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Old 03-15-2017, 08:17 AM   #1
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Default Loop in America

So, from the 17th - 25th of May this year, I'm going to be going to America for the first time. Going to Chicago to meet up with the boyfriend/go to the anime convention there.

Any advice on travelling/visiting america, anyone?

Also, if any of you are local and would like to catch up with me in person, here's your chance. =3
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:13 PM   #2
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Noooo come to Canada!!!!
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:18 PM   #3
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Going to Chicago for my first time this year too- but not until the third week of June.
Shame- would have been nice to meet you there!

I'm going to check out the planetarium while I'm there and a zoo or two. Definitely want to find out what all the hub bub is about the food
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:12 PM   #4
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I'm guessing you'll be flying into O'Haire. It's is super crazy long and for some reason my flights there are always delayed or have a long layover. That is all the info I have regarding Chicago.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Eyed Fairy View Post
Going to Chicago for my first time this year too- but not until the third week of June.
Shame- would have been nice to meet you there!

I'm going to check out the planetarium while I'm there and a zoo or two. Definitely want to find out what all the hub bub is about the food
Hahaha, oh wow, we are gonna miss each other by a couple of weeks, that's some irony! We will totally have to share our adventures afterwards!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lille View Post
I'm guessing you'll be flying into O'Haire. It's is super crazy long and for some reason my flights there are always delayed or have a long layover. That is all the info I have regarding Chicago.
I am indeed! I've got a couple of layovers on the way there. It's not ideal, but it will be worth it!
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:29 PM   #6
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For travel:

- Slipper socks to wear on the plane (so nice not to be in shoes for hours on end, especially as feet tend to swell on flights),

- in your carry-on have a flannel and soap you like on your face as well as a change of underwear, can make a layover a somewhat refreshing experience.

- Tomato juice and water will help keep you hydrated.

- Be thankful you aren't bigger!

For the US:

- You may not be much of a shopper, but try to go visit a Torrid or Lane Bryant, and buy some things you wouldn't see back home.
- Don't forget that all beverage sizes will be one or two steps larger than what you are used to. I've seen places in the US where a 'small' coffee was about 330ml! Order down a size, or don't drink it all (unless you want to, of course).

- Whenever you can eat vegetables, do so -- they can be a challenge when travelling in general, and cheaper restaurants tend not to emphasize them.

- If you are a tea drinker, make sure you are getting hot tea (iced tea being more common in parts of the US -- generally they will ask, but if you aren't expecting the question and they aren't used to the accent, it can be hard to figure out what they are asking at first)

- (You already know this one from Hyde Park) Avoid politics! If directly asked, probably safest to say "I avoid politics."

- Depending where you are in the US, pedestrians can be quite rare, and drivers not really paying attention for them. Not an issue in the core of bigger cities, but there are suburbs with no sidewalks for instance.

- (I'm sure you know this, but to be complete) Figure out what you need for charging any electronics that you are bringing. I think you visited Canada once, some years back? Same plugs and voltages and all of that as the US, so you may already be equipped.

- And finally don't forget: on average Americans are among the kindest, most generous, sweetest people you'll ever meet. Don't get too freaked out if someone goes way beyond the expected to be helpful. They really probably are just that nice, and not actually a serial killer (despite what American TV might have you believe, lol). They may not be polite by UK standards, but you may find them far warmer at the same time.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad View Post
For travel:

- Slipper socks to wear on the plane (so nice not to be in shoes for hours on end, especially as feet tend to swell on flights),

- in your carry-on have a flannel and soap you like on your face as well as a change of underwear, can make a layover a somewhat refreshing experience.

- Tomato juice and water will help keep you hydrated.

- Be thankful you aren't bigger!

For the US:

- You may not be much of a shopper, but try to go visit a Torrid or Lane Bryant, and buy some things you wouldn't see back home.
- Don't forget that all beverage sizes will be one or two steps larger than what you are used to. I've seen places in the US where a 'small' coffee was about 330ml! Order down a size, or don't drink it all (unless you want to, of course).

- Whenever you can eat vegetables, do so -- they can be a challenge when travelling in general, and cheaper restaurants tend not to emphasize them.

- If you are a tea drinker, make sure you are getting hot tea (iced tea being more common in parts of the US -- generally they will ask, but if you aren't expecting the question and they aren't used to the accent, it can be hard to figure out what they are asking at first)

- (You already know this one from Hyde Park) Avoid politics! If directly asked, probably safest to say "I avoid politics."

- Depending where you are in the US, pedestrians can be quite rare, and drivers not really paying attention for them. Not an issue in the core of bigger cities, but there are suburbs with no sidewalks for instance.

