If there is one place in the world that you need to book and visit at some point, it’s America. The theater world of New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Lake Michigan and Los Angeles – it’s all there for the taking and planning a trip to America is an absolute must if you love to see amazing places around the world. There is a lot that you need to know about going to America, though, especially before you pay for that deposit for your trip and start planning.
From knowing that you have to fill in an ESTA application form to doing research on the right places to stay, you need to clue up on what you need to know before heading to America. Below, we’ve put together a list of things that you should be doing in preparation for one of the biggest trips of your life. Let’s take a look.
Oh, we’ve already mentioned the ESTA application form that you have to fill out, but it’s more than that. Paperwork is one of those things that you can’t get away from filling out no matter where you go in the world. You need to really pay attention to the type of visitor visa that you need to get into the country, as the last thing that you want to happen is to get turned away at the gate. At the very minimum, you need a passport. You also need to ensure that it’s in date within six months of travel and that you have your visa approved and ready. You need to know that you can arrive without too much of an issue. The security at the gates in America will be thorough, and you need to ensure that you aren’t blindsided when you try to get through them.
Not only do you want to make sure that you plan your paperwork to perfection, you need to ensure that you have a list of places you want to visit, your flights worked out and your hotels booked. Even if you are hostel-hopping, you need to know that you are already booked in for your stays when you arrive. The worst thing that you could do is skip this step and find that you don’t have a bed for the night on arrival. You have to consider the school vacation times, too, because their peak times may differ from those in your own country. The states are huge and they can take more than a couple of days to cover if you’re planning to go state to state.
If there is one thing that will shock you is the hospitality you will get from perfect strangers. People in the US are always willing to lend a hand, pass on directions and local tips and will always greet you with gusto in places like diners and cafes. You can get to know a whole new group of people simply by saying hello to them!
It’s the worst thing in the world to arrive in a new country and not be able to use your bank card, or you’ve forgotten to exchange your cash. The best thing that you can do here, though, is to work out your budget and use a universal travel money card as you spend. Not only will you avoid charges to your regular bank card, you’ll have the money converted for you with each purchase. The Revolut, for example, is a card that works in any country and you can use it throughout the US.
When you go to a shop in the US, the prices are listed excluding tax. The price you pay on the shelf won’t be the price when you get to the cash register and that can get confusing! Make sure that you factor in taxes and tips with your travel budget and you won’t be caught out.
You’re heading on a long-haul vacation if you’re heading to the US from the rest of the world, so make sure that you have travel insurance. There’s no reciprocal medical healthcare agreement with other countries so if you’re in an accident, it’s coming out of your pocket. Travel insurance is a must!
Unfortunately for American hospitality workers, they are paid a low hourly, typically below the living wage line. This means that workers heavily rely on tips to get them through to pay their bills. You are expected to leave a minimum 10% tip, so increase your savings so that you can tip well!