10 Things You To Know Before You Head To The United States

Before embarking on your journey to the U.S., ensure you gather comprehensive information covering weather patterns, local culture, visa requirements, and other essential details about this highly sought-after destination
The Statue of Liberty over the New York cityscape
The Statue of Liberty over the New York cityscapeShutterstock

The United States, often called America, is a vast and diverse country in North America. It is famous for its iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, and Grand Canyon. The U.S. offers a rich blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Each region of the country has unique attractions and experiences, from the bustling streets of New York City to the serene beaches of California. However, being well-prepared and informed is essential to make the most of your trip. To help you with that, we have curated a list of ten essential things to keep in mind before embarking on your adventure in the United States.

Visa Requirements

A shot of the American visa
A shot of the American visaShutterstock

Indian citizens planning a trip to the U.S. for tourism or business purposes need a nonimmigrant visa, namely a B-2 tourist visa. You can apply for one through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in India with a valid passport, proof of financial resources, and a travel itinerary. To qualify, you must meet several requirements, including no criminal history, a valid Indian passport, and a letter of acceptance from a university or employer. The application process involves completing form DS-160 and scheduling appointments for biometrics and an interview in addition to paying a non-refundable fee. If approved, the B1/B2 visa allows for ten years of validity with multiple entries, and each visit permits up to six months in the U.S.

Best Season To Visit

Bow Bridge in Central Park on a spring sunny day, New York City
Bow Bridge in Central Park on a spring sunny day, New York CityShutterstock

The US has diverse climates. Late spring and early autumn offer pleasant weather. Summer is good for outdoor activities but can be hot. Winter is ideal for skiing but can be cold. The northern USA is best visited between May and June, while the southern USA is best visited in spring or autumn.

Travelling in the United States can be overwhelming due to its vast size. One way to make it easier is to focus on exploring a specific region. The continental USA can be roughly divided into nine regions, which makes trip planning and navigation more manageable and enriching.

Local Culture And People

Americans are generally known for being friendly and welcoming. It's common to greet people with a handshake, and maintaining eye contact during conversations is considered respectful. Tipping is customary in restaurants and for services like taxis and hotels. It's important to respect personal space and cultural diversity, as the United States is a melting pot of different ethnicities and beliefs.

Food Culture

An overhead shot of classic American food
An overhead shot of classic American foodShutterstock

The American food culture is an ever-evolving and diverse one. Drawing inspiration from various cuisines worldwide, it creates new and unique dishes. The United States is often called a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and different cuisines, including traditional American, international cuisine, and Mexican. American cuisine is varied and boasts regional specialities like Southern BBQ and New England seafood. You must not forget to try classic American dishes like hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie. Vegetarian and international cuisine options are widely available in cities. Dining out is a popular social activity in the US, and the portion sizes served in restaurants are often generous.

Things To Carry

When packing for your trip, consider the season and activities you have planned. Bring comfortable clothing, sturdy walking shoes, a passport, visa, travel insurance, an electronics adapter, prescription meds, and a pullover for hiking. Wear hiking boots for strenuous trails, and bring sun protection, a daypack for food, water, and a first aid kit.

City Commute

A woman in the subway in New York
A woman in the subway in New YorkShutterstock

Public transportation options may differ from city to city but are generally efficient in major urban areas such as New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. Ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft can be used for convenience. Renting a car is popular for exploring rural areas or national parks. In larger cities and metropolitan areas, public transportation systems encompass buses, subways, trains, light rail, and commuter trains. However, they are less common in suburban areas. Taxis are an option but are not as readily available outside major cities. Alternatively, mobile apps like Uber and Lyft provide convenient and accessible alternatives to traditional taxis, offering greater flexibility and ease of use across a range of locations within the country.

Cost Estimation

A one-week trip to the United States of America typically costs INR 1,66,188 (USD 1,991) for one person and INR 3,32,377 (USD 3,982) for two people. This estimate includes expenses for accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing. If you are planning a two-week trip, the average cost would be around INR 3,32,378 (USD 3,982) for one person and INR 6,64,673 (USD 7,963) for two people. Please note that the actual cost may vary depending on the duration of your stay and the season of your travel. Additionally, if you book your flight tickets 4-5 months before your visit, the airfares will cost around INR 75,000.

Local Rules And Etiquettes

It is important to comply with local laws, including traffic regulations and age restrictions on alcohol consumption (usually 21 and above). In many public places, smoking is prohibited. Tipping around 15-20% in restaurants and for services such as haircuts and taxis is customary. In conversations, it is important to respect personal space and avoid sensitive topics, such as politics and religion.

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