The United States of America is one of the most visited countries in the world. Its vastness, richness, and diversity are qualities that attract people from all over the world. In fact, it is not just foreigners who wish to travel to the States but nationals of the country traverse the breadth and width of the vast nation only to discover new things. There is simply so much to see and experience in the United States of America that if as a foreign traveler you do not plan your trip properly, you can end up regretting your trip.
Things will work in your favor if you plan in advance and decide every small nitty-gritty before embarking on the journey of a lifetime. There are several things that must be in place before you board your flight to the US. In this article, we will rundown on some of the things that you must keep in mind before traveling to the US. Things like immigration formalities, lodging and food options, medical care and others are mentioned below.
#Tip 1 ESTA/ Visa Approval
Depending upon your country of residence, you will have to either get your ESTA or Visa beforehand. Residents of countries like Australia, United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, and many others no longer require a visa to travel to the States. Under the Visa Waiver Program, United States exempts about 30 countries from visa but offers than travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). There is an online form where your basic details such as passport number, name, date of birth, country of origin, country of residence, etc. have to be filled up. It hardly takes 20 minutes to fill up this form and upon approval, you can visit the US for leisure and business for a time period of 90 days. If you are visiting the country for any other purpose, you need to get a proper visa.
For countries that aren’t included in the Visa Waiver Program, they have the standard visa application and approval program. Before you travel to the US, you need to get your visa sorted.
Do not forget to check your passport
Even if you regularly travel regularly, do not forget to check the validity of your passport. If you want to travel safely then your passport should have at least six months of validity.
#Tip 2 Plan Your Itinerary
The USA is a vast country and it is almost impossible to travel the length and breadth of it in one visit. That’s why you must know what you want to see and the places you wouldn’t mind missing out on. There are national parks to visit, theme parks that are worth a joyride, road trips within the country to take with your group of buddies, beaches and mountains that are breathtakingly beautiful, festivals and events worth attending and so much more. There is actually more to the USA than the casinos in Las Vegas, Hollywood in Los Angeles and the sunny beaches of San Francisco. Some of the unique destinations within the US are Colorado, New Orleans, Washington DC, Savannah, and Utah. Many of these places are nothing but small towns but with their soul in the right place.
The best thing to do is to break your travel plans according to regions so that you can make the most of your trip. Ultimately your itinerary will depend on how much time you have in hand. To plan your trip properly, you can refer to various websites, particularly the official ones. You can also read up travel blogs and guide books. Make the most use of social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to know more about your destination.
#Tip 3 Travel Bookings
Once your itinerary is finalized, book your tickets. It should basically be a two-pronged process – one from your country of residence to the city in the USA you want to travel to; and the other within the States. Booking all tickets in advance will not help you save money but you can also plan everything to the T.
Apart from airline bookings, you can also book your airport transfers in advance. Booking a transfer is one of the safest ways of getting from the airport to your final destination. Public transport in America is quite limited which means you cannot rely on it much. That’s why booking your transfer in advance is essential.
While we understand that you may not be able to book every transport you would need while holidaying in the US, having a fair idea of the options available is always a good idea. If your itinerary is fool-proof, you can actually book every transfer in advance thanks to the marvel of the Internet.
Not sure how to apply for your ESTA Authorization? Check here the requirements.
#Tip 4 Accommodation
Accommodation options are endless in the US. While it may seem to be a good thing, sometimes too much choice can confuse. That’s the reason we suggest you read up about all options available and book only what suits your need. You will find hotels, motels, resorts, vacation homes, apartment rentals, Airbnb, campgrounds and much more. You can easily check availability online and even book accommodation beforehand. You will easily find every information available on the Internet. It is advisable to only book a place which is highly recommended by travelers.
#Tip 5 Food and Beverages
International travel is always expensive so this is one thing you have to keep in mind while making your travel plans. A large part of your budget should be allocated to food and beverages. Though you can survive on quick snacks and not dole out the extra dollar, it wouldn’t be a memorable thing to do. You can mix and match your preferences, mixing fast food with healthy takeout meals and eating out in restaurants. Try to have alcohol at local bars where they have happy hour offers so that you can drink beer and other stuff at cheaper rates.
#Tip 6 Medical Emergencies
Among the many things you should be doing before traveling to the US is getting your health and travel insurance. Private healthcare is very expensive which is why it is advisable to get yourself insured. Your insurance cover will depend on your physical fitness, the duration of your trip, if you have prolonged plans for trekking, walking, etc. If you have dietary restrictions you will find that most restaurants in the United States accommodate meals for those with food allergies. All you need to do is inform the staff beforehand. Carry your medical prescriptions with you. Preferably bring your medicines with you.
Tip 7 Managing Your Finances
It is advisable to carry your credit cards while traveling to the United States. Accessing ATMs is very easy in the States and you shouldn’t face any problem withdrawing money. However, it is always better to inform your bank about your international trip so that when you withdraw money there isn’t any false alarm raised. You would obviously have to pay an extra charge for international transactions. You needn’t necessarily carry a lot of cash while traveling within the States which is a good and safe thing for a traveler.
When it comes to price tags, what you see isn’t what you essentially pay. Sales tax is hardly ever written on the price tag. Service tax differs in different states and cities. You can assume that the cost of a thing will escalate by 10 percent due to the sales tax levied.
Tip 8 Souvenirs to Carry Back Home
Taking back souvenirs from a foreign land is always a good idea. There are many things you can take back home from your US trip. Candies and cookies are the most common souvenirs (or gifts for family and friends) that most prefer to take back. You can also collect Disney merchandise, I ♥ NY merchandise, NASA merchandise, and wine. You can also buy electronic goods from the US. However, compare the prices with your country to see whether you are actually buying in profit.
Tip 9 Quick Tips For You
In the USA the standard voltage supply for electrical devices is 120V and 60Hz. If you do not have a compatible adapter and charger, buy one beforehand.
Do not forget your light woolens because even in peak summers, the air-conditioned interiors can freeze you.
Carry comfortable walking shoes if you intend to see the cities like a local.
There are six time zones in the States. Understand them and know the time difference so that you can book your airport transfers comfortably.
In case of an emergency call 911.