Why is America so American
What's different in the US?
The USA and European countries differ in many features. On this page you will find the general differences between the USA and Europe.
Table of Contents
Eating and drinking | Transport | US tourist
Can be found as departments in drug stores and supermarkets, see under health.
At the airport where you landed the first time in the USA, you have to go through the immigration authorities' procedure, see under Arrival and Entry.
All customs formalities for entry must be completed at the airport of the first landing in the USA, see under Arrival and Entry.
The key word for all kinds of services. The USA is a "Tip“Country because personal services are not very highly valued by the employer. The tip is part of the payment and is only partially a voluntary benefit. You have to know the tip rules as a USA traveler! See under tips.
The prices of the hotel and motel rooms are set per room, regardless of whether one or two people stay there. As a rule, a surcharge is only charged for groups of five or more. Breakfast is usually not included in the hotel price mentioned (exception for the complimentary continental breakfast = usually sweet cakes, toast, jam, cream cheese!). For this, the
Price taxes are added that are usually not mentioned in the price (addition: "Plus tax", comparable to sales or value added tax). The state and county determine the amount (sales tax, lodging tax). See also under Hotels.
Prices when purchasing always + sales tax
Regardless of what and where you buy something: the "excellent" prices are usually added to sales tax (Sales tax or sales tax), the amount of which is determined by the state and county (up to 15% are not excluded)! See the state description for details.
Alcohol is not freely available in the USA as it is in Central Europe, there are restrictions that are similar to those in Scandinavia. The regulations
are determined by state and county law. Beer and wine are often - but not everywhere - available in supermarkets and "licensed" restaurants, everything else is only available in state-licensed "liquor stores". See under alcohol.
Payment by credit card is common; a person without a credit card is not considered creditworthy! For smaller amounts you need cash. Traveler checks can be used anywhere, even at breakfast, like cash. For many purposes (hotel, rental car) you need a credit card. See under money.
Unlike in Central Europe, the hand is not held in front of the mouth when yawning.
Sheets not ironed
If your hotel bed sheet is puckered, don't be surprised. Even in better hotels, sheets are not ironed. The assumption that the previous tenant had already spent the night in this sheet is therefore not justified.
Loose casual clothing (shirt & short) is popular everywhere and is not frowned upon even in posh hotels. The general rule "casual“As a dress code (casual, informal). The typical tourist clothing of an American consists of sneakers, white socks, shorts and a T-shirt. There are only dress codes (costume & blouse, jacket & tie) on official occasions and in better restaurants.
It's always free, not just at McDonald’s, but also in the best hotels. However, the word “toilet” should not be used, the place for urgent needs is precisely defined: rest room, ladies room, etc. See under toilets.
If you drive into a state, you will inevitably come across a so-called Welcome Center for this state on main routes. There is not only free toilets here, but also information about the state and individual sights as well as personal information.
Americans love discounts on prices. Redeeming coupons for discounts in hotels, rental cars, restaurants, etc. is a common practice that also helps tourists save a few dollars. See under Coupons.
Air conditioning is part of everyday life, especially in the warmer regions, and it is impossible to imagine life without it. See under air conditioning.
mass and weight
In the USA, the metric system is still in its infancy. Distances are in miles, weights in pounds, clothing sizes
are not always identical to the European ones. See under Dimensions & Weights.
Doctors must be paid for in cash or by credit card, in principle before treatment. The American health system is good but expensive. Travel health insurance is therefore essential. See under health.
The sizes for women's, men's and children's clothing are not necessarily identical to the Central European sizes. See under clothing.
Smokers are not well-liked in the United States. Smoking is strictly prohibited in airplanes, the same applies in public facilities. Restaurants differentiate between smoking and non-smoking areas. See under smoking.
to eat and drink
It is customary in the USA to take the remainder of the ordered food home with you. For this one requires a "doggy bag“.
No seating in restaurants
In the USA you are "seated" in all better restaurants, that is, directed to the square. At the entrance the sign shows "Wait to be seated“Make it clear! The rule makes sense: every operator should participate appropriately in the turnover, regardless of the quality of the seats they serve. And it also has advantages for the guest, e.g. for single travelers: you get a table to yourself and do not have to "sit down". See also under dinner.
Eat only with a fork
The "American" does not use the knife like the Central European to dine with it. He chops up the meat and eats with a fork alone. This is well known to attentive moviegoers. Allegedly this is a relic from the pioneering days ("the right hand is always on the Colt"), but in fact this is probably an act of convenience. Anyone in the US with a knife and
Fork eats is usually European. See also under eating habits.
