Visitors to the USA: What to expect
The USA makes a great travel destination - just keep these things in mind.
The 4th of July is nearly upon us, that All-American holiday which celebrates not only the history of the United States but also the present day nation, with BBQs, fireworks and general revelry. In the height of summer, it’s also a time when many visit the States - and it made us wonder what their impressions of the country might be.
How does the USA treat visitors? Overall, pretty well! Here are a few of the preconceptions that travellers might have of the mighty US of A - and some realities of how they can expect to be treated by its inhabitants.
Every country struggles with xenophobic residents. The USA has a bit of a reputation on this front, but it’s not necessarily deserved.
In such a huge country, there are many people who have not travelled much past their own state, and this can certainly lead to ignorance of other cultures and ethnicities. However, there are plenty more who enjoy and celebrate diversity, and are hugely welcoming to travellers. These are the kinds of people you are most likely to meet in the USA.
In fact, in contrast to the xenophobic stereotype, America also has a reputation for friendliness, so those visiting can rest assured that the vast majority of Americans will make them feel welcome.
The USA is serious about airport security, and this can mean brusque and businesslike questioning, fingerprints being taken, and a general sense of suspicion even if you have all of your papers in order. I found it a little intimidating the first time I arrived!
Travellers shouldn’t take this personally. It’s simply an effort to keep everyone safe, and is applied to everyone - you aren’t being singled out. Stay patient and calm, be polite, and do not make any jokes!
Big cities like Los Angeles and New York are essentially microcosms of the wider world, so visitors can expect to blend right in there as long as they shy away from the typical tourist trappings - giant cameras, sensible sandals and the like.
However, those venturing further into the state and out of the main travel hotspots might encounter some curiosity about their accents and other cultural differences, and be asked some questions. This isn’t to be confused with hostility - just an exchange of information and customs! Friendly US residents will often be happy to share their own lives with travellers.
On the whole, Americans are quite fond of their country, warts and all. This is a bit of an overblown stereotype, but certainly true in many cases. It doesn’t indicate xenophobia as some people assume, just a pride in the nation and the values it represents.
This shouldn’t affect travelers much - unless they are offended by the sight of the stars and stripes being flown everywhere. Avoid disparaging comments about the US when you are a visitor there, and there should be no problems.
One thing that struck me during travels in the US was the number of people whose job it was to help out customers and the public. Also, coming from a non-tipping country, I found the wait staff to be much more attentive - and I don’t often have any complaints at home!
Part of this service-focused attitude is natural American friendliness, and part of it is the tipping incentive. Visitors should enjoy it, be polite and friendly in return, and ensure that they follow the tipping customs closely - do not forget to leave anything, and at least 15% is recommended for all employees who provide you with service such as wait staff and cab drivers.
Whether it’s an RV rental in Las Vegas or a motorhome hire from San Francisco, Motorhome Republic has something to get you on your way so you can find out for yourself. Pick up an RV rental in the USA and enjoy this vast, friendly and exciting nation this 4th of July!