Facts of United States
On this page you will find information about tips, time difference, transportation, price level and more in connection with your trip to the USA.
- Language: English
- Capital: Washington DC
- Population: 321 million
- Religion: Christianity
- Currency: US dollars
- Surface: 9,826,675 km2
Passport control in the United States is usually efficient and fast, despite taking fingerprints and photographing the iris.
Keep in mind that it is forbidden to bring fruit, vegetables, plants, certain seeds and fresh meat into the United States.
The USA is approximately 6 hours after Swedish time on the east coast (eg New York) and 9 hours behind in California (may vary in connection with the transition to and from summer time). Because you turn around the clock for the first time in the United States, the big time difference can cause so-called jet lag. The best way to get over the jet lag symptoms is to start following American time as quickly as possible.
Transportation in the United States
The buses in the USA are of a good standard with, among other things, air conditioning. On some round trips in the USA, we often fly longer distances with domestic flights. Prior to such flights, the tour guide informs about the time of departure and what applies at check-in at the airport.
The price level in the US
A main course with salad / soup and accessories costs 90-140 kronor including tips at a regular restaurant. In finer restaurants, you can expect to pay SEK 300-600. A beer or a glass of wine costs 30-60 kronor at a restaurant or bar. A regular cup of coffee costs around SEK 10-12, and a cappuccino SEK 20-25 at chains such as Starbucks. It is significantly cheaper to take a taxi in the US compared to Sweden.
In Sweden, we are used to service being included in the bill. That is not the case in the United States. The staff has a low salary and is therefore dependent on their tips. Maybe that’s why you often get better service there than in Sweden. In restaurants, you leave 15% in tips if you are satisfied with the service. But keep in mind that some restaurants – often the finer ones – put a service charge on the bill, and then you do not have to tip. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s has no service so you do not have to tip.
Even American local guides and bus drivers expect to get some tips during any part of the trip. We enter an amount in our travel program so that you can count on this when you make up your travel budget at home. The price of the trip does not include the cost of tips as you decide how much you want to give during the trip.
Pre-drink for drivers, cleaning staff and luggage carriers, you can count on about 7-10 USD per day. In practice, it is possible to arrange for the tour guide to collect money for the entire trip and ensure that the right people get what they need.
Other rules apply to cruises. See the program that applies to your trip.
Currency and credit cards
It is always good to have a small amount of cash with you on the trip. You can buy US dollars at the nearest bank or exchange office at home. If you choose to bring only credit cards – MasterCard and Visa are most common in the US – you can withdraw cash in dollars already at the airport ATMs, which in the US are called ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines). You can pay by credit card virtually anywhere in the United States, or withdraw money at the nearest ATM.
In the USA, sockets with wide, flat pins are used. Buy an adapter at the airport or at home before departure in a store that sells home electronics. In the US, only 110-115 volts are used, but normally shavers, hair dryers and mobile phone chargers, cameras and the like work without problems. Hairdryer is usually in the hotel room.
Telephone and Internet
In the USA, several different frequency bands and systems are used. Most Swedish-sold mobile phones work in the USA, look in your manual or contact the place of purchase if you are unsure of what applies to your phone. It is expensive to call home, so feel free to consult with your mobile operator regarding coverage and prices for calls from the USA. You can also buy a prepaid phone card. Prepaid cards can be bought in kiosks and at 7-Eleven.
According to Allcitycodes, for calls from the USA to Sweden, for example Stockholm: 011-46 -8 + the Swedish telephone number. Many hotels have wireless Internet for you who bring your computer or iPad. In addition, most hotels have computers that guests can rent or borrow free of charge.
Drinking water and hygiene
In the USA, it is okay to drink tap water. The hygiene in restaurants and hotels is comparable to Swedish conditions.
American breakfasts are relatively simple when compared to Scandinavian ones. Breakfast at most standard hotels in the US is “continental”, which mostly means coffee / tea, juice and bread with butter and jam.
Customs and traditions
Americans usually wear practical and casual clothing such as shorts / jeans and a t-shirt or sweater. For tourists, the same thing applies. Keep in mind that finer restaurants apply dress code. For men it means jacket and tie, for women it is a dress or skirt.
Smoking in public places is becoming increasingly restricted in the United States, and many states have imposed strict restrictions. Most hotels have introduced smoking bans, and anyone who smokes in a non-smoking hotel room therefore risks a fine. Smoking is also prohibited during all flights and train and bus transport. On the trains, however, there are often special places where smoking is allowed.
Passport and visa USA
Read about passports and visas when traveling to the USA.
Swedish citizens do not need a visa to the United States for stays shorter than 90 days (this is called in the United States Visa Waiver Program). But of course there is still little to arrange before departure.
- Check that you have a valid passport; it should also be valid six months after returning from the United States.
- Apply for an entry permit on the Internet via ESTA’s (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. At the top right you can change the language to Swedish.
It costs 14 USD and is paid by credit card. You will receive an answer immediately if the entry is approved, or if you have to apply for a visa. The entry permit is valid for two years. The last application date for entry permits via ESTA is 72 hours before departure, but please be out well in advance.
If the requirements are met, you only need to bring a valid passport and the number of your ESTA approval. It is your responsibility as a traveler that correct information has been provided to ESTA. Omitted or incomplete information can in the worst case lead to rejection at check-in and thus lost travel.
If you are traveling with children, they must have their own valid passports. It is not enough for the child to be included in the parent’s passport.
NOTE: Visa requirements if you have visited Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan
If you as a Swedish citizen have traveled to Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan after March 1, 2011, you can no longer travel to the United States for ESTA approval. You must instead apply for a visa at the American Embassy in Stockholm. The same applies to citizens with dual citizenship in either Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan.