▫️”Omnipresent Consumption” 💸
– Big discounts on a large number of products;
– Lots of free samples;
– Unwanted things are left in the street for takers;
– Everyone needs big storage space.
▫️The Customer is King 👑
– Stores and restaurants often give you discounts if you ask for it;
– You are able to return any product purchased in major stores (even after years!!);
– Refunds are very easy;
– Coupons (the traditional paper ones) are very popular, as well as customer loyalty cards;
– You can use a product and return it later just because you didn’t like it.
▫️Free Refill Policy 🥤
– In the vast majority of “affordable” restaurants, a client pays one drink and then has, at least, one free refill
– More than just a free refill, this is clearly a marketing trick. Everyone wandering around with 7-Eleven or Burger King cups is much more valuable than the cost of the refill for the brands (even more because it’s just water and sugar).
– Baseball is a social experience rather than an event with dedicated fans (great team marketing and amazing experience in the stadium);
– Basketball and American Football are the other sports that gather the most fans. Soccer is still building momentum, but it’s expanding fast throughout the country.
– In restaurants, the “tip” system makes the service very pleasant, but the employees really depend on it to generate income;
– Many houses are made of wood which makes the acquisition cost low and maintenance costs high (a lot of repairs required);
– Householders are building things by themselves rather than buying all done. Small “home projects” are a common topic of conversation;
– People are surprisingly nice: small talk is powerful (in stores, public services, etc. – everyone asks about your day, not necessarily waiting for the answer). Also, Americans very often speak really loud;
– The country is made for car drivers (amazing roads, cheap gas, a lot of parking places available). Logically, the public transport is underdeveloped. It is also uncommon to see people walking – even in cities;
– Public facilities and infrastructures are usually well maintained.
▫️ Drinks 🍹: In fast food places you can find machines that allow mixing different tastes which give>2000 different drinks to choose from;
▫️ Sauces 🍅 : Americans use a variety of sauces and dips to any meals – Ketchup, Barbecue (try Sweet Baby Ray’s), Ranch, Blue Cheese, Sriracha, Yum-Yum, etc….
▫️ Bread 🥖 : There is no culture of eating fresh bread. Toasted bread, muffins, pre-made bagels or pancakes are more popular. People use special small ovens to quickly heat the pastries up and make them taste like fresh bread. Pastries with all kinds of nut butter or cheese spreads are very common. There are shops in which you can choose nuts and they will make your customised butter;
▫️ XL Size 📦 : All kinds of products are sold in big packs and big quantities, therefore people have a big fridge, or several, and places to store food at home – 18.9L barbecue sauce is a best-seller in Costco.
▫️ Even if each state has a “special dish”, very often they have foreign influences (Texas – TexMex food; Chicago – Italian beef; New Orleans – Creole cuisine, etc…) so it seems there are not many dishes that could be called typical American food, besides BBQ;
▫️ There are fast food chains everywhere!
Our TOP ones: IN-N-OUT and BurgerFi 🍔, Popeye’s 🍗, Panda Express 🥠 (big portions, free samples), Taco Bell 🌮 (for some “relatively” healthier option). Drive-throughs are very popular, even, or maybe specially, for breakfast!);
▫️ Well… all true – unhealthy options unfortunately widely available for much lower prices than restaurants with fresh ingredients;
▫️ So what is typical? The sizes! Even big chains serve their meals much bigger than in other countries. Additionally, in the majority of them, buying a drink will get you free refills and you can also use sauces – which naturally makes you want to eat even more;
▫️ All-you-can-eat buffets are also very popular.
▫️ We have done a big trip around the US so listing all the places that we saw would take several posts 😉
▫️ Cities we visited: Atlanta, Cherokee, Orlando, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York, Fort Lauderdale.
▫️ Backpacking & couchsurfing:
– Orlando, FL – very peaceful and quiet, nice to see the Winter Park area;
– New Orleans, LA – Everyone will tell you about the specific smell of the city – it is true 😉 Also, French Quarter is worth a visit;
– Chicago, IL – Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, Portillo’s Italian beef (beautiful restaurant), free walking tour in the city center;
– Denver, CO – feels like a small city, beautiful cathedral and cool mountains visible from the city;
– Las Vegas, NV – Ceasar’s Palace is amazing! Bellagio is beautiful and classy! You can do all the main casinos in 2-3 days walking. It pays off to be a member of some casino chains so you can get hotels for very small money. Casinos make so much money that they afford to give very good prices in the hotels and free drinks while you play;
– Phoenix, AZ – Grand Canyon is out of this world!
– Austin, TX – feels a bit like Mexico – some people do not even bother to speak English;
– San Antonio, TX – beautiful walk next to the river is the main activity in the city, as well as the San Antonio Missions World Heritage path;
– New York, NY – Very specific energy in this city. Here you can find everything, from beautiful areas, glamorous shops and hotels but also dirty, busy streets. A very interesting mix of everything !
Events & Meetings
▫️ Polish Potluck in Peachtree City organised by Monika Ruch 🇵🇱
▫️ Couchsurfing meeting in Fort Lauderdale 🍸
▫️ The beginning of our trip had a special focus on family and less on business, hence the lack of events 😁
▫️ Travelling by plane ✈️ is cheaper than by train and definitely it is much faster. Flights can be bought with few days in advance and they will still be cheap;
▫️ Spirit Airlines is a good budget option for moving around the USA but the customer service is very bad and you can expect delays/cancellations, etc. Also, you need to pay for any add-ons (relatively high price comparing to the price of the tickets);
▫️Consider travelling by car 🚘, if you can. It might not be cheaper than the airplane, but you will be able to go to places that are the must-sees in this country, more specifically the big “network” of National Parks!