30 Things You Should Know Before Visiting The United States For The First Time Ever, According To Americans
The United States is the land of laws and codices; always has and always will be. But on top of that, there are also unwritten rules about the American way of life that are worth knowing whether you're planning to move there or just visit.
Recently, Reddit user Praglik made a post on the platform, saying: "Americans of Reddit, what's something anyone visiting the US for the first time absolutely must know about or be aware of?" And locals flooded the comment section with their answers.
So we compiled them into a comprehensive list in case you plan to go there and need to brush up on your social etiquette.
You drive five hours in the US: you’re basically still in the same place.
You drive five hours in Europe: everyone’s talking funny and the cheese is different.
To learn more about visiting the United States, Bored Panda got in touch with A Lady in London, an adventurous traveler who has already been to 112 countries.
"As a Californian, when I think of the US, I think of the natural beauty the country offers," she told us. "From stunning coastline to national parks like Yosemite, there are a lot of amazing places to discover."
And that's the beauty of this land; everyone can find a corner within it that will resonate with them. "The US is huge, and there are a lot of amazing destinations to discover. Good places to start include New York City, Yellowstone National Park, and Hawaii. They'll give you an overview of how varied the country is in terms of things to do, see, and experience."
If you find a Mexican or Asian place/truck where they don't speak english. The foods gonna be good as f**k.
1. Come to America just before Thanksgiving.
2. Casually mention to American acquaintance that you’re alone on Thanksgiving.
3. Accept immediate invite to whatever Thanksgiving gathering is being held.
Everyone has their own quirky Thanksgiving traditions and we love sharing them
According to the most recent figures from the World Tourism Organization, France is the number one destination for international tourists with 117 million in 2020, but the United States is in fourth place with 45 million.
However, the country has to step up if it wants to see the number increase. Some researchers estimate that as many as 412,000 travel and tourism jobs in the United States will remain unfilled this year.
1-in-18 industry jobs may have remained vacant during the first half of 2022, highlighting a talent crunch that has plagued the sector since early 2021. An estimated 321,000 positions went unfilled in the January-June period.
As a foreigner I have to add to this thread.
If they like you, you’ll know. Americans are some of the most generous people I’ve ever met.
I’ve only been to florida and every single time people have given me more food than I paid for, their own employee discounts, invited me to their homes for dinner (also, dinner is earlier than you’re used to if your from Latin America, you won’t be eating at 8-10pm, you’ll be eating anywhere from 4pm to 7pm, no later than that), if people like you you’ll be treated as family as soon as they figure you’re not a serial killer.
I love America and you’ve been nothing but great to me. I’m grateful to have met some of the best people I know in America and to have friends there.
Also, I’ve only been to Florida and have yet to meet one of these dangerous creatures called “Florida man”, I know you’re not supposed to feed them or anything but I don’t know if they are “that” harmful or dangerous
The local burger shops are better than the regional burger chains which are better than the national burger chains.
Don't get out of your car if you're pulled over by the police unless directed to do so.
However, when it comes to the locals, A Lady in London said they can be really accepting of tourists. "It depends where you go. Different parts of the country are known for different things. For example, Southerners are known for their hospitality and Midwesterners for their friendliness. I like to think Americans are pretty welcoming on the whole," she explained.
But if you want to meet them, A Lady in London suggests you start locally and see how it goes from there. "My biggest tip is to remember how big the country is. I recommend seeing one state or region at a time so you can experience it fully and meaningfully," she said. "Then make sure to come back again and see a different part of the country. You'll start to get a feel for how diverse the US is."
Always get health insurance unless you wish to be bankrupt. The US healthcare system is insanely expensive.
While walking down the street, people will randomly make eye contact and then smile. No, you don't know them, this is just their way of being polite. They expect you to smile back and then break eye contact.
In 98% of areas you go to, you’ll need a car. The 2% where you won’t are NYC, Boston, Chicago, and DC.
Reddit user Praglik told Bored Panda they came up with the idea for the post when they were planning a trip to California with their wife. "She's never been to the US," Praglik said. "A little bit later before going to bed I thought about asking this question, and to my surprise, it blew up during the night here in Europe."
"The replies were helpful, they crystallized what I read over the years about the US. Most of them were very similar, falling into 3 categories: danger (don't mess with wildlife), hidden costs (tips, taxes, long-distance travels), and finally people (homemade food is great, they love to share, love to meet foreigners)."
The Redditor said they've been to the US once before. "It was a very short business trip to Colorado. The country seemed very interesting, vast, and full of colorful people. I always dreamt of visiting both coasts, California and New England in particular."
Hopefully, the post will help other travelers too!
24 hour Diners. According to stuff I read in Reddit, our diners are legendary.
ETA: I’m American and I eat at them a lot. I was just surprised how much visitors from other countries love our diners so much.
The McDonalds is not the same as in your country and will most likely make you sick.
When we say, "How's it going?" we don't need a literal answer. It's just a greeting. I went to college with a guy from Germany and this confused him quite a bit when he first got here. He thought people wanted to know about his whole day.
Almost everyone in America thinks your accent is charming, and thinks you're super-fancy just for coming from Cork/Manchester/Kyoto/Lagos/Guangzho/Rio/Mexico City.
