The USA is an amazing country that offers something for every type of holidaymaker – from city breaks to historic sites and from sports holidays to amazing camping spots. While culturally, the USA is very similar to many of the countries of Europe, they do have some rules and regulations that are different to travelling around Europe. So here are some top tips to travelling to the USA to make your trip as enjoyable and problem-free as possible.
Preparing for your trip
Before you book your trip, consider the time of year, you are travelling and the part of the USA you are travelling to. Hurricane season runs from June to November and affects a large number of states across the centre and south of the country. If you have booked for this period of time and for an area affected by the hurricanes, you can monitor the situation ahead of the event via the National Hurricane Center’s website.
The other important thing to remember about the USA regards medical insurance. The US doesn’t have a state system that is free the way that some countries do so medical costs can be quite expensive if something goes wrong. This is why travel insurance for the US is always the most expensive level but can be essential. If you aren’t correctly covered under the travel insurance, you personally will be liable for the costs of any medical treatment you need and this can easily run into the thousands of dollars.
Boarding the plane
The USA has very strict rules about what you can and cannot take on an airplane that is entering their airspace, which is understandable in light of recent history. There is also a very high level of security upon entering the country so if you need further information about this, check with your airline or the US Federal Aviation Administration’s website.
Entering the country
Unlike travelling between many states in Europe, you cannot enter the US without a visa. This is a document that is issued on a discretionary basis by the US embassy in the capital city of your country and can be obtained only by visiting the embassy in person. To do this you need to book an appointment some time in advance and have a meeting with a member of embassy staff to get the visa.
Another option that has been created recently is called an ESTA application. This is an online process that alleviates the need to visit the embassy and can all be processed on their website. It produces an ESTA visa waiver that is valid for 90 days for trips to the US and also allows trips to neighbouring countries such as Mexico and Canada and then re-entry to the US on the same visa.
If you decide you want to rent a car and drive around when staying in the US, then most countries such as the UK have an agreement whereby you can use your driving license. As long as you have a full license you can drive in the US though some rental car companies stipulate that the driver must have had the license for at least twelve months and be a minimum age of 21, 25 for some companies. International driving permits are not required but are generally said to be helpful.