Things squirrels hate

How to Keep Squirrels Away

Keep Squirrels Away from Your Yard and Home

A squirrel may look cute and cuddly, but only from a distance. Once squirrels start getting into your yard, digging around and eating your plants or birdseed, they become much less precious and more of a pest. Not to mention, if one gets inside your home — now you’ve really got a problem on your hands! A squirrel can be a tough nut to crack (no pun intended). They’re quick, and a bit sneaky, so keeping them away from your home and yard is usually much easier said than done.  However, there are a few things you can do to protect your home and keep squirrels away from your property.

What About My Yard is so Attractive to Squirrels?

There’s a reason squirrels are camping out around your house. Below are the factors that attract squirrels to your property. 

Thick Vegetation

If you have lots of hedges and shrubs, you will probably notice squirrels running in and out of them. Squirrels don’t enjoy open spaces, for fear of their safety (read: they don’t want to be scooped up by a hawk). This is why they love the cover of thick vegetation or other areas around your home that provide shelter. To help prevent this, make sure to keep your hedges and bushes properly maintained. After all, a squirrel isn’t the only pest who will enjoy a place to hide in your yard! Not only will keeping your shrubs maintained help prevent pests, but it’s also an important part of yard maintenance. 

Food & Water

Maybe you want to have birds around your home, so you set up some bird feeders and a bird bath. While the birds will surely love it, unfortunately, so will the squirrels. A squirrel will do just about anything to get to the food in a bird feeder. More often than not, it’s extremely entertaining and results in some pretty funny videos. Without a doubt, these food and water resources in your yard are one of the reasons squirrels keep coming back. If you do keep food and water out for other animals or birds, try to keep it in a place where only they can reach it. Or, use specific bird feeders that are squirrel-proof.  


Squirrels are attracted to trees, especially tree varieties that produce nuts and fruit.  If your yard has trees, especially large, acorn-filled ones with lots of branches, chances are you’ve already noticed squirrels in them. There’s probably even little patches of ground where they have tried to bury their findings! Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to keep squirrels, or any wildlife, out of your trees. However, there are a few methods you can try to deter them. Squirrels nesting in your trees isn’t necessarily a bad thing — unless the trees are very close to your home. If the branches are close to or touching your home, squirrels could use them as a way to climb around on your roof or worse, get inside your attic. 

The Dangers of Having Squirrels in Your Yard

These little critters can cause more damage than you may think, which is why you should make it a priority to keep squirrels away from your home and yard.

Tree Stress

Squirrels will not only eat the fruits or buds on your trees, but they will gnaw on the bark, too. When done in excess, this can cause stress for your trees and result in damage, and possibly death. Sadly, younger trees and saplings won’t develop if stripped of their bark. 

Related: Does Tree and Shrub Fertilizer Actually Work?
Plant Destruction

Once a squirrel has stolen the fruits or nuts from your trees, it will try to bury them throughout your lawn. Not only will this ruin the look of your grass, but it poses a threat to any plants or flowers that are trying to grow as well. If squirrels get into your garden, they could uproot the roots of your plants or flowers and eat them. 

Food Theft

As we mentioned, squirrels will steal any type of food they can find. While this isn’t ideal for your lawn, it poses an even larger threat to commercial farms. When squirrels get into a commercial farm, they can steal and eat through a majority of its fruit. This can be especially harmful to the crops, and can negatively impact the productivity of the farm.

Home Damage

Just like any other rodent, squirrels love to chew. If given the opportunity, their tiny teeth can do some serious damage to your home. They can chew through wires and cause fire hazards, and destroy your attic’s insulation. What’s worse, once squirrels are inside your home they can begin nesting and quickly multiplying. 


Aside from making your home their own, these pests are threatening because of the number of diseases they carry. They can spread typhus, tularemia, plague, and ringworm to humans. Squirrels have a relatively short lifespan, and much of this is due to diseases — along with their poor decision-making skills when it comes to crossing the road. If you, your family members, or household pets contract one of these diseases, it could be extremely detrimental to your health!  Please note: If you find a squirrel in your home, always consult a specialist. Squirrels are quick and can lash out if they feel trapped or cornered. Never try to capture or remove a wild animal on your own!

Tips to Keep Squirrels Away

So, how can you keep squirrels away from your home? Here are a few tips and tricks that should help!

Plant a Variety of Squirrel-Proof Flowers

Surprisingly enough, there are a few plants a squirrel will steer clear from. While a squirrel isn’t generally picky, try planting some of these to keep them moving on from your yard:













All of these flowers are either bright in color or produce a strong odor that squirrels don’t particularly enjoy. Plant these around your garden or trees to help protect them from squirrel damage and add to the beauty of your landscape.

Use Strong Odors

Scents like white pepper, black pepper, and garlic are naturally unpleasant to a squirrel. The same goes for sweet smells such as peppermint.  Try spraying your plants and flowers with water and then sprinkling on pepper or peppermint oil to deter squirrels. If this technique seems to be keeping your yard or garden safe, reapply as frequently as needed! Don’t forget to sprinkle these scents on again after storms too. 

