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On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

reis Amerika vooraf weten

On a trip to America! Who wouldn’t want to…visit New York, cruise the route 66, admire the Grand Canyon or try your luck in Las Vegas! America is so versatile and without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries in the world I have been to America myself and I had some questions beforehand. Do you also want to travel to America? I have the answers to the questions you probably also have about going on a trip to America. Important things you want to know in advance of your holiday!

On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

The country America as a holiday destination

America has been a very popular holiday destination for many years. And that is not for nothing! It is a country that appeals to many people’s imagination. Everything in America is big, bigger, biggest. The Americans themselves also think big and therefore everything seems possible. America is the country of unlimited possibilities, also when it comes to travelling! Because America is the third largest country in the world, you will find an enormous variety of states, cities, nature reserves and cultures. Every year between 65 and 80 million foreign tourists visit America. Popular trips include making a city trip to New York, San Francisco or Las Vegas, visiting Florida including the many amusement parks and making a road trip along the American west coast.

Are you also enthusiastic about America as a holiday destination? In this article I have answered a number of important questions you may have prior to your trip to America. This way you can be well prepared for your trip to America.

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

Travelling to America: 15 things you want to know in advance

1. What is the best travel time for America?

America is a very large country and therefore the climate differs per state. For example, there is a tropical climate in Florida, but a polar climate in Alaska. So there is no overall best travel time for America, because this depends entirely on which state or region you are going to visit during your trip. However, in general the months of July and August are the most popular (and therefore also the most expensive) period to go on a (round) trip to America. Exceptions to this, however, are the winter sports areas where the high season is in the winter months. Due to the Christmas atmosphere, New York is also a popular destination during the winter months. If you are flexible, you save money by not planning your holiday in these popular months.

2. What is the time difference with the Netherlands?

It doesn’t matter where your trip in America goes, because there is a time difference everywhere. America is located west of the Netherlands and that means that time is going backwards there. There are six different time zones in America and they vary between 6 and 11 hours compared to the Netherlands. So keep in mind that you are going to have to deal with jetlag! If you are sensitive to this, I advise you not to plan too much for the first few days of your holiday and to get used to the time difference.  

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

3. What about paying in America?

In America you pay with the American dollar. Pay attention, because all denominations have the same green color and are the same size. I had to get used to this for the first few days. Funny is also that all coins have their own name: a Penny (1 cent), a Nickel (5 cents), a Dime (10 cents) and a Quarter (25 cents). You can exchange euros for dollars at the local banks, but withdrawing money is cheaper with the exchange rate. You can withdraw money at many places with a bank card with the Cirrus or Maestro logo. Keep in mind that there are limits to the maximum amount you can withdraw. There is also a charge of a few dollars per pin transaction. Credit cards are a very common means of payment in America, so be sure to take them with you. For renting a car and checking in at your hotel you will often need a credit card for a mandatory deposit. Withdrawing cash with a credit card often involves a lot of costs.

4. Do you need a visa for a holiday to America?

If you are travelling to America, you must use the Visa Waiver Program as a Dutch citizen. This way you can visit America without a visa. You will receive a temporary permit and this is the ESTA declaration. Applying for an ESTA declaration is mandatory. Without this ESTA declaration you will not be able to go to America on holiday. So do not forget to arrange your ESTA declaration in time! By on time I mean that you have to submit your application at least 72 hours before departure. When applying, you will need a valid passport with an integrated chip and the universal e-passport symbol on the cover. Your passport must be valid at least until the day you leave America. Please note, if you are travelling with more than one person, each person has to apply individually!

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

5. Do we need vaccinations and vaccinations for America?

No vaccinations or vaccinations are required for a trip to America. If you want to be sure, always contact the Travel vaccinations. America is a hygienic western country with excellent health care. If you fall ill during your trip, you can be sure that you will receive good medical care. Make sure you have arranged your travel insurance!

6. What about food and drink in America?

During your holiday in America you can be sure that you will have a choice between an American or continental breakfast. An American breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes. A continental breakfast consists of toast, butter, jam, cheese and cold cuts. I think an American breakfast is a bit of a fierce choice for my breakfast. If you want a cup of coffee like you’re used to drinking at home, it’s best to order an “americano with a double shot”. The normal coffee isn’t that strong. For lunch and dinner there are of course numerous (fast food) chain restaurants to choose from. America is known for its large amounts of food and drink. Believe me, the portions you get in these chains are even for the big eaters among us a challenge to eat completely! I have bad news for everyone under the age of 21, because they don’t sell alcohol to people under the age of 21 in America.

