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What Should I Avoid Doing When Visiting U.S.A.?

Global travels enable us to build more successful personal and professional relationships in a diverse environment. I enjoy being in the U.S.A. Having lived, worked and undertaken business in many countries, I was asked ‘What should I not do when visiting the U.S.A ?.’  My online response received 5,500+ views per day for a while. So here it is…. a brief list of what one should not do when visiting the U.S.A (SMILE):

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1. Shout in airports and/or public places (especially if your friend’s name is Jack) – A loud ‘Hi Jack’ could get you in a lot of trouble! 😉

2. Provoke anyone – They may have a gun (even though most people in the U.S.A may not carry a gun around) 😉

3. Carry a toy gun or anything similar (this includes your kids) 🙂

4. Wear or do anything ‘strange’ on the plane or in public places  – For example, a fellow passenger on the plane alerted the authorities because he thought a math professor, who was solving math problems, was planning a terrorist attack! 🙂

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5. Be in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ – This could happen in any country so it is good to be aware and careful.

6. Bring more than the allowed cash amount – currently this amount is about USD $10,000 (please verify from time to time). If you bring more than the amount allowed, it will most likely be confiscated at the airport, if not declared properly.

7. Violate laws and regulations – They are strict and it is essential to have good status as a visitor.

8. Forget to leave a tip – Waiters here depend on the tips as their salary is minimal. So a tip is customary.

9. Attempt to drive in traffic (especially in the larger cities) – It will zap your energy, take up most of your day and make you feel frustrated.

10. Have unreasonable expectations – For example, that you will find a job and get rich quick! It takes time, even for locals.

 

11. Attempt to do too many things in one day – The traffic and distance between places makes it a challenge to cross many things off your ‘to do’ list in one day.

12. Many more!

Any other suggestions? Please feel free to send suggestions to and enjoy life to the fullest around the world with Hon. Pauline Truong on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter!

124 Comments

  1. April 27, 2017    

    #4 is terrifying!

  2. Tina Tina
    April 27, 2017    

    I love that you mentioned leaving a tip. I imagine this is not customary in other countries so it’s nice that you alert visitors of this priority. Cute post! Shouting loudly in public places is definitely not advised lol!

  3. April 27, 2017    

    #4 made me laugh! lol great post.

  4. April 27, 2017    

    4 is so true and sad at the same time :S

  5. April 27, 2017    

    Oh gosh, some of these are so scary but I hate that they are true too – like having fake guns, etc. Definitely don’t forget to tip though! That’s how American waiters get most of their money, like you said. It can be difficult to remember that or even KNOW that because I know a lot of countries are different.

    -Lauren

  6. April 27, 2017    

    Great tips. Knowing laws of a place you are visiting is always a good idea – wherever you are going!

  7. April 27, 2017    

    There are so many things to look out for in the US, it’s almost off-putting!

  8. April 27, 2017    

    very true list. I live in the US, but I am originally from Germany. There are a few things that one should absolutely be careful about. Oh, and never drive with your car through what is called “The Projects” or public housing areas, you can get shot there. Stay safe!

  9. April 27, 2017    

    Haha, this list made me laugh….most of which is true, but sounds silly when put like that!! 🙂

  10. April 27, 2017    

    #4 is a bit scary. I’ve yet to travel anywhere alone. The last time I did was 16 yrs ago with my dad. I’ll be taking on Disney world next year with my family. Thanks for the tips!
    –https://imommy.co

  11. April 28, 2017    

    This is an interesting list, but most of the things you mention are just common sense. I used to live in Florida and people are really good and laid back, so you do not have nothing to worry about.

  12. Bel Bel
    April 28, 2017    

    The one about the math professor was both annoying and hilarious. Who starts calculating for a terrorist attacke when he wants to carry it out. People need to chill out.

  13. tom tom
    April 28, 2017    

    cool tips – if you ever want to collaborate hit me up! tom@travelandgrind.co.uk – I run a travel a travel blog (i wont post it here) perhaps we can get some guests posts going? Let me know 🙂

  14. April 28, 2017    

    I want to travel to the US in the future so this was very helpful, thanks for sharing!

  15. Carrie Carrie
    April 28, 2017    

    While most of these are true, I’m a little off put by the way things were worded. It makes it sound like Americans are all gun-toting crazies. We’re not. Most of us are actually pretty cool. Really, just practice common sense. I mean, anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time in any country…there’s not really any way to avoid that.

