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Are you planning to visit the United States? Here are 11 tips for your trip.

Preparations for a trip to the United States can be very exciting! It is useful to familiarize yourself with certain local customs. The following tips will make you discover some very common American habit that may not be familiar to all visitors, especially beginners.

The United States is among the favorite destinations of visitors from all corners of the planet. Last year, more than 65 million people visited the country. American culture is known throughout the world thanks to its industries of cinema, television and music. Some common American habits, however, are very different from what we know, and in particular from what we are accustomed to in our country of origin.

1. Make sure you get an ESTA

Most visitors can enter the United States with an electronic travel authorization. If you are planning a trip of less than 90 days, whether it is a leisure trip, a business trip or a simple transit trip, an official visa is not required if your country of citizenship is included in the program of travel, Exemption from visa.

The procedure costs $ 74.00, payable by credit card or Paypal, and is completed entirely online.

Although it is generally advisable to make your request 3 days before your departure, we suggest that you request your ESTA before booking your flight and / or your hotel.

An ESTA is valid for 2 years from the date of issue and allows multiple entries. ESTA simplifies your travel and paperwork when you arrive in the US.

2. Your final bill is higher than the displayed price

American prices of goods and food are on average quite reasonable. Especially when compared with those in the euro area. One of the things that might surprise you is that the price you see on labels and menus is not the final price you will have to pay. The price generally does not include sales taxes (on average 7%, varies according to the states). In many restaurants you will not only have to consider the sales tax, but also a minimum of 15% for gratuities.

3. Humor is not appreciated at airport security check

While a joke may seem like a good way to alleviate tension during your airport security check, you are likely to get very serious problems. The security guards at the airport are courteous but take their duties very seriously. Any threatening joke or suspicious attitude can lead to an in-depth security check.

Never refer to a bomb, a weapon, or anything dangerous. Never, even in a sarcastic tone.

For an easy security check, we recommend that you keep your humor to yourself and respond simply and frankly to any questions you may be asked by a security or immigration officer.

For more details on security checking when you arrive in the US, see this section.

4. Have some cash available for tips

We know how frustrating it can be to have to give dollar bills to the taxi driver rather than the concierge of the hotel. But as the saying goes, in Rome do as the Romans do! This is also true in the United States. Many service industry workers rely on tipping for most of their income, and so it is standard for any service provider. Many restaurants, especially in tourist centers, automatically add up to 18% tip to the bill. Warnings are often found at the bottom of a restaurant’s menu, so be sure to check! Included tip is also displayed on your bill. If the service is exceptional, it is sometimes advisable to add an extra tip to the one already included, but it is not mandatory.

Although in the United States the most common way to pay is by credit card (even for reduced amounts), to say “thank you” with a small tip we suggest you have a few tickets Dollar at hand.

5. Even “in transit”, passengers must complete customs and immigration formalities

If you are traveling from Europe or Asia to an exotic island in the Caribbean or Argentina, it is likely that your flight will make a stopover in the United States. Miami, for example, is the hub of flights to Latin America. If this is your case, you are what is called a “in transit” traveler. But do not be fooled, unlike most other places, the US authorities will welcome you like any other visitor. You will have to pass the customs and immigration before embarking your next flight to your final destination. We suggest that you make sure you have a stopover of at least 2 hours before your next flight, and even when you are in transit, you must obtain an ESTA clearance prior to boarding.

6. What to expect when checking for security

During the security check before approaching the boarding gate, you will need to:

  • Remove your shoes and place them in the X-ray scanner
  • Remove your laptop, tablet or other electronic device from your bag and have it scanned separately
  • Turn on your electronic devices if instructed to do so by your agent. Make sure your appliances have a sufficient load.
  • Go through a body scanner. Domestic and international travelers are subject to this control.

Although this last point has raised questions of privacy, it allows much faster controls. If you have any health problems, notify the agent before going through the body scanner. If you refuse (or can not) scan it, you will be subjected to a body search, usually superficial but sometimes more thorough. In case of refusal you will not be able to approach your flight. We recommend that you accept the scanner.

7 See the start screens

Your flight will only be announced at the boarding gate. Due to the size of an average US airport, you may not be able to hear the call (which will only be at the boarding gate) if you are in a bar, restaurant or shop. So check the boarding time on the screen, write it down on your boarding pass, and do not forget to get to the boarding gate on time.

8. Concerns about the safety of your luggage? A TSA padlock can help

Unlike other countries, the TSA (US Transportation Security Agency) banned locks on luggage. This allows them to open suitcases at random or in case of suspicion. If you are concerned about the security of your personal belongings, you can always use a TSA-approved padlock that opens through a unique combination. There is a lot of luggage on the market that includes a TSA lock.

This option, like the ESTA Travel Authorization, was implemented to speed up immigration and security checks.

9. International telephone rates are high

The majority of businesses and hotels in the US offer free WiFi to their customers. As a rule, it is a good idea to use it when your phone is switched on. As in any foreign country, using your phone abroad can result in unpleasant bills when you get home. Some hotels may charge for the use of their WiFi network.

10. How to visit several cities?

If you are going to travel to the US, we recommend avoiding buses for long journeys. America is an immense territory, so the distances to be traveled are often excessive. Buses are slow and uncomfortable. The best choices include flights well booked in advance (the price is usually very accessible), or the rental of a car. Car rental can be inexpensive if you book in advance. You can through online travel websites rent a car from $ 15 per day. The US authorities accept your national driving license (with some exceptions) while you are in the country as a tourist.

11. Travel Insurance

Remember that your country’s medical insurance does not work in the United States. If something should happen, you would be responsible for the total cost and medical expenses in the US can be very expensive. We advise you to evaluate the possibility of buying a travel insurance that will cover your health, your luggage and your rental car in case of emergency.