Visiting USA for the first time: Facts and fiction

visiting usaIf you are visiting USA for the fist time, there are things you should know. United States is the country dreamed of by millions of people, whether to go on vacation or stay and live. Its steady growth attracts the attention of the world. How could it not?  It is in this country you can find everything. It doesn’t matter if you are in the Sin City or in Rapid City, there’s always something to see, discover, and believe.

As you probably know, the USA is known as the “Melting Pot”, and it’s completely true. You will find every color, every background and every ideology. As I write this post, the USA is facing one of the most controversial presidential terms in its recent history.  It is tainted with corruption, bad choices and racism. The US is politically divided, but it does not make it less of an AMAZING country with really amazing people.

For the ones that think that the USA is losing its essence of the home for all, believe me… It is not. As I always say, there’s more good people than bad people out there. That is no exception in the United States of America. 

If the holidays are approaching and you have decided to visit this country, I recommend you pay attention to these tips to enjoy the process and the visit even more!

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll enjoy it regardless!

VISAS

visiting USA

If you are a citizen of Chile, Europe or have a passport from any of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, you do not need visa to visit the United States.You need an online request for pre-authorization to travel to the US. You can learn more and apply for ESTA here.

As for the visa, this document applies to those countries that are not within the covenant of VWP (Visa Waiver) and must be dealt with well in advance, there are several ways to get the visa, but you have to apply usually at an embassy, where you must prove that you have properties that support your return to the native country. Learn more here.

I am Mexican, so I need a visa. But it is no issue to get it if you have all your things in order, and clear intentions.

CUSTOMS

If you don’t want to have trouble when entering the US or enjoying your stay, abide by the law. I guess that would absolutely be the best advice, since getting in trouble is no joke.

There is no particular  dress code or acceptable conduct. But if you are in the US for a party or local celebration, MAKE SURE YOU ENJOY!

Holidays with the family

PROGRAMMING ACTIVITIES

Once you already have a visa to enter the country the next step is the scheduling of activities, it is where you decide which places you want to visit, to which cities go, for how long and with what budget accounts for the trip. Set this organization will allow you to distribute your resources better and to return with a variety of souvenirs.

If you want a few suggestions or tips, I can tell you about how amazing New York, Kansas City, Las Vegas or South Dakota are!

I’m not really the one to talk about specific budgets, but as a tip, I can tell you: Always bring 20% extra of wha you had planned. Simple activities or extra ones may cost a bit more than you calculated.

ACCOMMODATION

After you have passed organize search and book accommodation, pay or book from your home will facilitate the stay and so have estimated when you spend on accommodation. Whether you are a backpacker, a luxury traveler or a couchsurfer, you will find endless options of accomodation!

TRANSPORT

Visiting USA
Subway in New York City

It is also very important to define which transportation you’ll mobilize, some cities like New York have subways, there are tours of the city if you are not much of an explorer, buses and taxis, the latter being the less desirable as their rates tend to rise considerably and many of them expect to receive 15% additional payment as tip.

DRIVING LAWS

If you’re going to drive it is important that you review overview of traffic laws. Investigate what to do if you are stopped by a police and pay attention to the warning signs. They are located on the sides of the road, in bright colors. Remember that the rules of your country when driving are not the same as in other countries.  Breaking the law applies to everyone, tourist or local. These fines must becanceledd personally, even if you run the car with a car rental agency or otherwise you can go to jail if you try to leave without paying the fine.

ADAPTERS

Make sure to investigate what kind of voltage use or that is standard in your country. In the United States, the electrical current is 110v and outlets are flat. Other countries such as Europe or some of latin America use 220v and plugs are round; so take along a pair of universal adapters if you want to stay connected!

LUGGAGE

As for luggage, security checks have become a must. Due to the multiple threats they face every day, it’s not easy to handle.  For this reason, to travel to the United States you need to comply with all the rules and regulations of security checks and customs, to make your entry to the country a lot easier. It’s really no problem at all, if you have nothing to hide. Don’t get nervous, and don’t try and fool the officers in any way. 

If your suitcase is opened on the road for inspection upon receipt you find a note with information about the incident.

LANGUAGE

Just a cute message.

In most US cities language is English, however in some states like California, New Mexico and Florida, you do not need to master English in order to communicate. A large proportion of its residents are Spanish speakers, so you will probablyfind a lot of latino influence there too.

ALCOHOL 

In some countries of Europe and most of Latin America drinking on the street does not cause any problems.  In the US walking down the street while you drink any alcoholic beverages is prohibited. If you want to avoid a fine or going to jail avoid this behavior. The case is the same for smokers which should be directed to area authorized to do so because even in open spaces like parks or natural parks is prohibited. As they say, “In Rome, do as the Romans do”.

Don’t jeopardize your trip over something so stupid.

Visiting USA all-year-round

Winter in New York
Summer in Vegas!

 

The best advice I could give you is: ENJOY! 

The United States of America are a beautiful country. Visiting USA is one of my favorite activities, and be it DisneyWorld or Vegas, it’s still a blast! Make sure you get the best of it, because it is a country that has a lot to offer.

Even in rough political times, you will find all kinds of people who will open their hearts and lives to you, no matter where you are from.

I am Mexican, and I have felt nothing but love from my northern neighbors. 

Politics do not represent people. And politicians don’t represent the heart of a country. It is crazy to say, but it is true. Don’t the see USA as the enemy. Clearly, don’t see people as nationals of a country, but as good or bad.

In the end, that is all that matters.

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