The United States of America
“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.” – John Muir
- Foreign travelers to the United States for short visits, for example tourism, vacation, visiting family and friends, or medical treatment, need visitor visas unless they qualify for entry under the Visa Waiver Program.
- There are numerous international airports, with at least one in the majority of states. Within the nation, there are hundreds of regional and domestic airports to get from city to city.
- Land border crossings with Canada and Mexico are numerous and relatively easy to deal with. Be aware that due to heavy traffic, crossing can take several hours at many crossings.
- The USA is an expensive country, with high taxes, and a high cost of living. However, prices can fluctuate significantly across regions. Smaller towns will be noticeably cheaper than major cities.
- The United States of America utilizes the Dollar ($ USD). No other currency will be accepted.
- Credit card use is ubiquitous across all regions. Most establishments will accept most cards.
- Some small family-owned establishments may not accept credit cards, and will only use cash. It is advised to carry $20 in cash just in case.
- ATMs can be found virtually everywhere a bank can be found. High trafficked tourist locations may feature them as well. Beware of high withdrawal fees.
- The USA is a tipping culture. It is incredibly rude to not tip servers 15%-20% for meals. Tipping for other services is not always necessary, but is appreciated.
A fast-food combo meal will cost $8.00
A mid-range 3-course meal will cost at least $25
Housing is very expensive, decent hotels cost $100/night
- The USA is a huge country, encompassing every type of climate from tropical rainforest to desert to plains to arctic tundra. There is no standard climate for the entirety of the nation. You should thoroughly research your destination’s climate before arriving.
- With the exception of Hawaii and certain parts of the south such as Florida, the USA experiences all four seasons to varying degree.
- Extreme weather can occur in most locations to varying degrees. The south and east are prone to hurricanes; the midwest to tornados; and the west to fire, drought, and earthquake. While rare, visitors should be aware of current conditions.
Native populations have inhabited the North America for over ten thousand years. Modern day America came about via the colonization of the Americas after Columbus’s 1492 expedition. With the UK being the primary foundation, the USA emerged from the original 13 colonies on the east coast.
After declaring independence from Britain in 1776, the USA steadily grew over the next two centuries to encompass 50 states and multiple territories stretching from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. During this time, territories were acquired from Spain, France, and Mexico. From 1860 -1864, the USA underwent a civil war. Since that time, the nation has remained whole.
Today, the USA remains a proud and prosperous country, founded on the ideals of Diversity, Democracy, and Freedom.
Need to Know
- While there is no official language, English is the primary language in use. You can get back with Spanish in some locations, particularly in the southwest and Florida. Those in need of language resources can usually contact a local tourism board for additional help.
- The United States of America is huge. Do not expect to visit the entire country in a single visit. With cities hundreds and even thousands of miles away, it is best to plan regionally.
- With the exception of a few cities (New York City, San Francisco), public transportation is abysmal or non-existent. Trains and buses do run between states and cities, but are not ideal in many cases.
- Renting a car is necessary for most tourists. Taxis are expensive, and very few cities are walkable. Cars are a way of life in the USA.
- There are numerous national, state, and local parks. These are well-kept and offer a great look into the American wilderness.
- If you exercise normal caution, most visitors will not experience any mishaps. However, the country varies from safe to not-at-all safe depending on the specific region and city.
- Avoid any and all protest sites. While usually peaceful, incidents of terrorism and violent crime do occur.
- Non-caucasians and foreigners should exercise moderate caution, particularly in southern states where racism and xenophobia is prevalent. This should not deter a visit however.
- While police are ultimately a public good, it is best to avoid interactions unless necessary. Police relations in the USA are strained, with overuse of violence and questionable practices widespread. Never attempt to bribe a police officer!
- Zika virus is endemic to Florida and is spreading throughout the south. Pregnant women should remain cautious and take necessary precautions.
We recommend reviewing safety guidelines by various state departments: – we make no guarantees to your safety!
US State Department – Moderate to High bias, with moderate levels of broad information. We advise checking against other sources to confirm veracity of statements.
British State Department – Low bias, and very thorough information. We recommend checking with the FCO for tourist warnings.
Canada State Department – Low bias, with thorough information. We advise using as an additional resource for tourist warnings.
The United States. USA! We love our big, beautiful country and think it has a lot to offer. We have been in (and Briana has lived in) more states than listed here. For now are covering the regions where we have lived or spent at least a couple months together.
California Bay Area
We lived in San Jose, CA from August 2014 to August 2015. We enjoyed almost everything but the prices. Briana also lived just north of the bay area for a couple years growing up. We returned to San Jose in December of 2016.
There are many parts of Florida we have been to a few times but have not fully explored (like Tampa, Miami, and Ocala) but right now we are only covering areas we have lived anyway. On that note, we lived in Orlando for 4 (Briana) and 5 (Kyle) years and have been back for visits but haven’t decided how to write about it yet.
This was our first post-grad move. We lived in Dallas during the second half of 2013. During this time we visited some of Kyle’s family in San Antonio for Thanksgiving. (Extra: Kyle was actually born in Corpus Christi, Texas and spent years there growing up. One of Briana’s grandmas used to live in Corpus Christi so she had actually spent time there as well.)
Cruises. Kyle went on many cruises growing up but so far we have been on just two together, both for special occasions. This is where we cover a little bit of Central America. Of course you don’t spend as much time in a location on a cruise but it’s a relaxing way to vacation and potentially see a few different places at once.
Our Post-Grad Cruise: Key West; Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands; Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Carnival)
Our Honeymoon Cruise: Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize (Norwegian Cruise Lines)