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

7. How much should I tip?

In America, a 15% tip is normal in the hospitality industry and for taxi drivers and guides, for example. You will also see that in the hospitality industry you sometimes see the amount of the tip mentioned on the bill. In a hotel it is customary to leave a tip of 1 to 2 dollars per night for the cleaners.

8. Do I need a world plug in America?

The mains voltage in America is 110 volts and also the sockets are different than we are used to in the Netherlands. Therefore do not forget to bring a world plug to America.

9. What should I pay attention to at customs?

Since 2008 customs agents in America are allowed to examine computers, disks and other digital data carriers at the border control in addition to your passport. They may also withhold these devices if necessary. Also, since 2014 everyone traveling to and from the U.S. must have their electronic devices (such as your laptop or mobile phone) charged. If your phone is not charged you have to leave it behind and you are not allowed to take it with you on the plane! I always find the customs agents in America a bit intimidating. So be prepared for this!

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

10. Is America a safe holiday country?

Just like in the Netherlands I advise you to pay attention to your stuff in America as well. Especially in the busy shopping streets, stations and public transport pickpockets are active. Even quiet and dark alleys are better avoided in America. The emergency number in America is 911. This number is free of charge and can be reached with both mobile and landline phones.

11. Is there Wifi in America?

There are many places in America where you can log in to a wifi internet connection. This is possible in almost all hotels, restaurants, coffee bars and libraries. Would you like to call home from a national park to report how cool your trip is? Then you may run into the fact that in some national parks there is no coverage.

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

12. What should I watch out for when driving in America?

I think it is really cool to rent a car and take a road trip through America. The good news is that Americans are generally very civilized motorists. My tip is to adapt and not to honk too much or make hand gestures if something happens that you don’t like. Exactly what you probably do quickly in the Netherlands. For the speed limits my best tip is to keep a close eye on the traffic signs. In the various states there are different rules. I myself found it very hard to get used to the fact that you can overtake both left and right in America. Because of this it is often mandatory to just keep driving on your own lane. For parking you have to remember that you don’t park on the sidewalk or near a fire hydrant. And at an equivalent intersection, without priority signs, the rule applies: “first come, first served”.

13. What about the language?

They speak English in America, as this is the native language of about 82% of the American population. But if you want to practice your Spanish yourself, you can do so in the southern states (California, Texas and Florida). Here they also speak English, by the way.

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

14. How long is it flying to America?

From the Netherlands you can fly directly to various cities in America or make one or more transfers. To give you an indication of flight times: a direct flight to Los Angeles takes 12 hours, to New York 8.5 hours and to Miami 10.5 hours. Flights with transfer hours are of course even longer. What I do like is that the return flight from America because of the jet stream (as a rule) always takes a bit shorter than your outbound flight.

15. What kind of accommodations are there?

America has a huge variety of accommodations: from luxurious five star hotels to simple motels. The difference between a hotel and a motel is that a motel is aimed at guests with a car. Motels are often located on through roads and always have parking space for your car. I find motels especially useful if you are making a car trip.

For travelers with a large budget, the famous hotel chains Four Seasons or Marriott are recommended. If you have a smaller budget you can go to the chains Best Western of Holiday Inn. For the real low budget travelers there are also numerous cheap hostels with dormitories. My favorite in America are the B&B’s, because they often have a great atmosphere.

Do you have any questions about things you want to know before your trip to America?

trip to America, On a trip to America: 15 things want to know in advance

Fun facts about America

  • The total area of the country is 9,809,00 km2.
  • The Netherlands fits 250 times in America
  • In total there are 50 states in America.
  • Two of the fifty states (Alaska and Hawaii) do not border on the other states.
  • The 5 largest cities in America are: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
  • America has two neighboring countries: Canada and Mexico
  • The country borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean
  • The coastline of America covers a total of approximately 19,925 km.
  • With 327 million inhabitants, America is the third largest country in the world in terms of population.
  • There are a total of 59 national parks in America. What is special is that in 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park in the world.
  • Within the entire American population about 337 languages are spoken

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