Visiting the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is on almost everyone’s bucket list. Be it to chase their dreams or to look for better opportunities in life, or simply to explore the land and get a taste of the American way of life, undoubtedly the ‘US of A’ has a strong pull on people all over the world and from all walks of life. Whatever is your reason to travel and whenever you plan to visit, knowing some of these US travel tips will help you navigate through the country without any hassle.
Let’s take a look at some of the important US travel tips you need to keep in mind when visiting the USA:
1. Don’t Underestimate Its Size
With 50 states, more than 19,000 villages, towns and cities combined and covering around 9.8 million square kms, the United States of America, ranks 4th in the list of world’s biggest countries! Many first time travelers to the USA are under the false assumption that it is quite compact and they can travel from one place to next in a short amount of time. Unless you are flying from point A to point B, you are going to spend a lot of time travelling, for example – distance from New York to Los Angeles is approx. 4506 kms which takes roughly 40 hours of non-stop driving! Whereas it takes 6-7 hours by air. So plan your US itinerary accordingly.
Also Read: US Visa Interview Questions and Answers
2. Get TSA Approved Locks
For all of you who lock your bags to secure your valuables and have some peace of mind while travelling; this is amongst the lesser known US travel tips which will be very helpful to you. The Transportation Security Administration or TSA is very particular in following their safety and security guidelines. After you “check in” your bag, it goes through inspection by the TSA agents and if they feel suspicious, they may break the lock and open your bag to go through the contents thoroughly. So get TSA approved locks which can be unlocked by the TSA agents using a master key.
3. Tipping Culture
It may not be a norm in our homeland and is even considered rude in Japan, but tipping or offering gratuity in addition to your bill is generally expected in the USA and failing to do so is considered offensive. Along with servers, wait staff, bartenders, housekeepers, concierges, baristas, valets, even taxi drivers expect a tip from you for their services. A general 15-20% of the bill is expected as tip when eating out, so these handy US travel tips will definitely come to your rescue when you are in doubt as to what amount to tip.
4. Visa Requirements
Before travelling to The US you need to have a valid US visa to enter the country. The application process for US visa for Indians is completely online; you need to fill your US visa application form online, pay the fees and schedule 2 separate appointments – 1st to visit the OFC Center for submitting your biometrics and digital photograph and 2nd appointment for attending the US visa interview at the American Consulate. The US visa is issued for upto 10 years which allows the visa holder to enter the country multiple times. On each visit, you can only stay in the US for a maximum period of 06 months after which you are required to leave the country. US visa extensions are permitted but in rare cases. Since US visa is one of the toughest visas to acquire, it is advised to apply through a reliable Travel Agent.
5. Get Ready To Pay More
Unlike in India, where the maximum retail price (MRP) of any item is displayed including the sales tax, the US displays the MRP excluding it. Meaning the sales tax is added later on for items and services. Apart from Oregon, all of the states in the United States have their own sales tax varying from 4% to 9.5%. So if you see an item of $5, be assured you will be paying more than $5 for it.
6. Get Uber And Lyft Over Local Cabs
This is one of the widely known US travel tips. Cab drivers in the USA are notorious for over charging the tourists. Some even claim them to be rude and obnoxious. So to save yourself from spending some extra buck get the UBER or LYFT app and utilize it. These rides are charged fairly and the drivers are friendly and courteous which makes your riding experience quite pleasant.
7. Take A Road Trip
With mountain ranges, rocky plains, sandy coastlines, lush forests and long stretches of never ending roads taking a road trip through the country should definitely be at the top of your things to do in the USA list. With rental car services easily available you can book a car or an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and hit the road. With plenty of rest stops and scenic sites all along the way, the journey will be as exciting as the destination. If you love camping make use of the free public land and set up your camp to experience the night sky, the stars and the wilderness like nowhere else.
Also Read: Tips to Pass the US Visa Interview
8. Try The Fabulous Food
Here’s one of the noteworthy US travel tips, the USA is not all about Junk Food. When in the US, get experimenting with food. From fusion of classic cuisines to world class vegan dishes, the USA caters to every craving. Supersized portions are something which you have to look out for when ordering food otherwise you may end up filling yourself simply at the sight of food.
9. It Is An Expensive Country
As stated earlier, in addition to the quoted price you have to pay taxes and are also expected to give good tips and gratuity, which may end up burning a hole in your pocket. Apart from these, the healthcare in the country is also expensive and getting medicines from the pharmacy is a struggle if you don’t have a valid prescription. One of the most important US travel tips would be to get an Insurance which will cover you when you are in the US.
10. Explore The Diversity
With a country that is home to people from different cultures, religion, and ethnicity, background etc. you are bound to witness the diverse community that makes the United States of America truly stand apart from the crowd. One of the hot US travel tips will be, make sure to explore the cultural hubs of the top cities in the US and experience the myriad of cultures, enjoy their food and stories and live the American dream with them.
These are just some of the top US travel tips.
Along with these the basic common rules of not discussing race, religion and politics, being courteous and considerate towards the citizens of the country and obeying the laws of the land, also apply.
Americans are generally friendly, very chilled and pretty laidback by nature. Even if you were to end up breaking some unspoken rule they won’t fuss over it. As long as you are not being disrespectful you are good to go.
So sit back, relax, book your US flight tickets and fly away to the land of opportunities.