9 Tips for First-Time Travelers to the USA

Travelling to the United States for the first time? Here are nine useful tips to help you make the most of your leisure, study or work trip.

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Travel documentation

Even if you reach the United States successfully, you can be held at the airport if you don’t have proper and complete travel documentation in place. So make sure to carry all the paperwork safely, including photocopies of all important documents.

Medical insurance

Aside from carrying essential medication for minor ailments such as headache, fever, cough, cold, diarrhea, stomach pain, heartburn, nausea and so forth, people travelling to the US must buy medical insurance. Medical services and consultations are expensive in the US and you cannot buy medication from the pharmacy without a prescription.

If you are travelling for work, your employer will most likely provide medical insurance; if traveling for leisure, remember to buy insurance for everyone traveling with you.

Driving basics

If you’re going to be driving a car in the United States, you need to have a valid international driver’s license. Those who are used to driving on the left in their home country may have some trouble initially to adjust to driving on the right. Acquaint yourself with the country’s strict traffic rules and follow them diligently to avoid getting a ticket.

Etiquette

Be on time for meetings, don’t break queues, avoid using slang you may have heard in movies or TV shows, avoid offensive language and behavior, steer clear of street fights, and follow smoking- and drinking-related laws at all times.

Permanent residency (Green Card)

If you want to get permanent residency in the United States, you can do it while you’re still there. One way to do this is to apply to the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, provided you meet the green card eligibility requirements laid out by the US Department of State.

Racist behavior and language

Each year, 50,000 applicants are granted the Green Card through the computerized green card lottery system. This is a government-led program to increase diversity in the US population by inviting people from selected countries to live, study and work in the US.

As you’ll meet people from diverse backgrounds during your time in the US, avoid using racist words, gestures or expressions at all times.

Hygiene and personal space

Americans value personal and public hygiene, so make sure you look clean and well turned out at business meetings. Always throw trash in bins, and maintain at least an arm’s length of distance when sitting or standing with strangers.

Credit cards

Remember to carry your credit cards while traveling to the US as it’s a more convenient and faster way of paying for goods and services. However, also carry sufficient cash (in US dollars) just in case.

Police

If you follow rules and regulations, you needn’t fear cops chasing your car and locking you away, as they show in the movies. Do remember never to offer bribe to the police, for you’ll surely get arrested for it.

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