If you love to travel, the USA is for you. This intriguing country is made up of 50 states, each of which has its own distinct culture. You could spend your whole life travelling around the USA and still not experience all that it has to offer.
Ready for a Hassle-Free Tour in the USA – A Planning Guide
This short article covers the most important things you need to get done before you travel to the USA.
Get the right visa and apply early
Before you book, it makes sense to find out if you need a visa for your US trip. If you do, it is very important that you apply for it well in advance.
The application process can be quite long and complicated. Bear in mind that you could have difficulty in getting together the paperwork that you need. Plus, it is all too easy to fill something in wrong. If that happens, you can end up having to almost start again. So, always start the application process early.
Check the current visa rules
Never assume that things are the same as the last time you travelled to the United States. The visa and immigration systems there are in an almost continuous state of flux. So, the visa requirements change regularly.
An up to date and valid passport
Your passport has to be up to date and in good condition. At the time of writing this article, to travel to the USA, your passport had to be valid for 6 months after your planned return date.
Check that this is the case at least 6 weeks before you are due to travel, earlier if necessary. That way, if you do not have the necessary 6 months left on your passport, you should have enough time to apply for and receive another one.
Visitors to the USA are not required to get vaccinated. However, it is advisable to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. If you find that there is a disease outbreak for the area you are planning to travel to, consider getting vaccinated anyway. America rarely experiences serious disease outbreaks, but, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Healthcare in the USA is expensive, so you really do need a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Pay particular attention to what would happen should you fall ill because of a pre-existing condition.
It is also important to understand the medical evacuation clauses. Not all policies will cover the full cost of returning you to your country of origin accompanied by medical staff. Instead, they may simply pay to move you to a medical centre in the US that can provide you with the care you need. Also, make sure that you are adequately covered for any of the activities you are planning to enjoy during your stay.
Getting your medications ready
Traveling with medications, even those prescribed by a doctor, is not as simple as packing them. If you are going to the USA, your medications need to be in their original packaging with the doctor’s prescription on them. Plus, you can only bring in enough for your personal use.
Well before you are due to travel, work out how to get hold of enough medication to see you through your trip. Factor in the fact that you may get delayed on your return journey, so you will have enough drugs on you to cover this eventuality. Also, visit the U.S Customs and Border Protection website and read their latest advice.
Check your driving licence is valid
If you are planning to drive, while in the US, you will need to take your driving licence with you. Make sure that it is up to date and that it is valid for your entire stay.
You may also need an International Drivers Permit (IDP). This is basically a translation of your licence. Check whether you need it and arrange to get one at least 4 weeks before you are due to travel. Please note that an IDP cannot be used in place of your actual driver’s licence.
Make a packing list
As you would for any vacation make a packing list. Be sure to include the extra items you may need to make your stay more comfortable. For example, in some place, e.g. swampy areas, bug spray would be essential.
In theory, you can travel just with your credit cards or phone payment app. But, it is best to carry enough cash to get a taxi to your hotel, make a few phone calls and have a meal. That way, should your bag be stolen you will not be stranded.
Maps and apps
Before you leave home, download a good map and some travel apps. These will help to make sure you do not get lost.
Consider buying a USA SIM card
The chances are you are going to want to make some phone calls while you are away. If you are planning to use a mapping app, you will use a lot of data. So, investigate the possibility of buying a US SIM card and putting it in your existing phone. Check your phone is unlocked and that the cost following this suggestion is actually cheaper than using your existing calls and data contract.