For regular travelers, the USA can be a fun and exciting place to explore, and there are plenty of unique cities and venues, as well as national parks and beautiful landmarks you can see.
If it’s your first time visiting the USA from a different country, however, there are a few concerns that you should be aware of. As always, travel insurance is a must, but it is also important to know about the main concerns related to traveling through parts of the US and issues related to accommodation availability.
Is the USA a Dangerous Place to Visit?
No matter what you may have read in the news or saw in action movies promoted by Hollywood, the US is not actually a dangerous place. It is a big place, so there are bound to be some news stories that overinflate the drama that may occur in some remote places, but overall, you have very little to worry about, as long as you are aware of a few basic considerations.
Despite the fact that in some areas crime and the use of guns are more prevalent than others, it is not the same in the entire country, and crime victims are hardly European tourists or visiting students. In most cases, crimes occur in remote areas and poor neighborhoods, and the most typical victims are single, unemployed Americans.
What You Need to Be Aware Of
The first thing you need to know about the United States is that it’s a car-dependent country. Virtually anyone from teenagers to senior citizens own a car, and in many places, public transportation is not available simply because it isn’t needed.
That being said, you can still get around using trains, buses and cabs in most of the bigger cities, and car rental companies have excellent offers that will allow you to drive your own car across vast distances without the need for hefty expenses.
Another important consideration regarding your visit to the US is the importance of owning or renting a mobile phone. Although this is a recommendation for most countries, in the US, a good phone can help you get out of tight spots. Call 911 for emergencies, or carry a sign saying “Call the Police – Send Help!” in case you don’t own a phone.
Also, it’s important to avoid keeping all your cash or credit/debit cards in a single location, such as a wallet or a purse, and make sure you lock your car and your door whenever you go out or visit a venue, since random thefts, although not too common, can still happen – especially in crowded areas.
Plan for Accommodation in Advance
In the US, accommodation should always be planned in advance due to the competitive tourist industry. Particularly during the busiest times of the year, such as those associated with the winter holidays or summer vacations, there are plenty of visiting tourists, so that hotels are often booked solid.
Also, people tend to travel and use motels quite often, so it can often happen that traveling without an itinerary would lead you to a place where no vacancies are available.
Consider calling in advance to make reservations at all the places you plan on staying, so you’ll have no unwanted surprises. Remember that bed & breakfasts in the European style do not exist in the US, and it can be dangerous to sleep in your car in highway rest areas.
Avoid Private Properties
One particular concern you need to be aware of while traveling through the US is that most citizens are extremely protective of their private properties, and in some places, there are actually laws in place stating that trespassers can be removed using force by the owners of the properties in question.
If you plan on visiting wilderness areas, parks or beaches, always make sure you consult an official guidebook to find the best wildlife resorts, national parks and public beaches that anyone can visit. Also, it may be a good idea to follow only marked trails, if you’re interested in hiking adventures, and hiring a guide for some of your journeys would be good as well.
Get Travel Insurance
No matter where you go on vacation or on a business trip, travel insurance is an important recommendation that most experts would tell you should be first on your list.
In the US, your travels can quickly turn into exciting adventures, but they are not completely free of dangers. Luggage can be misplaced at airports, you can lose your belongings or have them stolen under some circumstances, and medical emergencies or accidents can happen virtually anywhere.
Contacting a reliable travel insurance provider before the trip, and applying for either a short term policy for your current trip or a full annual policy should help you obtain your rightful compensation in case something happens.