- (I'm sure you know this, but to be complete) Figure out what you need for charging any electronics that you are bringing. I think you visited Canada once, some years back? Same plugs and voltages and all of that as the US, so you may already be equipped.

- And finally don't forget: on average Americans are among the kindest, most generous, sweetest people you'll ever meet. Don't get too freaked out if someone goes way beyond the expected to be helpful. They really probably are just that nice, and not actually a serial killer (despite what American TV might have you believe, lol). They may not be polite by UK standards, but you may find them far warmer at the same time.
Wow, thank you for all the advice! I admit, I'm kinda nervous about the whole thing as I've never been to america before. It's scary!

I never thought about tea, though I guess I could do the old fashioned british thing and take tea bags with me and make them in the hotel. I'm gonna assume that hotels in america don't come with complimentary tea.

...that is utterly bizarre to me, that there are suburbs without pavements. I walk pretty much everywhere. Though as I'm staying in Chicago it shouldn't be too much of an issue, I don't think. Besides which, I've got my other half to use as a meat shield if necessary!

I honestly never even thought of finding chargers. I don't remember where my adapter plug that I used in canada ended up, I will have to try and find it. Thank you for reminding me!

Heh, I admit, I was surprised when I went to canada how friendly everyone was. Over here, the natural reaction to friendliness/being approached is to be wary and back off, as they are usually trying to sell you something, but it seems much more common in other places. It's honestly kinda scary to me because a big part of my ability to cope with being in public comes from the knowledge that nobody will try and interact with me, at least over here. But I'm sure I will manage fine!
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:42 PM   #8
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If you are downtown in a city, generally people are far too busy to bother you by being nice. But ... if you thought Canadians were friendly, well, I find Americans more generally friendly than people around here, so (the one time I got my hair cut in California I talked with the barber more than I had in the previous ten years of hair cuts back home (and with how little hair I have, it doesn't take long to get it cut!) He wanted to know where I was from, what I was doing there, how I liked it, and so on. Just to be friendly. It felt weird, but he was just nice.)
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:54 PM   #9
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Chicago is a great place to visit but stay clear of Cicero area if you can.
I used to go on business trips to Chicago several times of year and Cicero was the only area that I didn't like being in.
Its a huge city and plenty of things to do.
The Museum of natural history was very cool.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loopytheone View Post
I'm gonna assume that hotels in america don't come with complimentary tea.
No complimentary kettle either... electric kettles not really a thing.

Make sure you put your ESTA application in as soon as you have your tickets confirmed.

DO look up things you want to see in Chicago, the museums are amazing. And you can buy a single pass for all the big touristy things for a discount.
Also visit some 'new deal' era civic buildings.. they have amazing architecture, artwork and murals.

You can drive serious distances in a few hours too, so if there are things in Illinois or even Wisconsin(House on the Rock!, Bronze Fonz, that guy who puts Trucks up trees ), Michigan, Indiana or Iowa(Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque!) you think you might like to see, budget for a road trip and an overnight stop. State Parks are always worth visiting too.

Also... pack along some antihistamines that agree with you, even if you don't usually suffer from hayfever, strange pollens can get you.

Your standard issue visa debit card should work almost everywhere, but you may have to run it as a 'credit' transaction. and you can withdraw cash from a machine. 'chip and pin' is a thing in the US now... but your card might not authorise that way... if in doubt, try running it as a credit transaction.

Tell your bank that you are going overseas, tell them to flag your account accordingly. DESPITE THIS... your card may be blocked anyway. If you are lucky, they will call you (make sure your bank has your mobile number and that you have international roaming turned on) before you have an embarrassing encounter at checkout. Don't Panic. Usually you just have to call the number on the back of the card identify yourself and confirm your last three transactions to get it sorted.

For shopping... re.TAD .. visit the mall in Schaumburg(?) everything is there... then have your BF take you to a Sybaris Suite to rest your feets.

ETA... Enjoy your time together, LDR's are not easy.. so make memories
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:51 AM   #11
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Crumbling's point about banks reminded me of another one. An increasing number of web sites monitor where you are logging in from, and make you jump through some extra hoops if you suddenly log in from a strange place. So make sure that you are current on whatever your back-up items are (as in: if it texts your mobile as a security check, make sure it is the number you will be using. If it uses security questions, make sure you know the answers you gave if they are not completely obvious, etc).
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:56 AM   #12
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And if you can, get health/life insurance for the trip - no real free heathcare in the Us, just in case you get hurt!
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crumbling View Post
No complimentary kettle either... electric kettles not really a thing.

Make sure you put your ESTA application in as soon as you have your tickets confirmed.

DO look up things you want to see in Chicago, the museums are amazing. And you can buy a single pass for all the big touristy things for a discount.
Also visit some 'new deal' era civic buildings.. they have amazing architecture, artwork and murals.

