Destinations within the USA
General Information on the USA
This is my home country and I cannot tell you how different each region, state, city, and even neighborhood is. If you are basing your travels here from what you see in the movies, please understand it will look very different when you arrive (as is most things produced by Hollywood).
While I have traveled to 40 of the 50 states in my life, I have yet to publish all of my favorite places and spaces within the USA - but is it coming and a definite work in progress!
For those visiting here are few things you should understand.
Transportation: Each state will vary on what type of transportation you will need. For example, in New York taking the subway is probably the most budget friendly way to travel. In other states like Florida or California taking an Uber or Lyft to avoid all the parking fees will be best. In Utah and the midwestern or mountainous states getting a 4x4 vehicle will be best. So just make sure you research where you want to go and what you would like to do when deciding on how you will get around once you get there.
Money: Everything here runs off of credit cards, tap to pay, and apple pay. Any major city you go to will have a plethora of options to take your money. Just make sure you notify your bank of your travel (even if you live within the USA) to ensure your funds are available. Regularly check your bank account to ensure your card information hasn't been stolen. If you are going camping or into rural towns, make sure you have cash on hand. Many times National Parks and camping locations only accept check or cash and do not have a way of providing change. Our currency is the USD.
Health and Safety: Not every neighborhood is safe, there are streets that you should never go down in the day or at night. Be sure to ask your concierge or host the spots to avoid when visiting. Yes the USA has a lot of guns, but not everyone here goes shooting each other up every day. Occasionally we will have incidents, but it is not as common as the news portrays. Make sure you are utilizing proper tour companies, and that you do not have credit cards with raised numbers on the card. NEVER put your drink down or leave it unattended, and don't do drugs :)
Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for the next 6 months.
Visa: Check your visa requirements. Use the ESTAs cost US $14 per application, which can be made and paid for online. It’s worth noting that you must use a credit card to pay.
Customs: Check what you can't bring into the USA. Your first airport you land inside the USA is where you will go through customs. So don't think a quick connection time is going to be feasibly.
Tipping: There is an unwritten rule that in restaurants it is expected to pay 15-20% tip because of the low minimum wage, most of their money is made from tips. Bartenders should get $1-$2 per drink, hotel staff $1-$5 if they are attentive and accommodating, Taxi drivers 10-15%, Shuttle drivers and shared rides $2-$3 per person.
Hidden Costs: There are taxes that vary by each state, some do not have state taxes (like Texas and Nevada), others have very high state taxes (like Alaska). You generally do not see this added price until you are at the register, so keep it in mind. This also goes for service charges (for hotels/rentals), and deposits (for rental car places).
Emergency Number: 911
Healthcare: Make sure you have travel insurance, the healthcare costs here are some of the highest in the world.
Payment Methods: Credit Cards are universally accepted, but check with your bank on foreign transaction fees. Some places do not accept cash (airlines), and some do not accept credit cards (farmers markets).
Time Zones: There are 6 different time zones within the United States. There is also an instance of 'Daylight Savings', where the time springs forward one hour or back one hour (typically in the spring and fall). Be sure to check with your host/hotel on the correct time so you do not miss appointments or tour times.
Most things in the United States are required by Federal Regulations to have buildings, transportation, side walks, communication, theme parks, and health care facilities accessible to most people with disabilities. If you are concerned about a campground or other outdoor area being accessible, I would email them directly.
Vaccines are a hot topic in the United States right now. Being in the healthcare profession I always support what the WHO and CDC recommend.
Recent Posts about the USA
Welcome to Culture Trekking!
My name is Janiel, I specialize in solo female travel, cultural connections, sustainable adventures, food and history to help make your travel experiences fun, meaningful, and delicious. My experience in travel, and my personal story have allowed me to get published in Fodor's Travel, Atlas Obscura, Metro.co.uk, Trip Advisor, and multiple Podcast interviews. You can find me on pretty much every social media channel YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok. To read more about me and my story click here. If you are a brand and would like to work with me, click here.