Helpful Tips For Visiting The United States
Guest blog from Australian writer: Kevin Devoto
If you find yourself getting tired of sun soaked Christmases and long for some good old fashioned winter holiday fun, then maybe it’s time to pack up your luggage and head north and leave down under behind and below. A spot of vacation might be just what you need—and what better pace to see than the land of fastfood and film? America is an amazing nation with rich history and entertaining pop culture. It features rugged wilderness, bustling city life, mountains, beaches, forests, and more shopping opportunities than you’ll ever know what to do with. But before you set yourself loose in the Home of the Brave, there are a few things you should know.
Here are six tips for anybody visiting the United States.
1. Pick your destinations carefully
Many who visit Europe do so with the intention of spending very little money and hiking, hitching, and railing their way from country to country. This just isn’t possible in the States. The country is simply too big, with large portions of sparsely settled land separating the major population centers. Instead of expecting to see the entire nation, pick a single local area that you’d like to explore. Cities on the eastern coast are grouped fairly tightly together, and contain in their numbers some of the most famous towns in the world (such as New York, Washington DC, Boston, etc.). By renting a car and exploring one small area, you’ll get a much better feel for the U.S. than you would trying to take in everything from sea to shining sea.
2. Be mindful of long distance telephone calls
If you plan to stay in touch with people back home, you should know that the distance will make for some expensive calls. You can keep a better eye on the money you spend while you ring home by buying a telephone card. Another great tip is to use Skype to keep in touch with friends and family. Of course, if you really want to save money, just rely on email. Also, make sure to check electricity capabilities and bring an adapter if applicable for your portable electronic equipment.
3. Bring extra suitcases along for purchases
When it comes to shopping, you can get a lot more for your money in the U.S. than you can in Australia. So, if you plan on making any purchases, you might consider bringing along an extra suitcase or even buying one there.
4. Be familiar with customs regarding eating out
For one thing, portions in the U.S. are generally much larger than what we’re used to here in Australia. Americans like their food, and they generally like a lot of it. For another thing, waiters there rely on tips as part of their wages, thus it is customary for customers to voluntarily pay an additional 15-20% of the cost of their meal to their server. However, this doesn’t apply to fast-food restaurants. Also, don’t forget about tax!
5. Use travel insurance
You never know what can go wrong while you’re out and about in a foreign land. Do yourself a favor and get some travel insurance. You’ll have a better time if you don’t spend it worrying about things that might happen.
6. Get to know the people
Although Americans get something of a bad rap when they visit other countries, most people you run into while visiting are going to be friendly, polite, and genuinely excited to be meeting an Aussie. So be friendly back. Answer questions about where you’re from, and don’t be afraid to ask questions in return. Remember, to really experience a country, you need to experience the people. So get out there and make some new friends!