Things in the USA may be different than you expect. Here’s how you can travel there like a pro.
So, you want to go to America. Maybe it’s still just a dream, or maybe you’re already filling out your visa application and picking out the ideal state to jump on a plane to. Whatever stage of your big American trip you’re currently sitting at, can you honestly say you know everything you need to know about the big US of A? From the boring stuff like healthcare and public transport, through to the just how big everything is, there’s so much about America to learn, but we’ve decided to pull together just five things you really should know before you jump on that plane. Tipping If you plan on doing anything in America that involves someone else providing you a service, expect to pay out extra. Restaurant servers, hairstylists, barbers, taxi drivers, bartenders, takeout delivery and more are all regularly tipped. In fact, it’s customary to do so. The percentage tip that you’ll give often depends on the service, so make sure you do your research before you go. While tipping is still technically classed as ‘voluntary’, minimum wage is low and so tipping has become an unofficial rule! It’s BIG Everything in the USA is big. No, really, we mean it. The buildings, the cars, the people, and the food are all big. You can supersize pretty much everything and you’ll often find that servings in general are much larger than you’re used to. If you’re a first-time visitor in America, try not to order large servings of meals unless a large at home really isn’t enough for you! This can differ depending on where you’re eating, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! Yes, Guns Are A Thing Guns are a thing in America, and while that can seem terrifying it’s often not as bad as you might expect. It can be a bit of a shock to see your average civilian wandering around with a gun strapped to them, but believe us when we say that this isn’t often actually seen. Of course, it depends where you go, but it’s rare that you’ll encounter someone with a gun. More often than not, people will visit specific gun ranges if they want to shoot, or go on organized hunts – and if you want to fire a gun for yourself, you can even join in at this ranges and organized hunts without being a citizen of the USA. Don’t Get Sick. Ever. No, seriously. If you go to the USA on holiday, don’t get sick. If you’re sick before you go to the USA, stop being sick. If you can’t stop being sick, then make sure you have some really good insurance before you go because healthcare in the USA is not cheap. At all. The horror stories might seem like an exaggeration, but more often than not, they aren’t an exaggeration at all. The average cost of a trip to the ER has been about $2,000, which we’re willing to bet is probably less, or about on par with how much your holiday cost in the first place. In short, making sure you have medical insurance before you go is vital. Public Transport Isn’t As Common As You’d Think Public Transport, while common in the big cities, isn’t nearly as common in smaller cities and towns around the country. In fact, the smallest towns are unlikely to have a bus service. This might seem strange to those of us used to regular transport links, but unfortunately resources can be stretched thin across the USA. You’ll find the subway and a bus service or two in the likes of New York and other huge cities, but if you’re planning on visiting somewhere not quite as big, it’s probably worth planning your travel ahead or hiring a car. Whatever your reason for visiting the USA and wherever you go, we hope that these five points have helped you feel a little more prepared. As long as you have your ESTA, some decent health insurance and the possibility of a hire car, you should be good to go. So enjoy your trip, and safe travels!