10 things to know before travelling to the US
Planning a holiday to the States but wondering where to go, what to expect, and how to prepare? Read on for some tips before your trip
1. Tipping: Tipping 15 to 20 per cent is the norm. Keep your phone calculator handy to do the math. Waiters, taxi drivers and hotel staff are some of the people to leave a tip for.
2. Prepare to pay more than the tag: Prices in most outlets are not inclusive of sales tax. Since this isn’t a practice in the UAE, it is easy to forget. Whatever you purchase, it’s safe to expect an additional 10 per cent on the displayed price.
3. Know the city before exploring: In most cities, the distance between a friendly and dangerous neighbourhood can be a few minutes by walk. Get to know the surroundings by asking a long-time resident or the local tourist office.
4. Get health insurance: American healthcare is one of the best in the world, thus extremely expensive, so health insurance is vital. You don’t want to be wondering if you can stick out an injury till you return home because you can’t afford a visit to the doctor. Also, carry a printed copy of the insurance at all times.
5. Road trip is the way to go: America is massive, so mapping out a route and renting a car to visit trendy spots is a popular way to see the sights, especially in the middle of the country. It can definitely make a trip to remember.
6. Explore the national parks: There may be several bustling cities but the US is also home to a variety of national parks, many of which have been claimed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. Grab some camping gear to spend a night and discover the beauty of mother nature.
7. Carry an adapter: All US power outlets are two-pronged with low voltage. Make sure to get a US-applicable adapter.
8. Choose transportation wisely: While renting a car is recommended to cover the expanse of the country, in the more congested cities, public transportation is well-developed. Get around cities like New York and Chicago with the help of the intricate subway and bus routes.
9. Buy a prepaid SIM card: Unless you can get a great roaming plan, the cheapest option is to get a prepaid SIM card from an American cell service provider so you can easily make video calls on a data package.
10. Food portions are large: Everything is ‘super-sized’. A cut of sirloin steak can come with a side of macaroni and cheese and a whole baked potato. Before you order, take a look around at other tables to see the size of the portions and plan to either split the meal or take the leftovers back to the hotel.
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