Born In The USA
So much has been written about the United States it’s hard to know where to begin. The US is more than just Orlando, New York and Las Vegas, it is a destination that has so much to offer you will find yourself visiting again and again with no sign of diminished discovery.
The West Coast is a must-see for adventure travelers and activity enthusiasts. Head to SoCal for surfing, paddle boarding, yoga and hiking in near perfect weather 365 days a year. Not too into exercise? Then indulge in the culinary landscape Los Angeles and SanFran have to offer. A far cry from the national staples you’ll find further east, the multicultural makeup of these Western cities means a very diverse menu is available throughout the west coast.
Travel further North to visit the great Redwoods that populate the temperate rainforest in Washington and Oregon. With trees can grow up to 370 feet and must be seen to be believed. Yes this is actually a rainforest, and the the diverse flora and fauna cannot be missed.
Snow more your thing? Head slightly East to the Rockies where you can ski, snowboard, and drink hot toddies on one of over 98 ski areas sprinkled throughout the area. Of course the Rockies also house several national parks most notably, Yellowstone, worth the visit no matter what time of year.
If you do need a little party before you depart there is of course Las Vegas to complete your trip. Sin City is a staple on the party seen and the gambling capital of the US however we recommend the slightly smaller, gritty city of Reno. Gambling is legal here but you do have a more wild-west vibe and authenticity that some argue vegas lacks.
Next time you visit the US, skip Orlando and NY and experience the Real America and all her majesty. From mountains, sports, beaches, and forests the west coast offers everything for activity enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike. With it’s epic expanse, your visit to the US does not have to be a tourist trap and you can easily tailor the experience to something exotic and original.
Frankly this is difficult to get down because the area of the US is so large it takes in all weather variations at various times of the year. Broadly the north as the same weather patterns as Northern Europe, so New York city and north (Boston etc) has a distinct four season year (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter) with large variations in temperature. Summers can reach 30 while winters -10. Indeed New York is usually in the news every year due tot he snow storms affecting flights in/out of the US.
The West Coast is a little warmer and of course California is famous for a favourable year round temperature. Inland the rocks stretching a long, long way north to south have typical mountain weather patterns. The south can get very very hot, states like Texas have very high temperature during he summer seasons, it’s no co-incidence Florida is known as the sunshine state and Miami is famous for its beach (amongst other things too!).
So in summary, if you’re going in summer months (June – August) no matter where you go it will be hot, just some places hotter than others. If you’re going over winter (December – February) then the north will be cold and the south less cold / warm pending how far south you travel. Spring and Autumn months offer a rest from the summer / winter differences in temperature.
As we are sure you know the currency is the US Dollar $. As of writing £1GBP is worth $1.25 but it’s worth noting that the exchange rate of the GBP against the USD can change, only in June 2016 the rate was £1GBP to $1.50USD yet in Jan 2017 the rate moved to £1GBP to $1.20USD. Please see XE.com for an up to date rate.
Below are some example prices but please be aware these are just guides and are a rough estimate to give you an idea.
- 3 course meal for 2 at mid priced restaurant: $50 or £
- Domestic Beer: $4 or £3.10
- Cappuccino: $4 or £3.10
- Can of Coke: $1.75 or £1.35
- 1kg Bananas: $1.50 or £1.20
- Taxi per km: $1.60 or £1.30
- 1.5 litre bottle of water: $1.8 or £1.40
- Bottle of wine: $12.00 or £10
- Subway one way: $2.25 or £1.80
- Pair of Levis: $44 or £35
Tipping is BIG in the US. You ALWAYS tip. Circa 15% minimum please, the usual is around 20%, so remember to add this to any meal prices you see in a restaurant.
Remember the general rule is the alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21 years old. Drugs are obviously not tolerated and gun laws vary by state, worth checking our before you travel as some states allow carrying of weapons. Depends how you feel about this!
Here are things to avoid as per Trip Advisor:
Things To Avoid (general):
- Controversial topics may include politics, religion, homosexuality, racism, abortion, criticism of the government, and criticism of an individual’s patriotism. As in any country, locals generally do not take too kindly to constant criticisms of their government by foreigners. Make sure you know the political leanings and temperaments of those around you before broaching such topics.
- Discussions of wealth or money. Americans generally do not discuss how much money they make or how much they paid for certain high-end items (such as houses, cars, boats, TV systems, etc.) cost. It is considered very rude to ask and is even more uncomfortable to discuss.
- Smoking.It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to smoke. Buying cigarettes for a minor can range anywhere from a $500.00 fine to Jail Time. Smoking restrictions vary greatly from place to place, from having no restrictions at all to complete city-wide bans. Smoking is prohibited on airplanes and in any public resturant entirely-it is seen as a fire risk (this includes smoking in the toilet of the plane: you may force the plane to land if you are caught; Once on the ground, laws may be enacted by individual states, counties, and cities. Some laws even limit outdoor smoking by prohibiting smoking within a certain distance from a building’s entrance. Observe to see if others around you are smoking, or ask if anyone minds before doing so. Fines for smoking in a prohibited place range in amount from $50 on up to $1,000, plus offenders may be thrown out of an establishment for violating house rules, sometimes barred forever. Americans rarely walk around when smoking. They find a place that allows smoking (away from restricted areas) and usually stay in one place until done with their cigarette. It is considered rude to walk in crowds with a lit cigarette as this could end with someone being burned. Children especially in America are not on the lookout for such dangers and since they are right at the height of the burning embers are at increased risk. Always safely dispose of your cigarette, don’t throw it out of the car window or on the ground. Littering can get you a ticket or jail time if you start a fire.
