Not too long ago, we have covered the issue of tourists not really understanding the limits and restrictions of the place they are visiting, i.e. Hawai’i, and then causing a lot of trouble along the way, leading to all of the reasons why Hawai’ians don’t really want visitors any more.
So, why not get ahead of things and nail down some of the actions, behaviors and… things to not do while visiting the U.S., as shared by folks on AskReddit, particularly in this modest thread.
Bored Panda has crafted a curated list with some of the best responses to the now viral question, if visiting America, what is something that [people] should NEVER do?, which you can check out below. And don’t forget to give us those upvotes if you genuinely agree or like the submissions, because we love you, and comment some of your don’ts in the U.S. in the comment section below.
More Info: Reddit
#1 Do Not Swim In Standing Bodies Of Water In FloridaIf you find yourself in Florida, absolutely do not swim in the lakes, ditches, or channels. Any standing body of water can (and does) have alligators in it. Also possibly water moccasins. And maybe even diseases.
Image credits: Dobbys_Other_Sock
#2 Do Not Underestimate Travel DistancesUnderestimate distances. When I was a tour guide, far too many customers asked how many HOURS the train to New York was [in seattle] and I had to put their jaw back in when I said 5 days.
Image credits: a9249
#3 Do Not Exit The Vehicle If You've Been Pulled Over By The PoliceIf pulled over by the cops, do not exit the vehicle unless they ask you to. The cops might sit in their vehicle for a while, & then they will approach the window & expect you to talk to them while sitting in the car.
Image credits: yahdinguus
#4 Do Not Go Into The Wilderness UnpreparedDo NOT go into the wilderness unprepared. If a trail says 2 miles and 2000' of elevation gain, that's not a nature walk.
Do NOT approach wild Animals. Yea, the moose looks big and stupid, but he'll kill you. So will the bears, mountain lions, alligators, snakes.
Image credits: projecthouse
#5 Do Not Assume Places Will Be Walkable, Or Rely On Public Transport Alone; Also Friendly American AlertDon't underestimate the size of the U.S. We get a lot of international visitors who think they can hit Disneyworld and the Grand Canyon in one or two days. America is huge. We've got 50 states for a reason.
Also, don't expect things to be extremely walkable, or assume a decent public transportation system will be available to you. Urban areas usually have good public transport but truthfully, America is built around having a car. We have drive thru everything - banks, pharmacies, fast food, and in some states, liquor stores.
Don't get weirded out if Americans wave and randomly want to chat you up. We're a pretty talkative bunch, but do watch out for hot-button topics (for example, politics...we're a hot mess right now).
Image credits: LadySiren
#6 Do Not Ignore The Tourist Advice Of The LocalsIf locals tell you not to go to a certain part of town, listen to them. Similarly, don't go touring drug or gang territory.
Image credits: CalypsoContinuum
#7 Do Not Walk Around In Public With An Open Alcohol ContainerDon't think the laws are the same everywhere. You can walk with an open alcohol container in Vegas but not many other places. Alcohol laws, pot laws, firearms laws, smoking - lots of very different laws depending on the state and city where you are.
Image credits: Babstana
#8 Do Not Leave Without Tipping Restaurant StaffWhether you agree with it or not (and the Redditland consensus is not), but please do not leave a restaurant without tipping (unless you've had really bad service). Again, the debate on this can be had another day, but right now, IRL, these servers depend upon these tips.
Image credits: llcucf80
#9 Do Not Assume The Price On The Item Is Actually What It Costs Because TaxesDon’t assume that the price shown on an item for sale is your price for said item.
There are almost always taxes that are added to the price when you go to pay.
Image credits: Red_Queen592
#10 Do Not Approach RaccoonsLegoboy514 said:
Raccoons are cute… but from a distance.
I had two f*ckers break into my condo and steal my dogs food. And as they went over the wall of my patio it was like watching a fat middle aged man do an obstacle course.