90% of native-English-speaking Americans absolutely adore hearing people speak English with an accent and with foreign syntax. English is a wildly flexible language, and we love to hear people flex it by translating their native language into English in ways that sound a little weird in English. We will 100% steal it from you because it's vivid! Shakespeare has infected all of us, we love vivid and surprising language! We absolutely devour non-native speakers because they use English like Shakespeare and Chaucer, in vivid ways that re-illuminate the language. Do NOT be embarrassed; we all want to steal your metaphors and odd phrases and malapropisms, because you are DOING SHAKESPEARE RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF US. Like, literally offer the awkwardest phrase you've got in English, and a bunch of English speakers will instantly adopt it because it's wildly vivid. They may even steal your Italian or Chinese or Portuguese word, because it says something we can't currently say in American English.
We are also incredibly impressed that you can speak English in addition to other languages! We feel humble and slightly dumb that we can't, and we want to make your English-speaking as painless as possible. Non-native speakers are often embarrassed at their English proficiency, but *literally everyone in America* thinks you are amazing and is hanging on your every word! Most of us don't want to be weird and awkward and signal that you're not a native speaker (especially after the Trump years), so we won't mention it unless you do. But we are all sitting here ADORING your accent and freaking out that you're so good at English.
Visit Chicago. It is by far the most American city, and it is clean, friendly, and everyone will want to hear your story and may possibly invite you to Thanksgiving dinner upon first meeting.
If you are a college student, ask your dorm-mates about Thanksgiving. Someone will invite you home with them, and be super-happy to have the opportunity to do so! We're a hospitable people, Thanksgiving is uniquely American, and we know non-American kids in the dorms may not have somewhere to go! If you mention your dietary restrictions, they will make you vegan or halal or gluten-free Thanksgiving food (it might not be good, but they will try). They will want you to call your mother, and they may want to say hi to your mother, so she knows you're being taken care of on Thanksgiving. Your mother might not know what Thanksgiving is! But your American roommate's mother wants YOUR mother to know that you have a place here, so the two of them will have a very awkward conversation and both leave feeling satisfied that you are loved and cared for.
Do not under any circumstances try to bribe a cop depending on where you come from that might seem odd but trust me you will get in trouble if you try.
Personal space. Do not get right up behind someone standing in line, if you're lucky you'll just make them uncomfortable, unlucky and you may find yourself in a fight.
Food and drink portions are HUGE. Order a Coke at a sit-down restaurant and you'll likely get about 32+oz. And when it's mostly gone, they'll just bring you another one.
Mexican restaurants tend to give you 40+oz glasses of your drink.
And speaking of Mexican restaurants... They'll bring chips and salsa until you can't even stand up anymore. Then they'll bring your entree.
It isn't like the movies and TV shows, which tend to show southern California or New York City. The country is incredibly diverse in environment, political beliefs, accents, economics, etc. If you drive from one side of the country to the other, you will encounter so many differences you won't believe it's the same country. Sometimes you don't even have to drive to see these differences.
If you expect Times Square but fly into North Dakota, you'll be in for a rude awakening. If you visit the beach of Baywatch, you'll be shocked that instead of Pamela Anderson running in slow motion you'll see 100 overweight, middle-aged couples eating fried chicken. If you go 2 blocks off of the Las Vegas Strip, it turns into a regular city... and if you go two blocks in the wrong direction, you may fear for your life. If you think you'll see movie stars in Hollywood, you'll be surprised that it's mostly a disgusting area... and you can go from a ghetto-like environment to the fanciest of fancy Beverly Hills by crossing the street.
Personal space. Americans do not want to be touched. We want to know every single thing about you because we find foreigners fascinating (most of us love foreigners and are simply curious), except for how your breath feels on our face. We have bubbles that must be respected. That is probably why Americans are "loud," we just simply stay farther away from each other.
The CD is not free, never accept something from someone on a street.
Food portions are huge, but anything you can't finish can be packed up for later. You just need to ask.
Most Americans are quite friendly and helpful. That most of them are truly interested in hearing all about you and your country.
In the US, we leave tips for food servers at restaurants and resorts.
It's not automatically included.
Don't be afraid to feel comfortable here. As far as anyone is concerned this is just as much Any foreigners home as ours, we have the occasional a*****e that makes snarky remarks. Don't take it personally if u run into one because chances are he's a d**k head no matter what color you are or culture you have. Just have fun and enjoy your stay and don't let the media brainwash you into thinking that Americans are all just racist pricks. Most of us are pretty nice. Personally I'm from west Virginia, the south what is commonly known as the most racist portion of America. We get Muslims, Mexicans, Asians, all of the above, not a single hate crime report here for decades. I'm even dating an Austrian girl who says America is lovely. Our government just sucks man.
People will just start talking to you if the line is long enough.
Water refills are always free.
The majority of cities and towns are not walkable.
You don't need a membership to buy alcohol from Costco.
Have at, don't die, smile at people.
Almost forgot: do not be in a Waffle House/Denny's/iHop/Perkins after 10 pm. Especially not Waffle House.
"Southern Hospitality" is not a carte blanche invitation to act like you own the place. We'll give directions, stop on the side or the road and change your tire, and start conversations for no reason but once you start making absurd demands of strangers you'll hear "bless your heart" before you get punched.
When you come to the us prepare for endless amounts of ice in your drink. You might not even get any drink but you will have more ice than you could ever imagine
Note: this post originally had 55 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.