Always water with food
Whether in good restaurants or simple pubs: you will always receive ice water with your meal free of charge and without further inquiries, which can be drunk without hesitation. The ice water carafe you use to fill your glasses is refilled regularly. Those who are thrifty can do without a paid drink.
In coffee shops, restaurants, etc., coffee is usually only charged once and then refilled as required without limitation and without further charging. This is at least true for breakfast.
Cutlery in the restaurant
Even in better restaurants, the guest usually only receives a knife and fork once. So do not put the cutlery on the plate after the starter, the waitress will not understand if you ask for new cutlery for the next course (unless there are "sufficient eating utensils" ready for the first course), place you Your only cutlery after the first course on the tablecloth or on the serviette.
The "excellent" prices of the Menus (Menu) are usually still sales tax (Sales tax or sales tax), the amount of which is determined by the state and county (up to 15% are not excluded)! In addition, the waitress expects a tip of at least 15% of the meal price excluding sales tax. See under Eating and drinking and tips.
Eating in the hotel room
In good hotels there is room service, which is very expensive and also requires a tip. But it is
It is also quite common to have the food sent to your hotel room from any ex-any restaurant, this can also be a dinner, a fast-food restaurant or the next Chinese! Often the menus of the surrounding restaurants are already laid out in the hotel room. You pay the supplier's “to go” price (plus tip for the person delivering). See also under room service.
A cocktail is often drunk before a substantial meal, i.e. before the actual dinner in the restaurant. This is also one of the
first questions of operation (Do you want a cocktail?). See also under cocktails and spirits.
No chat after dinner
After eating in the restaurant, you no longer sit down to chat and consume more drinks. The service is paid mainly through the tip and needs further sales! If you want to keep talking, switch to the bar. See under eating habits.
Dinner from around 7 p.m.
The restaurants usually open their kitchens from 6 p.m., but Americans usually don't show up for dinner until 7 p.m. "Early eaters" are mostly Europeans, unless the Restaraunt offers so-called Early Birds (inexpensive meals / drinks at early opening times).
The USA is a car country, the parking spaces are usually very generous, so that a Central European should have no problems parking. Only in large cities is there a shortage of parking spaces and parking spaces are expensive to pay for. Parking is usually free.
Rental car prices
are individually calculated and generally cheaper when booking in Europe than when booking on site. There are special features with regard to insurance issues. See rental conditions for rental cars.
Apart from big city traffic, driving in the USA is generally very considerate. Mistakes made by other road users are tolerated, pedestrians always have priority and honking the horn is frowned upon. A Central European driver has no adaptation problems whatsoever. However, almost all American cars are automatic vehicles. Using a rental car is quite normal. See further under rental cars.
You don't necessarily need a rental car or a taxi to get from the airport to the city center hotel; next to public
Transport, shuttle buses operated by private companies or free shuttle services from individual hotels are an inexpensive choice.
American students are transported in school buses, which are yellow and labeled "School Bus"; they are distinctive. You have special rights in road traffic. See under traffic rules.
The American tourist wants to experience infinitely much in as little time as possible without ever feeling as if he is away from home. This is why cruises are so popular with Americans, because here you can experience a lot with little vacation with only a slight feeling of alienation.
One can basically agree with this description. But is this typically American? Or can't the same be said of Germans, Austrians, Swiss, etc.? Any characterization is difficult.
Therefore, here are just a few "peculiarities" that we noticed positively and negatively in the US / Central European comparison of vacation behavior:
- Americans do as little as possible on foot (exception: hikers). To the hotel, to the restaurant, etc. one drives as far as possible by car to the front door. Open-air tours sitting in a carriage are very popular.
- Walks are unknown. This is one of the reasons why there are hardly any sidewalks outside of inner city areas. Those who walk cannot afford a car.
- Casual clothing dominates the holiday, whether on the campsite or in a first-class hotel. Everything is allowed as long as the "critical" parts of the body are covered.
- At 6 p.m. you rarely meet Americans for dinner in the restaurant, instead it fills up from 8 p.m. (exception: early bird offers).
- After the meal is finished, there is no partying or chatting in the restaurant. You switch to the bar if you want to have a drink.
- Lounging on the beach (checklist for the beach vacation) is less popular; Sports, games and barbecuing are typical activities.
- You don't swim in the sea, but in the pool of the (hotel) complex.
- Alcohol in public is taboo and is only enjoyed at the outdoor pool bar in the (hotel) complex.
- Shopping is the most popular leisure activity, especially in malls and outlet centers with additional leisure activities, and whole days are spent.
- Parking spaces must be wide and spacious and easy to drive into. Except in the cities, they are usually free of charge.
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