I'm going to the US for the first* time. Would you guys and gals kindly share some tips?

It’s that time of the year again, folks! :tada: Silly me is going abroad on a trip once again. :flight_departure:

This time last year, I was asking you guys about Western Europe in winter. You guys gave me heaps of valuable advice, from beer brands to ghost walks and pizza. With your help and my survival skills, I came back alive with only three blisters on each foot!

So, I need your help again. For lack of a better way to say it, I’m a huge pudding who has no idea how to traverse the Freedom Land :tm:. Mainly because dark tales speak of guns been readily-available on Walmarts, anti-vaxxers hauling their frail kids around, Macy’s and, worst of all: obligatory tipping at restaurants.

I mean gee I am scared. :worried:

:sparkles: I’ll be staying with my family in Boston, MA for 2 weeks (from Dec. 26th to Jan. 8th)

SOME CONTEXT :open_book:

*I’m visiting my family for the first time since I was 4 years-old, which is absolutely insane!

Tiny bit more about my family, for the curious

I was born and raised in Brazil. Some of you might not know this, but I’m also a US citizen. :brazil: :us:

Without going on for too long about my family on my father’s side, for lack of will and to preserve my privacy, let’s say I didn’t have the money to visit them, ever. My tickets were paid for by them – it’s a Christmas gift.

Worth noting I have a cousin around my age who just graduated from Arts college – she’s super rad.

MY PLANS - sleep :sleeping_bed:

I’ll be staying with my aunt, cousin and uncle at their apartment in Boston. So bread and breakfast is absolutely covered!

MY PLANS - food :hamburger:

As always, this is the main thing I struggle with. I don’t eat red meat and I’m allergic to seafood. I also have low blood pressure so I never leave the house without something to snack on. Please share your cheap food chains, markets and general food advice with me! I don’t have a problem eating fast food on occasion, and love trying exotic food!

MY PLANS - culture :art:

My favorite part of trip planning! Although I’m happy to stay cooped up with my family during Christmas and New Year’s, I’ll want to have some “me time” walking around and exploring the city as well. I’ve never been to Boston and I only hear things like “it’s full of people who think they are European.” I’m being 100% honest when I say I have no idea what that means and why all other big cities hate on Boston but whatever lmao.

ANYWAYS, I hear NYC is easily reachable by train and if you know me you know I’m a museum hoe and if you know anything about NYC you can put two and two together and everyone knows that 2+2 = MoMa. I know I’m being pedantic by explaining this simple and obvious equation but anyways. They have the Starry Night and I have a black set of clothes so you can put two and two together and understand I want to mourn for Vincent while crying looking at his masterpiece. Oh yes.

So you guys have any idea what I can do around the Boston area? Or things I could do for a weekend in NYC?

I’m super interested in wild life and national parks, even thought I understand that 1. I’m not going to Wyoming cries in Yellowstone and 2. It’s winter. But if anything nature-ish is open, please let me know! I hate aquariums and zoos but apparently the New England Aquarium is amazing so I might pay a visit.

I’m for sure going to:

  1. Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
  2. Fall on my butt on a skating rink
  3. Visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  4. Visiting Dartmouth College with my cousin


Can’t wait to cry and I’m hoping my aunt will crying more so I can dry her tears and pretend I’m not absolutely moved while I shake to death in the middle of winter. It’ll be fun. :butterfly:


Wowee, another trip look at you! Good luck with ICE agents. Pretend you’re not latina, Cora :rofl:

All jokes aside, I hope you have great time with your family!


I remembered someone posted an interesting resource on my thread. Was wondering if it might help? :slightly_smiling_face:


This is mucho ( check my insane spanish skills ) exciting! Make sure to share some photos with us :slight_smile:

As for food i have even harder time with it being a vegetarian though i’m sure even 'muricans have some vegi options these days?


Regretabbly Boston isn’t really in the wheelhouse of what I am familar with… but let me be of some assistance:

Here is the US National Parks service’s info on state/national parks in Boston.

Technically, tipping is not mandatory/obligatory… It is just because restaurants want to front the overhead cost of having staff onto the customer.

Boston may not be the place for exotic food, all my recommendations are out cause Boston is for me, a place to get good fish… If you can find an Aldi grocery store, they are great cheap stores for buying groceries.


