During my backpacking trip in 2013 around the USA, I picked up a few things that I didn’t know about the USA. Although alot were negative this does not mean I dislike the USA. I had an amazing time there and would go back to certain parts…there’s just certain things that made me slightly home sick and in which I just couldn’t get my head around.
Soft Drinks In Restaurants / Fast Foods
If you order a drink such as a coke in a restaurant / diner / fast food place, then a waitress normally comes around when you’re half empty and will take it away and fill it up for you at no extra cost. Basically you have unlimited refills. They do this in certain Mcdonalds and most fast food places…oh and in Mcdonalds they serve the “Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese” which was discontinued in the UK 🙂
Obviously I understand that the USA may have a larger crime rate than the UK (don’t quote me on this), n I guess the USA has a bad rep for gangs etc, however I have to say as a tourist / backpacker who wondered the streets at nights n went on my own several times I didn’t encounter any hassle. I was thinking about this the other day and if you wandered in areas close to my house in the UK at like 2am, you would most likely have more chance of getting jacked. Before we went to places I would research what they were like etc, and it seemed lots of people would write things like “is it safe in xxx” . ..n it was the people responding who told their horror stories there that you would naturally pay more attention too. . . however the biggest piece of advice I found worked was “stay near touristy areas and you will be fine!” Places like New Orleans and LA are notorious for murder rates and gang banging, however these were 2 of my favourite places whilst away! You don’t see this shite going on anymore than back home in the UK. Sure the odd person will get mugged from time to time in touristy areas, however no more than back home in the UK. I’ve been all over the world and the place I felt most uneasy and thought I would be jacked was Barcelona on the main strip , yet this place is perceived as a “beautiful city”. This is why I always think it’s best for YOU to experience the place yourself – never let a few bad reviews put You off a place as bad shit happens everywhere in the world now n again.
Prices in general
They are cheaper than the UK. I mean you’re talking average £2.75 for a pint and £7 with drinks for a meal and this was most places not just cheap places.
I read about this before we came to the USA and lots of people were saying how bad it was (mainly in LA) and how you “DEFINATELY” needed a car…personally I dont agree with this at all. We caught so many buses and trains (mainly in LA) and they were amazing. We never encountered any issues on the trains or buses at all and we were in LA for a month catching them practically daily! They even have whats called a “TAP” card that you top up via the bus driver or the machines in the train station and you then simply tap it when you board a train or bus so you dont have to faff around with change etc.You can load this up with $5 (via the bus) and then you can ride unlimited rail and buses for 24 hours. That’s £3.12 for unlimited train and bus rides – amazing value! The people on the buses seem friendlier than the UK too. They seem to all have a laugh n joke with the drivers and seem to be helpful if you get stuck paying your fair. When a disabled person comes on, everyone at the front moves and the bus driver gets up and pulls up the front side seats so that the wheel chair can come on board. We had so many helpful bus drivers when we didnt know about fares etc. In terms of “needing” a car to get around LA, again thats Bullshit as we went North, East, South and West of LA via public transport. We never had a car and got to do everything we wanted.
Food portions here are alot bigger than UK so value for money is brilliant. Whataburger food chain has bigger burgers than McDonalds and give you free refills and in my opinion are very similar burgers yet cost less. . go Whataburger 🙂
Bacon here is crispy not back bacon like the UK. Although nice, nothing beats back bacon!
We found the USA had alot more options for food that was sweet and bad for you. It’s hard to eat healthy here. They have like 10 burger chains here where as in the UK we have like 3.
Chip shop chips don’t seem to exist over here. Sure they have steak cut chips but they are just fat chips. I wonder why chip shop chips have not been introduced to the USA yet?
Im a great fan of chocolate. I love Dairy Milk, Whispers and Yorkies! I went to the USA and experienced alot of their chocolates. One of the main ones I wanted to try was “Hershes” as this is advertised everywhere and I think its the equivalent to our Dairy Milk. I tried the plain chocolate and for me it was so plain and disappointing. I even tried the chocolate cookie one aswel and that too was plain and kinda tasteless. My oppinion on USA chocolate aint good..and I made sure I tried other chocolates like Butter Fingers , Choco Balls, Musketeers and nothing grabbed me. I guess I just think UK has more flavour to alot of their stuff either that or its just cuz ive been used to UK sweets for so long 🙂
Washington D.C and Chicago were the only places that we went to that didn’t charge a fee. Everywhere else we went to had lots of ATMs, however they ALL charged a fee. Even the bank ones. You’re talking anything from $3 – $6 per transactions. This is so annoying!
