United States of America
The United States of America is the third largest country in the world in size, at nearly 10,000,000 square kilometers, and is the third largest in population, with nearly 319 million people. The USA is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.
The width of the continental United States is 4,313 kilometers, but traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast can be lesser or greater, depending on the route traveled. If you're yearning for a cross-country adventure, there are 75,439 kilometers of interstate highway ready for your journey.
The country consists of 50 states and the District of Columbia, which are divided into the following six regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, West and Pacific. Additionally, there is five territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
When to visit
The United States is a very large country, and climates and weather can vary greatly by season and location.
- Summer: June - August
- Fall: September - November
- Winter: December - February
- Spring: March - May
During summer, northern states enjoy warm — even hot — days and cooler mornings and nights, while southern states and tropical areas experience very hot temperatures.
In the fall, temperatures begin to cool down around the country. This is a welcome season in northern regions, where leaves change to beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange.
Winter is fairly mild in the southern states, while the northern, northeastern, midwestern, western mountains and Great Plains regions often encounter snow and colder temperatures.
During the spring, temperatures begin to warm up and thunderstorms and rainstorms are common across the country into the summer months.
Some popular United States of America Packages
All visitors from abroad who are planning to visit the USA must have a passport valid for at least six months longer than their intended stay in the U.S., unless they are exempted by country-specific agreements. Please check with the US Consulate.
For families traveling together, each member of the family must have his or her own passport, including infants and children.
Depending on the issuer of your passport, a visa may be required for entry into the United States. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel and meet all requirements explained below. Please contact the US Consulate for further information.
Being prepared is the hallmark of a good trip especially in terms of your health and safety. While we hope that your visit to the USA is a safe and accident-free one, unplanned incidents may happen while traveling. Should you encounter an emergency while visiting the USA, the country has a vast and sophisticated emergency response system.
Should you fall ill during your trip, the United States offers many easily accessible options for both short and long term medical assistance, as well as a selection of travellers insurance plans to make sure you’re covered incase of an emergency.
There are many options if you need medical attention while traveling in the U.S. Before leaving home, check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered while traveling in the U.S. If so, make sure you carry your insurance card with you. If not, consider buying temporary or travel health insurance that will cover you during your travels. Health care costs can be expensive if you are not adequately covered. Also check whether your insurance provider covers medical evacuation in the event you need to be brought home via medical transport.
All major cities and towns have one or more hospitals. Make sure you know the name of the hospitals in the areas in which you are traveling. The front desks of most lodging facilities should have a list of local hospitals.
Health Clinics & Urgent Care Centers
Health clinics and urgent care centers are designed to help patients with illnesses or injuries that are not life threatening. Many pharmacies also have walk-in clinics staffed by medical professionals. Hotel staff or your host can often direct you to such health centers.
Eating at restaurants and gratuities in the USA
The United States takes great pride in its diversity of cuisines, including those specific to the region and fusions of several regions and cultures.
Tap water is available free of charge at most USA restaurants and public places. Protected by federal law, water in the United States is safe to drink. Americans enjoy one of the safest water supplies in the world.
Restaurants in the USA are typically very accommodating of special diets and custom meals for religious and other reasons. You may request vegetarian, vegan, gluten- or dairy-free foods, but often these items are marked on the menu. Diners with food allergies or dietary restrictions should request special care with the preparation of their meals. It is important to notify the restaurant of any food allergies.
Tipping is a common practice throughout the United States, especially at restaurants. Tipping practices vary throughout the United States, but always remember that many service employees rely on tips for much of their income and appreciate being acknowledged for their hard work.
Here are few tipping suggestions:
- Dining: 15-20 percent for a sit-down meal or 10 percent for a buffet
- Gratuity: Some restaurants may add a gratuity or service charge automatically with parties of six or more (this is usually noted on the menu or on your check).
- Bartenders: $1 per drink or 15-20 percent of tab
- Hotel bell staff: $1-$2 per bag
- Cab drivers: 10-18 percent of fare
- Shuttle drivers: $1-$2 a bag
- Hotel maid: $2-$5 per night
- Parking valet: $3-$5 when picking up car
- Tour guides: 10-20 percent, depending on their service
- Spa treatments, hairdressers, manicurists: 10-20 percent
In the U.S., time is read on a 12-hour clock with a.m. (before noon) and p.m. (after noon). If you are told 8 o'clock, it could mean 08:00 or 20:00. Make sure to ask Americans to specify a.m. or p.m., as most of them are not accustomed to a 24-hour clock.
The United States and its territories operate under the following nine time zones (only four of which apply to the continental U.S.):
Atlantic Time (AST) - Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Central Standard Time (CST)
- Mountain Standard Time (MST)
- Pacific Standard Time (PST)
- Alaska Standard Time (AKST)
- Hawaii-Aleutian Time (HAST)
- Samoa Standard Time (SST) - American Samoa, Midway Islands
- Chamorro Standard Time (ChST) - Guam, Northern Mariana Islands
Daylight Saving Time
The United States utilizes daylight saving time. The adage “spring forward, fall back” applies to daylight saving time. Clocks are set ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March and turned back one hour on the first Sunday of November. Arizona, Hawaii and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not follow daylight saving time.