travel insurance

Traveling to the United States for the First Time? Here Are the Top Things You Should Know

According to official data, the United States remains one of the top vacation destinations, with over 77 million visitors in 2018. It has everything you ever wanted for an amazing vacation – mountains, lakes, forests and national parks, wildlife, the ocean, iconic cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, as well as plenty of nightlife, museums to visit, and opportunities to spend time outside.

However, going to the US for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, especially because of the cultural differences. Even though you live in Europe and you grew up with American sitcoms, TV shows, and movies, there are still many differences that you will have to embrace. Here are some things that you should expect during this adventure.

Health and travel insurance

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Under no circumstances, should you travel to the United States without having health insurance. The medical system there is ridiculously expensive, so you may end up paying thousands of dollars for a short visit to the ER. 

The healthcare system is complex and, sometimes, seems to follow rules that nobody else in the world understands. Unlike most other countries that adopted a universal healthcare system, healthcare in the United States mainly focuses on private providers and insurance companies. 

That being said, all minors under the age of 18 years old will receive free medical healthcare if none of their parents can afford it. Similarly, all people over the age of 65 and those who live on social welfare are qualified for free healthcare. 

Have your documents with you at all times 

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Anytime you enter a liquor shop, a gas station or even a regular supermarket hoping to buy a beer, you will be asked for your ID. Don’t flatter yourself even though you are well into your 30s because the local rules state that all citizens under 45 years old will be asked for ID whenever purchasing alcohol or cigarettes. 

That being said, you may also be asked for your ID by law enforcement or when entering bars, clubs, and even some restaurants. And don’t forget that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and not 19 as in Canada or 18 as in Europe and almost all other countries in the world. 

Tipping services

Many Americans work in the service industry, relying almost entirely on tips to make a decent monthly living. Therefore, tipping is expected and, in some situations, even mandatory. 

Unlike many European countries where tipping is optional and doesn’t usually exceed 10% of the total bill, in the United States you will be expected to tip a minimum of 15-20%. This includes drivers, baristas, waitresses, and bartenders. 

The reason behind this tipping policy is that most people in the service industry are paid way below the minimum wage because they are expected to earn more by being nice to customers and working for their tips. Coming from a country like Germany, Austria or Japan where people rarely tip, this practice may seem strange but it is the American way. 

Consider your budget

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Ah, taxes. The American taxation system is complicated and makes little to no sense if you live outside the country. Perhaps the weirdest thing you will come across in your trip is seeing one price displayed on the shelves and paying another price for the product at the register. 

The reason is that the United States doesn’t enforce a VAT per se, meaning each state has its own taxation system. Most foods, beverages, clothes, and other mandatory products are taxed between 7-8% and 12%, depending on the state, while taxes for alcohol, tobacco, and electronics are usually higher. 

Make sure to take this into account when considering your budget for the trip. America remains one of the most expensive destinations in the world, so always bring extra money with you for emergencies. 

How to plan a low-budget trip 

If you plan on living in the United States for a short while but don’t have more than $2,000-$3,000, there are still plenty of tips to follow to make the most out of your money. For instance, renting a one-bedroom home for a month is more convenient than staying in Airbnbs, hotel or motel rooms. 

Renting a house in the suburbs is not that expensive, and you will also get a small backyard. However, you should look out for pests, especially raccoons as they now tend to invade our homes more often. They are smart and very curious creatures and they have adapted themselves very well to living amongst people. They will eat from your trash cans and get inside your house through a pet door or even under your garage. To inform yourself about raccoon traps and how to keep them away from your home you can check out seedsandmore.net.

Although they look friendly, raccoons are disease carriers and can easily force you to pay a visit to the hospital which you may not afford unless you have solid traveling insurance. 

10 Items to Pack for a Successful Business Trip

Whether it’s your first time to go on a business trip or not, it is important to organize your things days before you travel. This is so you won’t forget any important items that you need to bring and make sure you can relax before your trip. Pack your bags beforehand with these business items to avoid tribulations and have a successful business trip.

Right Bag

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Apparently, you’ll need a bag or a suitcase where you can fit all your business items and travel essentials. The size of your bag will depend on how many items you’re going to take. Regardless of the size or style of your suitcase, you need to make sure it will make your trip extra convenient. A bag with wheels is ideal for traveling so you can easily drag or carry it. Check out a wide selection of briefcases and backpacks on Alpineswiss.com.

Clothing: Dress to Impress

Because you’re going on a business trip, you need to look your best. Opt for formal, stylish clothes but also make sure they are comfortable. Avoid wearing clothes that wrinkle easily so even if you stay long on the plane, you will still look beautiful and fresh. You can also pack some casual clothes if you have some time for leisure activities.

Travel Document Organizer

Keep all your travel documents in one place so you can easily pick them up whenever you need them. These documents may include passport, travel tickets, itineraries, travel insurance policy and medical cards. You can’t lose any of these so make sure to secure them in a travel document organizer and if you have a handbag, you can keep it there for easy access.

Maps

Traveling to a strange place, especially if you’re alone, can be a little scary. Even if you have done some research about the place; it will still be hard to know or remember your way around. Before you arrive at your destination, save your location on Google maps so you can use the map even when you’re offline.

Business Cards

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Wherever you go, you should not miss any opportunity to meet prospects or other business people. Always make sure you have your business cards in handy because you’ll never who you are going to meet or what kind of opportunity you’re business trip can offer you. Bring as many business cards as you desire so you will not run out in case you meet a lot of business professionals or prospects.

Comfortable Socks

Traveling can give you painful or sore ankles and feet, especially if you need to go from one place to another. This is why you need to pack a pair of high-quality, comfortable socks to protect your feet from pain and swelling. You should also wear nice, comfy socks while you’re on a plane and don’t wear shoes that are very tight.

Phone Charger

Of course, you can’t forget your phone charger since you need to use your phone often to communicate with your colleagues. When you pack your bag, place your phone charger at the bottom and roll it up with socks. This is to give your bag a better balance and proper weight distribution.

Travel-Sized Toiletries

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Most hotels only provide towels, soaps, and shampoos so you definitely to bring your own set of toiletries. Don’t forget to bring your toothbrush, mouthwash, moisturizer, shaving products, and other essentials. Make sure they are all in travel size so they will easily fit in your carry-on luggage.

Tech Accessories

Apart from your phone charger, it is best to take some tech accessories such as Bluetooth headset to stay connected even when you’re in a car or at the airport. You can also use it for some entertainment while you’re on the plane so you won’t feel bored. You may also want to bring power banks for your phone and laptop if you’re going to be away for a long time.

Relaxation Aids

No matter how long your business trip is, stress and inconvenience are still inevitable, especially when you’re on the plane. To keep yourself comfortable and entertained, bring some relaxation aids such as a mobile reader or iPod for some music. You may also need pain relievers, sleep aids, antibiotic cream or vitamins. If you’re on medication, don’t forget to bring your medicines so you’ll be on your best shape throughout your business trip.