Texas is located in the south-central portion of the continental United States. Texas and Mexico are separated by the Rio Grande River, which opens up into the Gulf of Mexico. The Texan climate is hot year round, so be prepared for high temperatures day and night and an extremely high level of humidity. Texas is often referred to as being a country of its own due to the strongly independent attitude of its residents and its considerable geographic size. Many aspects of the old “wild west” and Mexican culture still thrive on Texan soil, with modern cities (some of the largest in the United States) intermittently interrupting the old fashioned feel. Dallas, Houston, and Austin stand out in particular as metropolitan hubs of activity.
Texas has been a hotbed of music innovation, pioneering the Mexican-influenced tejano and conjunto music, as well as mariachi, western swing, jazz, country, blues, and more recently electronic, indie, and punk rock. The city of Austin is considered one of the biggest musical incubators in the US, with a community that popularized artists from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Ghostland Observatory. Austin is currently home to a number of popular indie rock bands, and Houston has long been known for its Southern hip-hop scene.
The Texans themselves are one-of-a-kind. They are known for being extremely proud of their football, cattle, and oil. Cowboy boots, cowboy hats, oversized belts, and spurs are part of everyday attire and can be seen everywhere - on the ranch, in the city, in church, at a bar, and on the dance floor. The old ranching mindset of “work hard, play hard” weighs heavily on Texans. They love to work hard, but once the sun has set it is all about dancing, drinking, and relaxing. Be sure to grab some Tex-Mex and BBQ while in the Deep South, and do not be surprised if dinner turns into a two-hour event. Texans move at a slower pace, so sip your margarita, order some more homemade guacamole with chips, and take it all in.
- How do I get to Texas? How do I get around once I'm there?
- What do I need to know about money?
- Do I need a Visa?
- What is the climate like?
- What are business hours?
- What are some laws that I should be aware of?
- What are some local customs that I should be aware of?
- Anything else I need to know?
How do I get to Texas? How do I get around once I'm there?
Texas has several major airports, including Dallas/Fortworth International Airport, Austin-Bergstorm International Airport, and Houston Intercontinental Airport. The term ?everything is bigger in Texas? definitely rings true when it comes to travel. Just because you are flying into Texas does not mean that you are home free upon arrival The cities are very large, and where you stay will determine whether or not you will need to rent a car.
If you are staying in Houston or Dallas, a rental car is highly recommended, as these cities are a bit more spread out and relying on taxis can be difficult. In Austin, if you book your hotel relatively close to your event destination, it will not be hard to find a taxi, rent a bicycle or just walk.
The public transportation system in Texas is a bit underdeveloped. If you are in the downtown metropolitan areas, there is usually a tram/train running that can take you from point A to point B. However, since Texas is so spread out, taking the bus to the other side of town can, in many cases, take hours.
What do I need to know about money?
Most major American and international banks have a strong presence throughout Texas, therefore, it is unlikely that you will have a problem finding an ATM when you require cash. Many places accept major credit cards.
Tipping is standard practice across America. In city restaurants, tipping 15% of the bill is the minimum expected, and high-end restaurants expect around 20%. Bartenders expect $1 per drink. Taxi drivers and hairdressers expect 10% to 15%. Skycaps at airports and porters at nice hotels expect $1 a bag or so.
Do I need a Visa?
Entry requirements for the United States continue to evolve as the country fine-tunes its national security guidelines. Everyone should double-check current visa and passport regulations before planning a trip. In general, the US Department of State is a good place to start if you are unsure of your status. Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the United States without a visa if they meet certain requirements. All Visa Waiver Program travelers must present a machine-readable passport at the U.S. port of entry to enter the US without a visa; otherwise a U.S. visa is required. CLICK HERE for more information about the Visa Waiver Program with a list of participating countries.
Please note that all travelers eligible to visit the US under the Visa Waiver Program must now obtain approval before they travel through the US' Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an online system run by the US government, determining the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, prior to setting out. Take a look at the ESTA website for more information.
What is the climate like?
Overall, the climate in Texas is very warm with a high level of humidity (unless you are in the panhandle or hill country where it is much cooler). In most regions, shorts and t-shirts are wearable all year long. Packing a sweater or jacket is recommended, as it can cool off at night. Keep in mind that jeans, and a nice button-down or top will get you in just about anywhere.
What are business hours?
Most stores and restaurants keep standard business hours that remain fairly uniform across the United States. General business hours are typically Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Malls usually stay open until around 9pm, Monday through Saturday. Bars close at 2am, liquor stores are open until 9pm Monday through Saturday, and all liquor stores are closed on Sunday.
What are some laws that I should be aware of?
Since most people use personal cars as their main form of transportation, police are very strict about drinking and driving. If you are pulled over for driving while intoxicated, you will be spending the night in jail, so think twice before getting behind the wheel after a night out.
Liquor is sold in state-controlled stores only, while grocery stores only sell wine and beer. These liquor stores are closed on Sunday and cease operations at 10pm or earlier during the rest of the week
What are some local customs that I should be aware of?
Most of Texas runs at a very slow and relaxed pace. If you are from a place like New York City, or somewhere else where quick hustle and bustle is the norm, be prepared to switch gears and embrace a more laidback attitude. ?Southern hospitality? is alive and well, so do not be thrown off if the locals strike up a conversation about your day or seem overly curious. They are not trying to pry; it is just their way of life.
Anything else I need to know?
Texas has more bars and churches in its large cities per square mile than anywhere else in the country, after Tennessee. Texans love God and love to drink.
While Texas is an extremely modern and developed state, the deep-seated pride of its residents and its bold history create an environment where remnants of the past are very much still present in some areas. This means that unfortunately, racism can still be a bit of a problem in some places, as can lack of acceptance of homosexuality, immigration, different religions, and other such issues.