It’s not hard to see why North America is perhaps the most popular continent for traveling. After all, it has so much to offer! You can go down to Saint Lucia, or stick to Mexico, the United States, or Canada, the three largest countries on the continent. Whether you want to spend time on the beach, visit world-class cities, or explore the great outdoors, you’ll find that there’s much to love about a trip to North America.
However, it’s important to do some preparation work before you set off. Even if you’re just thinking of visiting Canada or the USA, it’s crucial to remember that there are a million different types of trips to these destinations. In this blog, we’re going to run through some crucial tips that’ll ensure your trip is smooth from beginning to end.
Understand: It’s Big
In this blog, we’re going to focus mainly on the United States and Canada. When you’re planning your trip to either of these countries, you’ll need to keep in mind just how big they are. This can take visitors from other countries, especially those from Europe, by surprise. You might think it’s ridiculous to drive an hour just to get ice cream, but that’s a normal occurrence in the United States, for instance. So rather than planning to see everything, it’s best to focus on one particular area. In the US, that might mean California or the area in and around New York. In Canada, you could choose Toronto and surrounding areas or plan your trip around the Vancouver and Calgary area.
Before you get too deep into planning your trip, you’ll want to take a look at the logistics of visiting these countries. Depending on where you’re from, you may or may not need a visa. In the US, you’ll need to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, which will allow you to visit the country for ninety days. For Canada, you can visit this website to learn about the eTA, which is the Canadian equivalent of the VWP. If you’re from a country that’s not included in those programs, then you’ll need a visa. It’ll be best to take care of these issues as soon as you know you’re visiting, so you have time to rectify any problems should you encounter any.
The good news is that North America is extremely well-connected with other parts of the world, especially Europe. On any given day, there’ll be plenty of flight options. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just take any old flight. It’ll be best if you take one that’s as direct as possible — one connection is fine, but if you have two, then the journey time might seriously wipe you out. Also, think about the flight arrival time. You’ll be landing in a different time zone, so you want to check that you’re not arriving too late at night.
Overcoming Jet Lag
Even if you do have a smooth journey, it’s likely that you’ll experience some jet lag, especially if you’re coming from Europe. For whatever reason, jet lag tends to affect people more when they’re traveling back in time, which is what happens when you come from across the Atlantic. For this reason, it can be a good idea to book a hotel at the airport for when you land. You’ll be able to hit the hay and get a good night’s sleep as soon as you land, which will allow you to wake up refreshed and get down to the happy business of exploring!
How Much Time Will You Need?
You’ll need to make a list of everything that you want to see and do during your trip. Even if you’re visiting one city, such as New York, there’ll be more things to see and do that you could possibly hope to experience on just one short trip. Once you’ve got your list, figure out how much time you’ll need to do it all. It’s best to have slightly more time than less, so you have time to fully enjoy your time!
Learn the Rules
All cultures have their own rules, both written and unwritten. If you’re planning to get a car (which can be extremely beneficial in some parts), then it’s good to familiarise yourself with the different traffic signs and conduct of the road before you get behind the wheel.
Also, we can’t write a blog about North America without mentioning tipping. In most countries around the world, tipping is an unexpected gesture that you deliver for great service. That’s not the case in Canada and the US, and especially the latter. There, it’s customary to tip 15-20% for every meal and $1 for every drink at the bar. We know that it’s a little unusual compared to how you might do things, but you’ll get a lot of angry looks if you don’t do it. The good news is that food and drinks can be extremely cheap in North America, so you’ll likely still save money.
Oh, and tax: it’s not included in the sticker price in stores. So the price you’ll pay will be slightly more (how much more depends on the sales tax of the area).
Open Mind, Open Heart
Finally, remember that you should treat North America like any other destination that you’d visit. If you’ve never been before, you might have an idea of what it’d be like based on what you see in the media. But the truth is that North America isn’t really like that, only slightly like that. If you arrive with an open mind and open heart, then you’ll be happily rewarded by your experience.
With these tips, you should have a fun and happy trip to North America! And once you’ve been bitten by the bug, it’s unlikely that you’ll be happy with just visiting once. There’ll be plenty of different areas for you to explore, and once you’ve been the first time, you’ll have a better sense of what you want to do when you’re there.
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