- Loud cell phone usage. It is considered very rude to speak loudly on cell phones anywhere, including outdoors, but especially in enclosed, public places such as trains, restaurants, museums, waiting rooms, and elevators. If you notice that people are not speaking at all, take your call outside and speak only as loudly as required to make yourself heard to the person you are calling. It is considered uncouth to make phone calls in a rest room. As for being in any kind of audience at the opera, theatre, cinema, places of worship, or lectures/classes talking on your phone is out of the question, having it ring is also bad form. While texting is rude in this circumstance also – it is less likely to raise ire if done quickly and quietly to inform someone of a delay, or that the program has started. Younger people are more likely to think nothing of texting wherever they please, but that does not mean that it is accepted.
- Having your phone make noise or light up in a dark environment will anger people even though they may not immediately say something. It is policy in some movie theaters to eject you without a refund for texting. Being assaulted for ignoring requests to stop this behavior is also not wholly outside the realm of possibility.
- Hugging, kissing or touching. Most Americans prefer a firm handshake as a first greeting. Hugging is reserved for close family members and friends. Kissing people in greeting is a more intimate affair: it’s usually done only in the context of relatives, lovers, and friends; it is sometimes controversial when performed between members of the same gender. Also, refrain from touching people during conversation unless you know them well, as it generally makes them uncomfortable. When it is a kiss, friends and family typically get kissed on one cheek and lovers on the mouth. (Once an American does embrace or kiss you, however, it is a guaranteed sign you have made a friend for life or sometimes something more. Spontaneous bear hugs are not uncommon if an American grows fond of you!)
- Personal space. Americans usually talk to each other from a distance of about two feet (.6 meters); any closer is viewed as uncomfortable. (Closer contact is reserved for closer accquaintances-the barrier shall break down as they get to know you.)
- First names. In general, most Americans, even in a business setting, will prefer to be called by their first name. However, it is a good rule of thumb to address them by their title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., or Professor, in general) and last name (e.g., Mr. Anderson) until you are specifically told otherwise. Americans may also address you by your first name immediately after being introduced to you; this is not considered rude at all and reflects the more casual style of Americans.
- Miss, Ms. or Mrs. There seems to be some controversy, perhaps regional, over the usage of Miss (pronounced “miss”), Ms. (pronounced “miz”) or Mrs. (pronounced “miss-iz”). Generally speaking, it is polite to call a lady Ms. at first, unless you are prompted otherwise. An American woman will let you know what she wants to be called, or if she wants to let you know she is married.
- “Sir” and “Madam.” Many countries outside the USA use the term “Sir” or “Madam” when greeting someone new, and it is a respectful introduction before the person’s details are known. Within most of the U.S. “Madam” is only heard as a title for an elected person (“Madam Secretary [of State]”). In the military, a man of higher rank is addressed as “sir” and woman of higher rank is addressed as ma’am. However, it is not uncommon to hear sales people interact with their customers using these expressions of courtesy. In some households children are still taught to always address adults by including “sir” or “ma’am”. The word “Lady…” is not ever used to gain the attention of a woman or address her directly. “Miss” or “Ma’am” is correct.
- No means NO in big block letters, not ask again. American women do not always dress in a way that is considered modest or respectful in another country, but it could be quite acceptable in the region where they live. Short skirts, sleeveless blouses, wearing makeup or perfume is not automatically considered provocative. Behaviors such as smiling at you or showing cleavage is also considered ordinary and acceptable in most cases and IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN SHE WANTS SEXUAL ATTENTION AND IT REALLY, REALLY DOESN’T MEAN SHE WANTS TO BE TOUCHED. Women are legally, politically, and professionally the equal of a man in America. The way a woman dresses is a sign of her style and femininity primarily. It is a very, VERY big mistake to assume anything else. If you attempt to make advances and she reacts with surprise or negativity it really, truly, undoubtedly means no, never, not going to happen.
- As a warning to those from East Asia, India, Russia, the Middle East, or parts of Eastern Europe, many a man has found he has gotten a good hard slap across the face or a kick in the crotch for mistaking a woman’s mode of dress as an invitation for his attention. Business deals have been irrevocably lost because some fool tried to proposition a woman in a low cut business suit in the elevator…and found out she was the CEO!
- So-called “Eve teasing” as practiced in India and other areas of the world is absolutely 100% out of bounds and can land a young man in a great deal of trouble with the law. It falls under the legal code of most states as sexual harassment and can lose a man his job, his freedom, or possibly his dignity. Furthermore, a woman is legally allowed to defend herself if assaulted and persisting in making unwanted advances may result in a crowd of angry men sorting you out, that’s if the woman hasn’t already done so herself by using something called “pepper spray”, which is somewhat like tear gas.
Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)
The VWP allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journey allowed under the VWP include tourism, certain types of business visit and transit to another country.
You’ll generally qualify to enter the USA using the VWP if your British passport:
- describes your nationality as a ‘British Citizen’
- is an ePassport with this internationally recognised symbol on the front cover
- haven’t been arrested for certain crimes, even if a criminal conviction didn’t result
- aren’t a dual national of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.
- haven’t travelled to Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011
- have received authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation at least 72 hours before you travel (see below)
- can show that you have enough funds available on arrival to support yourself during your stay, even if you’re staying with family and friends
Certain exemptions apply on a case-by-case basis to those who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011. For more information about these exemptions, see the website of the US Embassy in London or contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate
If you’re arriving by air or sea (with the exception of the ferry from Vancouver/Victoria in Canada), you should provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. Getting an ESTA is a separate process to providing your airline with advance passenger information (details of your passport, country of residence, address of your first night’s accommodation in the US etc). For more information, and to apply online, visit the official ESTA website.
Please click here for up to date information.