Disabled Travelers -- Public transit in major cities is largely accessible. Most brand-name hotels are accessible, but smaller historic properties (even luxury inns) sometimes aren’t. The National Park Service’s Access Pass is available at no cost to disabled travelers; it gives pass bearers free lifetime entry to national parks, including Acadia National Park and the Cape Cod National Seashore. You can get the pass at any national park. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm.
Drinking Laws -- The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21 in all six New England states; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it's always a good idea to bring ID when you go out. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn’t zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot (although in Connecticut and Rhode Island, it is legal for passengers in a vehicle, but not the driver, to consume alcohol). Don’t even think about driving while intoxicated.
Emergencies -- For fire, police, and ambulance, find any phone and dial tel. 911. If this fails, dial tel. 0 (zero) and report an emergency.
Family Travel -- New England has traditionally been a destination for family summer vacations, particularly in the beach towns along the coast. There are plenty of family-oriented attractions and several sites that are a great way for kids to learn about American history. Be sure to ask about family discounts when visiting attractions. Note, however, that a fair number of small inns cater only to adults or require that children be a minimum age. We’ve noted such restrictions in our listings in the various state sections.
Gasoline (Petrol) -- New England’s gas prices are a bit higher than the U.S. average; at press time, the price was somewhere around $3.00 per gallon. There are very few “full-service” gas stations in New England—you’ll generally have to pump your own gas—and, if you do find one, you’ll often pay up to 10 cents extra per gallon. Taxes are always included in the listed per-gallon price of gas. International travelers should note that 1 U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
Health -- All large and small cities in New England maintain good hospital facilities, and some smaller towns have them, too. The quality of care is very good here. If health is a serious issue for you, check ahead with your accommodations (or search for options online) to find the nearest emergency-room service or 24-hour clinic.
Insurance -- General -- Use insurance marketplaces such as InsureMyTrip.com and SquareMouth.com. Both work with only vetted companies and will quickly give you an array of possible policies, based on your age and travel plans.
Insurance -- Health Insurance -- Although it's not required of travelers, health insurance is highly recommended. Most health insurance policies cover you if you get sick away from home -- but check your coverage before you leave.
International visitors to the U.S. should note that, unlike many European countries, the United States does not usually offer free or low-cost medical care to its citizens or visitors. Doctors and hospitals are expensive and, in most cases, will require advance payment or proof of coverage before they render their services. Good policies will cover the costs of an accident, repatriation, or death. Packages such as Europ Assistance's Worldwide Healthcare Plan are sold by European automobile clubs and travel agencies at attractive rates. Worldwide Assistance Services, Inc. (tel. 800/777-8710), is the agent for Europ Assistance in the United States. Though lack of health insurance may prevent you from being admitted to a hospital in nonemergencies, don't worry about being left on a street corner to die: The American way is to fix you now and bill the daylights out of you later.
If you're ever hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, MedjetAssist (tel. 800/527-7478) will pick you up and fly you to the hospital of your choice in a medically equipped and staffed aircraft 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Annual memberships are $225 individual, $350 family; you can also purchase short-term memberships.
Canadians should check with their provincial health plan offices or call Health Canada (tel. 866/225-0709) to find out the extent of their coverage and what documentation and receipts they must take home in case they are treated in the United States.
Travelers from the U.K. should carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaced the E111 form as proof of entitlement to free/reduced-cost medical treatment abroad (tel. 0845 606 2030). Note, however, that the EHIC covers only "necessary medical treatment," and for repatriation costs, lost money, baggage, or cancellation, travel insurance from a reputable company should always be sought (visit www.travelinsuranceweb.com).
As a safety net, you may want to buy travel medical insurance, particularly if you're traveling to a remote or high-risk area where emergency evacuation might be necessary. If you require additional medical insurance, try MEDEX Assistance (tel. 410/453-6300) or Travel Assistance International (tel. 800/821-2828; for general information on services, call the company's Worldwide Assistance Services, Inc., at tel. 800/777-8710).
Travel Insurance -- The cost of travel insurance varies widely, depending on the destination, the cost and length of your trip, your age and health, and the type of trip you're taking, but expect to pay between 5% and 8% of the vacation itself. You can get estimates from various providers through InsureMyTrip.com. Enter your trip cost and dates, your age, and other information, for prices from more than a dozen companies.
U.K. citizens and their families who make more than one trip abroad per year may find an annual travel insurance policy works out cheaper. Check www.moneysupermarket.com, which compares prices across a wide range of providers for single- and multitrip policies.
Most big travel agents offer their own insurance and will probably try to sell you their package when you book a holiday. Think before you sign. Britain's Consumers' Association recommends that you insist on seeing the policy and reading the fine print before buying travel insurance. The Association of British Insurers (tel. 020/7600-3333) gives advice by phone and publishes Holiday Insurance, a free guide to policy provisions and prices. You might also shop around for better deals: Try Columbus Direct (tel. 0870/033-9988).