Spray Squirrel Deterrents 

The urine of predators will also keep squirrels away. If they can smell a predator in your lawn, they’re not going to be as willing to stick around.  Commercial repellants mimic the odor and are easy to apply. Coyote and red fox urine seem to work the best, so consider purchasing sprays or liquids that either contain or mimic these odors. In your attic, use towels doused in apple cider vinegar to deter squirrels. The strong odor should deter squirrels for a while, but the towels will need to be refreshed and replaced periodically to keep the deterrent effective.

Remove Sources of Food & Water

You can’t help if the trees in your yard bear fruit and nuts for squirrels to squander. Plus, there’s no sense in cutting down a perfectly healthy tree just to keep squirrels away! However, you now know food and water sources like birdseed and bird feeders will attract squirrels. The best option would be to remove these food sources completely, so a squirrel has no reason to stay. But, if removing them isn’t an option, try squirrel-proofing your bird feeders to keep them from eating what’s not meant for them.

Scare Them Away

Keep squirrels away by adding a statue or figurine of a predator into your space. While this might not be the aesthetic you were going for, the mere silhouette of an owl could send squirrels scurrying. A squirrel is naturally skittish, so the fear of being injured or eaten could keep them away from your lawn for good. Got more than just squirrels roaming around your home? We can help with other pests, too! Download our guide, The Killingsworth Way, to learn about our unique approach to wildlife and pest control. 

The Best Way to Keep Squirrels Away

While these methods of deterrence might keep squirrels away for a little while, the best option is always to consult with a wildlife removal specialist. Squirrels are small but still dangerous if threatened, and you never want to risk contracting disease.  Here at Killingsworth, we’ve handled our fair share of wildlife, so we know a thing or two about getting rid of pesky squirrels. We want to help you protect your yard and home from damage, while safely getting rid of wildlife in a humane manner. If you are having trouble trying to keep squirrels away on your own, schedule a wildlife service. We can come and take a look at what damage they are causing and what sources are attracting them to your home in the first place, so that they never become an issue again. 


10 Scents That Squirrels Hate (and How to Use Them)

Although cute from a distance, squirrels can be surprisingly destructive – especially when they set their sights on your home or garden. Squirrels mate and have offspring twice a year, meaning that you could be dealing with a rambunctious family of 2-4 squirrel kits more often than you’d like to.

Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, which they use food sources and shelter. You can repel squirrels using scents they hate such as, capsaicin, white vinegar, peppermint oil, coffee grounds, cinnamon, predator urine, garlic, dryer sheets, Irish Spring Soap, and rosemary.

Read on to learn more about what scents you can use to keep squirrels out of your home and garden. You’d be surprised how many of these options are in your kitchen right now!

Just to add – when you shop using links from Pest Pointers, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What Kind of Damage Can Squirrels Cause?

There are quite a few different types of squirrels, but they all seem to love fir and pine trees. 

Having a stand of either type of tree nearby most likely puts you in the immediate area of these heavily populated rodents. Unfortunately, they could see this as an open invitation to your home and food!

The main concern when it comes to squirrel damage is structural damage. 

Squirrels have long, lean bodies that fit easily into small spaces. Their dexterous hands – somewhat similar to our hands – have digits that aren’t technically fingers, but still allow them to grasp whatever they want.

Here’s the start-to-finish of how squirrels can get into your home and cause damage:

Outside of the home, squirrels are pests to gardens and bird areas. They dig up the soil, chew up vegetables, rob fruit trees, and make raids on bird feeders.

Oh, and squirrels can even eat your grass seed. More on that here.

For such small animals, they’re surprisingly destructive!

Squirrels Stay Away From Capsaicin

Unsurprisingly, squirrels hate spicy and/or hot scents. The capsaicin found in hot peppers is an irritant, which is why people scrunch up their noses, sweat, and get watery eyes when they consume spicy food.

The smell alone is enough to keep squirrels out of areas where you don’t want them. Both white or black pepper and chili powder are great options for sources of capsaicin

Black pepper tends to be spicier than white pepper, but either will work and can be purchased in any grocery store. Chili powder is made up of pulverized chili peppers, of which there are countless varieties.

Pepper and chili powder won’t just keep squirrels away; they’re also used as natural insecticides, so making a pepper or chili powder spray is a great idea for your garden.

You can either make your own spray, or get a ready made product that contains capsaicin

Squirrels coming up against areas sprayed with pepper and chili powder won’t want to hang around too long!

Squirrels Hate White Vinegar

The easiest and most natural way to get rid of squirrels is to create your own sprays. This is a pretty simple process! You’ll need a basic spray bottle, such as R2 Goods heavy duty plastic spray bottles.

Home-made sprays are not only easy to make, but they’re also incredibly affordable. You probably have most of the ingredients around the house already.

The great thing about this spray is that you can also add any essential oils you’d like. See below why peppermint oil is a great choice!

Keep in mind that although natural and beneficial in many ways, vinegar is acidic and can cause damage to delicate plants. If you’re using this spray in your garden, keep a close eye on plants to ensure they stay healthy and undamaged.

You’ll want to make sure that you dilute the white vinegar as well, as pure vinegar will corrode your plants. You should spray an object that can absorb the vinegar and place it NEAR your plants. Reapply as needed!

Additionally, make sure you don’t use apple cider vinegar to repel squirrels. The sweetness in the apple cider vinegar can attract flies.