  16. April 28, 2017    

    Definately avoid rednecks or anyone with a confederate flag. Americans can be such animals..

  17. Gloryanna Gloryanna
    April 28, 2017    

    It’s sad that so many of these are true! And they’re a lot more scary ones we could add to the list too!

  18. Ronak Ronak
    April 28, 2017    

    Nice tips!

  19. Thomas Thomas
    April 28, 2017    

    This facts are so true I have friend in USA and i heard the same from her! 😀
    http://thomasswonderland.blogspot.ch/

  20. Toma Toma
    April 28, 2017    

    This facts are so true I have a friend in USA and she told me the same! 😀
    http://thomasswonderland.blogspot.ch/

  21. eazynazy eazynazy
    April 28, 2017    

    4 is really true , that made me laugh lol

  22. April 28, 2017    

    One of the hardest things for me when I first visited the US was tipping. When and who do you tip, how much? etc.. but I’m sure if you live in the States it’s easy as. 4 is disappointing but not surprising.

  23. April 28, 2017    

    Yes definitely don’t attempt to do too much in one day! There is so much to do here!

    xo elizabeth | fromskinny2strong.com

  24. April 28, 2017    

    This list made me laugh. Definitely tip your waiters though. If you’re friendly towards them from the start you’ll tend to get really good service.

  25. April 28, 2017    

    Honestly tipping is starting to become over rated and I feel as though most waiters should get their fair pay.

  26. April 28, 2017    

    Great! We really have to get things prepared before we take off to a foreign country, making sure every thing we need is there to avoid future problems. The list above is worth noting.

  27. April 28, 2017    

    Funny post.

  28. April 29, 2017    

    Useful post, especially right now ever since last November. I have lots of friends and relatives in the US, but I am not planning on travelling to the US anytime soon. One day much later. WOuld love to continue my visits to the US National Parks. Beautiful country.

  29. April 29, 2017    

    There are some useful tips here for visiting the US. It took me a little while to work out the Hi Jack tip!

  30. April 29, 2017    

    It can definitely be hard to know all the dos and don’ts when you’re visiting. But just practicing common sense and respect are usually the way to go.

  31. April 29, 2017    

    Visiting The USA is on top of my bucket list. Thanks to you, now I know what to avoid.

  32. April 29, 2017    

    Wow! Great list. I think this applies to any country we’re going to; not just USA. We need to be careful when travelling to another country. Thanks; travellers need to know this

  33. April 29, 2017    

    This is a great list to have in mind, in fact I would have never thought some of them !

  34. April 29, 2017    

    Great article on what to avoid to do in oneday

  35. April 29, 2017    

    Good tips! Yes, even locals struggle to get well paying jobs.

  36. April 29, 2017    

    Thank you for sharing these nice little things about USA. I have planned to go US once for tour. It will help me. Share more of this cause I am subscribing your blog.

  37. April 29, 2017    

    I had no idea that you aren’t allowed to carry more than 10k of cash. Thanks for letting me know. Giving a tip is also something people do not follow in my part of the world. Great tips!

  38. Riely Riely
    April 29, 2017    

    Tipping is huge in North America. For those who aren’t use to tipping, the restaurant business here pays their employees very little. Tips make up for their low wage. It’s the reverse for us north americans visiting Europe who don’t accept tipping at all.

  39. April 29, 2017    

    lol this made me laugh! I wasn’t born in America so I’ve definitely screwed up / offended people before without trying LOL

  40. April 30, 2017    

    I have never been to the USA. This list looks interesting.

  41. April 30, 2017    

    Thank you for reminding people to tip.

  42. April 30, 2017    

    Hahahahahahaha I can’t stop laughing

  43. April 30, 2017    

    Really useful, especially 3rd and 4th point

  44. April 30, 2017    

    great tips – thanks for sharing !! I didn’t; know some of those

  45. April 30, 2017    

    This post hits a little too close to home, haha! All of these are so true, and a lot of them, very practical in today’s busy world.