You can drive serious distances in a few hours too, so if there are things in Illinois or even Wisconsin(House on the Rock!, Bronze Fonz, that guy who puts Trucks up trees ), Michigan, Indiana or Iowa(Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque!) you think you might like to see, budget for a road trip and an overnight stop. State Parks are always worth visiting too.

Also... pack along some antihistamines that agree with you, even if you don't usually suffer from hayfever, strange pollens can get you.

Your standard issue visa debit card should work almost everywhere, but you may have to run it as a 'credit' transaction. and you can withdraw cash from a machine. 'chip and pin' is a thing in the US now... but your card might not authorise that way... if in doubt, try running it as a credit transaction.

Tell your bank that you are going overseas, tell them to flag your account accordingly. DESPITE THIS... your card may be blocked anyway. If you are lucky, they will call you (make sure your bank has your mobile number and that you have international roaming turned on) before you have an embarrassing encounter at checkout. Don't Panic. Usually you just have to call the number on the back of the card identify yourself and confirm your last three transactions to get it sorted.

For shopping... re.TAD .. visit the mall in Schaumburg(?) everything is there... then have your BF take you to a Sybaris Suite to rest your feets.

ETA... Enjoy your time together, LDR's are not easy.. so make memories
Oh... I completely forgot about electric kettles not being common in america. o_o They are a staple household item over here, even more so than a microwave, so it seems so strange to me.

I got authorisation from the ESTA thingy already. Do I need to do anything else it order to enter under the Visa Waiver Program? There doesn't seem to be any separate forms to fill in for that or anything? At least, not that I can find. Is it automatic when you complete the ESTA?

I don't have access to a car or anything so no roadtrips, I'm afraid. I do have a local tour guide though! State parks do sound awesome, america is such a huge place I never really know where to begin!

I hadn't even thought of the antihistamines, that's a really good point. I get hayfever anyway, so I think antihistamines along with travel sickness medicine is important for me.

I never thought about debit cards either. I'm taking a fair amount in cash with me, but telling the bank about my trip might be a good idea in case I run out of money. Or I can make my boyfriend pay for it, that's what he's there for, right? =p

That sybaris place looks amazing! =D And thank you so much for all the good advice! =D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad View Post
Crumbling's point about banks reminded me of another one. An increasing number of web sites monitor where you are logging in from, and make you jump through some extra hoops if you suddenly log in from a strange place. So make sure that you are current on whatever your back-up items are (as in: if it texts your mobile as a security check, make sure it is the number you will be using. If it uses security questions, make sure you know the answers you gave if they are not completely obvious, etc).
Ah, I hadn't thought of that either! I tend not to have my mobile linked up to websites at all but I should probably prepare myself for that too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyantha Reborn View Post
And if you can, get health/life insurance for the trip - no real free heathcare in the Us, just in case you get hurt!
I have travel insurance, which includes health insurance as a part of it. =) 30 for 8 days, and it also includes compensation if any of the flights are cancelled or anything. My mother wouldn't stop nagging me about it until I took her a physical, printed copy of my travel insurance confirmation and now she is keeping that!
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:30 PM   #14
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Do I need to do anything else it order to enter under the Visa Waiver Program? There doesn't seem to be any separate forms to fill in for that or anything? At least, not that I can find. Is it automatic when you complete the ESTA?
They'll give you a short form to fill out on the plane (put a pen in your carryon)
asking you if you're a communist or other kind of enemy of the American peoples etc. They'll also take a photo and scan your fingerprints and ask a couple of questions at the immigration desk.
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Old 03-23-2017, 01:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crumbling View Post
They'll give you a short form to fill out on the plane (put a pen in your carryon)
asking you if you're a communist or other kind of enemy of the American peoples etc. They'll also take a photo and scan your fingerprints and ask a couple of questions at the immigration desk.
Ah, okay, that all sounds manageable. Thank you for putting my mind at rest!
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:47 AM   #16
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An increasing number of web sites monitor where you are logging in from, and make you jump through some extra hoops if you suddenly log in from a strange place.
Don't tell me - the drama of my life. As someone who travels a lot and uses VPN, it's a nightmare.

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Originally Posted by Crumbling View Post
DO look up things you want to see in Chicago, the museums are amazing. And you can buy a single pass for all the big touristy things for a discount.
Also visit some 'new deal' era civic buildings.. they have amazing architecture, artwork and murals.
Totally second this recommendation- they're too often overlooked in Chicago.

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Originally Posted by loopytheone View Post

I'm taking a fair amount in cash with me,
Do not do this!

