• Elle

Things To Know Before Heading To America

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Although you can get a pretty good idea of the vast nature of the US simply by looking at a map, it’s actually a whole different ball game when it comes to traveling around the country. While you will be getting to see some of the most diverse and beautiful scenery in the world, there are a couple of things you should be aware of before you travel.


While you are in the USA, it is standard practice to tip the wait staff. The minimum wage for waitstaff isn’t brilliant. So it is common to leave 15% to 20% as a tip. It is pretty typical for people to not be great at math and undertip. So get your phone out, and use the calculator to work out what the tip should really be. If the service is excellent, you are free to leave a bigger tip.


If you are there for a short time, then you might want to pack in as much as possible. And sure, the cities have a lot to offer, but there is nothing in the world that will take your breath away as some of the most expansive national parks in the world. Try to work out where the parks are where you are, and if you need to rent a car for the day so that you can go exploring. Of course, you can always book another trip!


When you are traveling, you should really be aware of the requirements for visiting the USA. There are several countries that can visit using the Visa Waiver Program. However, you would be wise to check your USA ESTA status well in advance, so that you can get approval long before your arrival. The process is straightforward enough, make sure you have enough time.


There should be no circumstances that you travel without the right travel insurance. And, when it comes to America, you need to be extra vigilant. The country's health care services can be very expensive, so make sure that you are covered. Keep a copy of your policy certificate with you at all times too.

It’s All Right

If you are renting a car, even though you’ll logically follow the traffic, there are some occasions that you’ll need to figure it out for a moment. Drive on the right, and if in doubt, pull over when it is safe to do so and check your SatNav for guidance. An important tip is that you can turn right on a red light - if it is safe to do so, and there is no signage stating otherwise. This will stop the horrible honking you are likely to receive if you stick by the rules of your native country.

Pay Up

The price on the tag, and the price at the till might be significantly different. This is because most of the prices you’ll see are excluding the sales tax. So at the till the cashier will need to add that on to the total. Expect at least a 10% addition to the final cost.

Do plenty of research before you go, because many of the great tourist places have free evenings and reduced tickets - and you can pick them up in advance with a quick look online.