Image credits: Legoboy514
#11 Do Not Wear Clothes That Allude To Hell's AngelsWear clothing that has any imagery associated with Hells Angels. I was once at the convention centre in San Francisco during the setup of an event, and happened to be wearing a t shirt that had a variation of the “death head” logo on it (I had no idea - it was a cheap t shirt bought in the U.K. that I liked the look of). There was a guy riding round on a fork lift that kept staring at me and talking to his buddies. Eventually he came over and asked if I was associated at all with the Hells Angels. When I said no, he basically told me that if I was spotted outside wearing that t shirt by a member of the gang, I’d be in a whole heap of trouble. He was so insistent that he virtually escorted me back to my hotel to change it. At the time I couldn’t believe it, I was like “mate it’s just a t shirt I bought for 10 quid from TK Maxx” but in hindsight he probably did me a favour.
Image credits: mangetoutrodders
#12 Do Not Make Extended Eye Contact With Folks On The Subway In New YorkIf you’re in a New York City subway, try not to make too much eye contact or look too long at people around you. Old guy lighting up a crack pipe near the door between cars? Just ignore the smell. Woman near you screaming at the top of her lungs at her silent child? Keep listening to your music. Someone digging through their bag, muttering to themselves, and throwing rose petals on the floor like they’re preparing for a seance? Just keep staring blankly at your phone. Trust me.
Image credits: Jroks2
#13 Do Not Trashtalk American CustomsDon’t talk about how you think a holiday or American custom is stupid if you are invited to someone’s home. We had a guest from Germany once, who was invited to my parents house for Thanksgiving . The whole day she talked about how it wasn’t a real holiday and it was just an excuse for fat Americans to eat more. It was extremely insulting and made the day unpleasant for everyone. If you are invited to someone’s home, at least try to to be polite.
Image credits: Summerswaterfall
#14 Do Not Try To Bribe An Officer Of The LawDo not attempt bribe a police officer. It's common in some countries, but it will land you in a world of s**t here.
Image credits: rimshot101
#15 Do Not Visit The Hospital, Unless It's Absolutely NecessaryDon't go to the hospital unless absolutely necessary. The memes don't lie, they'll charge you $2,100 for a s***ty Walgreens splint and an x-ray.
Image credits: paloofthesanto
#16 Do Not Underestimate The Intense Heat Of The Southwest U.S.Visiting south west USA? Cali. Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, ect. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HEAT, all to often people try a hike in 113° and end up needing rescue. And that's no good for anyone.
Image credits: papamac1111
#17 Do Not Take Things From National ParksObjective-Dingo6603 said:
Do not take anything from national parks.
Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints*.
*on the designated trails. Do not under any circumstances step on the cryptobiotic soil.
Unless you want to become another missing 411 case where people speculate if you were abducted by Bigfoot.
Image credits: Objective-Dingo6603
#18 Do Not Stray From The PathWhen visiting tourist places, if there are signs instructing you to “stay on the path” or “please do **not** touch” or “**no** flash photography” or a guide at the place asks you to please refrain from doing something….
DO AS THEY (or the sign) ASK! It’s no different than when the tourism is in reverse.
Image credits: chibinoi
#19 Do Not Forget To Refrigerate Eggs And MilkDon’t forget to put eggs and milk in the fridge. We do stuff to them that makes them require refrigeration.
Edited; it’s not homogenization. Just know that the way we process them makes them, much like Americans, spoiled without Air conditioning.
Image credits: GoddessOfOddness
#20 Do Not Photograph The AmishDo not take pictures of the Amish. It's really rude to them.
