Checklist for Travelling to the USA
Preparing for a trip to the USA can be stressful. There are so many things that you have to think about and lots of things you need to do to avoid any issues.
Make sure your trip to the States goes without any problems by checking out our ultimate USA travel checklist which includes important things to know and do before departing.
Whether you are travelling to America for the first time, or have already been before, by planning ahead you can make sure your experience goes smoothly and avoid simple mistakes which can be easily made. With our tips we are sure you will not end up in the tricky situations and are confident you will have a stress-free departure and arrival.
Check out our list of things you should know which will help you to prepare for a big trip to the US below...
1. Search Flights
Search flights well in advance to get the best deals on flights to the USA. Lots of airlines fly to the USA and to get the best deals be sure to book well in advance. We recommend searching flights on Skyscanner which is one of the best flight comparison websites allowing you to search hundreds of deals with all the major airlines.
2. Check Your Documents
Nothing destroys the pre-holiday excitement like finding your passport and noticing that it is out of date. You should always make sure your passport has at least 2 months left to run and be sure that it is valid for the entire duration of your trip.
Not everyone checks documents and there is a general lack of knowledge about what paperwork is actually needed to enter the USA. This can lead to delays and even cancelled trips for example finding your passport has expired. In some countries there are huge waiting periods to get a new passport (some longer than 2 months) so this is important to check.
If English isn't your first language you could consider using online services before you head out to translate your travel documents, visa, insurance, and other papers for convenience. Combined with a pocket dictionary, this will make your traveling and learning process much more enjoyable.
Other things to check before departing are boarding passes, hotel confirmation and anything else you might need. We recommend putting all your documents inside a folder that you have on you at all times.
3. Get a Visa
Wondering 'do i need a visa for the USA'? Yes. For most worldwide destinations you can travel without a visa but to gain legal entry into the United States you will need what is known as an ESTA USA visa. This applies for most people and nationalities, and is something very important to get sorted way before your arrival date. The ESTA application is very important and needs to be applied for online in advance. If you do not apply for this visa you are likely to arrive in the USA, be questioned at the airport and refused entry.
4. Understand Luggage Allowances
Check with the airline you are going to be flying with to make sure you know what your luggage weight and size limit is for both flights departing and coming back.
Sometimes the weigh limit changes, you can be allowed more on the departure flight but coming back the limit can be less which a lot of people are unaware of.
Be sure to know how much you are allowed, together with items which are not permitted. This simple check might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people arrive at the airport and either need to re-pack, or pay an extra charge.
5. Book Accommodation
Unless you are lucky to have friends or family in the USA you will need to find somewhere to stay. There are literally thousands of hotels and hostels available to book throughout the country and options for all budgets. If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay, use Hostelbookers or Booking.com to search for budget accommodation and book well in advance to get the best prices.
6. Last Minute Things to Do
Sometimes when banks noticed a card has been used overseas and they suspect fraud they cancel the card which can cause a lot of issues. Contact your bank before departing to let them know you will be in the USA - this way your bank cards should all work. Make sure you also cancel any deliveries and if you are friendly with your neighbours let them know you will be away and see if they can keep an eye out Light timers are also recommended to ward off any potential burglars.
7. Plan Your Trip to & from the Airport
Every experienced traveler will tell you that it is better to get to the airport earlier than risk missing your flight. There are many things that can go wrong on your trip to the airport e.g. traffic, delways, cancelled trains etc.
Always be sure to check your route and for any unexpected delays. At the same time, it is a really good idea to pre-book your parking space if travelling by car as this will save you money rather than paying on arrival.
Another thing to consider is how you will get from your arrival airport to your accommodation. Research on the internet so you don't have a panic on arrival.
8. Get Travel Money
The cheapest currency rates are available online and it is best to get this weeks in advance of departure. If you wait to do it at the airport you will usually get a much worse rate.
You want to have enough money on you but do not take too much. Getting an international prepaid travel card is something you might want to consider as well. These types of cards generally have lower fees and have been specifically designed for traveling overseas.
9. Buy Travel Insurace
Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can buy before departing for the USA. From cancelled flights, accidents, illness or theft it is important to be covered. For example, healthcare costs in the USA are huge and if you do not have a good insurance policy you risk running up a massive bill. Be sure to buy travel insurance in advance, we recommend World Nomads.
10. Research Things to Do
The USA is an amazing destination and no matter if you are travelling for work or pleasure, you will be able to enjoy so many different experiences. Make sure you make the most of your time and try to see as many of the sights as possible. Research as much as possible in advance to make your experience as memorable as possible.
We hope our checklist for travelling to USA will be helpful if you are keen to travel to the States anytime soon. Now go enjoy the trip of a lifetime.