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What advice is given to 'foreigners' traveling to USA?

After agonizing over all info for behaving ourselves in France (Keep hands on table! Always greet Bonjour Madame/Monsieur! Don't walk around with stupid grin on face! Whisper, don't talk loud! Bring your own washcloth!) hubby and I wonder what tidbits are given to Europeans, Asians, etc to travel in America? I am curious how their guidebooks advise. Study in sociology.

Posted by
2779 posts

I would have answered... but then not only Brad from Gainsville but everybody else would have flooded me with comments. All I would have done, though, was to comment a guide book on the Southwest available at any German bookstore ;-)...

Posted by
669 posts

I swear we had this topic a few weeks back, but maybe it was deleted (a few threads were deleted for not sticking to European travel.)

Posted by
16 posts

Andreas, you leave me in suspense. Spill the beans, pal! What do they tell Germans about America?

Posted by
10344 posts

I'll try to fill in for Andreas while he's getting some sleep in Germany. Cate: You're correct, we had this exact topic a month ago, here it is click hereAnd one of those posts revealed exactly what advice is given to the French about the US. Here's an excerpt from an actual French travel guide to the US (however, no warranties made as to accuracy of translation into English): "It is recommended that one attempt to blend in with the locals. This can best be achieved wearing the shorts, t-shirt with local sports team logo, work-out shoe (blanc!), and--tres importante--when entering their sacred Walmarts, one must keep the head covered, preferably with baseball hat, as there is invariably a dress code enforcer at the door."

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks Kent for the link to previous discussion. I looked for it but did not find.
Good stuff in that thread.

Posted by
8358 posts

When I know people who are going to the States, I don't usually tell them very much as they have seen so much TV, read so many news reports, etc. Plus they have studied America in school when they had English classes.

I do tell them to visit a small town along with the big cities especially one in the mid-west, so they can get a balanced view of America. Root beer has no alcohol. A large pizza is really large and is meant to be shared, not eaten alone. Adults under 21 cannot drink. You can only drive 55 on most freeways. Gas is cheap. You cannot exchange Euro for dollars in any bank. Take a jacket or sweater with you everywhere you go as the air conditioning will be turned up so high that you will be cold in every restaurant you go to.

I am sure I will think of some more later on today.

Posted by
16 posts

It's not just Europeans who have funny misconceptions. Our own fellow Americans do too.
When my sister moved to NYC she found more than one person who thought Oregon was still wild west. As in no paved roads, no street lights, people riding horses everywhere. I guess some small towns in Eastern OR could still be considered pretty rural but it's not 'Bonanza'!

Posted by
12221 posts

Jo...you have been away a long time!!!! The 55 MPH speed limit has been gone awhile. It's up to 65 and even higher in some places.

Posted by
59 posts

Jo, you're right on about the pizza. My cousin, her husband, and their son were visiting us but went out on their own. They each ordered a pizza, and were quite surprised when 3 large pizzas were brought to their table!

Posted by
314 posts

This may be a little off topic but I had to share. A couple of years ago I was at Edinburgh Castle when I overheard a woman speaking to a group of people. She was speaking accented English so I don't know what country she was from. Anyway, she explained to them that they shouldn't go to the US because it is unsafe to walk on the streets, gangs are rampant and everyone carries a gun! Maybe that bit of info needs to be added to the guidebooks!

Posted by
12221 posts

Teena, you should have invited them home for barbeque. That would have changed their mind about visiting the U.S.

It's amazing what kind of impression the rest of the world gets about America by watching the media.

Posted by
446 posts

I can't believe that advice in the French travel guide about keeping your head covered when visiting WalMart! Surely, it was meant as a joke?

Posted by
43 posts

Donna, last fall in St. Gilgen, Austria after explaining that we're from the Chicago area, the Austria gentleman we were conversing with said "oh Al Capone....bang, bang." Didn't really know what to do with that but we all got a good laugh.

Posted by
1158 posts

Kent,

Just curious , which magazine was that where the French "expert" said that a dress code is enforced at the door at WalMart?

Posted by
5671 posts

I'll never forget how a young woman from Greece wanted to know if I knew Jackie Onasis! She was very kind, but oh they really had no idea what it was like to be a normal person living in the US. We were so different. We were the same age, 19, but she'd been married for 5 years and living in Germany for most of that time with her husband who was about ten years older than her. They were very kind, but I was so happy to be just a student traveling and studying in Europe. Pam

Posted by
8358 posts

ok, after a good nights sleep and a cup of fresh coffee, I was able to think of a few more things that are actually kind of funny.

