Travel Tips USA: Planning and On the Move

Accommodation will be the most expensive expense in the USA unless you are camping or staying in hostels. The Accommodation section provides a detailed breakdown. However, you should expect to spend at least $30-50 per night if you are sharing with others, and more if you travel solo. You don’t have to pay a lot for food, unlike accommodation. Good food doesn’t always cost a lot. You can eat at any price, from the cheapest (but still delicious) burger joint to the most expensive restaurant run by a celebrity chef. While you can live on $20 per day, it is realistic to aim for at least $40.

Prices
The average cost of traveling expenses varies depending on where you are going. You won’t have to pay much for accommodation, food, or souvenir buying if you drive through Texas and the Deep South. However, petrol prices can add up – they vary by state and currently average between $3.50 to $4 per gallon. While it will be cheaper to get around New York, Boston, or Chicago, you will pay more for lodging, meals, sightseeing, and shopping. Most purchases will be subjected to some state sales tax. This can range from less than 3 percent in Colorado to more than 8 percent in California. Some counties and cities may also add a point or two to this rate, as the rates vary from one state to another. Alaska, Delaware and Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon do not have a sales tax. However, goods could be subject to another tax depending on where they are located.

Tipping
Waiters in the USA make most of their money from tips. Not leaving a fair amount is considered insulting. For good service, waitstaff expect to be rewarded with tips of at least 15%. If you are seated at a bar, leave at least one dollar per round to the barkeeper. More if there are more than two drinks. Bellhops and hotel porters should be paid at least $2 per luggage. If the luggage has been carried up many flights of stairs, they should get more. Taxi fares should be added at 15%; round up to 50C/or dollar.

Personal safety and crime
Although America is not a safe place to live, crime rates are often low outside of the major cities. Even the lawless reputations of Los Angeles, Detroit, and Miami are far from the truth. Most areas of these cities are safe during the day, but some areas are off limits at night. The major tourist areas, as well as the most popular nightlife areas in cities, are always well lit and well supervised. You should have no problems if you plan well and take good care of your belongings.

Car crime
Although crimes against tourists renting cars are less common than they used to be, it is still important to be careful. Renting a car in major cities should not have any license plates or other markings that would make it difficult to identify as a rental vehicle. You should never stop driving in an unlit or deserted area. This is especially true if you are being waved down by someone implying that something is wrong with your vehicle. If you are accidentally hit by a driver behind you, don’t stop immediately. Instead, move on to a well-lit area with traffic and dial 911 for help. You should keep valuables hidden from view, and preferably in the trunk or glove compartment.

Electricity
110V AC is the voltage that powers electricity. All plugs have two prongs and are very insubstantial. Some adapters for travel plugs don’t work with American sockets.

Health
You can call 911 for an ambulance if you are in serious harm’s way while you’re in the USA. They will quickly get you to hospital and then bill you. 911 is the national emergency number.

Consult the Yellow Pages telephone directory for information under “Clinics” and “Physicians and Surgeons” if you require to see a doctor. You will need to pay $50-100 in advance for the basic consultation fee. There are additional charges for X-rays and tests. You won’t find cheap medication – save all receipts to file claims later on your policy.

Insurance
Travel insurance is essential for all international travellers due to the high cost of American medical care. American and Canadian citizens need to verify that they are already covered. Some homeowners’ and renters’ policies cover holiday travel, while credit cards like American Express include medical and other insurance. Most Canadians are covered by provincial health plans for overseas medical emergencies. This coverage is usually available for about six percent of the trip’s value if you need only trip cancellation/interruption coverage to supplement your existing plan.

About the author
PedroCain