Yeah but we all do tip, so while it’s not mandatory is sort of expected? . Well at least i always do tip .

taps himself on a shoulder


Yeah, it is the social norm, and I myself do tip. However, I find it important that I don’t ever forget what tipping is.


Thanks everyone for the replies so far! I’m currently on a train to the SP Intl. Airport (GRU) to accompany a friend durig his overlay, so I finally have some time to reply.

Thank you so much! Will look into this and update the thread accordingly. Perhaps you have some NYC suggestions?

THANKS so much for this as well! It’s always good to know which supermarkets to shop at.

I like fish. So I’ll look into that too!

First off: you have mad Spanish skills. Second off: last I heard McDonald’s has veggie options, so I’m considering myself saved. :joy:

Hehe! Thank you. Glad you reminded me of myself. Will also look at the other suggestions on your thread.



Unless it has changed since I left, The reason most people tip:

The federal government assumes the servers gets tips and takes that into consideration in what they take. I think the amount is 15%(not sure). So if you don’t tip or leave a penny for every person/table that person waits on the government takes 15% regardless.You don’t tip at Rotten Ronny’s(McDonald’s), KFC etc. They are paid minimum wage usually.

Have fun. I have not been in my homeland for almost 10 years and right now, you couldn’t pay me to go. KEEP YOUR PASSPORT on you AT ALL TIMES!!!


People don’t usually tip at fast food places…

But in restaurants, the wait staff is paid typically lower than minimum wage, with the expectation that they will get the extra (and most do) through tips. If they have a slow shift and the tips are poor, they may end up making less than minimum wage on that shift.

On the other hand, I had a friend who worked as a bartender in a busy bar after college, and for several years, his tips were paying more than his other full-time day job. He considered quitting his day job but ultimately decided against it.

Some restaurants will automatically pend on 18% tip on the pretax subtotal if you have a group of 5 or more people. Standard accepted rate is 15%, more is always appreciated. I usually do 20-25% because of family members and close friends who have spent a lot of time working in the food service industry. Standard tip on delivery is 10%.

Unfortunately I have not much experience with Boston and I do know that certainly most of the well known regional food is seafood related being a port city. However, in all of these cities there are plenty of opportunities to grab authentic international cuisine, which is what I typically look to getting when I travel.

I agree with delenn in that you should keep your passport with you. And perhaps don’t look outside when you are riding passenger in a car. One of my college roommates was from Boston, he self-referred to his driving style as “Masshole” driving.


Guys. I’m a lone woman traveller who has lived her entire life in Brazil. I always have my passport and documents with me in case my body ends up in a latrine and needs to be identified haha

Like… seriously.

So thanks so much for worrying @delenn13 but I’ll be fine in that sense! I have special hidden pockets for travelling ocasions (as well as concerts or outdoor activities) to keep all my documents and emergency money hidden. :blush:

I didn’t understand what you said about looking outside in a car? I’m really confused lmao

Also tipping 20%-25% sounds INSANE to me when converting to reals. I’m sure I’ll barely be able to afford food when I have to eat out because I’m only taking like… 500 dollars.


People randomly cutting in unexpected direction, passing in the wrong lane, etc… Crazy drivers… lol

When you get a bill, you will have the pre-tax subtotal, the tax amount, and then the total, and you can add an additional tip. And while 20-25% is pretty nuts sounding, I am not saying you should do that. I am just saying that’s what I do. Standard is 15%. But the best way to save money is to actually go to smaller family-owned restaurants, they often serve excellent foods without being price-bloated. Big-name places have small portions, very expensive drinks, and they are selling their name… Figure out what your family in Boston does in terms of going out for foods and such.


I think the biggest thing is to not overly worry about anything. You’ll be in a big city with virtually every amenity available and Americans are, contrary to some stereotypes, pretty friendly overall.

Other than that, it’s going to be cold and possibly snowy, so be prepared. I’d recommend getting some sort of roaming/international data plan on your phone so you can reliably look up directions/questions/etc.

