United States of America Travel Tips
Accessible National Parks
The National Parks Service is the shining beacon of all that is good about the US. Ranger guided tours and facilities and consistently excellent, while the information handed out for free is above and beyond the call of duty. Perhaps most surprisingly, though, you don't need to be a hardcore hiker to explore rugged, remote parks. The policy of putting in drive-up viewpoints and easy, flat paths makes the parks remarkably easy to travel round – even if you've limited mobility.
Chain motel quality
From TV and movies, you'd be forgiven for thinking that America's motels are full of used syringes and butchered hitch-hikers. But standards are surprisingly high. OK, the likes of Super 8, Red Roof Inn and La Quinta are rarely character-packed and exciting, but they're reliably, solidly decent.
Truly global food
The Thai, Chinese and Italian can be taken as read, while Peruvian and Brazilian are properly starting to infiltrate globally. But the joy of dining in the US is surprising diaspora enclaves that introduce cuisine not regularly found elsewhere outside the homeland. So Miami has great Cuban and Haitian restaurants, Washington DC is superb for Salvadorian and Ethiopian, while New York has everything from Ghanaian to Puerto Rican.
DO Tip for Good Service
Tipping is customary in the United States and tips make up a large percentage of some service employees' salaries, particularly servers at restaurants whose average wage can range from $2.13 per hour to $7.25 per hour depending on state guidelines. It’s rude to walk out of a restaurant without tipping here so make sure you tip. You can tip anywhere between 10 percent to 20 percent .
Tipping is normally up to the discretion of the tipper, but some restaurants or resorts in the US will automatically include a gratuity fee (charged at 18 percent extra on your bill) once they hear your foreign accent. Now, don’t let this stop you from tipping everywhere. However, read your bill carefully and tell them if you see a suspicious gratuity fee there. They’ll usually take it off grudgingly.
DON'T Assume You Can Smoke Anywhere
Anti-smoking measures have been implemented in several countries, but certain city and states in the USA have some of the strictest measures against smoking in the world. In cities like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and others, smoking is banned in bars, clubs, restaurants, and most indoor spaces, like malls. As of October 2015, there are 28 states that have statewide indoor smoking bans and 60 cities excluding Nashville, Las Vegas, Miami and several others. Watch out for California who has extended its smoking bans to beaches, public parks, healthcare facilities and private residences.
DON'T Use American Slang
Unlike what you may have heard in some Hollywood films, Americans take your speech seriously and may feel insulted if you use certain curse or derogatory words associated with specific races and ethnic groups.