Peppermint Oil Naturally Repels Squirrels

Aside from having a variety of health benefits, essential oils have been proven to keep pests away from both the home and garden.

Peppermint essential oil specifically is hated by squirrels. To them, the scent is overpowering and they’ll avoid it as much as they can. 

There are two ways to use peppermint in your home or garden: as a spray, or soaked into cotton balls or cloth.

Sprays are the obvious choice for keeping pests out of gardens, but cotton balls and cloth are a great option to shore up holes where the rodents might have found their way into your house. Soak cloth or cotton balls directly in the peppermint oil and use them to pack up any unwanted openings.

In the garden, peppermint oil should be diluted for everyday use. For every 16oz of water, add 20 drops of the essential oil. No need to add vinegar or soap – but make sure to keep an eye on your garden and treat it as needed when pests return.

If you’re not up for making your own essential oil spray, products like Mighty Mint’s Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray are easily found online and work just as well as chemical products.

Coffee Grounds Naturally Deter Squirrels

If you’ve been composting or just simply tossing your already spent coffee grounds, you now have a natural solution to repel squirrels.

Yes, squirrels hate the scents and feel of used coffee grounds. While there is no scientific evidence that coffee grounds repel squirrels, the fact is that used coffee grounds are an unfamiliar scent to squirrels and may signal that humans are nearby.

You can use coffee grounds as an all-natural fertilizer, to boot! Used coffee grounds are great for your garden. Additionally, this is one of my favorite methods for coffee drinkers as really, you don’t need to purchase anything else. Just simply empty your coffee filter by your garden!

For more effectiveness, drink more coffee. LOL.

Cinnamon Keeps Squirrels Away

Ah yes, cinnamon! If you’ve ever accidentally taken a large spoonful of cinnamon to the face, you’ll know just how spicy it can be. In small amounts cinnamon is a delicious spice. However, its’s a spice!

Cinnamon, specifically ground cinnamon, repels squirrels. This is because cinnamon in larger doses can infuriate the sinus cavities of a squirrel. To use cinnamon to repel squirrels, sprinkle a large amount around the area you’re trying to keep the squirrels away from

Ultimately, this method needs to be done in bulk in order to be effective. Additionally, since its a scent purely exposed on the ground, wind can blow the cinnamon away. Plus, you’ll need to apply every 4-7 days.

You can also use diluted cinnamon oil, combine it with a few drops of peppermint oil, spray and soak a rag, and tie it to a tree or post near your garden, tree or area you’re trying to protect. This combination will have a good shot of keeping squirrels away.

Predator Urine Repels Squirrels

While we want to keep it natural in the home and garden, some scents just aren’t worth getting naturally.

For example, predator scents. 

Coyote and fox urine will repel squirrels for obvious reasons. They’ll do anything to avoid their natural predators, and thinking that these two animals are roaming around frequently will keep them out of your yard and away from your home.

The easiest way to get this scent is to find a commercial manufacturer. They are surprisingly easy to find in outdoor stores or online. For example, American Heritage carries natural coyote urine in a 16oz bottle for a very affordable price. 

All it takes is a few shakes or sprays around the area you want to protect, and squirrels will take the hint right away.

If you’re interested, take a look at our guide on the best coyote urines here.

Squirrels Avoid Garlic

In addition to the options listed above, there’s another common kitchen item that will help you repel squirrels: garlic.

Do you have garlic in your kitchen right now? Well, good news for you is that you can start repelling squirrels right now. The reason squirrels avoid garlic is due to the pungent scent it provides. When applied properly, garlic can overpower the scent of other plants in the garden and make squirrels think that only garlic is prevalent.

You’ll want to finely crush the garlic cloves up and spread them in a concentrated area near the plants you’d like to repel. Keep in mind, the smell will fade after a day or two and you’ll need to reapply the garlic.

Another viable option is to use Colton’s Naturals Small Animal Repellent, which contains a base of garlic oil, peppermint oil, pepper oil, vinegar and water. All scents that squirrels hate!

Squirrels Hate The Scent of Dryer Sheets

Grey Squirrel eating hazelnuts

Did you know that dryer sheets have been touted as a naturally insect and rodent repellent for quite sometime? Most notably, farmers of orchards would tie dryer sheets along their deer fence to keep deer away.

Additionally, dryer sheets are one of the scents that mice, another rodent, hate as well.

The reason using dryer sheets as a squirrel deterrent is one of my favorite methods is simply because you already have dryer sheets in your home! Even better, if they don’t work for you, then you really haven’t wasted anything to find out that result.

To use dryer sheets to keep squirrels away, tie a good handful of them near the area you’re trying to keep squirrels from! Your attic, on a fence, or nearby your garden are all acceptable areas.

If you have a mint scented dryer sheet or another scented dryer sheet that is one of the scents squirrels hate on this list, thats a bonus. Otherwise, Bounce Dryer Sheets have been found to work quite well to repel squirrels due to their unique aroma.

Irish Spring Soap Can Repel Squirrels

Aromatic soaps ultimately have notes in their fragrance that can repel certain animals. Irish Spring Soap, with its woody aroma, can actually repel squirrels similar to how it repels raccoons.

If you’d like to read more on that, you can apply the same tactics in an article we wrote about using Irish Spring Soap to repel raccoons by reading here.

