Earlier in the week I took a Time Online article suggesting that foreigners avoid traveling to the US and looked at the advantages to traveling to America. The article is limited and doesn’t make a good argument, besides the hassles of visa and border security.

There are other valid disadvantages when considering a trip to the US that should be weighed as well before any vacation.

  • Poor Public Transportation – Getting around from one big city to another is often easier than going 10 miles in Miami. Many of the major cities lack subways, appreciable numbers of taxis, or a decent bus system. If you plan on traveling outside of a big city, forget about it. You will need to rent a car.

  • Lack Of Reciprocal Health Care – Most health care in the US is private and the country does not have any reciprocal agreements with other nations. What this means is that if you break your leg while visiting, you will have to pay for the medical costs up front (or go home in a lot of pain). This is not that case with many European nations that have reciprocal agreements with the US.
  • Loss Of Privacy – Foreigners entering the US must now have all 10 fingerprints scanned and stored indefinitely in a database somewhere. Your biometric data maybe recorded, along with other information about you, and used for any number of purposes that are not made public. The argument that those who are innocent have nothing to hide doesn’t take into account that this information may be stolen, abused, or given to foreign governments without your consent.
  • Long Distances Between Cities – Although it’s cheap to get around once you’re inside of the country, it will cost you time. Whereas in Europe you may be able to hop from Paris, to Amsterdam, and London all in the span of a day or two, forget about seeing Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland in the same about of time. You’ll also have to fly, missing out on all the places and nature in between.
  • Incompatible Standards – A minor hassle for most things, but you’ll have to bring power outlet converters, use Skype when you have Internet access instead of a cell phone, and learn (or convert) what a mile, foot, and gallon is in metric.
  • Language – Many people in the US don’t know a second language and if they do it’s Spanish. Unless you’re sticking to the heavily tourist areas it will be extremely difficult to make it without knowing English. You may be looked down upon if you don’t know English or treated as if you’re unsophisticated.
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Obtaining a valid visa to visit the US is difficult and questioning at the border can be tough. Scientists, engineers, and other intellectuals (believe it or not) are likely to face increased scrutiny. Despite the disadvantages listed about, I still think the benefits are far greater. Consider that the Japanese also take fingerprints upon entry or that the French aren’t too helpful if you don’t speak the language.

The US does need to take a look at the points mentioned above and foster the dwindling tourist industry here. Don’t let your preconceptions become a disadvantage. As James commented,

Once you get past our surly customs agents people realize that like any other country there are plenty of good people, from New York to mid-Wyoming cowboy country. Whenever I meet someone on the street or on the train I always be as helpful as I can and wish them a great trip??

How do you weigh the benefits on coming to the US?

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[photo by: Pianoman75]