I remember visiting the US as a kid and absolutely loving every minute – but a lot has changed since then! Follow our tips and advice to US travel etiquette to make your trip run smoothly;
Don’t forget your wallet – If you’re planning on doing the typical tourist trail of themeparks, museums and cultural landmarks, be prepared for an assault on your wallet! Disneyland has just increased its one day pass to 92 USD, New York’s legendary Guggenheim Museum costs 22 USD to visit and the observation deck tickets on the Empire State Building cost 25 USD each. Fortunately there are also plenty of free things to do in New York and beyond.
Don’t skip the superlatives – Generally Americans are lively, animated and passionate, so prepare yourself for a flurry of superlatives, my particular favourite being ‘awesome’. The US is strong on service so you’ll always be greeted with a smile and you’ll be expected to tip for good service.
Don’t drink underage – If you’re aged 20 and ¾, I’ve got bad news for you; you won’t be drinking alcoholic beverages on your US vacation! Most states have now set the minimum age to buy and consume alcohol at 21. You’ll get used to those virgin cocktails in no time.
Don’t mess with Homeland Security – Did you hear the joke about the British travellers who made a comment on Twitter about how they were going to “destroy America”? Except it wasn’t a joke: they were actually referring to the fact that they were going to party hard on their planned 3 week trip to Los Angeles. Except Homeland Security picked them up a soon as they arrived and after five hours of questioning they were promptly deported! Never ever make flippant comments on social media or indeed when passing through the airports. It just ain’t funny!
Don’t assume you can drive – Some US states allow travellers to use their national driving licences and others require you to get an International Driving Permit. The state of Florida recently introduced (and promptly repealed 3 months later) the need for all visitors to have an IDP. Again check the requirements for the state/s that you’ll be driving in. It’s also worth noting that car rental companies have their own conditions for hiring vehicles, with many insisting on an IDP.
Don’t forget your ESTA – If you haven’t been to the USA for a few years, you might not know about the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) system. Introduced in 2010, travellers need to apply for this before they depart and it’s only available online. This is separate to the visa system, which may also be required – as some passport holders don’t need the additional visa. Always check before you travel.
Don’t skip the weather reports – Both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US are affected by seasonal weather. In particular, the hurricane season can be pretty fierce and is generally from June to November. Check the local weather reports and follow local advice; the US is incredibly well prepared for such weather phenomenon so if the worst does happen you’ll be in experienced hands. The west coast is prone to earthquakes and tornadoes can strike, mostly from March to May, in the east. Then of course there the snow storms and wildfires too.