“Why Americans Usually Stand 18 Inches Apart”

A US Travel Primer

By Kristen Cashman

I spent six delightful weeks exploring India with a friend. Deducing the ins and outs of Indian travel felt like negotiating an obstacle course at times! To eliminate the guesswork for visitors to the United States, we’ve listed some customs and regulations of U.S. travel.


  • Simply presenting your passport at your airline’s counter will do the trick.
  • Most U.S. airlines charge a fee for each piece of checked baggage for domestic flights. Per person fees range from $20 to $30 for the first bag and $20 to $40 for the second. However, a few airlines, such as JetBlue and Southwest, allow passengers to check the first bag free of charge. For international flights, many airlines do not charge for the first checked bag. The weight limit for each checked bag is generally 50 pounds (22.7 kg) for domestic flights.
  • Because of the checked baggage fees, more and more people opt to put everything in their hand baggage (a.k.a “carry-on”). They allow two pieces of carry-on baggage per passenger. One can go in the overhead bin and the other must fit under the seat in front of yours.
  • You do not need to put an airline tag on your carry-on after they have x-rayed it.
  • Travelling on SpiceJet in India, we were surprised to discover that there was no complimentary beverage service. Most U.S. airlines no longer offer free food. But even the budget airlines serve complimentary soft drinks, juices, coffee, and tea.
  • For onboard purchases of food, alcoholic beverages, and entertainment, airlines no longer accept cash. You must pay with a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card.
American Airline


  • Prepaid taxi counters don’t exist in U.S. airports. Instead, you will find a line of taxis at the curb outside the baggage claim.
  • Taxis are typically reliable and safe. They charge by the meter. So you can rest assured that the driver is charging you a fair price.
  • We drive on the right side of the road in the United States. I’d say it can take a while to get used to driving on the opposite side.
  • You must be 25 or older to rent a car from most rental companies. Some companies will rent to people twenty-one or older for an additional fee.
  • Most companies charge an extra per-day fee for each additional driver. Some companies, including Enterprise and Avis, allow the renter’s spouse to be included on the rental agreement free of charge.
American Taxis


  • Long-distance train and bus travel in the U.S. can be economical, but not always. Oftentimes you can find a plane ticket for only slightly more than bus or train fare.
  • Unlike in India, we don’t have loads of independent bus carriers to choose from. Greyhound is the primary nationwide carrier, although some areas have regional carriers as well . There is Peter Pan in the northeast and LuxBus America in Southern California and Nevada. In recent years, a new breed of budget bus companies has cropped up. Here’s a rundown.
  • Thankfully, long-distance buses have toilets onboard. On my ride from Goa to Pune I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that my A/C sleeper didn’t have one.
  • Amtrak is the only nationwide train carrier. Many cities have commuter lines that cover a wide radius around the city. Here is a very informative site about train travel in the U.S.:
Armtrak U.S.
  • Prices tend to be fixed in the U.S. Bargaining for the cost of travel expenses and merchandise is generally not an option.
  • Tipping is expected. Tip at least 15 percent of the pre-tax total in restaurants and bars as well as taxis, beauty salons. Restaurant servers are paid very low hourly wages and depend on gratuity to survive. So it is insulting to them if you tip less than 15 per cent.
  • in India, we noticed that people commonly stand very close to one another. Americans are big on their personal space. Body-language expert Patti Wood says Americans keep a minimum of roughly 18 inches between themselves and others, especially strangers. They so this even while standing in lines or in crowded travel hubs. So if you find someone stepping away from you or fidgeting uncomfortably if you’re within closer range, it’s nothing personal.
american traveler

Also Read: “Can A Jet Door Be Opened Mid-Air?” Flight Secrets From A Pilot

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