You may have been abroad before, but let me tell you. There is NOTHING like your first holiday to the states…

Times Square
Times Square

You may be reading this having never ‘crossed the pond’ and experienced the US. Or you might just want to check out my tips.

On the other hand, you might be as I was this time last year, having travelled to the states 10+ times with my family, but still having no real idea of the preparations and considerations that needed to be made in order to travel there!

Here I want to share with you my critical dos and don’ts you probably haven’t considered when travelling to the states.

DO RESEARCH TRADITIONS/SOCIAL EXPECTATIONS

When on holiday, you can be forgiven for thinking that ‘things will be the same as at home’. Although this is the case in some ways, you should try to appreciate and respect the differences from being at home.

A great example here is tipping. Here in the UK if you have a really great experience in a restaurant you might tip your waiter 10% to show your thanks. In the US a 15-20% tip is EXPECTED! Our uber driver in Orlando told us that waiters and waitresses are paid poorly, they rely heavily on tips to make a decent wage. We didn’t know how much we were expected to tip! We would leave whatever dollars we had left on us but that wouldn’t be enough. Often this would make the waiters visibly annoyed, and we left amazing meals with a sour taste in our mouth (pardon the pun).

Tip your waiter
Tip your waiter

Another thing that we weren’t aware of was all the added costs. We would find a great price for a hotel say £100 a night for a hotel in NYC. Don’t be lured in straight away- check what that price includes! Most of the time they won’t include things like tax (at 14.75% in NYC), City tax ($3.50 per night in NYC) and service fee’s which are around $20 a night in NYC. Therefore a 1 week stay that looked like it was going to cost you £700 is really going to cost you £967.75! This blows my mind!

DON’T GO ALL INCLUSIVE

Going all-inclusive sounds like an amazing luxurious thing to do. But in my opinion is a total waste! I couldn’t think of going somewhere new and full of options but being stuck with the same rubbish food at the hotel buffet that you can get anywhere!

I always chose self-catering. You think your saving money in the long run with these all-inclusive deals but you’re really not! Trying new food doesn’t have to be expensive. New York is known for being an expensive city but we got to try all of the different types of food we wanted for cheaper than the all-inclusive deal we had seen!

Dinner time- Little Italy
Dinner time- Little Italy

DO UNDERSTAND REGULATIONS

When flying to the states everything become pretty overwhelming pretty fast. You need all these ‘random’ things like and Esta’s and biometric passports and even weirder things you can’t take like this:

USA restrictions
USA restrictions

So be prepared!

For information about:

ESTAS-  https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

BIOMETRIC PASSPORTS- https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/machine-readable-biometric-passports/

PROHIBTIED ITEMS- https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items

Finally…

DON’T JUST TAKE CASH

In the last year, we have seen some pretty drastic movement in the GBP/USD exchange rate. Jeremy and I went to New York the day of the Brexit results. I am sure you remember the devastating drop in the pound on that day! We were so lucky that we had already sorted out most of our money!

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

I really recommend that for longer stays in the states you consider a currency card. We went for Fairfx. It works just like your card at home, it’s a MasterCard so you can literally spend it anywhere! For us this was the best options as we went away for 3 weeks and having 3 weeks spending money to take care of from day one is pretty scary! If you lose it that’s it! At least if your card gets stolen you can get your money back!

So, there you go! My most important DOS and DON’TS for travelling to the states!

Research is key, read up as much as you can so you don’t caught up by something silly.

If you have any questions or need any more advise please feel free to get in contact with me!

Abbie- Fitter4Travel

P.S. please leave a comment or ask on Instagram if you have any questions

 

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