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6 things to note before traveling to America

I am asked to go to the US for a conference at Bethesda, Maryland. It is my virgin trip to the United States of America, and there are plenty of things I learnt from this trip. I thought I should write them down and let those who are also traveling for the first time to gain some basic knowledge.

1. Coins
It was quite confusing at first. There is Dime, Penny, Nickel and Quarter. I have to do some googling to know that a Dime is 10 cents. I still find it weird that the size of a Dime is actually smaller than Nickel (5 cents coin). More information on US coins.

2. Left-hand Drive
Knowing this could prevent you from trouble. Singaporeans are familiar with right-hand drive. When we cross the road, we look to the right side of the road to lookout for traffic. But it is important to look to the left side of the road instead in the US.

3. Tipping
We don’t practice tipping much in Singapore. Or at least we’re not expected to tip. In the US, especially in cafe or restaurant, they expect you to tip. In one incident when I forgot to include a tip, the waiter actually asked, politely, “aren’t you tipping us?” 🙂

It stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. We Singaporeans are lucky as we do not need to apply a VISA to travel to the US, but we need to apply for ESTA. You can apply for ESTA here.

5. Fahrenheit, Miles and Pounds
I know that the US is using a different measuring units than what we’re familiar in Singapore. But I thought I should remind you to familiarize with these before traveling there. It is good to know the difference and get some perspective on the weather, distance and the weight. Download an app into your phone would help before you travel.

6. Bring your own bag
Be ready to bring your own bag when you go shopping. This includes boutique store, 7-11 stores and supermarkets. They normally don’t offer shopping bags unless you ask for it and you might have to pay for it sometimes.

Are there anything else you might want to add to this list? Let me know.

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Johnny Koh

A project manager and a brand strategist, I have over six years of experience in advising businesses of various industries as well as the public sector in their branding and communications need.