2 reasons:

1. It's literally a waste of money.
You get the worst rates on exchanging cash. Also - many banks these days don't even do it any more, so you might even have trouble finding a place.

2. It's the unsafest thing you can do.
Should something happen - cash is always gone. With plastic money, you can have the cards blocked - and credit cards even have an automatic anti-fraud insurance.
If you don't have a credit card, get one - you really need it traveling.

Like with the (meaningful) insurance you mentioned - it will cover everything by reimbursement, but you will have to pay upfront. Be it medical care, new plane tickets, etc. - it will be extremely complicated to get any of these things without a credit card.

Should your bank put up a fuss, get your mother to co-sign and vouch for you. (My mom still vouches for one of my credit cards which was the first one I ever had and insisted on getting for exactly those above named traveling purposes when I was 18.)

Have a great trip!
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Old 03-24-2017, 09:49 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by agouderia View Post
Do not do this!

2 reasons:

1. It's literally a waste of money.
You get the worst rates on exchanging cash. Also - many banks these days don't even do it any more, so you might even have trouble finding a place.

2. It's the unsafest thing you can do.
Should something happen - cash is always gone. With plastic money, you can have the cards blocked - and credit cards even have an automatic anti-fraud insurance.
If you don't have a credit card, get one - you really need it traveling
Plus it can be confiscated without cause by border agents/TSA if they 'believe' it is drug or crime related.
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Old 03-25-2017, 02:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agouderia View Post
Do not do this!

2 reasons:

1. It's literally a waste of money.
You get the worst rates on exchanging cash. Also - many banks these days don't even do it any more, so you might even have trouble finding a place.

2. It's the unsafest thing you can do.
Should something happen - cash is always gone. With plastic money, you can have the cards blocked - and credit cards even have an automatic anti-fraud insurance.
If you don't have a credit card, get one - you really need it traveling.

Like with the (meaningful) insurance you mentioned - it will cover everything by reimbursement, but you will have to pay upfront. Be it medical care, new plane tickets, etc. - it will be extremely complicated to get any of these things without a credit card.

Should your bank put up a fuss, get your mother to co-sign and vouch for you. (My mom still vouches for one of my credit cards which was the first one I ever had and insisted on getting for exactly those above named traveling purposes when I was 18.)

Have a great trip!
Well I'll be taking my debit card with me as backup incase anything happens, but I really can't afford to use it if at all possible. I tend to spend less money if I have cash instead of just a card and I honestly can't afford to be spending what's in my bank account; my 'income' (disability benefit, basically) is being cut by a third this month and I need the money to pay my gas/electric/water bills. The cash I have is stuff that was given to me as gifts throughout the year so it was already set aside.

As for actual credit cards (rather than debit cards) .... nope nope nope. Just no. I know they are very useful for some people but as somebody who lived in poverty growing up because of other people's recklessness with credit cards... I just can't.
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Old 03-27-2017, 05:04 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by loopytheone View Post
The cash I have is stuff that was given to me as gifts throughout the year so it was already set aside.
I'd advise against carrying large amounts of cash too...
If you deposit the cash in your account (or open an entire other account) you can withdraw it in dollars from US ATMs as you need it. The exchange rates from your bank are usually no worse than from a bureau de change. And you're less likely to get stuck with lots of currency you'd have to change back.

A prepaid card is also an option... can't overspend on one of those.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:48 PM   #20
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Other peculiar Americanisms of which you should be aware:



The WC is referred to as a 'bathroom', even if there is no bath contained therein. In public places (retail, tourist places, etc), such facilities may be referred to as 'restrooms'. Toilet paper is politely referred to as 'bathroom tissue'.

Carbonated soft drinks may be called soda, pop, or coke (even if it's not cola). There is no Bitter Lemon.

Be prepared to hear religious-sounding phrases used as pleasantries ("bless you," "have a blessed day," or the like).

'Fanny' refers to one's backside, not the part of anatomy referenced in the British Isles, so don't be freaked out to hear it used in public.



I'm sure there are other examples, but these are the ones that commonly strike me.


Enjoy your trip.
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:06 PM   #21
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Oh, yeah: They think they won the War of 1812.

Just nod and smile.
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:16 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by FreeThinker View Post
Oh, yeah: They think they won the War of 1812.

Just nod and smile.
Hey now, maybe we didn't gain any territory, but we kept what we had. For a nation that was barely in its thirties, that's a pretty big victory.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:42 PM   #23
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*nod*

*smile*
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:33 AM   #24
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*nods and smiles*

Am I doing this right, FreeThinker?
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Old 03-28-2017, 10:18 AM   #25
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Oh, yeah: They think they won the War of 1812.

Just nod and smile.
Aww so cute. Yep little brother, you Canucks sure won one. Honest you did.
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