As I recently travelled to the US, I had to take care of a lot of things besides booking my flight. So I thought I ‘ll give you this essential guide, including a few tips what to do before travelling to the United States 🙂
Get a credit card
Booking bus passes, Airbnb or staying at a hotel? Believe me, at some sort of occasion you will need a credit card and it will make your life a lot easier. I would suggest getting VISA, as that’s the most common provider in the US.
ETSA (official website)
The official cost to get your ETSA is $12.00. If it’s more, its very likely to be scam. There’s only one official website in order to get your ETSA and its THIS ONE. After filling out all the paperwork (and some rather weird questions) you will have to pay the amount via credit card (or PayPal as far as I can remember). It will take a few days till they update your status. If you’re cleared to travel to the US, I suggest you print off your conformation and have it with you when you head to the airport as its likely security will ask for it.
Choose your credit card wisely, as it may come with the option of a travel insurance. I’ve chosen the Gold VISA, which covers me for late flights, lost luggage and other things that go wrong while you’re on holiday. I suggest you do the same, as you never know what’s going to happen while you’re abroad. Hospital bills can be extremely high in the US and there is a reason health insurance is a luxury in that country. Don’t be a fool and take precautions.
What do you want to see?
We all love a bit of spontaneous action but keep in mind – America is massive. If you already know which cities you’re gonna visit, make yourself a little list what you want to see and how far these things are away from each other. Just because they are in New York doesn’t mean they are near to each other. There is the option to plan a route on Google Maps, this will help you to get around and safe precious time (and nerves 🙂 ).
Be there on time
It always depends on your airline but I would suggest solid 2.5h before departure. Security standards are high when flying to and from the US. Maybe they check your bag twice, something might be wrong with your passport or you forgot some liquids in your bag. They take terrorist threats very seriously (as they should) and therefore are more strict than other countries, keep that in mind and give yourself more time. Worst case you have more time to stroll through duty-free 🙂
Long distance flight – get comfortable!
Unless you can afford first class tickets, you should bring things that make your long distance flight more comfortable. This can include: a book, a good neck pillow (!), sleeping mask and some cozy socks. Even bring your own earphones, as the ones your airline provide are most likely to be cheap and therefore might hurt after your third movie 🙂 Bring some snacks! Airplane food is, well, airplane food. Especially as a vegetarian I would suggest you pre-book your meal ahead of your flight.
Insider: If you book a vegan or veggie meal online, you often get served before everyone else in the second class. Happened to me a lot of times 🙂
Travel with Greyhound or Megabus (experience itself)
Greyhound and Megabus offer the cheapest bus rides. They are uncomfortable as hell, but they get you from A to B with free Wi-Fi :) Book as far ahead as possible as it will get even cheaper. I once paid a pound (yes a freaking pound! 😀 ) to get from Glasgow to Edinburgh. For the bus from Boston to New York I paid $13.00! (same return).
Note: If you ever travel from New York give yourself a looooot of time. Why? Well, I missed the bus because I couldn’t find the bus top and had to book another one home. These things happen :)
Keep important things in your hand luggage
This applies to all your travels. You never know if something will get lost or will arrive late. Always pack one spare outfit in your hand language and documents you will need straight away. Better be safe than sorry 🙂
Check your ID isn’t expired
Depending on your nationality, your passport may have to be valid at least 6 more months beyond the date of your stay. Here’s a list to check. But spare yourself the hassle and renew your passport before you fly out, you don’t want to spend precious travel time at the embassy. 🙈
Heading to the US soon? Keep these things in mind and you will be perfectly fine 🙂