Tips when you go USA
When you ride BMX, most likely you want to check out the scene in the USA. If you don’t live in the USA and you have never made the trip over, here are a few tips. I could list a whole bunch of good stuff and a whole list of bad stuff about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Here’s a mixture so you don’t get your hopes up of a perfect world but it shouldn’t hold you back from discovering the country where it all started.
1) Choose your destiny.
America is a big country. Going to New York in the wintertime to ride is a mistake but it has states that have good weather in the winter months such as California, Florida, Arizona and Texas. Check the weather reports before you go as some places might be too hot to ride in the heat of the summer.2) State tax.
If you see something priced at $20, = USD and you give them a 20 dollar bill. They’ll still be having their hands up for more change. You see, where other countries include the taxes in the price so you know what you have to pay, the American states add their own state tax on top of the labeled price. Just keep it in mind.
3) None smoking areas.
It’s not allowed to smoke in restaurants or clubs in most states. This is great news for the non-smokers but sucks for the chain smokers.
4) Riding spots.
When you read all those magazines and watch the videos over and over again, you might think that the riding spots are numerous. Don’t be surprised if you don’t even run across a BMX rider in the street that doesn’t have his bars in Chicago style. Prepare yourself and get good directions or hook up with some locals who can show you the way. It will save you a lot of useless driving around.
You can’t travel the USA without a car. If you’re staying for a longer period of time, you might consider buying a wreck. We’ve done this three times and it was all good fun because we never ran into an accident (we did not have insurance). I believe times have changed since the early nineties and it’s a bit stricter to get away with that behavior but hey, we were young and willing to take the risk.
When you’re getting a rental car be prepared to pay at least double the price than they give you on the internet. The insurances and taxes that they add to the hire of a car is insane. To give you an example: The rental of a Compact car for 10 days was listed for $168, = USD. When I picked it up I opted for minimum insurance and was confronted by a bill of $490, = USD for a stupid Chrysler Neon. Because I took the risk of the car not getting damaged I saved 12 bucks per day but still it was almost double of what they made you believe when the initial booking was made. Make sure you have a driver that’s 25 or older to get away with the extra charge. Also you need a credit card for deposit. If you want an extra driver listed on the contract prepare to pay some more too. The only good thing is that most rentals have unlimited mileage. Enjoy the burn outsâ€¦..
You will get service to the max in American restaurants. If you want your burger without unions and well done, you’ll get it that way. Order the pizza in your style and they will make sure you will get what you need. Most restaurants have free refills and free ice water. The service is with a smile and here’s why. You are expected to leave a tip of 10-15% or more for the waiter/waitress. These employees are relying on the tips for their income, so don’t think they are ripping you off.
When you’re on a budget (you probably are), you can go a long way by doing grocery shopping at Vons, Albertson’s, Lucky’s or any other big supermarket. Most of them are even open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, which is just perfect. If you don’t like to cook a warm meal, there are always the 4 fast food restaurants on every corner of the street. If you’re lucky there’s a price war going on so you eat a warm â€œmealâ€? for a few bucks.
The US Dollar is pretty weak at the moment. This means that going now is probably a good idea. The dollar is roughly 30% cheaper than 3 years ago and that’s good news. If clothing was affordable already, imagine getting and extra â€œ30% offâ€?. You should not worry about your national bank pass not working in the American ATM machines. If it has a Maestro or Cirrus sign on the back, you should be good. It helps to have a credit card but if you don’t have one, your local bank card can probably get you some money out of the American wall. Double check with your bank before you find out it doesn’t work. That would suck.
I hate to bring it up. Customs can be a drag. Be prepared for the following questions when you enter the land of the free:
- Are you here for holidays or business?
- How long are you going to stay?
- Who is going to pick you up from the airport?
- Where are you going to stay?
- What’s the reason for your trip?
- Are you going to work while you’re in the USA?
Don’t even try to be funny, just answer the questions and be polite. The lines at customs can take from 15 minutes to 90 minutes, sometimes even more. If you have a connecting flight in 45 minutes, you’ll probably miss it if you have to make it through American customs.
9) How are you doing?
It’s a thing I like but it took some getting used to. When you’re at the grocery store, restaurant or just walking down the street, people ask you: â€œHow are you doing today?â€? or something along those lines (What’s up?). They don’t want you life story as an answer, it’s just a way to greet.
The United has a lot of beautiful places to visit. When you visit for the first time, you will feel like you’re in the movies, but then live. Palm trees, beach, huge houses with swimming pools, big cars, limos and lots of fake tits. On the other side, you’ve got the ghetto and let me tell you, you will feel when you’ve entered the ghetto. If you’re not from the ghetto, stay the fuck out of the ghetto. No need to experience the movie â€œBoys in the Hoodâ€? live.
For more info contact the American Tourist Center but don’t expect to hear the bad stuff.