Other countries have other customs – this of course also applies to trips to the USA in particular. Here you will find important tips on how much you should tip in the restaurant, the bus driver, the tour guide on a tour and also the taxi driver.
Every larger hotel has one or more restaurants offering international dishes. While this option is easy and convenient, it is often quite expensive and perhaps monotonous in the long run. Due to the multicultural society in the USA, there are a large number of larger and smaller restaurants where you can enjoy Chinese, Asian, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Arabic or South American specialties. The offer varies from region to region, but is almost limitless, often quite inexpensive and usually very tasty. Other options for eating well, cheaply and with variety include the numerous steakhouses, but also the coffee shops, which offer small snacks and sandwiches.
In the coffee shops and in many of the smaller restaurants there is an extensive breakfast menu, ranging from scrambled eggs with ham and sausages to muesli with yoghurt and fruit. The meal at noon is called “lunch” and a smaller, cold or warm menu is offered in the bars and restaurants. The actual main meal, on the other hand, is eaten in the evening at “dinner” between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. A table reservation for dinner is recommended in many restaurants that are well-known for their good cuisine.
According to 800zipcodes, Americans also prefer casual clothing when they go to restaurants. In some restaurants, especially in those of the higher price and quality class, men are asked to wear a jacket and sometimes a tie, especially for dinner.
By the way: in the USA it is not common for you to look for your own table after entering a restaurant: “wait to be seated” is the motto, and a friendly employee will show you to a table.
You often don’t pay for the service, but at the cash register. In these cases, you should simply leave the tip on the table when you pay the bill in cash. If you pay by credit card, you can add the tip to the invoice amount when you settle the bill. The local sales tax, which varies from region to region and can be up to 12%, is added to the prices shown in the menu. The toilet is called “restroom”, “men/women” or “ladies/gentlemen”.
is prohibited on buses, trains, taxis and most public buildings, as well as in restaurants and cafes serving food. However, many restaurants have outdoor seating where smoking is permitted. Hotel rooms are designated as “smoking rooms” and “non-smoking rooms”. When making your reservation, specify which type of room you prefer. In B&Bs, smoking is generally not permitted in the rooms.
Unlike many countries in Europe, service charges are not included in the price. However, the service staff in the hotels and restaurants or the taxi drivers mostly live on tips – the basic wage is correspondingly low – and it is therefore a matter of course to give them. As a rule of thumb for taxi drivers and restaurant staff, calculate 15-20% of the invoice amount. The hotel boy who brings your luggage to your room expects at least one USD per piece of luggage as a “tip”. If you take part in an organized bus trip, the bus driver costs USD 2-3 and the tour guide USD 3-4 per day and person. It is also customary to leave a tip in the room upon departure for room service.
The laws governing the purchase and consumption of alcohol vary greatly from region to region in the United States. Wine, beer, and liquor are available in bars, restaurants, and cocktail lounges in most states. Alcoholic beverages are sold in the so-called “wine and spirit stores” or in the so-called “government liquor stores”. In the large supermarkets, you will only find alcoholic beverages in separate departments, both spatially and in terms of billing.
In many states in the USA it is illegal to carry an opened bottle of liquor in the car or to take alcohol to the beach. The regulations in the Mormon state of Utah are particularly strict, where alcoholic beverages may not be transported in the passenger compartment of the car, but only in the trunk. Some states do not allow persons under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in public places, even when accompanied by an adult. In addition, the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 21 is illegal in most regions. As proof of age is often required, you should carry ID that shows your date of birth. Drunk driving is against the law.
The supermarkets and department stores in the USA are not only equal to, but often even superior to, those in Europe. “Shopping” can be particularly fun in the so-called “malls”, large, often gigantic, air-conditioned building complexes with a large number of specialist shops where you can buy almost anything your heart desires. Service sectors such as banks, hairdressers and locksmiths are also represented. You can then relax from the stress of shopping in a coffee shop or a small restaurant. On the other hand, there are no restaurants serving alcohol or bars in the malls.
In the big cities there are entire streets and even districts with numerous large and small shops and an almost unimaginably large offer.
Groceries cost about the same as in Europe, and it’s generally cheaper to buy goods related to sports and recreation, or those that Americans themselves frequently buy. A pair of cowboy boots bought in the USA is of course not only cheaper than in Europe, but also usually of better quality.
Clothing sizes in the USA are specified differently than in Europe. In any case, you should seek advice from the service staff and try on the selected goods before you buy them.
Closing times are not regulated by law and shops are usually open until 6pm, on Fridays until 9pm, and often on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays as well. Smaller ones are sometimes open late into the night, and some supermarkets are even open around the clock. As with the restaurants, the local sales tax is only added to the advertised price at the checkout. Bargaining about prices is not common in the USA.
The opening hours of the post offices vary in some cases, but they are usually open continuously between 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Friday. Stamps are available from post offices and some hotels, drugstores, newsstands, train and bus stations (sometimes only vending machines). Postage for a standard letter is 29 cents within the US (postcard 19 cents) and 50 cents to Europe (postcard 40 cents).