What you should know before a trip to the USA

As you know, we will soon start the second part of our world travel project and travel from Europe to the USA. With this, we are fulfilling a long-cherished dream, because the USA is home to countless treasures that attract travelers from all over the world. For the country is home to some of the most picturesque and diverse landscapes in the world, a huge collection of exciting attractions and many wonders, puzzles and treasures of knowledge to explore. However, there are a few things to consider before visiting the USA. We have compiled a small overview for you here.

Blick über Chicago

View over Chicago - A skyline typical for the USA.

Countries and regions

The United States of America is divided into 50 states and further into different regions. These include the West, the Midwest, the Northwest and the South.

Die Rocky Mountains im Nordwesten der USA

The Rocky Mountains in the northwest of the USA.

Each of these regions has different geographical characteristics. For example, the Northeast is known for its mountain ranges and rocky coastlines, while the Midwest is often associated with large forests, grassy plains and extensive lakes.

Im Süden der USA sind solche Straßen in die Endlosigkeit keine Seltenheit

In the south of the USA, such roads into endlessness are no rarity.

The south, in turn, is known for its wide plains and barren steppes. This of course has a direct effect on our travel style. After all, traveling the way we have done in Europe so far is only possible in some regions of the United States. If there are 1000 km between two places, you are definitely stuck with a pilgrim wagon. Therefore, we will first concentrate on those regions that are still as close as possible to what we know from Europe in terms of climate and population. The rest will then only be accessible with an accompanying vehicle.

Cultural differences: Attention!

Even though we will of course continue to travel without money, there is nothing wrong with knowing the cultural subtleties that are often associated with the use of money.


In America, it is customary to tip waiters and waitresses. Although this is also the case here, but in the USA it is almost a faux pas to forget the tip. Moreover, with an average of 15-20 % of the total amount, it is clearly higher than in Germany. This is due to the fact that the minimum wage and therefore mostly also the waiter's salary is very low. So with the help of the tip at least a small compensation can be created. Thus, those who travel with money should always keep in mind that it is always important to think about a tip. It does not matter if you are in a restaurant, a bar or in a taxi. Especially if you were satisfied with the service.

Das Trinkgeld gehört in den USA gewissermaßen zum Gehalt von Servicekräften mit dazu

In the USA, tipping is to a certain extent part of the salary of service staff.

The price is higher than indicated

When it comes to buying goods and services in the United States of America, the price is not always what it seems. This is because most of the prices you will see are without sales tax. So when you arrive at the counter or checkout to pay, you can assume that the cashier is asking a slightly higher price than was previously displayed. Since the tax varies from state to state, you can expect a surcharge of at least 10% on the total cost. This also applies to most accommodations, although "resort fees" are usually added to the advertised prices anyway.

Entry requirements and visa

It is no secret that it is not exactly a piece of cake to enter the USA nowadays. The visa regulations are strict and you have to be careful not to make any formal or factual mistakes. It is therefore important that arriving travellers are aware of and understand the requirements for entering the USA. The easiest way to do this is to enter with the American Visa Waiver Program. A program that allows people from certain countries to enter the USA without a visa for up to 90 days. However, this does not mean that you can simply travel to the USA without paperwork.

This is because an entry permit must still be applied for via the so-called ESTA procedure, an electronic system for travel approval. This means that a permit is required in any case before entering the country. For a stay of maximum 90 days, however, the procedure via the Visa Waiver Program is quick and easy. For those of us who want to travel in the USA for a longer period of time, however, this was unfortunately out of the question. Therefore, we applied for a journalism visa through our project, which involves much more paperwork. Nevertheless, it has been approved in the meantime, so that the dream of the great America trip is now becoming more and more tangible.

Die Einreisebestimmungen für USA Reisen sind nicht ganz Ohne

The entry requirements for USA travel are not without their problems.

A tip in the margin:

If you need help applying for your visa or visa-free entry permit, you can use a service like www.esta-antragusa.de. These services charge a fee, but make sure you don't miss, forget or misunderstand anything. Especially people who are unsure and have no experience in this area can save themselves a lot of trouble and money.

Rund um die Uhr Shoppen zu gehen ist bei USA Reisen normalerweise kein Problem

Going shopping around the clock is usually not a problem with USA travel.

Shopping at night is no problem

Unlike in Germany, where there is a state-regulated law on shop closing times that determines the times at which the doors of supermarkets and other establishments must remain closed, in the USA 24/7 operation is normal. So there is nothing to be said against buying a frozen pizza at 2 a.m. at night or starting shopping again at 4 a.m. for a nightly barbecue. At least when you are in larger cities. In smaller towns, however, even in the USA, twenty-four hours of operation is not always worth it. That's why you should look at the signs with the opening hours again. In case you missed it and still find yourself standing in front of locked doors just because it's three o'clock in the night, that's no reason to panic. Because even if one cannot shop anymore, at least the next 24-hour-diner is not far away.

Im Stunden Diner kann man zu jeder Tages und Nachtzeit essen

In the hourly diner you can eat at any time of day or night

Friendly or polite - the fine difference!

Americans are considered one of the friendliest and most communicative peoples in the world. Especially for us Germans, however, this is often misunderstood, because what we understand as friendliness is actually a form of politeness. What is the difference? Quite simply! With us it is polite to greet another person when you meet him or her on the street. There are various templates for this purpose, such as "Hello!", "Good afternoon", "Grüß Gott!", "Servus!", or even a slight nod of the head. On the other hand, you are friendly if you are interested in the feelings and needs of another person and ask him or her how he or she is feeling or what they need to feel better.  
Überschwengliches höfliches Begrüßen gehört in den USA auch dann dazu wenn man einander nicht mag oder sich nicht wohl fühlt

In the USA, exuberant, polite greetings are a part of it, even if you do not like each other or do not feel comfortable.

In the USA, on the other hand, it is polite to ask these questions as mere greetings. A simple "Hi!" is more likely to be perceived as undercooled or off-putting if you don't at least say "How are you!". - "How are you!" after that. I am writing this here deliberately with an exclamation mark at the end instead of a question mark, because it is not really a question in this situation. It is more like our "Servus!" and should therefore be followed by a standardized "Fine! Thank you!". Even if you feel completely shitty. Because if you are really interested in an honest answer to this question, you will add a few more words to it. Like, "Oh my God, what's wrong with you? Is everything all right? You look terrible! Come tell me what's wrong!" - This is a call to mourn the suffering! Everything else is pure politeness.

And what about the American dream?

Many people who have emigrated from Europe to America over the centuries have hoped to find great happiness here. And even today the "American Dream" "From a dishwasher to a millionaire" is a principle of life that is still pursued by many. But no, also in the USA the money is not on the street and it is not thrown after you. But the hope lives in the people. Because as a country of unlimited possibilities, many miraculous things are still happening here, which completely change one or the other life course.

Für viele Ist die USA bis heute ein Symbol für Freiheit und unbegrenzte Möglichkeiten

For many, the USA is still a symbol of freedom and unlimited possibilities.

In the following video you will find more typical characteristics of the USA, which you won't find anywhere else in the world. However, if you want to travel to the USA, you should know it and be prepared for it. https://youtu.be/YN7Wok9vYKg Saying of the day: Every country has its own characteristics! Altitude difference: 190 m / 180 m Stage for the day: 21 km / 23 km 1st stage destination: Hotel Margaretenhof, Margaretenhof 1, 66802 Überherrn, Germany 2nd stage finish: St. Maximin parish home, Dillingen an der Saar, Germany  

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