8 USA TRAVEL TIPS: THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT USA BEFORE GOING
You may be brimming with excitement now while preparing and planning for your USA trip this year. We can’t blame you though; it’s the United State of America, the land of the free, the so-called “American Dream” and the dream destination of most of the travelers.
The popularity of the US as a tourist destination is undeniable, what’s not there to like after all; people are friendly, cities are dazzling and are so iconic, scenic sites are out of this world, and foods are also great. It’s a package deal when you visit the United States. But before you get too excited about going to the United States, let us first give you a few tips that can help you with your travel in the US.
- USA visa requirements. If you are a national of a country that is under the Visa Waiver Program of the United States, then you don’t have to apply for a visa just to visit the country of the USA. But if you are not, you should know that before you can step on the US soil, you have to be approved for a visa and be ready to gather all the documents needed for your in-person interview. You can visit the official visa website of the United States to apply and check the process of getting a visa in the US.
You must also make sure that your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond your return date to get approved.
- Airport Security. Aside from cars, flying is one of the best ways to travel within the USA. There are a bunch of budget airlines and regional airline in the USA that transport both locals and tourists in the US. If you, for example, have decided to go to Alaska, you’ll see that one of their major modes of transportation is by plane. An example on which is the Ravn Alaska, a regional airline that specializes in serving the communities in Alaska. It would do you no harm if you familiarize yourself on the process of airport security in the US as the government of the United States takes their airport security seriously.
Also, be sure to get to the airport at least 3 hours before your flight at the airport in the US can be congested. You may also want to check the status of your flight in a flight tracker online like flightstatus24 where you can be updated with the real-time status of your flight, and inform you of any changes like delays or cancellation in your flight.
- Travel Insurance. Health care services abroad, especially in the US, can be expensive. Spare yourself from spending too much when you get to an accident or if you get some minor illness while traveling and invest to travel insurance before your trip.
- Tipping Etiquette. Tipping is not required but is a common practice in the US culture. Minimum wage is low in the US, and tipping is the American way to compensate for the low salary of its workers. A 15-20% tip on a waiter in a restaurant is the standard tipping. It is considered rude to not leave some tip in American practice.
- National Parks. Aside from its buzzing cities and picturesque landscapes, USA boasts of scenic and spectacular parks that are protected by the US government. There are at least 60 national parks in the US which include the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Sequoia National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.
- Sales Tax. Be prepared when you go shopping in the US as prices in their goods are not always what they seem to be. Sales tax is usually added when you pay at the counter and it usually depends on the state where you are on. Prepare a maximum of 10% sales tax in the products you’ll buy in the US just to be safe.
- Weather. Weather varies in the US depending on the region where you are in the United States. Knowing the best time to go in the US is important as activities that you can do in there, will likely differ depending on the season and the region you are traveling to. The country is typically grouped into five different regions namely Northeast with bitterly cold winter and semi-humid summer; the Southwest; the West Coast with wet winters and dry, cool summer; the Southeast with sub-tropical climate; and the Midwest with winters much colder than in the Southeast.
- States in America. The USA is huge and it is composed of 50 states which as others may say is like “each own little country”. You’ll notice when you are in the United States that everything differs from state to state. Whether it’s the food, the landscape, the personality of the people, the slang, or the climates, expects that everything is different depending on the state you are on. When going into the USA for a trip, it is advisable to cut your trip per region and avoid visiting all places at once. Take your time in discovering what’s hidden in a certain state and prepare yourself for the next time that you will be visiting the country to experience the other states that you’ve never been into.
The United States of America is really a unique country on its own. Take time in savoring every bit of your vacation in the country and find it in yourself that the USA has really got what it takes to be a top tourist destination.