Image credits: saradoering82
#21 Do Not Assume Sunshine Means Warm Weather In The Midwest Or NortheastIf you are coming to the Midwest or northeast during winter be prepared and don’t think sunshine means warm weather. It can be deceptively cold. :)
Image credits: Hefty-Anywhere-2710
#22 Do Not Haggle[Do not] haggle. There are times it’s appropriate to haggle in the US, but none of them are going to come up on your tourist trip. In the US, haggling is basically reserved for high-ticket items and certain services. You can’t haggle for things in a store or at a restaurant. The people you’re talking to usually don’t have the power to change the price, and if they do, they still won’t want to. The exceptions would be of the thing in the store is damaged (and they might not reduce the price, they might just take the broken one from you and find you a decent one), or if the person you’re dealing with is a criminal (ex; the guys who sell stolen purses, fake sunglasses, and bootleg DVDs in the street in some cities). Goods in stores or at kiosks have a set price based on pretty specific metrics, and everyone pays the same. No one’s going to cry or try and convince you if you walk away.
Image credits: TerribleAttitude
#23 Don’t Talk About GRAPEDon’t talk about GRAPE
Image credits: xandrenia
#24 Do Not Plan Visits And Travel Tightly[Do not] make a tightly scheduled itinerary that involves visiting multiple locations - particularly if those locations are in different states. You probably have no idea how long it takes to go from one place to another.
Image credits: MisterAmmosart
#25 Do Not Give Retail Staff A Hard TimeGive retail employees a hard time about paying sales tax. We know you don't live here—the register and the government don't care.
Image credits: burnercellular
#26 Do Not Get Into People's Personal SpaceDon’t get in someone’s personal space. Stand at *least* 3 feet and preferably 6+ feet away from everyone. It is very uncomfortable for Americans when you stand too close and it can even be threatening. Plenty of countries are the same way but specifically Americans.
Image credits: Randomgardener23
#27 Do Not Engage With Folks Who Ask What You'll Be Doing The Next Day In Las VegasIf you're visiting Las Vegas, do *not* engage with anyone that asks if you'll be in town tomorrow night. They're trying to rope you into a timeshare presentation and even though they'll offer free show tickets, meal vouchers, and even cash, it's not worth it! The tour and "short" presentation will be way longer (and obnoxiously higher pressure) than you'd expect and they know damn well after you've invested a few hours you're not going to leave without the promised reward that they only give you at the very end.
These people are most often found at the entrances to malls or casinos at what can be easily mistaken for information booths. Either just say "no" no matter how long you're actually still going to be there or flat-out ignore them.
Also don't accept the cards being handed out by people in brightly colored shirts on the strip unless you want a promo for strippers.
Image credits: Tangent_
#28 Don't Take Pictures With People In Costumes In LA Or NYC541mya said:
Don't take pictures with the people dressed up in costumes in LA/ NYC.
They'll immediately expect payment for it.
This only applies to photos where you pose directly with them. Taking photos of them from a distance is fine.
Image credits: 541mya
#29 Do Not Leave Stuff On The Passenger SeatLeave your car with your purse sitting on the front seat. Thieves will smash the window and steal it.
#30 Do Not Drive Through Pennsylvania Without Being PreparedDon't drive through PA without a spare tire or roadside assistance. Our potholes are unreal.
#31 Do Not Sign Up For A Credit Card At A Retail StoreIf you go to a department store, Kohls, Target, or even Home Depot, they often try to have people sign up for credit cards. Absolutely don’t do this. Tell you non-English speaking friends this. The short time I worked at target, I often seen people who were clearly just visiting the US get signed up for credit cards. It may not alway work since the lack of a social security number, but it is a major time suck for sure.
Image credits: o0_bobbo_0o
#32 Do Not Let Anyone Stop You On The Sidewalk Or Ask To Use Your PhoneDon’t let anyone use your phone, stop in the middle of the sidewalk (please move to the side)
Image credits: jmarie546
#33 Don't Eat Wild MushroomsDon't eat wild mushrooms unless you're an expert. There are deadly species here that look like safe muhrooms in other countries. Southeast Asians are frequently poisoned by amanita species (death cap, destroying angel).
Image credits: buddaycousin
#34 Do Not Cut In Linemacaronsforeveryone said:
Don’t cut in line. We hate that.
