America, the land of the brave and the home of the free. I think if you ask me to pick a country that is the most famous in the world I personally would pick the United States; I mean who doesn’t know about America. The United States is a place where dreams are said to become reality, where thousands of people immigrate each year to try their luck on achieving the American dream. But, the thing is that there’s a lot of misconception and bias about the US. I think it is important that if you’re visiting the US as a foreigner then you should know certain things before actually going there. That way you can distinguish fact from fiction and most importantly, make your travel plans safer and more enjoyable. So, here are the top 10 things that you should keep in mind when travelling to the United States as a foreigner:
1) America doesn’t discriminate:
You’re visiting the US for the first time ever and are afraid of the issues of racism that are shown on media then this is something that you should keep in mind. Despite having issues of racism, the United States is a very diverse country. A lot of people from all over the world now call America their home. Therefore, people really won’t bother you if you’re a foreigner because it’s not an unusual sight. Moreover, sometimes, the only way people in America will know that you’re a foreigner is if you show them your passport or documents because there are thousands of immigrants living in the US so you can’t really tell who’s a foreigner and who’s a local just by looking.
2) Keep away from politics at all costs:
While American society and laws are based on freedom of speech and expression; I would still recommend staying away from anything that has a political touch to it especially if it’s your first time in the United States. People in America have diverse political views but just as it is in almost every other country, politics is a very sensitive topic in the US. You shouldn’t be much concerned about getting into legal trouble because of your political opinions but there’s a chance that you might offend somebody. Therefore, my advice would be to not interfere in anything political.
3) The United States has a well-developed tourist infrastructure and services:
If you’re nervous about what would happen when you first enter the US then this one for you. Tourists coming into the United States should not worry much about visas and immigration issues at the ports of entry. Travellers rarely report such issues. The United States is a developed country; they have state of the art facilities at airports, speedy immigration and professional officers. The only complaint some people have is that the immigration staff is strict and sometimes they do multiple checks before letting a person into the country. But, such things do not happen very often so you don’t have to worry much, just do what you would do when entering any other country.
4) Local transportation isn’t cheap:
While transportation costs vary across America depending on the city or state that you’re in but if I were to generalize it I would say that transportation costs in American cities are relatively higher than many other cities of the same size. For, a single bus ride in New York City costs you 2.75 USD (2019) at the same time a single bus ride in a Chinese city would cost you less than a single American dollar. While New York City is one of the most expensive cities in America the rest of the country isn’t cheap for foreigners either when it comes to public transportation.
5) Follow the Traffic rule:
The Law in America is strict in some aspects. Things that are not taken seriously in some parts of the world are of much importance in the United States. You can even go to jail for passing a red light or get fined for not stopping at a crosswalk. Americans might read this and go “well, duh” but in a lot of countries, particularly Asian and African countries such laws are often brushed aside and aren’t considered to be a big deal. So, if you have an international driving license and are planning to drive a vehicle during your trip make sure that you understand all the rules and regulations otherwise you might get into trouble.
6) Rail < Roads:
Another important thing to keep in mind is that after the automobile revolution, Americans moved significantly from rails to roads. The American highway system is much better than its railways. Unlike Asia, there aren’t any high tech bullet trains so the journey on rail is slower and pricier. On the other hand, you have a number of bus companies that in some aspects are better than the railways. If you plan to visit multiple cities then Rent a Car or take a bus that way you’ll have plenty to choose from.
7) Keep your budget in your mind ALWAYS:
A of foreigners have difficulty managing their budget while travelling in the United States. The United States is, in short, a very shiny place. They have one of the shopping places in the world so it’s definitely hard to control the outflow of money. If you go to a Hershey’s store you’ll probably be coming out with bags full of chocolate in both hands. If you want to save money then I think you should plan your budget well and you should also work on managing your temptations because America is a huge country and it has a lot to offer but, everything costs money, so, you have to be focused on the outflow of money
8) Call the police if you get scammed:
Anyone can get scammed anywhere, the scamming mentality does not have particular boundaries. But, unlike most touristy destinations where scamming is considered normal, America is relatively stricter when it comes to preventing scams. Those that have visited New York City most probably would have heard of the metro card scam. The point to remember is that if you think you have been scammed off of your money then you can (and you SHOULD) call the cops. In most, the cops will investigate and eventually solve the issue. You can also call the cops if someone keeps insisting and bothering you to buy something from them. Most tourist spots have police officers patrolling 24/7 so you can just ask them for help if someone is bothering you.
9) Keep yourself healthy:
Americans are often stereotyped for having a very fatty diet. Well, you can’t really blame them the food is literally delicious especially American fast food. Remember, the United States is the origin country of many of the world’s famous fast food brands such as the Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s. So, usually, a large part of the diet of foreign travellers is composed of fast food because foreign cuisine is relatively expensive and sometimes hard to find (depending on the cuisine). Meanwhile, things like hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, pizzas and sandwiches can be found abundantly in America. So, unless most of your travel is going to be on foot, you should keep focused on what you’re eating in order to maintain a healthy body.
In today’s, you’ve literally got hundreds of apps online where you can choose your accommodation according to your budget. Hotels in the United States are generally very expensive as compared to many other countries, so, you should focus more on renting a guest room. Thousands of locals all across the United States are willing to rent an area in their private residence to travellers (both foreign and local). These rooms are generally cheaper and comfortable according to American standards.