If there is one thing people love most about crossing the Atlantic and visiting the states is that it’s all about chance and being able to take part in new experiences. The country’s spirit is reflected in America’s bold outlook and ever evolving nature. From the stoic skyscrapers of New York to the beautiful rolling hills of California, America is such a fantastic place to get acquainted with another part of yourself and try things that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Brits in particular are fascinated with America’s youth in comparison to that of Europe – America has only been alive for a few centuries, whereas Europe has a history that can be traced back thousands upon thousands of years. If you are looking to travel to America this year, here are a few tips to get you by, regardless of when or where you go…
Before you book your trip, it is very important to apply for an ESTA, as the UK is part of the Visa Waiver Programme that means that those countries part of the programme are able to apply for a piece of documentation called an ESTA rather than have to apply for a full blown visa. An ESTA grants you entry into the states and was introduced shortly after the Twin Towers attack in 2001. It essentially runs a background check and ensures that you are safe to enter the US. Without an ESTA you will not be allowed entry into America, so it is imperative that you apply for one by visiting this website: https://www.esta-visa.org.uk/.
When shopping in America, it is important to remember that when looking at the price of something, the price is not what you will pay as the sales tax that most states have is not included on the sticker or label. The actual cost of the item that includes tax will be determined at the checkout which is certainly something to keep in mind when you are only carrying certain amount of money with you or are budget conscious. And no, there is no tax refund like the VAT that is possible in other parts of the world, although if you are shipping back to the UK you may not have to pay tax.
Be sure to purchase substantial medical insurance before you go to America as it can be hard for many Brits to realise just how expensive medical treatment can be in America. A broken leg can set you back $9,500! Also bear in mind that you will have to pay first and then apply for reimbursement when you return to the UK, so you should have access to funds.
Tipping is common courtesy in the US and since Brits are notoriously tight tippers, it will be helpful to remember that tipping is commonplace in America and comes in at about 15-20 per cent of the service you receive.
Go easy on the swearing when you are visiting America as most American’s don’t swear a lot, particularly in the South where they might apologise for saying ‘damn’! Similarly, while it can be interesting, don’t start a discussion on politics, religion, guns, obesity or war.