A little local know-how goes a long way in the Southwest. Here you will find all the essential advice and information you will need during your stay.

Personal Security

The Southwest is a safe place to visit as long as some general safety precautions are observed. In contrast to other US cities, the urban centers of the Southwest have lower crime rates, but it is wise to be cautious and to find out which parts of town are unsafe at night. Never carry large amounts of cash, don’t wear obviously expensive jewelry, and don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket, as these are the main temptations for pickpockets. Keep your passport separate from your cash and credit cards. Most hotels have safety deposit boxes or safes in which you should store any valuables.

When traveling across remote country roads, take a reliable local map and follow the advice of local rangers and visitor information centers. These sources also offer invaluable information on survival in the wilderness for hikers and on the normal safety procedures that should be followed by anyone engaging in outdoor activities. It is also advisable to check the local media for current weather and safety conditions.


Healthcare in the US is high quality but costly. Ensure you have full medical cover prior to your visit, and keep receipts to claim on your insurance if needed.

Walgreens and CVS pharmacies can be found all over the Southwest. Certain medications available over the counter in other countries require a prescription in the US. If you are already taking prescribed medication, be sure supplies for your trip.

Hospital emergency rooms are open 24 hours. For non-emergencies, there are Urgent Care centers in most cities where you can see a doctor on a walk-in basis. You may be required to provide evidence of your ability to pay before a doctor will agree to treat you, hence the importance of adequate medical insurance.



Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs

You must be over 21 to buy and drink alcohol, and to buy tobacco products. Drinking alcohol is not allowed in most public areas, especially from open containers. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or any drug is prohibited. It is illegal to smoke in public buildings, workplaces, restaurants, and bars. It is also illegal to smoke anywhere that exposes others to second-hand smoke, including parks, beaches, queues, and bus stops. These laws extend to e-cigarettes.


Take some form of photo identification when buying alcohol or tobacco, as bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops are required by law to check it.

Local Customs

The Southwest is generally a very laid-back region. Casual clothing, such as jeans, T-shirts, and trainers,is quite acceptable in all but the most upmarket restaurants and nightclubs.

Some of the region’s most famous sites, such as Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley, are located on revervation land. Visitors are welcome but should be respectful, dress modestly, and ask about the local laws before visiting. It is illegal for alcohol to be brought onto many reservations. Some reservations have restrictions on photography. Always ask before photographing anything, especially ceremonial dances or homes, and take into consideration that a tip may be requested. Do not wander off marked trails as this is forbidden.

Cell Phones and Wi-Fi

Cellphone service in the Southwest is strong in the cities, though you may not be able to get a signal in remote areas. The main US network providers are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, and Verizon. Most of these offer prepaid, pay-as-you-go phones and US SIM cards, starting at around $30 (plus tax), which you can purchase upon arrival. Calls within the US are cheap, but making international calls may be pricey. Free Wi-Fi is widely available in public areas in cities, and in many cafés and hotels.


Stamps can be purchased at post offices, hotel reception desks, and some grocery stores. Check current postal rates at the US Postal Services website. Letters can be mailed from post offices, your hotel, and street mailboxes. Express services are offered by couriers such as DHL and UPS.

US Postal Services


Sales tax in cities and towns across the Southwest ranges from 7 to 8.6 percent. Tax is charged on everything except groceries, plants used for food, and prescription drugs, with a few other exemptions.

Discount Cards

Visitors with proof of student status receive discounts at many museums and other attractions. Apply for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) prior to traveling. Seniors can also receive discounts at many attractions, so always carry ID with proof of age.

If you are planning to visit several national parks, you can save money with an annual America the Beautiful pass – details can be found on the National Park Service website. Many cities offer passes that include admission to several attractions at a discounted rate.

National Park Service

Need to know Practical Information

At a Glance


Need to know Practical Information

Time Zone

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MDT/DST Daylight Saving Time runs first Sunday in March to first Sunday in November except in Arizona.

Tap Water

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Unless otherwise stated, tap water is safe to drink, but bottled water is widely available.


Need to know Practical Information



With this astronomy app, point your phone at the sky and discover which stars, constellations, and planets are above you.


This app helps you find the cheapest gas stations while on your roadtrip.

Discover Navajo

Find out about the national monuments, parks, and historical sites of the Navajo peoples on

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