While most international travelers might be inclined to think that a trip to the US is a dangerous proposition, that’s not actually the case. Now, does this mean that you should take chances and not make certain preparations? Of course not; a trip to the US should be carefully planned out in advance. Likewise, as with any other nation or region that a tourist might frequent, you’re going to want to avoid doing certain things (or moving through some specific areas).
First off, don’t worry about gun violence. Statistically speaking, gun-related incidents are much lower than health or car accident-related fatalities. Having said that, if you’re going to be driving (or traveling by car in lieu of buses or airplanes) then you need to make sure that you or your driver are fairly competent in terms of overall driving ability. Remember, the US is a very automobile-reliant nation and its cities are set up and designed in such a way as to reinforce this norm. In other words, you can only do so much on foot.
Next, avoid areas which are of a lower socio-economic disposition (as is common around the world). Almost all of the violent crime that occurs within the borders of the US occurs in the more poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Outside of these zones you’re not likely to encounter hardly any issues at all; since it’s assumed that most tourists aren’t going to know what’s considered safe territory, it’s best to ask some people walking around in a major metropolitan area about what areas you should avoid. If all else fails, just ask a police officer, they’ll be able to direct you toward areas which are more suitable for tourists.
Try to avoid looking like a quintessential tourist. While it’s not likely that you’ll be mugged or carjacked, there’s no reason why you should go out of your way to look and act like a clueless traveler. Be smart about what decisions you make and remain aware of what’s going on around you at all times. If you’re traveling alone and like to go out clubbing or to bars, be wary of strange people that either get too close or insist on coming back with you to your hotel. Speaking of hotels, choose your lodgings very carefully. Don’t pick a hotel that looks “sketchy” or seems run-down in any way. Additionally, if you pull up to the front of your prospective hotel (or around the property) and hear people yelling, well, that’s a “red flag”, and you should consider looking elsewhere for accommodations. Moreover, if you’re planning a US visit why not book your lodgings in advance and save yourself the trouble of having to spend extra time and effort looking for a place?
Lastly, be aware of what is considered to be public and private property. While it’s true that some people might not mind if a few tourists were to stop off at their lake or wooded area for a picnic or a hike, some might react negatively (given previous bad experiences, for instance). In other words, if you’re in doubt as to whether or not an area is private, consider refraining from further investigation. Perhaps the best thing to do is to purchase a US road atlas / map which should contain all the listings for things like parks and national forests.