    Joanne | https://fung-shui.com

  46. April 30, 2017    

    Well there are definitely some truths to these tips! And I’m sure a ton more could be said. 🙂

  47. May 1, 2017    

    The tip part is so real some places even include it in the check .

    http://lifestyle360.co.ke

  48. May 1, 2017    

    It’s extremely scary that the world we live in has come to this. Especially #4. Is say just be nice, polite and treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

  49. Humorous take on quite a serious subject. I think tourists have to respect the places they visit and follow the customs. Well done for raising awareness of tips!

  50. RaNesha RaNesha
    May 1, 2017    

    Interesting list that applies when visting any unfamiliar country.

  51. May 1, 2017    

    Great tips. I live in the USA, New York to be exact and I worked many years as a waitress for tips. I served many Americans and many people from foreign countries. Some who are from other countries don’t realize how tipping works here. So that was a great point.

  52. loudy loudy
    May 1, 2017    

    Interesting and informative post, I’m planning to visit the US this year so I gotta note this haha. Thanks a lot for sharing

  53. May 1, 2017    

    avoid using slur names at people. avoid leaving your valuables vulnerable.

  54. May 1, 2017    

    This list is so informative, and somehow depressing. We might as well be zombies when we come to US of A. #4 was quite funny.

    Thanks for sharing.

  55. May 2, 2017    

    Thanks! will keep these in mind! I would be visiting in August!

  56. May 2, 2017    

    Ahh very common mistakes that can be done by anyone… very in-handy tips.. thanks for sharing.

  57. May 2, 2017    

    Things can get finicky when you plan for the US. The bug checklist of pre-tour and during the tour offset so much of excitement and the constant worry of whether you have missed something on that list or not keeps you on your feet. But a great place to be in and explore..

  58. May 2, 2017    

    Best is to avoid confrontation except you want fame by uploading videos

  59. May 2, 2017    

    Thank you for the tips. It is good to know about other countries!

  60. May 2, 2017    

    You have a great list! I live here and I hate driving in traffic. I live in Texas and yup, most people carry guns here.

  61. May 2, 2017    

    Some of these are funny but scary at the same time! I’d love to visit the US one day but I’d be very dubious

  62. May 2, 2017    

    Wow, I had no idea you couldn’t bring more than $10,000 here. I mean, not that I have that much money to lug around anyway lol. I just mistakenly assumed people could enter the United States with as much – or as little – money as they felt appropriate.

  63. May 2, 2017    

    Very salient points….I love the humour in the first point…

  64. May 2, 2017    

    #4 is terrifying. Be in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ – is very relevant to my country as well. Hi from an Indian.

  65. May 2, 2017    

    Wow- I live in the US and I never thought of my country as a place people need a guide of “what not to do.” My country is so …intolerant sometimes. I’m sorry

  66. May 2, 2017    

    You are awesome. it’s interesting and what a beautiful post. Thank you.

  67. May 2, 2017    

    My goodness there regulations are very strict in regards to the Maths Professor but it is better to be safe than sorry. I wont be shouting out Jack any time soon either lol x x

  68. May 2, 2017    

    I agree…traffic in large US cities is horrible. I live near Atlanta and rarely go into the city unless I absolutely have to.

  69. May 2, 2017    

    Every single one of these is not only true in the U.S. but goes for any country you visit. Learn the laws people, driving is a nightmare and don’t be leaving your backpack or acting strange anywhere.

  70. May 2, 2017    

    Very scary but also very true! Now a days you never know how someone will react or treat you! These are great reminders!

  71. Jo Jo
    May 2, 2017    

    It’s always interesting to see how Americans are perceived through the eyes of other countries. My goal when traveling is to always remember I am a guest and try to behave accordingly and respect the place I’m visiting.

  72. May 2, 2017    

    I totally understand having ‘Leaving a tip’ on here because when I was abroad, I was looked at weird when I tried to do it. It is just so ingrained in your mind that you kind of end up doing it automatically.

  73. May 2, 2017    

    Great list of tips. I wonder how one would know if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time until it was too late?

  74. May 2, 2017    

    It’s so unfortunate that this list (albeit very on point) is even relevant to us travelers. You have comprised a thorough list which we must all be aware of when traveling. Scary world we live in! Thanks.

  75. May 2, 2017    

    I would add be cautious when people approach you and ask for money or help, especially if you are visiting a large U.S. city. Sometimes people will try to catch you off guard and rob you.

  76. Ali Rost Ali Rost
    May 2, 2017    

    Have to believe these would apply to pretty much anywhere you would go. Be a good citizen .. don’t freak people out with a toy guy .. leave a nice tip .. and remember it’s ok to rest every now and again!

