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TRAVEL TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS

Here you will find a helpful list of tips when traveling to Greater Palm Springs.

Currency

All providers accept the U.S. dollar. It is good to know that outside of the Palm Springs International Airport, currency exchange facilities are limited. One exception is Chase, a popular American bank, which will exchange almost any international currency. Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted. It is also good to note that many American businesses are unable to cash travelers' cheques.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited indoors throughout most of California. No smoking is allowed in any enclosed spaces, with a few exceptions, including clearly-marked smoking areas in select public facilities (such as airports) and hotel and motel rooms clearly designated for smokers. These regulations are set by the State of California and supersede any conflicting local ordinances.

Driving & Car Rentals

The legal driving age in California is 16, but most major car rental agencies (Hertz, Budget, Avis and Enterprise) have a higher minimum age to rent a vehicle. Car rental agencies usually require the primary renter be at least 25 years of age, although secondary drivers can occasionally be 21 years of age. Rental agencies require both a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance; all agencies also offer their own supplemental insurance.

All driving in the United States is done on the right-hand side of the road. Major access arteries are called freeways in California, and Interstate 10 (I-10) is the main freeway serving Greater Palm Springs. Speed limits are measured in miles per hour (MPH); in residential areas, they usually top out at 25 MPH (40 km/h). On freeways in rural areas, speed limits can be set as high as 80 MPH (120 km/h), while speed limits on freeways cutting through metropolitan areas are often set at 55 MPH (88 km/h). Freeway speed limits can change quickly, and drivers are urged to pay close attention to all marked signage.

It is also important to know that it is illegal to talk on a mobile phone while operating a moving vehicle in California. Additionally, it is illegal to be intoxicated when driving as is the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in any vehicle. Sobriety checkpoints set up by police are popular, especially on weekend evenings and holidays, and drivers are encouraged to find alternate modes of transportation if they’ve been drinking.

In addition to car rentals, ride-sharing services, Uber and Lyft, are prevalent in Greater Palm Springs.

Electricity

Electronics in the United States operate on a 120 volt, 60-hertz charge. Adapters (which accommodate different pin sizes on electronics that operate on universal voltage) are fairly easy to find at most major hotels and electronic stores.

Time Zone

Greater Palm Springs is on Pacific Standard Time (PST). We are three hours behind New York City and three hours ahead of Hawaii.

Medication & Prescriptions

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities; a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctor’s note is required on all medication entering the U.S.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited indoors throughout most of California. No smoking is allowed in any enclosed spaces, with a few exceptions, including clearly-marked smoking areas in select public facilities (such as airports) and hotel and motel rooms clearly designated for smokers. These regulations are set by the State of California and supersede any conflicting local ordinances.

Tipping

Tipping is a common and necessary practice in the United States. Usually, a gratuity of 15 percent is left for bartenders, waiters and taxi cab drivers, although it is customary to offer 20 percent to wait staff providing exceptional service. Doormen usually receive $2 for their service, as do parking valets. Bellhops should generally be tipped $2 per bag, and housekeeping is generally tipped $2 per night. It should be noted that more hotel and dining establishments are automatically including a gratuity or “service charge” on the bill; it is not necessary to tip a second time when that happens. Additionally, groups of eight or more can usually expect to be automatically charged a service fee at most dining establishments.

In Case of an Emergency

In case of an emergency, dial 911 from any phone to have police, fire or paramedics dispatched to your location. Most nations have a consular presence in Los Angeles, which is located about two hours from Greater Palm Springs. Most international embassies are located in Washington DC, which has a three-hour time difference ahead of Greater Palm Springs.