Rosemary Repels Squirrels

Rosemary can in-fact repel squirrels. Quite simply, squirrels just don’t like the scent of rosemary. You’ll need to be able to get a strong rosemary scent in order to repel squirrels. Otherwise, if there’s just a hint of rosemary scent, it won’t be enough to keep squirrels away.

You can create your own rosemary spray using rosemary essential oil, and properly dilute the scent with water and a carrier oil. There are plenty of recipes available online if you go this route!

Where to Use Repellents

While squirrels are destructive in general, there are a few key areas that they like to frequent where you should be using these scents whenever necessary.

Alternative Ways to Repel Squirrels

Squirrels are so prominent these days that the idea of trapping and releasing them seems ridiculous. If you get rid of one family, another will show up and take their place. Your best bet is management and deterrents.

Have a Family Pet

Because they’re prey animals, squirrels are incredibly aware of surrounding predators. While they often out-smart humans, dogs and cats pose more of a threat to these wily rodents, who see them as natural predators.

It takes a very agile dog and a very stealthy cat to actually catch and harm a squirrel. While that shouldn’t be your goal, just having a pet or two at home, roaming around the yard occasionally, will be enough to keep squirrels at the boundary.

Keep Up with Home Maintenance

Owning a home means endless to-do lists, and it’s easy to put some tasks at the top of the lists and others at the bottom. But keeping up with routine home maintenance – at least checking common problem areas – can help keep squirrels at bay.

Here are some tips and tricks to make your home squirrel-proof:

Welcome Wildlife

An overabundance of squirrels is a sign of an unbalanced ecosystem. Although having predators such as foxes might seem intimidating at first, they do wonders for keeping the squirrel population under control.

Learn to live in harmony with the wildlife around your home and they’ll take care of the rest. As soon as a coyote starts makings its rounds through the neighborhood, you’ll notice the squirrel population drop drastically.

Whatever you do, don’t feed or try to attract predators. They are still wild animals and should be treated as such.

Sit back, have a coffee, and watch nature take its natural course.

Grow a Garden

We get it, you might not have the space to grow an expansive garden that includes naturally squirrel-repelling plants. If you’re in a tight spot you probably want to focus on the flowers and vegetables you love the most.

Unfortunately, squirrels are just as comfortable in residential settings as they are in rural areas and they move so quickly that they don’t see humans as threatening most of the time.

If you can find a little space to grow some additional plants, the following could benefit you as squirrels naturally avoid them:

The above plants are relatively easy to find and inexpensive. Planting them right in the ground, or in planters around the area you want squirrels to avoid, can go a long way in keeping the rodents out of your garden or away from your house.

Call In the Professionals

If all else fails, check in with your local pest or rodent control company to see how they can help you. They may be able to provide guidance as to what exactly is attracting squirrels to your home and yard, and what the next steps are if you’re unable to combat them yourself.

It’s important to keep in mind that you should not touch or handle squirrels yourself, and to protect yourself from bites. A better option is to get in contact with a professional. Check out our nationwide pest control finder to get connected with a wildlife pro near you in seconds. Using our partner network helps support!

If you’re keeping up on home maintenance and come across a squirrel family or colony, wait until they vacate the area before moving forward with blocking entrances and using the deterrents mentioned above.

If you’re interested, here are some more ways that squirrels can damage your home.

Last Words on Squirrel Control

Luckily for you, there are a variety of scents that will keep squirrels away and under control. While these tree-dwelling animals might be cute to watch play around among the branches, they can cause a shocking amount of damage to the home and garden.

The majority of scents listed above can be found in most home pantries or supermarkets. Keep an eye out for the following:

Additionally, anything hot or spicy that can be turned into a DIY spray is a great option. Hot sauce and garlic are great examples. 

Place scents where needed, as needed, and make sure you’re paying attention to when squirrel activity seems to increase. At that point, you might need to re-spray or soak some cloth in the scent once again.

If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty, track down some predator urine. While it sounds unappetizing, squirrels are prey animals and will do everything they can to avoid areas where predators seem active. 

Throw on some gloves and sprinkle a little urine around the perimeter of your garden or home.

The most important advice we can give when it comes to squirrel invasions is to pay attention! 

The signs are there, and usually obvious, but you should be checking on the outside of your house regularly to make sure they haven’t infiltrated anywhere.

If you have a particularly bad squirrel population, take additional steps such as getting a furry friend, growing plants that squirrels naturally hate, or bringing in the professionals if the task gets overwhelming.


Carey, A. B. (2000). Effects of new forest management strategieson squirrel populations. Ecological applications, 10(1), 248-257.

Fitzgerald, M. (1983). Capsaicin and sensory neurones—a review. Pain, 15(1-4), 109-130.

Nevraumont, Peter N. (1998). Balance: Humanity and the Biodiversity Crisis. Princeton Press.

Stroud, Dennis C. (1983). An Evaluation of Burrow Destruction As a Ground Squirrel Control Method. University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

10 things dogs hate (but we keep doing)

Scientists conducted a real study, and found that many of the things that we do so often with our pets give them a lot of discomfort. In this article, we will talk about each of them in more detail!