  77. Claudia Claudia
    May 2, 2017    

    Number 4 is very sad but true. Ignorance is brave (as we say in Spanish) . It might sound funny but its very far from it, quite pitiful if you ask me.

  78. Claudia Claudia
    May 2, 2017    

    Number 4 is very sad but true. Ignorance is brave (as we say in Spanish) . It might sound funny but its very far from it, quite pitiful if you ask me. Great tips!

  79. May 2, 2017    

    Most of these would go for anyone traveling throughout the world. In general, be courteous and respectful of others. Be aware of your own safety, use common sense.

  80. May 2, 2017    

    I never realized visiting the US could be so intimidating but these are all so true!

  81. May 2, 2017    

    For other countries, giving a tip is also necessary and its included as part of the receipt. Overall, the list has all the necessary tips.

  82. May 2, 2017    

    Given that I live in the U.S. this is such an interesting perspective about what you should do. I guess some of these seem somewhat obvious to me. I mean not breaking laws is probably a good idea. But some a little less so, but just as important. Good post.

  83. May 2, 2017    

    Haha… fake gun and Hi Jake!!! Shouting is really bad in public!!
    Great thing to know about leaving a tip is customary.
    Nice post!

  84. May 2, 2017    

    Great Post. #4 is so sad and true. Thanks for sharing!

  85. May 3, 2017    

    Oh my goodness I never would have thought about the toy gun one but now you say it….eeeek! I’m glad I have a daughter not a son….

  86. May 3, 2017    

    This is a great list. I think they also apply to other countries.

  87. May 3, 2017    

    Visited US multiple times on Business.. Never thought about all the things mentioned. Good i know them now:)

  88. May 3, 2017    

    I didn’t get the first tip at first why you should not shout, “Hi Jack!” then after several seconds, that when I get it lol. Yes I totally agree with this tips!

  89. May 3, 2017    

    These are really good advice! #4 unfortunately is true. I think we all judge others who seem ‘different’.

  90. May 3, 2017    

    This is an interesting perspective. I could think of some things from another perspective that may be a good idea to avoid doing here. You do bring up some good points that I never thought of because it is normal for me to always have a gun and assume everyone is armed as well as I never knew there was a money amount allowed, that seems odd to me.

  91. Love You Wedding Love You Wedding
    May 3, 2017    

    I think most of these would be true not only in the United States but in any country you visit. We must always be respectful of the culture and norms, and also make sure to follow laws and regulations. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a tip!

  92. May 3, 2017    

    Good tips for people traveling, not only to the US but any country.

  93. May 3, 2017    

    Hahahahahha Hi Jack loved it. Last year my family and I enjoyed our trip to Florida. Its too far and the plane is uncomfortable. Don know if we will go again.

  94. May 3, 2017    

    These are great tips for anyone who travel to US.I never thought about leaving a tip.Glad to know that.Tips about the guns and calling the name ‘Jack’ could make me laughing! 🙂

  95. May 3, 2017    

    I have never really though how people had to prepare for coming for a visit in the states. I love your perspective, and I had to admit a couple of points made me giggle.

  96. May 3, 2017    

    Wow, I never realized I should avoid some of these things, lol. I won’t have to worry about doing math, but I’ve been know to let the grandsons take their toy guns on our vacations. I bet I won’t anymore.

  97. Joanna Joanna
    May 3, 2017    

    I think that some of these rules apply everywhere. Here in London, you will only drive inside the town only if you really have to for 2 reasons: 1, you need to pay a tax every time you enter with the car in the centre of London and 2, prepare to be stuck in traffic for hours!

  98. May 3, 2017    

    Great post. You presented every important thing to keep in mind while travelling to the US in a light and simple way

  99. May 3, 2017    

    Agree with David Elliott up there^ As someone who lives in the US, it’s interesting to see this perspective. Good post!

  100. uprunforlife uprunforlife
    May 3, 2017    

    These are awesome tips. Number 3 is a big deal. A toy gun could get you searched in a heartbeat.

  101. Adam S Adam S
    May 3, 2017    

    I really didn’t know about the shouting rule!

    I remember once I had a replica toy gun in my had luggage going through an airport, but I was, in my defence only 6 haha…

    Thank for the great article and for reminding me about the hilarious fuss I caused when I was 6….