It seems the USA prefers coffee. I even looked in CVs stores and wall marts but couldn’t find many types of Tea. . plus it seems allot of the hotels only served coffee and not tea 😦
We heard about tipping before we came here, however some places really do take the Piss. It seems if you work in the food industry you should expect tips (even delivery drivers)… I mean why should I tip a delivery driver who is simple delivering me a pizza – which is his job????
I understand people are on less than minimum wage so sure I can see how tips help, however I aint giving you a damn tip if you aint nice to me! Luckily the majority of places we went to, the waitresses were nice, however there were some places where they didn’t engage with you, didn’t smile, were rude etc so we didn’t tip. I mean why should I give someone money for being rude or just not really going out their way to make me feel good? Maybe it’s a UK thing I’m not sure. There was one waitress who literally just stood in front of us in New Orleans when she gave us the change waiting for her tip which was so rude. Tipping is up to the customer not the waitress. If they leave you something great, but don’t try and force people to tip you.
The other thing that made me laugh was how if you eat out they give you your bill with “examples” of what you should tip and they start around the 20% mark. Again I thought tipping was up to the customer how much they give? It seems wrong that the restaurants are telling you how much you should pay! My view is the better you do your job, the more tips you get – but I’ll decide how much you get!! If you do a shite job you get Eff all!!!
Ok so you sit in a bar and you see a sign saying “Happy Hour Draughts for $4″… so naturally you order yourself a beer. However what happens next is what pissed me off. In the USA it seems they have like 3 sizes of glasses. Sometimes happy hours will serve draught beer in a pint, sometimes its a half a pint and sometimes its less than half a pint. I remember asking how much a Guinness was in Vegas and she said $7 (which was the average price of it) so I ordered one only to be presented with half a pint…half a pint for $7??? what a joke. Its like you have to state you want a pint otherwise you have no idea what size glass your gunna get. This really does vary. Since then I had to keep asking the bar people what size glasses were on happy hour.
Oh on the same kinda topic another thing that was weird was how you can get a bottle of Bud for $4 or you can get a pint of bud for $4..now why would you order a bottle? Surely you would order the option with the most quantity? weird!
Most places the price you see of things is not the price you pay. You have to add tax to it.. however some food places include tax. In the UK we simply include tax on everything, so the price you see is the price you pay. Maybe there’s a bigger tax issue going on in the USA that I don’t understand, however it’s so annoying. I couldn’t get my head around as to what items included tax and what didn’t for example I would pay for noodles in one store and no tax would be added, however in another store it was – fair enough if there was a system like “tax on certain foods – no tax on others”, but that’s not even the case so it confused the hell out of me 😦
Hotel / Motel Breakfasts
From East – South – West we have travelled in the USA and it’s amazing how their breakfasts differ from that in the UK. There were several motels that advertised as serving “breakfast” – however what this consisted of was a box of doughnuts (bought from a local bakery) and a coffee machine, others had doughnuts, Pastries, muffins and waffles. The biggest variety of cereals I saw was around 3 different types (and this was mainly served on the East Coast). For me this wasn’t great. I aint a fan of continental breakfasts however in the UK they tend to give alot more options. Even the cheapest of the cheapest hotels in UK will have a good choice of cereals and fruit. Personally I only like doughnuts and sweet stuff mid day or of an evening – I certainly wouldn’t want it for breakfast! Even when I looked in restaurants for breaky they would do omelettes n pancakes. If I wanted a fry-up it would give you the option of Bacon OR sausage…I have no idea why they just don’t bung it all on a plate.
All toilets here seem to have their toilet roll dispensers lower down. I’m not really sure how this works as I thought you stand up when wiping ya ass , so why would you want to keep having to bend down to grab some more toilet roll? In the UK the toilet roll dispenser is alot higher which makes sense. ..then again maybe it’s me being the odd person and maybe everyone in USA wipes their bum crouching down?
Oh and another thing I didn’t like about their toilets was that there are gaps in the doors. There were lots of times I would be at the urinal and if I glanced to the right / left of me I could see the person sitting down on the toilet threw the crack – again not really sure why the cracks in the doors are there?? and this was everywhere we travelled in the USA!