Research has shown that more than 80 percent of dogs have at least 1 sign of stress or anxiety during hugs. Such signs include: lowered ears, sadness in the eyes (whites are visible), closed eyes, turning the muzzle away so as not to look into the eyes of the owner. Notice if your dog has these signs when you hug him.

Muzzle touching

If your dog backs away, turns away, or otherwise tries to avoid such contact when you touch it, refrain from it. This happens because touching from above is perceived by dogs as a threat.


When we walk our dog, we tend to think it's just a pet's way of going to the bathroom, but it's not! For our dog, walking is a way to get to know the world, to explore something new. Incorporate games and activities into your walks, and don't drag your dog home after a five-minute walk.


Rules and some kind of system are vital for dogs, otherwise the dog will be spoiled and uncontrollable. Must have, these are commands: “sit”, “come”, “place”, “wait”, “fu”, “no”. By training your dog, you build a positive relationship with him, increase his communication skills, allow him to emotionally discharge, and give his brain food for life.


Do not yell at the dog during punishment. This is not only useless, but harmful. Learn to express claims in a strict but calm tone, so the dog will understand you faster.


Unless the temperature is extreme, there is no need to dress the dog in clothes. This prevents the dog from regulating its body temperature through its natural abilities.


Dogs in general have a very poor tolerance for fear, some are even born with a genetic predisposition to feel fear often. Such dogs need to be taught to certain sounds from childhood, otherwise it will become a huge problem with age. Never scare your dog on purpose! If she was frightened, for example, by a hair dryer, you should not be amused by this. Instead, distract your dog with a sweetie and later show that it's not scary at all.


If your dog doesn't like your friend, don't force him to spend time with him and make him tolerate his attention. Pay attention to how the pet behaves, whether it is comfortable for him in this or that society.


If you like to tease your dog for fun, then initially he may well think that this is some kind of game. But if you get carried away with such behavior, you will soon lose the dog's trust and your authority in her eyes.


Dogs have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell and must be handled with care. So, certain smells can not only dull the scent of the animal, but also harm its health. Protect your dog's sense of smell! No need to spray perfume near her, etc.

©Alex Visnes specially for

*if you use materials, reference to the source is required

14 things that are annoying in the USA: tips, homeless people, expensive medicine

I love America and want to go back there again and again.

Antonida Pashinina

worked and traveled in the States

Author profile

I first visited the States through the Work Experience USA program in 2009 and spent the summer there. Under the same program, I returned to America in 2010, and in 2015 I received a visa for three years. During this time, I flew to the United States as a tourist three times: I visited New York, several cities in New Jersey, Boston, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Park, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Burlington and Stowe.

In the USA, I love amazing interactive museums, beautiful national parks, quality items and tech in stores. For the convenience of people, modern technologies are being introduced there - in Russia they appear much later. Even in America, in an amazing way, religions, traditions, cultural characteristics of different nations coexist in one place.

At first glance it seems that this is an ideal country. But there is still no perfection in the world. I will tell you about the things that shocked me in America at first.

A naked cowboy poses for a photo in Times Square. He is a local celebrity. registered his trademark and even sued M&M's, which used its image in advertising price tag. The fact is that it does not include tax: it is added only at the final calculation. The amount depends on the state. For example, in New York, you will have to pay an additional 8.875% of the cost of each item.

Tax can be calculated on I bought a Toshiba laptop from Best Buy. It cost $200⁣ (16,740 R). The tax amounted to $17.75⁣ (1485 R). The total price of the item is $217.75⁣ (R18,225).

Taxes must be paid not only for goods, but also for food in restaurants and cafes. In the check, they are marked in the tax column. Tax in New York does not apply to shoes and clothing worth up to $110⁣ (9207 R), food and medicines.

Over time, you get used to this system, but in the first days it can be difficult: you have to calculate the approximate cost of a thing in your mind.

A small bowl of takeaway soup costs $5.49 (R459) plus 49 cents (R41) for taxes. The total price is $5.98 (500 R)

Mandatory tips for everyone

In America, it is customary to tip almost everyone: the shuttle driver from the airport, the maids and peddlers of things in hotels, couriers, people who escort to the place at the stadium, bartenders. For example, in hotels after checking out, generous American tourists leave 5⁠—⁠20 $⁣ (418⁠—⁠1672 R), other travelers leave a few dollars.

The staff is always waiting for a bill from the client. At first I didn't know this. I remember the first time I took a shuttle from the airport. The mini-bus stopped at the hotels, the driver helped the passengers to take out their luggage, people handed him money, smiled and said goodbye. I watched this scene from the window and was perplexed: the passengers paid for the trip before boarding the shuttle — about $20⁣ (1674 R). I wondered why Americans thank the driver for doing his job? But I did not want to seem greedy or impolite, and I also handed the man a couple of dollars.

The main thing is to always tip the waiters. They receive a very small salary and rely on monetary gratitude from visitors. In cafes and restaurants, it is customary to pay at least 15% of the order. Tipping less than this amount means that you did not like the service. Many US residents themselves worked as waiters during their student years and understand what hard work it is. Therefore, they often leave more than 15%.

US Tip Guide

One day I was having lunch with American friends at an inexpensive restaurant. We ordered two courses and one dessert, no drinks. They brought us a bill of 40⁠—⁠50 $⁣ (3348⁠—⁠4185 R).

