Ah, the American Dream! The US enjoys tens of millions of visitors every year for various reasons like leisure, business, education, and work. If you have never been to America, you've been missing an awesome experience to learn more about the culture of the world's most powerful nation.
Your first trip to the US can be confusing, but it can be equally memorable if you have the right information at hand. You can expect to integrate into the American culture more smoothly than in most developed countries. However, you must follow the country's laws and traditions, including learning the proper etiquette and being polite to people you meet along the way.
So, let us look at some dos and don’ts you should take notice of as a first-time US visitor.
The requirements for traveling to the US differ depending on the country of origin and the purpose of the visit. Federal officers will vet your application for eligibility to enter the United States of America. They will check for a valid passport and matching visa information or ESTA to ascertain you're not a security threat.
To get more information about the customs and border requirements, browse government websites beforehand. It is also important to note that when traveling for leisure or business, the validity period of your travel papers will be shorter than for education or work purposes.
As a first-time US visitor, beware of scammers who might try to take advantage of you. Phone fraud, fake charity scams, credit card skimming, street beggars, and rental car scams are some of the most prevalent concerns in America among tourists. Don’t be gullible and always take measures to protect yourself.
If you have become a victim of phone fraud, let’s say, then head to Nuwberto know who the registered owner of the number is. If you have lost your credit card, quickly call the bank to report the loss and block the card as soon as possible. Remember to avoid street beggars, especially persistent ones, as they are too good at scamming unsuspecting tourists out of their money.
The USA, just like any other country, is full of individuals waiting to take advantage of travellers. Don’t be naive and always protect yourself and your belongings.
The term “time is money” couldn't find a better meaning than in the US. Prepare to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight. The check-in process can take some time, and trying to arrive on schedule would be a huge gamble.
This is a critical part of your visit if you're on a business or work trip. Most of corporate America is sensitive to deadlines. Hence, even a minute late can cost you a very good deal in the future because it paints you as disorganized. Being punctual shows that you value other people's time.
The tipping culture in the USis one of the main things you should be prepared for, and you have to brace yourself for the ride if you're not used to it. Tipping is a big deal, especially in the service sector. So, be sure to add this little expense to your budget.
Some service providers include the charges in your bill, so confirm before you pay. Although the standard rate ranges between 10 to 20%, you can tip as you like in some places.
If you plan on taking a road trip, driving a car in America can be a different experience, especially for visitors not used to driving on the right side of the road.
It is common for people new to this country to miss critical traffic signs. However, there is no excuse if you are one of them, as you will face the full wrath of the law. Observe the speed limits, park at the right spots, and follow the traffic lights.
Hiring a local driver will save you the challenge of adapting to the rules or breaking the law.
Digital payments are widely accepted in the US, as in most countries worldwide. Nevertheless, in some remote parts, only cash payments will save you. Therefore, besides carrying your credit card, take some cash with you.
Most cities in the USA have banned smoking in public places. However, no-smoking zones differ from state to state. For instance, you cannot smoke in most cities’ restaurants, malls, clubs, or bars. The rules are more stringent in other states that prohibit smoking in private residences, parks, health centers, and on beaches.
You've probably learned a few American curse words from Hollywood films, but unlike what they depict, they aren’t widely accepted. Although it is tempting to emulate how Americans in the movies talk, it's best to avoid this profanity in normal conversations. If you have trouble finding the right words, hire an interpreter or use online translators.
Americans, in turn, can use certain phrases that may confuse youif you’re not fluent in English. “A piece of cake,” “ballpark figure,” and “a bat out of hell”, which mean “an easy task,” “rough numerical estimate,” and “moving fast” respectively are just a few examples.
It is impossible to travel around the USA and its popular historical sites or attractions in a few days or weeks. Also, the country is extensive, and you cannot travel to different cities in a limited time. If you want to visit all the exciting cities like Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, you shouldn’t rush.
Trying to get everything done in a short period of time will lead to exhaustion, and you'll not get the desired optimal experience.
As a first-time visitor to the United States of America, you must avoid discussing sensitive topics with every stranger on the street. Topics like politics, religion, sexuality, and race are hot buttons. Avoid emotional conversations on controversial topics that require your honest opinion. Your stance on these topics may irk other people.
People who have never been to the US typically have a lot of expectations. They perceive it as a technology powerhouse and a land of opportunities. Traveling to the US for the first time can be challenging, especially due to cultural differences. However, with the information in this blog post, your trip will be easy and enjoyable.