Every year, the Americans welcome almost five million British travellers into the USA. There are many differences between the two nations that practically speak the same language. Whether exploring New York City, the Magic Kingdom, or any other part of the country, here are some important things British tourists have to keep in mind when visiting America.
Tipping and Customer service:
In the USA, the waiters earn most of their salary from tips, and not leaving a just amount is seen as an insult. The waiting staff expects tips from almost fifteen percent to twenty percent for very good service. When you’re at a bar, you should leave at least a dollar per round for the barkeeper, and more if the round is more than two drinks. Bellhops and hotel porters should be given at least $2 per piece of luggage and more if it has to be taken up several flights of stairs.
Every American is completely aware of this social contract and abides by it. In the USA, tipping isn’t just some kind of occasional generous gesture; it is a duty, one from which even visitors or foreigners are not exempt.
Shops and sales tax:
Many British people have complained that the price marked on the products isn’t always the actual price you pay. You discover that you’re spending six or seven percent more for the products than what’s written on the price tag. It is called a sales tax, and most American states charge it.
You won’t know what the actual amount is until you’re asked to pay. It’s a little weird, but most Americans are just used to it. You could always ask the counter what the tax is before you agree to pay for anything.
Crime and personal safety:
No one can even pretend that America is a crime-free country. Most parts of the cities, by the daytime at least, are safe; at night, however, some areas have been made completely off-limits.
All the major tourist places and the popular nightlife zones in the cities are always brightly lit and well policed. By planning very carefully and taking great care of your possessions, you should have few problems.
The electricity in the USA mostly runs on 110V AC. All the plugs are two-pronged and rather fragile. Some travel plug adapters also do not fit American sockets.
Emergency medical services will get to you speedily and charge you later if you get into a serious accident while in the US. For ambulances or emergencies, dial 911, which is the nationwide emergency number.
Medications and tests are not cheap, however. So, it is best to keep all your receipts safely for later claims on your insurance policy.
Foreign travellers should also keep in mind that many tablets – for example, most codeine-based painkillers– require a prescription in the US. Local brand names can also be a bit confusing. You can ask the pharmacy for advice in any drugstore.
In general, vaccinations aren’t important for entry to the United States of America.