- How much for a tip - 15 percent? I asked.

“Well, no,” the guys said. — It's too little.

We left about 20 $⁣ (1674 R) - the cost of an average lunch. At the same time, friends often complained about the lack of money: they tried to study and work and were periodically broke. But tipping is sacred. They couldn't even think of paying exactly 15%.

Even if there is no cash, tips cannot be avoided. When paying with a card, the guest is given a check with the tips column, in which he enters how much he is ready to leave. Sometimes you need to circle one of the three reward amounts, such as 15%, 20%, or 25%. In rare cases, tips are included in the order.


How a student can see America

A man in the guise of a scary child takes money for tea for a photo. Attached to the right side of the baby bottle is the inscription: “Tipping, please.”

Bus drivers don't give change

There are no grandmother conductors in America who tear off tickets and count change. Passengers pay for the fare at the entrance: they swipe cards or throw money into the slot to get a ticket. All this is controlled by the driver. If the bill is large, you won't get change. I advise you to take the exact amount of money for travel or buy a travel card.

Poor public transport

New York, Washington, Chicago and other large cities have no problems with transport: they have a well-developed bus network and subways. In small towns, transport often works poorly. Most Americans have cars. The rest can call an Uber or rent a car, but this is always more expensive than public transport.

In Orlando, where many people go for Disneyland and Universal Studios amusement park, everything is very bad with buses: they run very irregularly. This is recognized even by the locals.

In 2017, I decided to save money and get from the airport to the host's house by bus. It was warm, and I traveled with one backpack. I was told that I could get there with a transfer, and then walk some more.

Upon arrival, I sadly got on the bus from the airport and in 40 minutes reached the final - a large covered station. A friendly African-American woman from the information service told me which bus I need. I sat down at the bus stop and waited. The bus didn't run. I waited for him for two hours, surrounded by the same sufferers. Only sporting interest did not allow me to give up and call Uber.

The bus finally arrived and I got to the right stop. It was already dark. I walked through the mud along the golf courses, neat houses and lawns. Cars passing by sometimes honked. One man leaned out of the window and shouted something after him. He was happy, and I was sad. It drizzled rain. My slippered feet got wet and covered with a layer of sand and clay. I walked along the blurred roadside and looked at the map on my phone. Half an hour later I found the right house. Americans wear shoes indoors, but I had to take off my shoes: my shoes looked so pathetic. I felt like Frodo returning from Mordor and swore I would never repeat the experience again.

After this incident in Orlando, I used Uber. One 9.5 km trip from home to the Universal Studios amusement park cost $10⁣ (837 R). I spent two days there and spent $30⁣ (2511 R) on a taxi. Once the owner of the house gave me a lift.

The traffic situation in Buffalo is no better. In 2018, I got stuck at night at a bus stop near Niagara Falls. There was not enough cash for a taxi. The money was on the card, but I couldn't call Uber because my phone was dead. As a result, I waited for the bus on an open-air bench for three hours and left for the hostel only after midnight, cold and tired.

During my college years, I spent summers in the small town of Stowe, Vermont, where at times I felt like I was in prison. There were no buses running around the city, I didn’t have a car. It was impossible to get anywhere without a car. You need new sneakers for work - you have to go, if you want to go to a large grocery store - you can’t get there on foot. And I'm not talking about entertainment. On weekends, it was possible to go to the large city of Burlington, but the bus went there only a few times a day. My friends and I missed it, and we had to catch a ride.

When I arrived in the big city after Stowe, I exhaled. Now I could easily get anywhere and not spend a fortune.

I rarely took a taxi: it is expensive and you need to leave a tip. If there was no public transport, she called Uber. By American standards, this is inexpensive, but with the current exchange rate of the ruble, it is ruinous

Only hamburgers in a cafe and tasteless products in a store

In America, some products differ from Russian ones. They sell soft, sweetish toast bread that lasts for weeks, and milk that doesn't turn sour, but becomes bitter. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are beautiful and large, but tasteless and watery. "Plastic" lettuce is not digested in the stomach.

Ilf and Petrov wrote in One-Storied America that the food seemed to them tasteless, tasteless

Not all cafes and restaurants serve delicious food. In megacities - New York, Washington and others - organic and healthy food is in vogue. It's not hard to find a bowl of vegetables and salmon there. This is more difficult to do in small towns. In typical American cafes, there is a lot of unhealthy food, and tastes are too pronounced: the menu is only fatty, fried, peppery and salty. They mainly offer pizza and hamburgers. Once I ordered a turkey with lettuce and tomatoes, but did not pay attention that it was about meat in a burger and a side dish. When they brought me a hamburger, I wanted to howl in despair.

A hamburger that was brought to me instead of the expected turkey and salad. By that time, I was tired of fast food, but there was no choice

In well-known chain fast food establishments, the food is also not up to par. It seems to me that the dishes in the Russian Subway and McDonald's are tastier than in the American ones. Other vegetables and cheese work wonders.

To be fair, plus America is in cultural diversity. Here you can try the cuisine of almost any country in the world. If you want good and inexpensive food, I advise you to look into Chinese, Indian, Jewish, Italian and other national cafes and street food outlets. If the budget allows, you can eat in expensive restaurants where food is brought from the farm. Dishes are served in small portions, and they are divinely delicious.

