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22 Essential Things to Know Before Traveling Sustainably to the USA

Ultimate guide for eco-friendly travel to the United States

This comprehensive list includes how you can travel sustainably to the USA, as well as the specifics to get around this large and diverse country. 

The United States is, in fact, one of the most diversified countries in the world. A lot of times, when visiting the USA, people are greeted with many surprises. These surprises are due to the fact that many things are quite different from their home countries.

In the United States of America, the people, culture, food, climate, and laws may be different from what you are familiar with. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare yourself for what to expect.

So, if you have plans to visit this thriving country, you had better not go unprepared. We will share some essential things to know before embarking on a journey. This knowledge will help you to avoid some mistakes most visitors make on their first trip to the US.

By following these sustainable travel tips, you can enjoy your trip to the USA while minimizing your impact on the environment and supporting local communities. Remember that small, conscious choices can make a big difference in preserving the beauty of the destinations you visit.

Traveling sustainably to the USA, or any destination, is an excellent way to minimize your environmental impact while still enjoying the beauty and culture of the country. Here are some tips on how to do so. So let’s delve in! 

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1. Choose Eco-Friendly Transportation

Use direct flights whenever possible as take-offs and landings produce the most emissions. Consider using trains or buses for shorter distances. Amtrak, for example, is a more sustainable option for traveling between some major cities.

2. Drive Efficiently

If you plan to rent a car, choose a fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicle. Carpool or share rides to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

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3. Public Transportation

Utilize public transportation, such as buses and subways, in cities where it’s available. Many cities offer bike-sharing or scooter-sharing programs for short trips, and some even provide options for motorcycles.

4. Stay in Eco-Friendly Accommodations

Look for hotels, hostels, or vacation rentals that have green certifications or practices in place. These may include energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, and recycling programs.

5. Reduce Plastic Waste

Carry a reusable water bottle and a travel mug to minimize the use of disposable cups and bottles. Bring your own reusable shopping bags to reduce plastic waste.

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6. Reduce Energy Consumption

Be mindful of energy use in your accommodation. Turn off lights, air conditioning, and heating when you leave your room. Use natural daylight instead of artificial lighting whenever possible.

7. Choose Sustainable Activities

Participate in eco-friendly activities like hiking, biking, or wildlife-watching. Support tours and attractions that prioritize environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Be conscious of your waste and dispose of it properly. Look for recycling bins and follow local recycling guidelines. Avoid single-use plastics and products as much as possible.

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9. Eat Sustainably

Choose restaurants that source their ingredients locally and sustainably. Reduce meat consumption and opt for vegetarian or vegan options to lower your carbon footprint.

10. Support Local Communities

Buy local products and souvenirs to support the local economy. Participate in cultural experiences that allow you to interact with and learn from local residents.

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11. Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Consider purchasing carbon offsets for your travel to help fund renewable energy or reforestation projects to balance out your emissions.

12. Respect Nature and Wildlife

Follow Leave No Trace principles when exploring natural areas. Avoid disturbing wildlife and their habitats.

13. Educate Yourself

Learn about the local culture, environment, and history to better appreciate and respect the places you visit.

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14. Know Your Visa and Passport Situation

Before entering the United States, the government expects visitors to meet certain requirements. These requirements vary depending on the country you are coming from. 

For example, the government requires that anyone entering the country has at least six months of validity on their passport. For other countries, the validity only depends on the number of days you will be staying. 

Citizens of some countries can stay for ninety days without a visa under a program called VWP (The Visa Waiver Program). 

It is important to visit the government website to know what is suitable for you before going. Failure to meet these requirements will mean your entry will be denied.

15.  Prepare for the Vastness of the Country

The United States is a very large country, not just by land mass but also by population. To be specific, it is made up of 50 states covering 3.8 million miles. This size is almost that of the entire Europe. 

If you are coming from Europe, traveling from one EU country to another is like traveling from one state to another in the United States. People spend hours traveling from one state to another. For example, the distance between West Quoddy Head, Maine, and California’s Point Arena is almost five thousand kilometers (5,000 km). 

Also, the US has the third largest population in the world, behind India and China. Its population alone is 339,996,563 people. This should give you an idea of what to expect. 

16. Familiarise Yourself with the Country’s Metric System

If you are visiting the United States and are from a country where the metric system of measurement is in use, then you are in for lots of conversions. Instead of kilometers, you would be using miles; instead of kilograms, you would have to use ounces; Fahrenheit also replaces Celsius, and the list continues. 

So, you will need to familiarise yourself with how to do all these conversions so you can have a more hassle-free stay.  

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17. Don’t Forget to Tip

Tipping is one of the things most people find surprising when they come to America. While in most countries it is done at one’s discretion and may not be allowed in some cases, it is a tradition in the US to give tips when using restaurants, bars, hotels, salons, and other public places.

This culture of tipping came about because a waitress in a restaurant earns less than $3 per hour. It is, therefore, seen as a way of encouraging them to keep up the good work. It is not a crime not to tip; however, when you go to Rome, it’s best to behave like the Romans. 

18. Be on Time

You will quickly notice when you visit America that the people are punctual. They don’t like wasting time. There is no such thing as “African Time” (an informal timing system in some African countries where people attend events or meetings an hour or more after the scheduled time). 

So, if you are booking an appointment with anyone in the United States, be punctual. Americans will take you seriously when you are early to meetings and frown at people who come late. 

19. You Will Find Many Beautiful Places

One advantage that comes with the size of this great country is that there are many beautiful places to visit. In all the regions, you will find at least a National park, playground, hotel, waterfall, beach, magnificent architecture, theaters, museums, and many other places that won’t let you stay bored.

Whatever you are looking for in terms of tourism and relaxation, they are all available in the United States. It will be good if you come along with your camera to take some pictures. 

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20. Expect a Busy Transport System

Because of the size of the population, the transportation facilities are usually limited. Whether you are using the city bus or the train, expect it to be crowded. The best way to move around is by car or taxi; that is why most Americans have one or two cars. 

But since you may not be coming with your own car, there are many places where you can rent one at a good price. Also, bear in mind that even if you use your own vehicle, you may experience hold-ups, especially if you are traveling within the city centers. 

21. Be Prepared to Pay More

If you don’t have deep pockets, don’t visit shopping malls in the United States or use certain services. You will pay more than you see on the price tag of goods and services because of tax. 

Different cities have different tax rates. To be on the safe side, get yourself prepared to pay more whenever you are buying anything. You can visit the Internal Revenue Service or get a financial expert to find out how taxes in America work. 

22. Beware of Scammers

Scammers inhabit every country, and the US is no exception. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2022 alone, Americans lost more than $10 billion to online scammers. The scams include phishing, smishing, medicare scams, social security scams, tech support scams, and many more.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Whenever someone calls you, reverse search their phone number on Nuwber to find out who it is. Don’t trust strangers and never tell anyone your personal information.

Final Thoughts

The United States of America is known for many things, and first-time visitors shouldn’t go there without knowing what to expect.

We’ve put together some of the major things you should keep in mind when coming to the country for business, schooling, or tourism. Rest assured that these tips will help you to fit right in. Have a safe visit!

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