According to data by statista.com, the USA witnessed nearly 79.44 million inbound international visitors in 2019. Although in 2020, the effect of COVID – 19 is palpably visible in the number of inbound visitors, the count stands at 19.45 million. Now in 2022, as most of us are getting jabbed, the travel freaks are ready to strike out the USA from their wish list by taking a scoop of “the states”. Like most euphoric destinations, you must have international travel insurance in place for a happy-go-lucky trip to the USA and know some smart travel tips.
1. Make Sure Your Passport Is Valid
Like most countries globally, travellers willing to travel to the states need a valid passport with at least 6 months validity. However, this requirement might vary with countries, and it is vital to check those before travelling. To get the correct information regarding entry requirements, visit the official government website and plan accordingly.
2. Get your VISA
The United States of America allows visitors from certain countries to visit without a visa. This is a part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), where citizens of certain countries like Japan, Germany, Singapore, Iceland etc., can enter for at most 90 days for travelling and tourist purposes without a visa. But before travelling, each of them must have a valid ESTA. Individuals can visit the government’s official website to get an unabridged idea of all the travelling requirements. But, if you need a regular tourist visa for USA, make sure to apply in advance to avoid any rush lately.
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3. Know The Prohibited Items
While packing for a superlative trip, it is always important to pack wisely. Hence, before packing, you must check the official website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to note all the prohibited and restricted items. This will significantly ease the trip and avoid hassles in the airport.
4. Purchase A TSA-Approved Lock
To achieve peace of mind while travelling, it is best to lock your paraphernalia related to the USA trip. However, the officers responsible for the security will thoroughly scrutinize your luggage. If they think that your bag needs a physical inspection, they will break the lock. After breaking the lock and inspecting, they will leave a note inside your luggage to tell you what happened. So, to avoid any break of the lock, it is best to use a TSA-approved lock that can be opened with a master key. If required, the security officers can easily open your bag with a master key without breaking it.
5. Be Aware Of The Transit Rules
Typically for destinations like South America and Canada, you might need to transit through the USA. No matter if you are staying in the states or not, it is mandatory to clear the U.S. customs. Also, if you have a domestic connecting flight to a different location, you have to clear the immigration and customs at the first entry point and then you can proceed toward your final destination. To avoid any hassle, it will be beneficial to book a ticket from a single airline, make let them know that you are transiting through the states.
6. Book Your Airport Transfer
If you are willing to have a own trip to the USA, it is advisable not to rely on public transport. According to Bloomberg, about 88% of Americans own a car, which is the second-highest in the world. Thus, it is evident that most of them don’t rely on public transport, and to move from the airport, it is best to book an airport transfer in advance.
7. Turn Off Your Mobile Data
While you are on an international tour, always turn off your mobile data. This is because, when you are travelling, your network goes on international roaming, and the charges reach the pinnacle. So, it is best to use the free Wi-Fi wherever possible; otherwise, you can also purchase an international roaming plan to fund your entire trip to the USA.
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8. Understand Tipping Etiquette In The USA
Most international travellers in the USA find tipping a bit obfuscate task. Whether you should tip or not, if the service charge is already included in the bill, whom should you tip, the questions are incessant. As the minimum wage is low, in the states, tips are a part of daily income for most workers. Usually, for housekeepers, bartenders, doorkeepers, hotel porters, valets, and concierges, a tip of $1 – $2 per dunnage is considered significant. So, it might be a good idea if you start piling some dollar bills to show some gratitude. If you are paying with a credit card, make sure to add the tip amount to the receipt before leaving the credit card.
9. List Out The Places You Want To Visit
To avoid a gallimaufry of ideas on the places to visit, it is vital to make an itinerary beforehand. This will contain the list of locations and the activities specific to the trip. It is advisable to make the itinerary a bit flexible as you might need to alter it based on unavoidable circumstances during the trip.
10. Plan Your Budget For The Trip
While planning, a brief idea of expenses can help you finance the trip better. Most places might include fixed charges to enter, and it is best to know those from the official websites. Likewise, it is best to list the activities and the cost of performing those from the official websites.
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11. Know The Numbers For Emergency Services
Before travelling to the U.S., it is essential to list all the necessary contact numbers in a notebook. Then, for any assistance, you can visit the nearest embassy of your country or dial 911.
12. Keep digital copies of all important documents
During trips, most of us prefer to keep hard copies of documents. But, to avoid any mishaps like loss of luggage and other adversities, it is best to keep digital copies of all the essential documents. Moreover, for more security, you can save it in clouds so that, if your electronic device gets misplaced, you can access it anyhow from other devices. Also, it is best to opt for an international travel insurance while travelling, as it will secure the trip in case of loss of luggage, flight delays and other adversities.
13. Ask Locals For Travel Advice
Although most of us prefer to research online before a trip, asking for advice from locals has its perks. In case of any overnight changes of timings or charges or even restrictions due to COVID, the most trusted way to get informed is from locals. Sometimes, a piece of information needs to have several confirmations before online availability, which significantly delays the updating time.
14. Use Apps For Emergency Alerts
For ease of travel, most experts advise using a few apps that can disentangle the travelling experience. Two such apps are Sitata and Smart Traveller. Sitata is an application that provides real-time updates of potential disruptions and dangers. In comparison, Smart Traveller is an official app from the U.S. state department that provides travellers’ travel advisories.
15. Be Aware Of The COVID Guidelines And Health Advisories
As we are still in the grey shade of COVID-19, the health risks with travelling haven’t been banished. So, to be on the undimmed side, it is best to look for any advisories and regulations for each state in the USA. Also, there is still uncertainty concerning sudden travel restrictions; it is best to opt for international travel insurance to mollify any cash outflow.
Hence, while travelling for a trip in the USA, know all the guidelines beforehand for ease of travelling. Also, before applying tourist visa for the USA, make sure to make a proper flexible itinerary so that you have the freedom to alter if required.
If you feel motivated, please share this blog post with your loved ones so that they can break the mundane cycle of everyday life and explore the world.