About a year ago I had a dumb [woman] drive in front of me at the Starbucks drive thru. I was so happy she did too. As soon as it was her turn to order, I layed into my horn for as long as it took for her to become frustrated and leave because her order could not be heard LMAO. No one deserves to get walked on like that.
Image credits: macaronsforeveryone
#35 Do Not Be Drunk In PublicVexOut said:
Most places don’t allow alcohol in an open container in public. Have your drinks at the hotel, bar, or restaurant.
Can be fined or arrested depending on state.
Yes, this. Also, a lot of people from the British Isles think it's fine to be visibly drunk in public but in the US it is not. Being drunk in public is a social faux pas and if it's noisy enough can result in arrest.
Image credits: VexOut
#36 Do Not... Well, A Lot Of ThingsI’ll say this is a guy who moved here a short while ago (last year)
- don’t underestimate how big the personal space bubbles of Americans are , especially if you come from a culture where people are more “packed together” . Americans have pretty big personal space bubbles and suddenly getting too close makes people uncomfortable here.
- before you go to a restaurant , make sure you can afford the food *plus a tip* . Idk about how you feel about it or whatever , but not tipping here is a d**k move.
- don’t underestimate how large or diverse it is . Yes , you’ve seen Americans portrayed as one type on tv but common sense should tell you a country this large has a lot of variations between people , just like most other countries . You won’t see “all of America” in one trip either unless you have a lot of time . Focus on one region and get a lot more bang for your buck.
- be prepared for how loud And conversational Americans are . Those personal space bubbles ? They speak loudly to cover them , so if you’re from a culture where people speak in low tones generally , this may be a bit of a culture shock.
- Take advantage of free drink refills / free water in restaurants . It’s amazing . One of my favorite small things about America.
- A lot of towns are very car-centric. Be prepared for that.
- Respect and visit the national parks . I was very impressed with how the national parks here are well maintained . You may be tempted to only visit the cities like LA or New York , but take time to go see the parks . Beautiful nature on display.
- If you’re going to Las Vegas , don’t attend the timeshare presentations unless you’re absolutely prepared to be bored to tears for a long time . In fact there should be a whole separate thread for Las Vegas alone because tourists get scammed in so many ways , I’m lucky I had locals guide me around as I settled . Also make sure you are prepared to pay “resort fees” in hotels. Yes even the s***tier ones.
- Avoid Taco Bell, go get some authentic Mexican food . Seriously . Avoid Taco Bell . Get some birria tacos instead.
- And lastly as any other place , try and be mindful of cultural norms . America being so out there with its culture and people around the world being exposed to it leaves a lot of people overly confident about smaller cultural cues and norms . Seriously , I know so many people that ended up looking like dickheads because they fail to understand that and end up looking really bad . Talk respectfully to people , don’t use words you heard on tv and are offensive to certain groups, don’t generalize , don’t loudly debate politics with locals you don’t know , etc . This is common sense.
Image credits: Thatmixedotaku
#37 Do Not Go Into The Wilderness UnpreparedThere are huge, unfathomably huge, swathes of incredibly inhospitable wilderness scattered all around this country. If you are unprepared you run a very real risk of dying. No one will stop you from being unprepared, either. There will not be many warning signs. There may be none. It's not just the ruggedness, the wildlife, the lack of water -- there's a lot of s**t out in the woods/desert that shouldn't be there. I'm pretty familiar with my local area, and even so I walked into a bad situation that probably involved drugs and guns out in the woods overlooking town.
#38 Do Not Pick Up Gum From The Street; Also, There Is Just One Original Ray's PizzaFirst off, if you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn’t free candy. Second, there are, like, thirty Ray’s Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one’s on 11th. And if you see a sign that says ‘Peep Show,’ that doesn’t mean that they’re letting you look at the new toys before Christmas.
