 10% to 20%, but use this handy guidline to know where and when you can tip on your travels.
Tipping is usually at the supplier’s estimation, but some restaurants or resorts in the United States will automatically include a tip fee (charge an additional 18 percent to your bill) once they hear your foreign accent. Read your bill carefully and let them know if you see suspicious tip charges there.
Do not assume that you can smoke anywhere
Anti-smoking measures have been implemented in many countries, but some cities in the United States have some of the strictest anti-smoking measures in the world. In cities like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington,DC, and others, smoking is prohibited in bars, clubs, restaurants and most indoor places, such as malls. As of 2018, 38 states have statewide indoor smoking bans all over the state, and over 60 cities excluding Nashville, Las Vegas, Miami, and several other states. Watch out for California, which has expanded its smoking ban to beaches, parks, health care facilities and private residences.
Be on time
If someone in the United States told you to meet them at 8:00 PM, then you should meet them at 8:00 PM, or be early a couple of minutes. Americans take punctuality very seriously, and it’s considered rude to be late. Give yourself more time than you think you will need to go somewhere, especially if you don’t know the area as unexpected delays, such as heavy trafic, may occur.
Don’t use American slang
Unlike what you may have heard in Hollywood movies, Americans take your speech very seriously and they may feel offended if you use some degrading or demeaning words associated with certain races and ethnic groups. Be sensible, aware of your surroundings, and try to use daily-life vocabulary. For example, “How’re you doing?” instead of “How are you?”, unless you haven’t heard it being regularly used in the area you travel to. Southern States have different vocabulary for specific words, so notice them in this easy Southern words guide but use them with caution.
Abide by traffic lights and laws
During my travels to the United States, I realized that stop lights and “No parking” signs in some parts of the world are mere suggestions for drivers. Not in America! Traffic and parking laws are well enforced in most jurisdictions in the United States. For example, drivers must completely stop at the red light and remain so until the light turns green; drivers must adhere to speed limits; etc.. In spite of that, states and muncipalities still put traffic and parking signs in place, so check traffic laws in the jurisdictions you will be visiting if you plan to drive a vehicle. Also note than Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road, which is the opposite of some places like the UK and Australia.
Visit amazing national parks
Most of the tourists immediately flock to the fan-favorite places like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington,DC, for the glory and the sensuality. However, America’s national parks boast unique mammal species only found in North America such as grizzly bears, and beautiful landscapes worth taking long selfies. From the world’s longest cave system in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky to scenic Denali National Park in Alaska, you have 84 million acres of options that are hard to find anywhere else.