Traveling to America: The Biggest Dos and Don’ts for First-Time Tourists

American Flag

If you’re visiting America for the first time, you’re right to be excited — the US is one of the most rewarding places in the world to visit. As you prepare, however, you want to keep a few pointers in mind.

Do visit the most beautiful national parks in the world

Whatever part of the US you plan to head to, there’s probably a national park close by. America’s parks cover more than 80 million acres, and they have some of the most beautiful sights on Earth. A larger-than-life experience of America’s iconic wide-open spaces and massive mountains, is not be missed.

Don’t try to cover too much ground

While the US is a single country, it is large as some continents, and it can make your vacation very difficult and expensive if you try to cover too much on one trip. It can be hard even if all you want to do is to cover New York and Los Angeles. There is simply too much on offer, and you need to focus on specific areas if you want to come away energized, and not exhausted.

statue-of-liberty Do get a taste of American culture

While America does attract immigrants from all over the world, there is still a distinctive and identifiable culture, and its wonderful to experience it. From a NASCAR event to buying Rams tickets to experience the energy of a large-scale sporting competition, from a rodeo to taking a long interstate drive, from attending a jazz recital to taking in a state fair, it’s important to pack different sides of the American experience into your trip.

Don’t forget to always look out for tipping requirements

America tips everywhere. From the hotel driver picking you up at the airport to the rental car valet, the people picking up your bags,  the hairdresser, the tour guide and everyone else, it’s important to always look for opportunities to tip, and quickly look up what you should give. American service providers can take it very personally when they are denied a tip that they are due.

Be sensitive to American expectations

While Americans can seem laid back, there’s one thing they really care about — being punctual. You can offend people by turning up late for an appointment or an event. If you aren’t familiar with the route to take somewhere, it’s a good idea to go well in advance. Excuses about traffic and GPS problems don’t usually cut it.

Dial back the American slang

The whole world may be addicted to American movies and the vernacular that they promote. You mustn’t, however, give in to temptation and try it out in real life in America. The slang that you fancy may, at worst, have unfortunate connotations that you aren’t aware of. At best, it may be inappropriate for people who do not belong to a certain ethnicity or cultural background. It’s best to play safe.

Finally, you want to keep in mind how friendly Americans are. Visitors from other countries are often surprised at having everyone from the checkout person at the store to the taxi driver and the bus driver, treat them like an old friend. If you can, you should pick up quickly on the friendliness of the country. It’s one of the nicest things about America.

Hannah Wheeler has been working in the travel industry all her working life. She enjoys writing travel articles in her spare time, coming up with different topics which are useful and informative, as well as giving the reader a burst of wanderlust!

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