Head in the clouds and tickets to the US ―here are some travel tips before your departure

The reasons you should visit America are plenty ―from the mesmerizing landscape to the wildlife spreading across the continent. Besides the natural setting, America also has one of the world’s richest histories; therefore, the museums and cultural events complete the perfect vacation. Finally, what’s best about America is that you can have a great experience as a visitor even when you’re on a budget due to the numerous possibilities for accommodation and meals. 

However, coming from another country means you’re used to different customs and behaviors, so you might find completing all the visa papers and other traveling documents confusing. Moreover, getting around can also be puzzling since you’ll always need a car, and public transport is scarce. Hence, you must be prepared for any unforeseen situation, so here are some tips to keep in mind before you travel to the country of freedom.

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Get an eSIM to stay close to the family

Whether you’re traveling for business or simply want to wander around, you need a reliable internet connection to communicate with your loved ones and have access to information when needed. While there are a few solutions, such as getting a local SIM card or a portable router if your stay is more extended, the best option is an international sim card. Among its benefits, you’ll be able to purchase affordable data plans, keep your current phone number and take advantage of a virtual sim instead of a physical one.

An eSIM is usually compatible with most common phone brands, such as iPhone, Samsung and Google Pixel. However, you should still check on the company’s website if yours can support the technology. The installation process is pretty straightforward as you only need to buy the prepaid eSIM, and the QR code that comes with it will be delivered immediately. Scan the code, and voila! You have unlimited data within your plan. Still, you won’t be able to use your local phone number, so relying on apps like WhatsApp or Skype is best.

Tip your service staff at all times

In the US, it’s common to tip service staff, from servers to taxi drivers. Most of the time, you’re expected to offer from 20% to 25% as a tip besides the bill. While this may be confusing at first, especially since in countries from Europe, for example, people are used to tipping. Still, only when they consider the service extraordinary, and the amount depends on their budget and generosity.

Tipping might also be required when shopping at a local market, so don’t be surprised when you see the tipping options on the screen. This might be frustrating for some people, especially if you’re only buying an item or two, because the prices will immediately increase, and you might be overpaying. However, this system is mandatory in some places because workers rely on these tips to make a living, so it’s for a good cause. Remember to be wary of how much you tip and how you control your expenses because if you’re not paying attention, you’ll get out of the budget.

Have a chit-chat with people

Americans are pretty talkative, so you might notice they’ll ask questions about your hometown, family or occupation just to make some small talk. Hence, this shouldn’t be offensive, as they only try to be friendly. Still, it would be best to refrain from sharing too much personal information, but you can carry the conversation by asking questions to learn more about the culture or find some hidden gems to travel to.

So, expect some casual conversation from most people; even if it sounds boring, it’s quite exciting to communicate with people as a foreigner. Indeed, there might be people who will try to start the conversation with political subjects and possibly controversial topics, but it’s best to stay in your lane and drive the chat to a safer place. Don’t be afraid to approach Americans for directions, advice and other curiosities!

Plan your trip thoroughly because the country is immense

As the fourth largest country in the world, we can say that America is pretty expanded. There are 50 states in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii, but they’re all different regarding nature and climate. For example, southern coastal states, such as Florida and Hawaii, have the warmest weather, while in Alaska and the Rocky Mountains, you’ll have to dress in numerous layers to face the cold. The precipitations will overwhelm you around the Gulf of Mexico, while the Gulf of Atlantic coasts are known for experiencing hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions.

Therefore, the country has all climate types, so depending on what you want to experience, you should plan your trip comprehensively because you won’t be able to see it entirely. Indeed, you can cross the country in a week by car, but you wouldn’t be able to stop and wander around. So, choose a state that suits your expectations and wishes and visit all museums and attractions to get a grasp of the American dream.

Rent a car to be able to get from one place to another

As mentioned, bus and train options are pretty limited, so you might not be able to reach your destinations by public transport. At the same time, there are few walkable cities in the USA, so getting to the closest Target or pharmacy will have you walk miles on bad streets and dangerous paths.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is rent a car that will allow you to move from one place to another at a low cost compared to getting a taxi. Typically, American roads are safe, as well as the highways, so you just have to be careful and get used to the way people drive.

So, what do you think about these insights?

The US is indeed a beautiful country, with beautiful architecture, well-kept nature and friendly citizens. However, getting around as a foreigner can be frustrating because you’re limited in some aspects, so you must be prepared by acknowledging them.

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Michael P
Los Angeles based finance writer covering everything from crypto to the markets.

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