  102. May 3, 2017    

    I’m an American expat who has lived in 4 continents. I find using common sense is really the main thing when visiting a new place. The main difference in the U.S. is definitely tipping. The service industry runs on that and it’s more common than other parts of the world.

  103. May 3, 2017    

    Some great little pointers here. I hear 9 is a major hing in the USA, but what, which I doubt if service is not great?

  104. May 3, 2017    

    This list is a fantastic reminder. Living in the United States, I don’t often have the opportunity to think about how tourists prepare to visit here. Thanks for sharing!

  105. Victoria Heckstall Victoria Heckstall
    May 3, 2017    

    Very helpful! Do not drive on the left side of the road. I bet you knew that. If you get tested for a driving license, the test superivsor is likely to have you make a U-turn in road, or drive where there are no cars on the street to clue to the direction, to try to catch an error.

  106. May 3, 2017    

    Awesome tips. Wish I had these when I first visited the US. Leaving tips on the table was new to me. When I saw the money on the table from the customer before us, I almost grabbed and kept it ha ha….

  107. E H E H
    May 3, 2017    

    All of these also are valid for most other countries – I believe. Always best to exercise your best judgment – if people are considering something inappropriate – don’t do it – lots of mandatory reporters everywhere, they will immediately report your behavior to the authorities, and then watch out for trouble!

  108. Moipone Islam Moipone Islam
    May 3, 2017    

    Hi Jack 😁😁😁😁, now that is a good one. You have excellent pointers here. Thank you

  109. May 4, 2017    

    Ironically enough some people that love I’m the US still don’t top their waiters. It’s the most frustrating thing ever.

  110. May 4, 2017    

    I totally agree with trying not to do too much in one day it’s a large place and the traffic is bad so it can be faster to walk depending on where you are and where you are going.

  111. May 4, 2017    

    Awesome tips.. ‘The Jack’ one made me laugh. even the 4th point was hilarious. 🙂

  112. May 4, 2017    

    I’m glad you added tipping tip. I feel like tipping is not a normal custom in most countries, so it’s good to share that tipping is something people should do when visiting the US (although I have mixed feelings about tipping after living in a country that does not tip.)

  113. Elizabeth O. Elizabeth O.
    May 4, 2017    

    These are very good tips for first time visitors. It’s important to be careful especially if you’re traveling alone.

  114. May 4, 2017    

    Awesome and helpful tips! It’s never easy to visit a country that you’re not very familiar with and posts like this will definitely help first time visitors!

  115. May 4, 2017    

    Oh my God, HIJACK! I laughted so hard on this one hahaha! Great post btw, nothing is as it seems in movies!
    ♥ xoxo My Life as Foteini / Foteini Karagianni ♥

  116. May 4, 2017    

    Great list!! Hi Jack & the math professor one are just so hilarious but also true at the same time.

  117. May 4, 2017    

    Yeah, we don’t have tip culture in our country. So its good read for me. And shouting “Jack”..is forbidden..hahaha..so funny. I guess I better remember not to buy the toy gun for my friend’s son when I visit him there end of this year.

  118. May 4, 2017    

    I love your style of writing and honestly , never would have thought of half the things you mentioned to let a traveler know about that was visting the US for the 1st time, yet at the same time they are great tips!! I am sure there are those that will find it very useful!!

  119. sara sara
    May 6, 2017    

    These are really great tips! You should read this post before planning a trip to the US! Stay safe and have fun.

  120. May 6, 2017    

    I definitely agree on #11. I’ve done it so many time and even though I know I can’t attempt it, and I’ll be too tired out the next day to continue exploring, I still do it. Don’t know why.

  121. Fatima Fatima
    May 6, 2017    

    Such an interesting post. Didn’t know it is mandatory to pay tips to waiters in the US. Here in the country where I live, we are not expected to pay any tips to the waiters.

  122. May 7, 2017    

    This is amazing post with very useful tips. It’s good to know some laws of a place you are visiting is always wise!

  123. Nelu Mbingu Nelu Mbingu
    July 13, 2017    

    I visited the states not too long ago. Would have been helpful to know these tips beforehand lol

  124. glenna glenna
    July 13, 2017    

    Hey I live in the USA and I hate driving in traffic in larger cities! Lmao

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