Image credits: lovejo1
#39 Do Not HitchhikeEstablishmentDry9719 said:
I watched a video on this semi-recently. It seems like this was overblown. Over time there were both ad campaigns both for and against hitchhiking, depending on what served the country at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if we start pushing hitchhiking again with the way gas prices are going.
#40 Do Not Joke Around And/Or Otherwise Irritate Any And All Customs Officers Who Are Just Trying To Do Their JobStickybats55 said:
P**s off the customs officer
Do not joke or say anything with any immigration or customs official that could suggest that you are not taking the process seriously. Do not give lip or sarcasm. Do not roll your eyes. Keep your attitude to yourself. Do not joke about bombs, drugs, nazis, or raw milk cheese.
#41 Do Not Pee In PublicDon’t pee in public. No matter how bad you have to go, don’t do it. I mean it. Don’t.
Edit for the comments: Don’t because you can get arrested and will have to register as a sex offender. No, we don’t (usually) pee in the middle of the street… but say you’re drunk at night in Boston and you think you can sneak a pee in an ally next to a building or in the corner of a parking lot. If you are unlucky enough, you will get arrested.
Edit 2 because I’m sick of reading this: Urinating in public itself isn’t the crime you should be scared of. It’s if the a*****e cop charges you with indecent exposure or even public lewdness, both are crimes which may require you to register as a sex offender.
#42 Do Not Stop Driving In A Neighborhood Where Folks Are ShirtlessIf you're driving through a neighbourhood where people have their shirts off, do not stop for anyone. You have reached the bad part of town and want to leave it as soon as possible.
Maybe not true for all places but in the land of limitless guns and crazy people it's not a bad rule of thumb.
#43 If Visiting Albuquerque, Don’t Throw A Pizza On The Roof Of Walter White’s HouseAtomicFall99 said:
If visiting Albuquerque, don’t throw a pizza on the roof of Walter White’s house.
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul probably elevates it in the international consciousness. Plus there are a LOT of foreign visitors to Santa Fe. ABQ is close enough that often its cheaper to stay there and drive vs staying in Santa Fe.
I used to laugh and tell people ABQ wasn't as crazy as Breaking Bad makes it seem, but now a decade later sadly the crime has gone wild. I moved away during Covid cause I didn't want my kids to have to go to NM public schools and deal with the crime. My sister almost getting shot in the head leaving a 7-11 probably sealed the deal for me (the bullet went through the left side of the rear view mirror).
That said, if you go, go get yourself a Frontier sweet roll, green chile chicken enchiladas from El Patio, Chicken burrito from Rincon Del Pollo, Dions pizza, Slice of Hefen from LA Cumbre is my favorite beer (if you like heffs it's got a really dope banana bready flavor). Sadies on 4th street is good. I'd say it's overrated amongst locals, however it's still good New Mexican (the one on Eubank is franchised I believe and I never found it to be as solid as the 4th street location). Pereas on Juan Tabo has my favorite huevos rancheros and refried beans in town. Don't park with your doors unlocked basically most places south of Paseo del Norte. Don't leave anything in your car ever, especially luggage or backpacks. Take a hot air balloon ride one morning. I had a blast even as a local who had never done it before.
#44 Do Not Visit If You're Under 21 And If You Plan On Partaking In Alcoholic ActivitiesMake sure you visit after your 21st birthday if you are a drinker or a smoker. Can't do either til you are 21.
Image credits: LadyJedi1286
#45 Do Not Actually Respond To "How Are You?"Actually respond when you’re asked “how are you?” They usually don’t care unless you’re close friends—it’s simply a greeting.
Edit: I’m not trying to say that I personally don’t care! From my own experiences, most people ask that question expecting a simple “good” without any further elaboration. I prefer an honest answer followed by a discussion, but as a general rule of thumb, that’s not how most people here operate.
#46 Do Not Be A Wise Guy[Do not] say to someone, “Oh yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”
Image credits: CarlJustCarl