6 Things to Know Before Traveling to America
For many people around the world, the American way of life feels like a mystery. After all, the United States encompasses many distinct cultures, geographies, and belief systems, all wrapped up in 3.8 million square miles of land. That mystery, though, is also the draw. There are few other countries in the world that can match the diversity of experience you’ll find in the U.S.
Within this one country, you’ll come across varied weather patterns, distinct accents, regional past times, and local foods. You’ll also discover friendly people of all races and religions, each living their own version of the American dream. International travelers will love Florida, in particular, for it’s year-round warm weather and unique blend of American and Latin cultures.
Before you travel to the United States, familiarize yourself with the country’s unique cultural do’s and don’ts. Just like it’s one of the few countries that does not utilize the metric system, it’s also a country that does some things a little differently than the rest of the world. Brush up on the seven things you should know before you go to ensure your travel to USA is nothing but smooth sailing.
Everything's Bigger in America
When people say the U.S. does things big, they mean it, and Florida is no different. Arguably everything in the U.S. is scaled up when compared to other countries. Meals, cars, stores, and hotel rooms are just a few supersized mainstays. Many of these larger-than-life structures and offerings are on full display in the form of fancy cars and towering skyscrapers, each seemingly taller than the last.
When you’re on vacation, though, bigger really can be better. Make the most of it! Spread out in your hotel room. Work out via strolling through a department store. Dig in at local restaurants, then snag whatever you don’t finish in a to-go box. Everything in America may be bigger than it needs to be, but who said that’s a bad thing?
Shop ‘til You Drop, All at a Single Store
Supermarkets, department stores, and malls in the U.S. are almost as expansive as the country itself. Most stores create the illusion that the aisles never end. And unlike markets in other countries, those in the U.S. have a reputation for carrying a little bit of everything.
Visit the U.S. and you’ll soon see that no store has quite as many cereal or peanut butter varieties as an American supermarkets, simply because no other stores have quite as many aisles to fill. Check out Bal Harbour Shops, Sawgrass Mills, Dolphin Mall, and even the nearby CVS and Publix market.
Tipping is Optional, but Expected
Eating out is a must for any vacation. While in the U.S., be sure to follow the unique etiquette for eating out. The first and most important guideline to keep in mind? Tipping.
Servers in the U.S. rely on tips to enhance their income. That means that diners in the U.S. are expected to leave a 15-20% gratuity every time they eat out. Though tipping isn’t actually mandatory, it is so commonplace that servers also expect it. Not leaving a tip will be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.
Many Parts of the U.S. Are Humid, Including Florida
If you’re expecting dry heat, then Florida might let you down. The average 233 days of sun in Florida per year means that it’s one of the best spots in the country to get a tan. It’s also one of the best places in the country to feel heavy moisture in the air. But what’s counterintuitive is that in the U.S., and especially in Florida, everything is also air conditioned.
Prepare for the humidity by packing lightweight, quick-dry clothes like linens and drink lots of water while you’re outside. But also pack light, yet warm, layers for when you’re inside as you may get cold. Be sure to also allow for plenty of pool or beach time.
Places Are Open All Night Long
Just as everything is bigger in America, everything is open longer, too. You’d be surprised by the number of stores and restaurants open 24 hours. From groceries stores to gas stations and fast food chains, you’ll be able to find something to dig into at all hours of the day. American favorites range from fast food fries and tacos to sweeter treats like ice cream cones and milkshakes.
Try the nearby IHOP and Denny’s for late-night pancakes, Five Guys and McDonald’s for burgers and fries, and Caracol for scenic views and decadent desserts.
There Are Views of All Kinds
From beaches to national parks, the U.S. has views as diverse as its citizenship. There are songs written about the shining seas, amber waves of grain, purple mountains majesty, and just about every other natural wonder under the sun. You’ll find most of these views in Florida, though South Florida admittedly best showcases the shining seas and white sand beaches.
But just because you may stay on the beach doesn’t mean that’s all there is. South Florida actually has many state parks, three national parks, and green spaces aplenty so you can experience more than just the sea and the sand.
The sheer size of the country (and all the options that come with it) makes the United States a near-perfect travel destination. Though you’ll likely want to cross a trip to the States off your bucket list, that doesn’t mean you should hop on a plane without a plan. Stay abreast of any travel alerts as well as everything you’d want to see or do in your destination to be sure you make the most of your time in the U.S.