I've always been helped out by organic food shelves in stores: it doesn't contain chemicals or harmful additives, and it usually tastes better. Farm products can be bought at the markets. True, organic and farm food is more expensive than regular food. At Whole foods, you can buy a lunch made from quality ingredients, which includes salad, soup and mains, in the range of 15⁠-⁠20 $⁣ (1255⁠-⁠1673. 3333 R). Bakeries and special departments in supermarkets sell excellent Italian bread. It is more expensive than toast, but always fresh and of high quality.


How to travel cheaply in the US

Cooking yourself is cheaper. If desired, even in an inexpensive Walmart supermarket, you can buy worthy goods. Pay attention to the organic label: most likely, these are good products. Pictured is my homemade dinner in Washington: shrimp, asparagus, vegetables, garlic buns - somehow sweet - and berries

Abundance of sugar in food

Americans add a huge amount of sugar to desserts and drinks. For this reason, I could not enjoy a milkshake, and beautifully decorated coffee with caramel sauce and whipped cream made me sick. There is also a cult of Coca-Cola: they drink it like water and consider it a harmless drink.

Themed sweets at the World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. I bought chocolate fudge there. One bite is enough to make dessert disgusting: it's monstrously sweet. A cloyingly sweet milkshake at a cafe in Buffalo. Somehow I drank half. It feels like you are pouring undiluted sugar syrup into yourself

Low-cost airlines that do not include hand luggage in the ticket price

When passengers in Russia began to resent Pobeda's demands, I was surprised. American low-cost airlines have been operating in this format for a long time. Surcharges are requested for luggage, meals on board and seat selection.

Some flights do not allow free carry-on baggage. Only a small bag with size restrictions is allowed - personal item. The ticket itself can be inexpensive, up to $100⁣ (8370 R), but when you pay for luggage and other services, you get a decent amount.

An almost 9-hour flight from Burlington, Vermont to Los Angeles will cost $162 (R13,559). The flight is operated by United Airlines. Paid food on board. Hand luggage is not included in the ticket price. You can take a small bag measuring 22 cm by 25 cm by 43 cm

Sticky homeless people

There are a lot of homeless people in big cities and they are very annoying. “Dollar, give me a dollar, please,” tramps are tied up at the subway and shops, at railway stations and crossings. It doesn't matter to them that you are passing by for the second or third time - they will never fall behind. I sympathize with people in a difficult situation and try to somehow help: buy food or give what I have with me. But there are too many of them here.

In Russia, it is mostly pensioners and people with disabilities who ask for money. In the United States, there are many young and apparently healthy people among the homeless. For example, I saw a large number of homeless people in Atlanta. There, decently dressed people greeted me and asked for money for food. When I had a snack with me, I shared it.


Can you move to the USA?

At first, I was afraid to walk around San Francisco: stoned tramps walked the streets there. Then I realized that they are harmless. The city also surprised me by the fact that not only dirty, groveling people in rags were sleeping on the streets, but also handsome young hippie guys with their dogs. The dogs were well-groomed and well-fed, there was always a bowl of water and a cup of food nearby. Tramps hugged dogs and stroked them, and they blissfully closed their eyes. Their strong love for each other was evident.

A man is begging in Brighton Beach. The cardboard says that he lost his job and was left without a livelihood. This person does not bother anyone. But there are people who pester passers-by and insistently demand money. They can approach the same person 3-4 times Young vagrants lie in the sun in San Francisco

Bad neighborhoods where you can run into trouble

In Atlanta, I lived in a bad area: I rented a room in a house next to cotton fields in black quarter. There were many unemployed, idly loitering people. None of them harmed me, and the neighbor turned out to be a very pleasant woman and gave me a ride home when I got lost. But I felt uncomfortable because of the intrusive attention of African Americans. They constantly shouted after me, sometimes followed me on my heels:

“Hi, how are you? My name is Tom, what's yours? Are you travelling? What are you doing in Russia? Truth? Hey, buddy, she's got a job! And how do you like it in Atlanta? Where have you been? Will you give me your phone number?"

This quickly annoyed me, and I went outside with headphones on and walked twice as fast as usual. Approximately the same environment I found myself in Washington. Weed lovers also lived there. The situation is unpleasant, but inexpensive housing.

Many people in New York are afraid of Harlem. I like this area because it is very creative. Here I first learned about the Harlem Renaissance - the heyday of African-American culture in the United States, the center of which was this part of New York. However, a local resident on the tour said that it is better not to go to some places in Harlem, especially at night and alone.

My acquaintance with Harlem happened at night. I was looking for a summer cinema in New York, got lost and asked a black guy for directions. Under the cover of night, he sold drinks on the street. He had a large black zippered bag with him, which looked suspicious. We started talking, and the Harlem resident began to insistently invite me over for a drink and a chat. I refused, but Harlem didn't scare me at night. It seems to me that after Russia he is not so terrible.


USA: what you need to know before your trip

The Bronx left an unpleasant impression: dirty, with barred windows, unsympathetic shops, fast food eateries and shabby houses. Teenagers calmly threw garbage on the street and threw cans on their way to the subway. I also don’t like Brighton Beach: for the dirt, the stink, the shops from the 90s with ugly mayonnaise salads and saleswomen who are rude out of Russian habit. But this part of New York is very colorful, and it is interesting for me to observe different sides of the city.