Yelp is usually pretty good at finding places to eat with dietary restrictions. Most restaurants also have their menu online, and you can also call and ask about specific things. In the last 5-10 years US restaurants have become a lot more accommodating of dietary stuff. As for tipping, 15% is fine, 20% is great but certainly not required (I usually do 20% because it’s easiest to calculate in my head). I wouldn’t worry about cost too much, there should be plenty of cheap places to eat in Boston.

Most importantly, have a good trip!


Yes, this is a carryover from the great depression when it was first implemented to help prevent restaurants from needing to lay off workers to stay open. It has persisted afterwards for… reasons.

Definitely keep your passport on you, it is always handy to have.

I think the NPS should also have a portal for New York too.


Lmao @Enki come check out Maoski being worried about my reaction to crazy drivers

Seriously my dude people here drive on the sidewalk I ain’t even kidding :joy:

Thanks for the heads up, though! Always look both ways before crossing the street is a universal tip. :blush:

Thanks @hivefleetbothan for explaining the tipping thing. I seriously had no idea. Cool to know its origins! Too bad it’s part of the culture now.

Thanks so much for reminding me! I always forget. They usually have them at airports, but Ill ask my aunt about carriers to try and get a weekly “pay-as-you-go” plan, instead of a prepaid one – since I’m only staying two weeks.

Thank you! Will defo install to have a look on what’s available in the Boston area.

you’re all very sweet for helping and I really appreciate it! Best online community? Absolutely. :yellow_heart:


That’s pretty crazy that you haven’t seen your family since you were four. Wish I had some good advice, but these wonderful people will help you out like they have already. Good luck on your trip @coralinecastell!


Senna was the only non-barbeiro of all of Brazil’s population.


I’ve no knowledge of US whatsoever in terms of what could be good to visit.

BUT, if you happen to end up nearby Chicago you could visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, which I was told is quite neat and the only remnant of the famed White City

It also houses The Great Train Story, a 3,500ft2 HO scale train layout, which is the only reason I know about the museum to begin with because I’m quite fond of those.

There’s also a Poke-center in NYC, if that’s something that cheeses your onions.

Good look with your traveling shenanigans :hugs:
Isn’t it crazy that Mc Donald’s salads have more calories than their burgers?


OK. You just prompted me to have a half-hour long conversation with my dad that started with

“What’s White City, Chicago?”

“It was part of a World’s Fair.”

“Part of what?”

“World’s Fair.”

“No, I got it. I mean, what’s that?”

“Oh, you’ve never heard of them? They user to be [well-informed explanation].”


“Yeah, I think they’re having one in Dubai in 2020. Check it out.”

“Oh my God. ARGENTINA IS HOSTING ONE IN 2023? But what are these? Like how have I never heard of them before? What’s going on?”

“Because you’re young and innocent and naive.” pats my shoulder and leaves

Guys wtf. This led me down a rabbit hole that ended up in this article:

What happened to the World’s Fair? On April 30th, which marks the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, the question becomes especially poignant. How did the global cultural events that inaugurated broadcast television (New York 1939), built the Eiffel Tower (Paris 1889), and introduced the world to the Ferris Wheel (Chicago 1893) disappear?

For reference, I think the Eiffel Tower is one ugly piece of metal, but at least I now know its construction had a context, contrary to my previous belief that they just built it because they could and because they had no sense of aesthetics.

Also @Inferry what’s a “Poke-center”… like… the food bowls? I’m so confused about everything today.

As for salad: nah, sauce be one caloric biatch. And thanks for the positive energies! :blush:


Somehow never replied to this. Haven’t been to Boston like most here, but I had a friend who lived there for a while and after moving away still flew in to work (somehow it worked money wise, idk how). He praised their public transport system, but you probably won’t have to worry about that since you’ll be with family.

Be ready for snow. Lots and lots of snow.

@coralinecastell no it’s the Pokémon Center/store haha.

Times Square was pretty cool to see and shop around at, but super crowded. I do recommend researching and trying to find some New York Pizza. Like a hole in the wall place that’s been there like 80 years, it’ll be pretty great stuff. Unfortunately can’t remember the one I ate at.

Edit: in terms of kinds of food you’ll find literally anything in big cities like that, it’s just a matter of reviews and price points. It’s a shame about the seafood (is it just shellfish and the like or actual fish too?) though.