Trip Cancellation Insurance -- Trip-cancellation insurance will help retrieve your money if you have to back out of a trip or depart early, or if your travel supplier goes bankrupt. Trip cancellation traditionally covers such events as sickness, natural disasters, and State Department advisories. The latest news in trip-cancellation insurance is the availability of expanded hurricane coverage and the "any-reason" cancellation coverage -- which costs more but covers cancellations made for any reason. You won't get back 100% of your prepaid trip cost, but you'll be refunded a substantial portion. TravelSafe (tel. 888/885-7233) offers both types of coverage. Expedia also offers any-reason cancellation coverage for its air-hotel packages. For details, contact one of the following recommended insurers: Access America (tel. 866/807-3982), Travel Guard International (tel. 800/826-4919), Travel Insured International (tel. 800/243-3174), or Travelex Insurance Services (tel. 888/457-4602).
Internet Access -- You’ll have little trouble finding a coffee shop or hotel with Wi-Fi access. A few hotels still charge a fee for this service. Some more historic buildings may not be equipped with Wi-Fi in all rooms, but there’s usually a hot spot somewhere for guests to use. On some of the more remote islands and country areas, service may be spotty. Most public libraries in the New England states—even those in small towns—offer free Internet access.
Legal Aid -- If you are “pulled over” for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. Here, the burden is on the state to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or actually arrested. Once arrested, a person should contact a family member, trusted friend, or attorney as soon as possible. International visitors should call their embassy or consulate.
LGBT Travelers -- New England has a strong LGBT community and destinations that draw LGBT travelers from all over the world including Provincetown and Northampton, MA, and Ogunquit, ME. The Vermont Gay Tourism Association’s website showcases LGBT-friendly lodgings, shops, and restaurants.
Lost & Found -- Be sure to tell all of your credit card companies the minute you discover your wallet has been lost or stolen and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your credit card company or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; they may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two.
Visa's U.S. emergency number is tel. 800/847-2911 or 410/581-9994. American Express cardholders and traveler's check holders should call tel. 800/221-7282. MasterCard holders should call tel. 800/307-7309 or 636/722-7111. For other credit cards, call the toll-free number directory at tel. 800/555-1212.
If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks and American Express offices are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com).
Mail -- At press time, domestic postage rates were 35¢ for a postcard and 50¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs $1.15; a first-class postcard costs the same as a letter. For more information go to www.usps.com and click on "Calculate Postage."
If you aren't sure what your address will be in the United States, mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver's license, passport, and so on). Most post offices will hold your mail for up to 1 month, and are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don't know your zip code, visit www.usps.com/zip4.
Maps -- All the New England states offer free maps at well-stocked visitor information centers; ask at the counter if you don't see them. For incredibly detailed maps, consider purchasing one or more of the DeLorme atlases, which depict every road and stream, along with many hiking trails and access points for canoes. DeLorme's headquarters and map store (tel. 800/561-5105 or 800/642-0970) are in Yarmouth, Maine, but their products are available at bookstores and convenience stores throughout the region.
Medical Conditions -- If you have a medical condition that requires syringe-administered medications, carry a valid signed prescription from your physician; syringes in carry-on baggage will be inspected. Insulin in any form should have the proper pharmaceutical documentation. If you have a disease that requires treatment with narcotics, you should also carry documented proof with you -- smuggling narcotics aboard a plane carries severe penalties in the U.S.
For HIV-positive visitors, requirements for entering the United States are somewhat vague and change frequently. For up-to-the-minute information, contact AIDSinfo (tel. 800/448-0440 or 301/519-6616 outside the U.S.; www.aidsinfo.nih.gov) or the Gay Men's Health Crisis (tel. 212/367-1000; www.gmhc.org).
Newspapers & Magazines -- Almost every small city and town has a daily or weekly newspaper covering local happenings. The largest daily papers include the Boston Globe (Massachusetts), Hartford Courant (Connecticut), Portland Press Herald (Maine), Manchester Union Leader (New Hampshire), and Burlington Free Press (Vermont). Boston, Burlington, Portland, and a few other cities also have free alternative weeklies that are very handy sources of information on concerts and shows at local clubs. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are also distributed widely throughout New England, although they can sometimes be hard to find in small or remote towns.
Passports -- The websites listed provide downloadable passport applications, as well as the current fees for processing applications. For an up-to-date, country-by-country listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the "International Travel" tab of the U.S. State Department at http://travel.state.gov. International visitors to the U.S. can obtain a visa application at the same website. Note: Children are required to present a passport when entering the United States at airports. More information on obtaining a passport for a minor can be found at http://travel.state.gov. Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 4-6 weeks (3 weeks for expedited service) but can take longer during busy periods (especially spring). And keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you'll pay a higher processing fee.
For Residents of Australia -- You can pick up an application from your local post office or any branch of Passports Australia, but you must schedule an interview at the passport office to present your application materials. Call the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.
