Don’t forget the tax
Unlike many places in the world, tagged pricelists in stores and in restaurants aren’t the *actual* price of them. In the U.S., tax is always added at the till, and the amount of tax can change from state to state. You can compensate easily for this by remembering that the cost of items can be in addition of up to 15% to the listed price.
It’s really big
This might seem obvious, but if you come from a smaller country, it can be easy to misjudge distances. If you’re planning to drive around the States, make sure you research how long the journey is going to be, otherwise you could find yourself struggling for time.
Carry ID with you
The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21, and often restaurants and bars will ask you for I.D. if you look under 35, so carry a form of identification (best to use your passport) that shows you are old enough to be served.
You have to tip
Most people expect that they will have to tip at restaurants, but you are actually supposed to tip almost all services (taxis, doormen, hairdressers, masseurs etc.) so it’s handy to have lots of loose dollar bills with you. The amount you are expected to tip these other services can range, so rule of thumb is to tip in proportion to the service; for barmen, doormen and taxis a few dollars, in restaurants 15-20% is standard.
Buy travel insurance
This can be important, because medical care in the US is incredibly expensive and you could be looking at an astronomical bill (in the thousands) for a night in the hospital. Buy comprehensive travel insurance, this is essential.
Know your time zones
The U.S.A. is split into a staggering six time zones, so if you’re travelling across the country, remember to set your clocks to the right time.
Check your visa requirements
A lot of countries can now apply for the ETSA, (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), an online approval system that allows you entry into the U.S.A. prior to you travelling. If you’re one of the countries that is allowed to use this system, be sure to apply and pay for the ETSA in advance of your flying, otherwise you will not be able to board the flight.
By planning ahead you are sure to easily tick all the administrative and social boxes that are unique to travelling in the USA, but if you're nervous, then there are travel agencies like Saga Travel that can walk you through these details and take care of the incidentals so you will be able to concentrate on enjoying your adventure to the varied and exciting United States of America.
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.