The US is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world — and it’s easy to see why. As a cultural leader for decades now, there’s something almost familiar about the idea of heading to the US — even if you’ve never been before. New York and California seem like old friends given the number of TV shows that have been set there, and we’re all familiar with the political machinations from Washington, DC. Add this pseudo-familiarity to the fact the US is host to some of the most exciting tourist attractions in the world, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular vacation destination.
If you’ve decided your next big holiday will be to the US, there’s a few things you need to know before you travel. Bear these in mind, and you can be sure your trip will go as smoothly as possible…
#1 – Be Ready For A Body Scan
To travel through a US airport, you’re going to need to become familiar with the idea of a body scanner. These are used at most major airports. You may be able to opt out of going through a scanner, but this is becoming less likely thanks to a rule change. As a general rule, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of potentially being asked to go through a body scanner, it’s best not to travel to the US.
#2- Visa Requirements Are Stringent
You will need an ESTA — which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation — which helps to speed up the entire process. Just ensure that you’ve got this arranged well in advance of your departure date, as it can take some time to be processed. There is also a fee that you will need to include in your budgeting for the trip.
#3 – Understand The Tipping Culture
The tipping culture in the US is incredibly common; you will be expected to tip for almost any service, such as someone carrying your bags to your hotel room or even the fare you pay for a taxi. While this can feel jarring, it’s nevertheless a big part of the American economy, where service staff don’t make enough money without the addition of tips. Stock up on small-denomination dollars before you fly so that you’re ready to offer tips at all opportunities, and be ready for a gratuity to be added to any restaurant bills.
#4 – Prepare To Abandon The Metric System
The US still relies heavily on imperial measurements rather than the more commonly used metric system. This can take some getting used to, especially if you’re going to be buying your own food while over there, or driving a car on a road with speed limits in mph rather than kph. Download a converter app that can help you figure everything out as soon as needed. For cars, the speed dial will usually have dials for both metric and imperial measurements; just remember the road signs you’re seeing use imperial, and stick with that.
With this information locked into your mind, you can be sure your US trip will be one to remember — for all the right reasons.