For Residents of Canada -- Passport applications are available at travel agencies throughout Canada or from the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca). Note: Canadian children who travel must have their own passport. However, if you hold a valid Canadian passport issued before December 11, 2001, that bears the name of your child, the passport remains valid for you and your child until it expires.
For Residents of Ireland -- You can apply for a 10-year passport at the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh). Those under age 18 and over 65 must apply for a 3-year passport. You can also apply at 1A South Mall, Cork (tel. 21/494-4700), or at most main post offices.
For Residents of New Zealand -- You can pick up a passport application at any New Zealand Passports Office or download it from their website. Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.
For Residents of the United Kingdom -- To pick up an application for a standard 10-year passport (5-yr. passport for children under 16), visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency, or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.
For Residents of the United States -- Whether you're applying in person or by mail, you can download passport applications from the U.S. State Department website at http://travel.state.gov. To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.
Police -- For police, dial tel. 911. If this fails, dial 0 (zero) and report an emergency.
Senior Travel -- New England offers older travelers a wide array of activities. Mention you’re a senior whenever you make travel reservations. Travelers over 65 (and sometimes younger) qualify for reduced admission to theaters, museums, ski resorts, and other attractions, as well as discounted fares on public transportation. The National Park Service’s Senior Pass is available for $80 to travelers age 62 and over; it gives pass bearers free lifetime entry to national parks, including Acadia National Park and the Cape Cod National Seashore. You can get the pass at any national park. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm.
Smoking -- Smoking is banned in all workplaces and public places (restaurants, bars, offices, hotel lobbies) in all six New England states, with the exception of the casinos on tribal lands in Connecticut. Recreational use of marijuana by adults ages 21 and up is legal in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
Taxes -- The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. However, states, counties, and cities can add local taxes to purchases—including hotel bills, restaurant checks, and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear as part of the quoted prices; they’ll be added when you pay. (Some items, such as food, clothing, and footwear, are exempt: Policies vary from state to state.)
Sales, dining, and lodging taxes in New England, as of 2018, are as follows: Connecticut charges 6.35% on sales and 15% on lodging. Maine charges a 5.5% sales tax in stores, 9% at hotels, 8% at restaurants, and 10% for auto rentals. Massachusetts charges 6.25% on sales and meals, 5.7% for hotel rooms (8.45% in Boston, Cambridge, Worcester, Chicopee, Springfield, and West Springfield). New Hampshire charges no sales tax in stores, but a 9% tax on lodging and dining. Rhode Island charges 7% on sales, 8% for restaurant meals, and 13% on lodging. Vermont charges a 6% sales tax on purchases, 9% tax on hotel rooms and restaurant meals, and 10% tax on alcohol purchased in restaurants. Vermont towns and cities can (and resort towns do) also add an additional 1% local tax to meals, lodgings, and purchases.
Telephones -- Many convenience groceries and packaging services sell prepaid calling cards in denominations up to $50; for international visitors, these can be the least expensive way to call home. Many public pay phones at airports now accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards. Local calls made from pay phones in most locales cost either 25¢ or 35¢ (no pennies, please). Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code, and number you are calling.
Calls to area codes 800, 888, 877, and 866 are toll-free. However, calls to area codes 700 and 900 (chat lines, bulletin boards, "dating" services, and so on) can be very expensive -- usually a charge of 95¢ to $3 or more per minute, and they sometimes have minimum charges that can run as high as $15 or more.
For reversed-charge or collect calls, and for person-to-person calls, dial the number 0 then the area code and number; an operator will come on the line, and you should specify whether you are calling collect, person-to-person, or both. If your operator-assisted call is international, ask for the overseas operator.
For local directory assistance ("information"), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.
Telegraph, Telex & Fax -- Telegraph and telex services are provided primarily by Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com). You can telegraph (wire) money, or have it telegraphed to you, very quickly over the Western Union system, but this service can cost as much as 15% to 20% of the amount sent.
Most hotels have fax machines available for guest use (be sure to ask about the charge to use it). Many hotel rooms are wired for guests' fax machines. A less expensive way to send and receive faxes may be at stores such as The UPS Store.
Time -- All New England states are in the Eastern time zone (the same zone as New York City) and 5 to 6 hours behind the time in London. Why 5 to 6? Because daylight saving time is in effect from 2am on the second Sunday in March to 2am on the first Sunday in November. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Tipping -- In hotels, tip bellhops $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip housekeeping staff $2 to $5 per day. Tip the doorman or concierge if he or she has provided you with some useful service. Tip a valet-parking attendant a few dollars any time you get your car. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check (assuming the service was decent), tip coatroom attendants $1 per garment, tip taxi drivers 15% to 20% of the fare. Tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage). And tip hair stylists, barbers, and spa therapists 15% to 20%, too.
Toilets -- Public toilets can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and gas stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bets for clean facilities. Restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their restrooms for patrons.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.