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15 Americans Share Their Tips for People Visiting the USA for the First Time

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Visiting a foreign country for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you come from a totally different culture or practice varied customs. It’s helpful to have someone to guide you, and while some of these pieces of advice won’t apply to everyone traveling, they’re undoubtedly informative and helpful if you’re planning your first trip stateside!

#15. Never been disappointed.

“See the National Parks!

I’ve never been disappointed by one. The U.S. National Park system is one of the best things about the country.

If you’ve never been to one, start with the Grand Canyon, but there are plenty more that are worth seeing. Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Sequoia, Glacier….

The U.S. is very, very big and has a lot of beautiful sights to see. In my opinion, just about everything west of the Rocky Mountains is breathtakingly gorgeous.

Don’t forget Alaska and Hawaii! They’re included in that.

You could probably plan twenty separate vacations to the U.S. and still not come close to seeing all of the best stuff.”

#14. Quite friendly.

“Americans are actually quite friendly and it is not weird at all for strangers to make idle chat with you as you’re waiting in line, riding up an elevator, or in some way sharing a common space for a short amount of time. If they catch that you’re from out of town, I can guarantee you’re gonna get questions and interest from them.”

#13. Plan to drive.

“If you’re going outside of New York, DC, or the relatively few other cities that have good public transport, plan to drive. Check the website of the state(s) you’re visiting to see if you need an International Driver’s Permit and budget for a rental car. Public transportation does exist, but isn’t the greatest in most areas.”

#12. Be prepared.

“The US is BIG. Thinking about driving somewhere out of state? Double check your driving time. Tipping is a thing. Be prepared for that.
You can often get unlimited free refills at many restaurants. Live it up while you can. Live life on the edge. Go head, take that right on red. (As long as you come to a full stop first) Eat BBQ, Mexican food, and hamburgers. These are things we do better than pretty much everyone. Enjoy them.
If you like beer, checkout our booming craft beer industry. Over the last decade or so the US has gone through a sort of beer renaissance. Unlike the past, US breweries now produce some of the most sought after beer anywhere in the world.”

#11. Don’t flyover.

“If you have time, take a train ride from the east coast through the Midwest. The US IS HUGE. Seeing it by train is great.”

#10. A horrifying moment.

“DO NOT try and bribe the cops if you get pulled over.

That was a horrifying moment courtesy of a foreign exchange student.”

#9. No details required.

“Hi how are you” , “how’s it going”, and “hey what’s up” are just greetings. Feel free to just say hey in return it doesn’t necessarily warrant a legitimate response.”

#8. Fall in love.

“Try root beer. I’ve heard it’s virtually unheard of outside the US and many foreigners will try it and either fall in love or hate it. For some reason, this is fascinating to me.

Also, barbecue.”

#7. Personal space.

“Pleeeeeeease respect personal space. Americans have a concept of personal space that some countries do not. While some Americans are understanding, most are not, and having someone stand close enough to touch you accidentally is often unnerving.”

#6. Very good advice.

“If someone tries to put their mixtape in your hand, promptly return it and decline.”

#5. Try this.

“If you’re driving and need to fuel up and you’re using presumably a non-US credit card at a pump, try using 00000 or 99999 when it asks for your zip code to confirm the purchase. It doesn’t work at all gas stations, but enough to try it so that you might avoid having to go inside to prepay.”

#4. Be ready.

“Be ready for directness and prolonged eye contact. To Americans traveling abroad, be ready for the opposite.”

#3. Taxes.

“The price you see on an item in a Store is not the real price.

Each city, county, and state have different taxes on different things, and they are tabulated at check out. So (generally) expect the total price to be 3-10% more expensive than the sticker price.

This is because the US does not have a standard VAT tax or a GST, they have a web of Sales Tax, beverage tax, soda tax, gas/petrol tax, luxury tax and other taxes all at different rates.

For example, Delaware has zero sales tax whereas neighbouring Maryland has a 6% sales tax

Pennsylvania also has a 6% sales tax, but Philadelphia has an additional 2% sales tax on top of the State, making their sales tax 8%

So don’t panic, you’re not being ripped off, they just don’t tell you the true price until the end.”

#2. Still massive.

“Portion sizes in restaurants. Born and raised in Oregon and the portions are still massive.”

#1. Bring the cash.

“Travel within the US is pretty expensive compared to Europe. LA to NYC is around $300-500 dollars. LA to SF is around $100. It makes sense since it’s quite a large piece of land. So if you’re gonna vacation here, it’s probably best to focus on certain areas rather than trying to see the whole country.”