There are a lot of crazy people in disadvantaged areas, you can run into robbers and drug addicts. To protect yourself and not settle in such a place, it is better to make inquiries before the trip. For example, in New York, the level of crime in different parts of the city can be viewed on the website The reviews of tourists who lived in the area also help.

For me, the well-being of the district is not only a low crime rate, but also the general atmosphere: cleanliness, order, beauty, elements of street art. On Brighton Beach, this is difficult. I would not want to live there because of the prevailing atmosphere 90's. There are also many strange people in the area. One day a woman with snobby make-up, adorned from head to toe, looked at me and hissed like a snake. I was very surprised, because I didn’t do anything to her and no one had hissed at me before

Expensive medicine and prescription drugs

In America, drugs are sold by prescription. Without it, you can only buy something harmless in the pharmacy to relieve symptoms and pain. For a prescription, you need to go to a doctor, and medicine in the USA is expensive. According to, an ambulance call will cost about $500⁣ (R41,850), a doctor's appointment will cost $100—⁠200⁣ (R8370—⁠16,740), appendicitis removal costs from $10,000 ⁣ (837,000 R). Americans pay large deductions to insurance companies, and they cover the treatment: in whole or in part. I buy insurance before departure so as not to risk my money once again.

In the USA you can’t even buy contact lenses without a prescription, so tourists on forums advise taking supplies from Russia with you

Once I had to go to a medical center in New Jersey because of a purulent sore throat. The insurance company advised me to find a private doctor, but the time was late, because of the illness I felt unwell, and there were no pills with me. Then the insurance company said that I could go to the emergency room. I didn't know what it was, but there was no choice, and I arrived there by taxi.

The first thing I saw was a big "Soviet" queue. People sat in the hall and waited patiently. Among the patients were old men with canes, men and women with injuries and various ailments. I sat next to a dark-skinned guy who was clearly on drugs: his eyes rolled back, he bowed his head and slowly slid off his chair. Saliva dripped onto the floor.

I waited half an hour. Then I was called to the office and asked about insurance. Half an hour later, the nurse gave me a bracelet. An hour later, another nurse measured the pressure, asked questions and sent me to the corridor. I waited an hour, two, three, and then just went home.

The queue barely moved. The staff said that they had too many patients and offered to come another day. I was very surprised that none of the people in the hall were indignant. Apparently this was the norm.

Going to the emergency room was a mistake: it's the same as coming to a Russian hospital where urgent operations are performed and hoping that you will be admitted with SARS. It was worth listening to the representative of the insurance company and waiting for an appointment with a private doctor or taking pills from home. This experience taught me a lot.

Even the simplest over-the-counter medicines are more expensive in the US than in Russia. Take a small first aid kit with you. Source: Mike Mozart / Flickr

Unusual system of measures and weights

“On foot it is very far from here, about two miles,” the American explained the way to me.

Miles mean nothing to me, because I'm used to measuring distance in kilometers. But in the USA there is a different system of measures: feet, miles, yards. Weight is measured in pounds (lb), which is about half a kilogram. In stores, prices for products by weight are quoted per pound, so I always multiply them by two to understand how much a kilogram costs. It takes time and is very annoying.


Store prices for vegetables are per pound or per item. Source: Dan Ox / Flickr

Not only planes are late, but also trains

I used to think that only planes were late. In the States, for the first time, I learned that trains can also be delayed. One day, I was waiting for an Amtrak train at Penn Station in New York and announced over the loudspeaker that it was late. Other passengers explained to me that this is a common thing. It happens that trains are delayed for two or three hours. I was lucky: I waited an hour, but I was very nervous. I didn’t know the station well and was worried that I would miss the train when it was served.

Journalist Adam Lee encountered a train delay and advised to contact Amtrak in such a situation. As an apology, Amtrak offered Lee a $100 (R8370) voucher. Source: simon1234567 / Pixabay

Dirty New York subway with rats running around

There are traffic jams in the American subway. I came across this in New York and Washington. Different trains run along the same line, and sometimes there are traffic jams.

I learned to navigate the New York subway gradually. At first, it was difficult to get used to the fact that trains go to different parts of the city on one side. Still me I did not immediately deal with express trains - trains that skip some stations. Sometimes I did not notice announcements that some of the trains were not running due to repair work.

Some passengers like to throw garbage on the way: there are plastic cups, leftover food, and so on. New York has a dirty subway and fat rats running through the tunnel. In Washington, it is clean, because it is forbidden to eat and drink there.


How not to go broke in New York

At first, I was afraid of the subway labyrinth. Now I love trips on the New York subway. I like that I can read a paper map, I know where to go in the subway, and I can think over my route. And she stopped paying attention to the dirt.

Subway train route marked N. Source: dreig / Flickr NYC subway caption: "Rich kids move to NYC to be poor, poor guys move to NYC to get rich"

Everyone asks how things are going, but no one cares about that

In Russia, we used to tell friends and acquaintances that the cat got sick, my brother broke his leg, and the day after tomorrow the vacation will begin.

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