Help when Visiting America for the First Time – Heading to the United States of America for the very first time can be daunting in many ways. It’s a vast country with plenty to offer visitors like yourself, but it also has a unique culture, which means you need to know what to do and what not to when you’re there. This also applies to the process of planning your trip. With a little preparation and the right understanding, you’ll love the time you spend in America.
If you’re feeling trepidation about the trip and want to learn more about what to expect when you’re over there, you’ve come to the right place. It’s always best to learn as much as you can about a place when you haven’t been there before because that extra knowledge will always help you to get more out of your travels. So let’s discuss what you should and shouldn’t do when you head to America for your first visit to the country. And hopefully what you learn below will serve you well.
Do Plan Your Visit Carefully
Planning your visit out carefully is certainly a wise idea. America is vast and you’ll have so much that you want to do and see. If you don’t take the time to plan things out ahead of your visit to America, you’ll end up not spending your time efficiently and missing out on things that no visitor should miss out on. Your plan should be specific to you and not necessarily the other people you’re travelling with, simply because your priorities may be different to theirs. So do keep this in mind during the planning process.
Don’t Ignore the Importance of Your Paperwork
To put it simply, you won’t be allowed to enter into America if you haven’t got your paperwork sorted first. Be sure to check which rules apply to you and your trip. Without the right visa, this will be a wasted trip for you. And at the very least, you’ll be facing massive delays at the airport while things are sorted out, so don’t put yourself in that situation. Get it all sorted before you head out to America; it’s not as difficult or as daunting as you might imagine.
Do Talk to People
One of the best parts about visiting America is Americans. If you speak to people and start conversations, people will be more than happy to help you and give you tips on how to spend your trip. So don’t spend the whole time avoiding contact with local people because those conversations can really pay off for you in the end and help you to achieve a much happier visit to the States. Even if you’re shy, it’ll pay off if you try to put yourself out there.
Don’t Pack Too Heavily
If you’re planning on seeing a lot of America, you’ll probably want to move between the cities quite a lot. That’s how you see all of the most impressive things the US has to offer. This means it’s much better to back light and avoid having to lug too much stuff around with you as you move from city to city. You’ll only make your life a lot harder than it needs to be if you pack too heavily, so try to avoid that temptation.
Do Travel Between as Many Major Cities as Possible
Carrying on from the last tip about packing, you should definitely make sure you try to visit as many of America’s major cities as possible. Doing so is a good idea because these cities all have their own culture and identify that makes them stand out and feel unique. Moving from one American city to the next is often like visiting an entirely new country, and that’s partly because of the vastness of the country. This extra travelling will be more than worth the time and effort involved.
Don’t Withdraw Cash With Your Credit Card Without Understanding the Charges
Using your credit card in America might result in you being hit by big charges. That’s something that you obviously want to be careful about and avoid wherever you can. Of course, the rules and charges will differ depending on where you live and what kind of credit card you have. You can find out more about all this here if you want a little more clarity. It’s worth doing some research because you don’t want to withdraw cash and then get hit by big and unnecessary costs.
Do Ride on the Open Road
Another great thing to do in America is experience what it’s like to drive on the open road. Stretches of road like Route 66 are famous the world over and driving your car on them can be an unforgettable experience. Some people take the entire route all across the country but even just driving part of the route so you can say that you’ve done it and cross it off your bucket list can be fun. Hire a car, ideally an open top convertible, and enjoy riding on the open road.
Don’t Forget to Tip
Tipping is a big thing in America. Even if you don’t usually do it so much back home, you’ll be expected to provide a tip in many situations. It considered rude not to tip the waiting staff in a restaurant, for example. It’s something that you should think about and factor into your budget and spending plans for the trip as a whole. You don’t want to get caught out because you forgot how much money you’d be expected to spend on tips.
Do Explore the National Parks
National parks can be found across America and they provide some of the most stunning natural landscapes you’ll find anywhere in the world. From Yellowstone to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon to the Everglades; there are so many of them to discover and explore while you’re on America. If you’re something of a nature lover and you’ve never visited these parks before, you should definitely set the time aside to explore them. It’s one of those experiences you’re never likely to forget.
Don’t Worry About Seeing Everything; There’s Always Next Time
America is such a vast country and there’s so much to see there. That’s why you shouldn’t worry about seeing it all; there’s always next time. And most people who visit America for the first time do decide to come back for a second visit. With so much to offer, you’ll be keen to get back and see the things that you missed the first time around. So on the first visit, make sure you focus on getting the most out of the experience rather than cramming as much into it as possible because that could diminish your enjoyment.
Do Let Your Hair Down
Letting your hair down is what these kinds of travel adventures are all about. There are plenty of greats places to party and have fun in just about every town and city in America, so why not join in! Have a good time and enjoy every possible moment of the time you spend in the United States of America. If you do that, you’ll have one of the best experiences of your life.
America is a wonderful place and you’re sure to have a great time there. Just make sure that you get all of the things above right when you plan your first trip. No matter how many times you go back in the future, there’s never anything quite like visiting the United States for the first time.
*Disclaimer: Paid Collaborative Post*
Connie Berry says
Great, helpful article! As an American, I can add two things:
First, while America’s cities are wonderful as you say, visitors shouldn’t forget the amazing small and medium-sized towns inbetween. Examples are Nashville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Minocqua, Wisconsin. This is where Americans really live. I cringe when I hear that a foreign visitor has seen New York City, Orlando, and Los Angeles, and thinks he/she has seen the U.S.
Second, I want to double down on your advice to begin conversations. Americans love to meet people from other countries, and we love to share thoughts on life. Dont be offended if those you meet ask what the English might consider personal questions–especially in the south. We are curious!
Karen Burns-Booth says
Thanks so much for your helpful insights and tips as an American! Happy New Year Connie, Karen 🙂
Also as an American, you are absolutely spot on about just talking to people! I suspect once travel opens back up, folks will be up for talking even more! Also don’t forget the Autumn “Color Tours.” Generally in September and October the leaf color changes make for amazing road trips in the Midwest and New England. Plus lots of Fall Festivals to stop in for a treat.
About the tipping, typically waitstaff are paid a reduced wage to account for the fact that they will get tips. Which means, if you are not tipping, they are barely earning. Personally I think its a dreadful practice but here it is. Typical tip is 15
to 20% of the bill. 20% if you had great service. Nothing sends a message quicker to poor service such as a low tip (or none if truly abysmal). Taxi cabs also take tips (Uber as well). When we travel in the States, we do budget for tips. Careful for some services will calculate suggested tip amounts on the bill, these are frequently incorrect.
Happy Travels and hope you are able to make another trip out soon!
Karen Burns-Booth says
THANK YOU so much for your lovely comments Karen, and also all of your tipping tips too! Karen