Many foreigners come to the USA to travel and see many unique landscapes and places they have seen or heard of in the media. The USA is one of the top destinations to travel, but beware that most of the things on this list are to protect you. People assume that the USA can be like their home country, and that assumption can lead you into some unforeseen dangers. Here are 10 things to avoid in America as tourists.
1. Don’t Hike Death Valley in the Summer
Death Valley is a popular destination for many people to travel. It is known as the hottest desert in the world. So why would people decide to go hiking in the middle of the summer? Death Valley has the name death in it for a reason. It is extremely dry, and when temperatures hit over 118 degrees Fahrenheit and the air is dry, people soon become dehydrated faster than they can imagine. So do not hike in Death Valley in the summer; you may not return.
2. Do Not Swim in the Hot Springs of Yellowstone
Many people love to venture off and see hot springs, take a dip, and enjoy the thermal pools. Around the world, you can find many hot springs to relax in, but these hot springs in Yellowstone are sitting at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Some are incredibly acidic, while others have an alkaline level of 12 or over. That means if you dip one piece of your body in it, you will burn it off or even die. So please do not take a dip or swim in these hot springs.
3. Avoid Greyhound Buses
Buses worldwide have been known to have cheap travel tickets, efficient times, and are pretty safe. Do not assume the same things about Greyhound buses. Yes, the tickets are cheap; they can help you go from point A to point B, but beware. They are cheap for a reason, and you will see things that are not wanted. There can be people on drugs, it can be dirty, and it is not a pleasant experience.
4. Don’t Underestimate How Big the USA is
The USA is a massive country. It is ranked the fourth largest in the world, yet, people believe they can see NYC, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and many other places in a week. Some also think they can take a road trip to many of these places a week. If you are a tourist looking to see the USA, realize it is a massive country. From LA to NYC is about 2,800 miles (4,500 k.m.), and a flight would take over 5 hours.
5. A Rainforest Cafe and Wax Museum on The Same Street Equals Tourist Trap
You can find these in Niagara Falls, San Antonio, and Nashville. Most Americans can agree that when you see a Rainforest Cafe and a Wax Museum, you are entering a tourist trap area. Other places you may see could be Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and The Hard Rock Cafe. These are iconic tourist trap restaurants. Be aware of these places as you travel.
6. Respect All Wildlife
The USA is full of wildlife that can be very dangerous. Out west, in parks like Yellowstone, do not try to pet the Buffalo. Be careful of leaving food out in the mountains or the forests, bears will come, and they can kill people. In Florida, look out for alligators when swimming in the waters. They have been known to kill people. A little respect for wildlife can keep you safe.
7. Pueblo Colorado
Speaking about respecting wildlife, In Pueblo, Colorado, an annual Tarantula migration happens. These Tarantulas will not stop; they will crawl over or around you. The town has also been known as being a dump, and people just do not want to visit it. Try to be safe while visiting this town, especially if you are afraid of giant hairy spiders.
8. Downtown LA at Night Time
Have you ever been in a big city at night? The saying goes that NYC never sleeps, but that saying does not go for LA. When the sunsets, all the locals disappear, and that is for a good reason. One commenter mentioned, “I’ve never seen the center of such a major city empty out so bloody fast and look like The Walking Dead in the matter of a few hours.” When locals leave, head towards more populated areas. You never know what could happen.
9. Do Not Go Off the Trails
In this thread, with many of the warnings for tourists, a constant theme is to stay on the trails. There are many well-marked trails in the USA. If you are not prepared for hiking, camping, or exploring, you could disappear, die, or get injured, which will be unfortunate. So stay on the trails, bring plenty of water (especially in the South West), and use common sense.
One commenter said, “It isn’t uncommon for us to get folks from Europe–typically Germany for some reason–who decide to go hiking at the worst times of the day without enough water.” Getting dehydrated quickly in the dry heat is possible, so be careful and prepared.
10. Avoid Chain Restaurants (The Best are Mom and Pop Shops)
On TV and in Media, people constantly see the big chain restaurants in the USA. We all know about Mcdonald’s or even the popular Chilis at the airports, but you do not know that the best food is not at the chain restaurants. The best food is at the mom-and-pop shops. You are driving down a highway, and you see a shack selling BBQ; at that point, you may want to stop because that will be some of the best food you have tasted.
Marketing has made these chain restaurants seem like the best food you will taste in America, but that is not true. The best food is the ones that are not franchised.
Stay Safe Traveling
The USA is a vast land with many things to see and do. We can think of the great national parks out west, the beautiful beaches of Florida, or even the large trees in California, and we want to do it all. Make sure to research, be prepared, and do not do things that can cause you harm. The USA has many things, wild animals, and various climates, so be careful and have fun.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.