Have you been dreaming about a trip the USA? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one as the US is one of the world’s most popular countries for tourism. This vast nation is filled with cosmopolitan cities, stunning natural landscapes, and friendly, diverse people from all over the world.
Unfortunately, most people can’t just book a ticket online and head over the next day as there are relatively strict regulations and processes that must be adhered to when planning a trip to the USA. Here is what you should know.
First things first, apply for an ESTA Visa Waiver
The first thing you should do in your preparations to travel to the USA is secure an ESTA visa waiver before arrival if you don’t have a formal visa. This is an available option for many nations, especially those part of the EU. In order to get this step rolling, complete your ESTA Application as soon as possible once you have decided to plan a trip to the states. The ESTA waiver program permits citizens of participating countries to come to the US for up to 90 days without a formal visa. The ESTA visa waiver process is less intensive than going through the very involved visa process.
You want to take care of your ESTA visa waiver first to avoid any issues, delays in processing, pre-trip stress, etc. Once that is taken care of, you can enjoy the process of planning the trip you’ve been dreaming of. Here are some further tips to help you narrow down your focus and maximize your time in the good ole’ stars and stripes
America is massive … select you trip itinerary in one specific region
With the exception of Brazil, China and Russia, most people who visit the US will be coming from a smaller country. People don’t realize how big the US actually is. While the roads are fantastic and usually very direct, distances between destinations can be days or more than a week on some occasions, i.e. you can’t drive from the Grand Canyon to New York City in a day…
Many people have a tendency and desire to want to visit as many things as humanly possible on a trip, especially in the US, but it’s in your best interest (and your wallets) to pick a region and save another for the next time.
Some great regions to explore with PLENTY of things to see for even months are:
- New England (main city is beautiful Boston, the stunning mountains of Vermont and quaint Maine fishing villages)
- The Pacific Northwest (amazing music and coffee scene of Seattle (birthplace of Grunge rock) and vast wildness of the picturesque Oregon Coast).
- Florida (Home to year-round sunshine, warmth and a diverse population. You might even feel like you’re in Latin America when you’re in Miami!)
Able to travel longer? Here’s how to get around effectively
A trip to America might very well be the trip of a lifetime and you’ve allotted more time than just a week or two. If you have a month or more to explore, then it’s important you acquaint yourself on how to move around the country effectively.
The US has a population of almost 350,000,000 people. This means that there are plenty of major cities, large airports and lots of airline competition. You will see plane flights for lower than many places around the world so take advantage of reasonably priced flights for long distances. Believe it or not, it would take you 7 hours to fly from Miami to Seattle, and that’s just in the continental US!
Amtrak, the United States’ rail system is clean, comfortable and very extensive. If you want to see the sights of the homeland, the train is a great option.
The coach bus system in the US is also extremely extensive. If a train doesn’t go to where you want to, you can be sure a bus will. Prices are cheap and the busses for the most part are modern, and many even have Wi-Fi!
The US is also the birthplace of the road trip, rent or buy a cheap car (you can find them on sites like Craig’s List for less than $1000 dollars!).
Don’t Forget to Tip!
While tipping is becoming the culture many places, it’s integral in the US. Service job workers like Waiters only make a couple dollars an hour as an 18-20% tip is expected. People like to gripe about this but you will see how cheap sales tax is, normally 5-7% so the total will actually be almost the same as anywhere else in the world. Expect great service too!