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America - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of contents

  1. When is the best time to go?
  2. Do you need a visa?
  3. How can I get there?
  4. What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
  5. What is there to see and do?
  6. What is the tipping etiquette in restaurants?
  7. What is the drinking age?
  8. Is it cheap to eat out?

When is the best time to go?

Because America is such a huge country, the best time to travel will depend on where exactly you intend to visit. If you are planning a tour of the U.S. and will be driving from place to place, it is best to avoid the winter months due to the likelihood of snow and ice. On the other hand, summer is typically the busiest time to travel to states such as California and Florida, while New England attracts lots of visitors during the autumn due to the stunning scenery as the leaves on the trees change colour.


Do you need a visa?

British citizens are entitled to travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program via an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This requires you to provide details online at least 72 hours before you enter the country. Non-British citizens from the following countries (Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia the Republic of Korea and Taiwan) can also travel to the USA on the Visa Waiver Program by filling the ESTA application online. Make sure you visit the official ESTA website to fill in your application. You will need to pay a small charge to obtain an ESTA.


How can I get there?

Many airlines fly from the UK to the USA, offering a direct connection to America. You may need to take an internal flight within the U.S., though, depending on where you want to travel to. From London Heathrow, you can get direct flights to many American cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, LA, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, among others. London Gatwick serves Orlando, Las Vegas and Tampa, while Birmingham International Airport offers direct flights to Orlando and New York.


What is the local currency and what currency should I take?

The U.S. dollar is the local currency and will be accepted all over the country. You can also pay using credit or debit cards in most locations throughout America.


What is there to see and do?

There is a huge range of things to see and do in America because it is such a large country. From the theme parks of Orlando, the casinos in Las Vegas and the monuments of New York to the outstanding natural beauty of national parks such as Yellowstone in Wyoming and the Everglades in Florida, there's something here for every kind of traveller. Miami is wonderful for beach holidays with an urban twist, while Washington is the perfect destination for lovers of culture and history. If you're looking for an awe-inspiring spectacle, you can't beat Niagara Falls on the border with Canada or the Grand Canyon on America's south-western coast. Of course, this is just a snapshot of the diverse attractions America offers. In terms of things to do, you can try every activity imaginable, from trekking and horseback riding in stunning wilderness areas to surfing and scuba diving off the coast of Florida. Active travellers will be spoilt for choice in this amazing country.


What is the tipping etiquette in restaurants?

Tipping is expected in all restaurants across the USA, largely because waiting staff have low wages that are supplemented by their tips. A guideline for tipping in the U.S. is 15 to 20 per cent of the total bill. Tipping more or less than this is at your discretion. In some places, a service charge or gratuity will be added to your bill, in this instance you don't need to leave an additional tip (unless you want to).


What is the drinking age?

The legal drinking age is 21 in the USA. Bars and liqueur stores will expect you to have proof of age ID with a photo if you want to buy any alcoholic beverages.


Is it cheap to eat out?

There are some great budget restaurants in America where you can enjoy a delicious meal for a relatively low cost, especially in the big cities where there is a wide choice of restaurants, delis and cafes. Fast food chains often offer the cheapest meals, but ask your hotel or tour operator for suggestions of reasonably priced local restaurants in the destination(s) you'll be visiting.


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