Never Do These 10 Things When Visiting the United States

Visiting a foreign country can be an exciting adventure, but it’s crucial to be aware of cultural norms and avoid unintentionally offending others. When planning a trip to the United States, understanding the do’s and don’ts is essential for a smooth and respectful experience. By familiarizing yourself with the following guidelines, you can navigate American customs with ease and ensure a memorable trip.

1. Neglecting Tipping Etiquette

Tipping is an integral part of the service industry in the United States. When dining at restaurants or using services such as taxis or hotels, it is customary to leave a gratuity for good service. Neglecting to tip or leaving an inadequate amount may be perceived as rude or disrespectful to service providers who rely on tips to supplement their income.

2. Talking Loudly in Public Spaces

While Americans are generally known for their friendly and outgoing nature, speaking loudly in public spaces such as restaurants, public transportation, or museums may be considered impolite. Americans value personal space and privacy, so keeping conversations at a moderate volume is advisable to avoid drawing unnecessary attention or disturbing others.

3. Underestimating Distances

The United States is a vast country with varying landscapes and sprawling cities. Underestimating travel distances between destinations can lead to unrealistic itineraries and unnecessary stress. Planning your travel routes carefully is advisable, considering factors such as traffic, travel time, and transportation options available in each city or region.

4. Ignoring Local Laws and Regulations

Each state in the United States has its laws and regulations. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the local laws in the area you’re visiting to avoid any legal troubles. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse, so research and respect the local regulations regarding alcohol consumption, smoking, traffic rules, and other relevant laws.

5. Assuming Homogeneity

The United States is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Avoid assuming homogeneity and making generalizations about the American population. Recognize and embrace the diversity you encounter during your visit, as it is one of the country’s greatest strengths. Engage in respectful conversations and be open to learning about different perspectives and experiences.

6. Overlooking Sales Tax

When shopping in the United States, it’s important to remember that the prices displayed on products or menus do not include sales tax. The sales tax varies from state to state and is added at the point of sale. Be prepared to pay more than the advertised price, and factor in sales tax when budgeting for your purchases.

7. Discussing Controversial Topics

While Americans enjoy discussing a wide range of topics, it’s best to avoid engaging in heated debates or discussions about controversial subjects such as politics, religion, or sensitive social issues unless you are well-informed and comfortable doing so. Opinions on these topics can be deeply personal, and it’s advisable to approach them with respect and sensitivity.

8. Disregarding Personal Space

Americans value personal space and generally maintain a comfortable distance when interacting with others. Invading personal space can make people feel uncomfortable or defensive. Respect others’ boundaries and maintain an appropriate distance during conversations or when standing in lines to ensure a positive social interaction.

9. Ignoring Traffic Rules

Traffic rules and regulations vary across states in the United States. Familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws and signs to ensure safe and legal driving during your visit. Observe speed limits, wear seatbelts, and avoid distracted driving. Be cautious when crossing roads, as traffic rules may differ from those in your home country.

10. Being Late for Appointments

Punctuality is highly valued in the United States, and arriving on time for appointments, meetings, or scheduled events is essential. Late without a valid reason can be disrespectful and leave a negative impression. Plan your time accordingly and allow for potential traffic or delays to ensure you arrive promptly.

This article was produced and syndicated by The Cents of Money.

2 thoughts on “Never Do These 10 Things When Visiting the United States”

  1. How refreshing!!! We Americans (“Ugly Americans”???) have been getting panned for decades over our cultural faux pas when traveling overseas. I can see where ignorance would translate to offensiveness. Thank you so much for recognizing that the USA has its own culture, too, and would appreciate respect from foreign nationals for our behavioral values and social customs. BTW, I agree that not including the sales tax on an item’s price tag is a disingenuous low blow, especially as our sales taxes vary by locality, not just by state or nation.

    Dear visitors: we will read up on the customs of your country before visiting, probably even learn some commonly used words and phrases to communicate with you, our esteemed hosts; please do the same before you come here.

    I’m a born and bred American living in Los Angeles (a favorite tourist destination, of course). Once I happened to be in Hollywood on personal business and a lovely German couple approached me to ask for directions. They had no English but via pointing and sign language I recognized where they wanted to go. Somehow, I knew just enough German words to help them on their way. Most Americans do not, unless they are of recent German heritage.

    SO: Before you come here, create some English language cards which express your concerns. “Nearest restrooms?” “Gas/Petrol station close by?” “Have been assaulted/robbed/abandoned — need police, please help.” “Best taco stand within a block?” “Do I have enough American money to ride the bus?”

    Most Americans are happy to help but most are not bi- or tri-lingual. Come prepared to communicate and you will have an awesome time. See you soon, I hope!


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