Nudity. NO, you may not take off your clothes at the park to lay out. NO, ladies, you may not take off your top at the pool. NO, parents, you may not let your children play outside in the sprinkler with no clothes and they cannot go naked at the pool or the beach. Make sure your little girl has a top on too. This goes for Canada too I believe.

Smoking. If you are a smoker, be prepared to cut way back as there are hardly any places where you can smoke.

Alcohol. There are a lot of restaurants that do not serve alcohol, like Bob Evans. Or if you are going to a an Amish or Mennonite run establishment.

Condiments are free when you go to fast food places.

Breakfast. You can get breakfast any time of day or night. This is what people do after a night out, they go have breakfast at 2 AM. Love that breakfast, especially sausage gravy and biscuits.

New food products. Pies, biscuits, American style cakes, breakfast sausage, pancakes, American ice cream (especially the size of the scoop), lots of Mexican food, lots of BBQ, baked beans, oatmeal raisin cookies, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream trucks in the summer, unlimited refills on coffee, ice tea, brats will taste different, all u can eat buffets (yes they have a few of these over here, but seldom and usually only Asian restaurants), & salad bars will be common.

Posted by
10344 posts

Answering the questions of Tyler & Bea: The translation of the French guidebook was entirely fictitious, just an attempt at humor.

Posted by
8358 posts

Pamela, one of my daughters friends, while visiting a high school in the US was asked by one of the students if she had ever met Hitler. Amazing.

Posted by
39 posts

A friend of mine told me when he was in Europe, everyone was crazy over "Dallas". You know, the show from the 80s. That and "Walker Texas Ranger".

I also have a cousin who was in Belgium, and the locals were having a wild west themed festival or something like that, and she got in for free when they found out she was from Texas.

Posted by
448 posts

Make sure you are not shy to ask for a doggy bag at the restaurant.

Posted by
473 posts

Diane - Here I had hoped the whole "Al Capone, bang, bang" thing had died with the rise of Michael Jordan. When he was with the Bulls, we would get "Oh! Michael Jordan. Chicago Bulls!". Dang!! Back to the bad ole days.

Posted by
43 posts

Yep, Rick.....Michael Jordan and Oprah too. I was on a cruise years ago and someone wanted to know if I could get tickets to the Oprah show for them. Someone in Salzburg told us we had "their Governator" - Arnold. I would think those from California would get that one from time to time. ?

Posted by
44 posts

Most important thing for Europeans to do before traveling to the US is to buy supplemental health insurance !!

-Kevin

Posted by
8293 posts

Kevin: So true, otherwise you could end up impoverished should you take sick or have an accident.

Posted by
14 posts

Few Americans speak a language other than English and that is enough of a challenge for the majority of the population. There are many many "minorities" that speak no English at all.

Most Americans are friendly and can be helpful.
You cannot easily exchange Euros.
Eating is not an event but a necessity for most of the population thus time spend in restaurants is short.

America is a large land with a huge difference between the east, west, north and south in terms of attitudes, preferences, accent in speaking and so forth.

Rick Steves should have a section in his site that offers time and general visitation from locals to those coming to visit.

Posted by
290 posts

Information about America varies from country to country. My UK family info had USA as cheap, friendly, but polluted/dirty, which they for the most part thought was correct except for the polluted part. My Czech inlaws info has the USA as frightfully expensive which makes it hard for me to talk them into coming out on a visit. Both sides of the family didn't (& some still don't) understand the distances between points of interest. They keep thinking in Europe proportions and don't realize you can't drive from California to Texas in a day. My UK family didn't like the fact that there was not a good public transportation & reasonably priced rail system in place and had to drive long distances to see things when visiting us in CA. But they loved the food, people, city sightseeing, and national parks here. A few of the older generation from Czech Rep came to visit us years ago. They too liked the city sightseeing and national parks, but really missed the foods they have at home. And the language barrier was huge. We made it easy for them to sightsee & kept the cost down for them by having them stay with us, driving them everywhere, ordering for them at restaurants, and purchasing their tickets to all the sights. We are still hoping more of our Czech family will come to visit, especially now they don't have to pay $200 a person for a visa. We bring bunches of pictures and talk about it each year we visit them.