America has truly got something to please everyone, from thrill seekers who want to bungee jump down the Empire State building to beach bods that want to soak up the rays in Jacksonville, Florida to culture vultures who want to visit all of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC.
Arranging your trip can be stressful though, so here’s what you need to do when planning to ensure a smooth and relaxing holiday.
1.Have a valid passport
This seems like a no-brainer, but most visitors need to have a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months after the end of their trip. This means that your passport won’t expire if you need to delay your trip home for any reason, like planes being grounded because of bad weather or your favourite band doing a one-night reunion in New York.
2.Find out if you need a visa
While most travellers will automatically assume they need a visa, some countries are part of a visa waiver programme with the US, which means that only need an ESTA visa if they’re staying for less than 90 days. This is a lot easier to apply for – no visits to the embassy! – and it costs a lot less, leaving more money for shopping.
3.Get travel and medical insurance
Travel insurance is optional, but it can save you a lot of money if something unexpected comes up and you have to leave early or switch hotels. Medical insurance should be a necessity though, as healthcare costs in the US are higher than any other Western nation. Don’t risk it.
4.Buy a TSA-approved lock
If you’re checking bags at the airport, then you’ll likely want to lock it up for peace of mind. However, the TSA has strict guidelines for safety and if anything looks a little suspect about your suitcase, they’ll open it up to have a look around. If you don’t have a TSA-approved lock, which security officials can open with master keys, they are permitted to break inside.
5.Look up public transport options
The vast majority of Americans drive, which means that, depending on where you’re visiting, public transport may be rare. Some bigger cities – New York in particular – have incredible public transit options, but more rural centres and even places like LA are hard to navigate without a car.
6.Take more money than you think you need
The US is a great place to travel to if you like good-value food and shopping bargains, but there are hidden costs that can really add up, like sales tax (not included on price tags) and tipping (which is generally a lot more than in Europe).
7.Turn off your data
Unless you have a contract that allows for international roaming or you’vepurchased a bundle from your provider, turn off your data before you get on the plane. Otherwise, you could get a hefty bill upon your return. This doesn’t mean you have to have an internet detox though; America is the home of free Wi-Fi.
Of course, the most important tip is have fun. Bon voyage!