Travelling is fun, and travelling is exciting. You get to see new places, people, ways of life, and brand new scenery. The one thing that travelling isn’t is easy and stress-free. Things become a bit more complicated when you’ve got plans to visit somewhere that requires particular visas or permissions, or somewhere where your only travel options are long-haul, or where the time difference is going to throw you for a loop when you arrive. The journey to the United States, despite being a super cool location, manages to encompass all of those little annoying traits at once, if travelling there from abroad. So how to make life easier when you’re going there? Well…Prepare for your holiday in advance
You might think you just need to get flights and accommodation sorted, get your luggage packed, and go, right? Well, it’s not that simple when it comes to the U.S. – for most travellers, they will need to seek permission to enter the U.S. Traditionally you’d go to the embassy and apply for a visa, but if you’re from one of the eligible countries then you can take the much easier route of applying for ESTA, which is an online e-visa. It also only costs $14, which is significantly cheaper than the regular visa route. If you’re a bit scatter-brained, don’t worry, you can even leave it to the last few days before you fly, as it can be approved in seconds! Pretty convenient, if I may say so myself.
In addition to that, make sure you’ve got all of your plan itinerary sorted out – more or less. When you enter the U.S., border control will ask you a few questions about your stay, such as who you’ll be staying with, the address (for example, of your hotel), and the purpose of your stay. If you’ll be going on a road trip or something as awesome as that, they don’t need to keep tabs on you – they just need an emergency point of contact and wherever you’ll be starting your journey.
Although not necessary, it’s generally advisable to keep copies of your bookings with you to make the whole process completely painless. Here’s an extra tip – do not keep your documents in your luggage! Keep everything vital in your carry-on. You’ll thank me later.
Getting your gadgets ready
An eight or ten-hour flight is going to require some sort of entertainment or you’ll absolutely stir-crazy. So – what to do when you need to keep yourself occupied? Like most travellers you can keep a tablet, mobile, or laptop handy to watch shows and movies, for if your books or notepads don’t keep you occupied. One thing you may not be aware of is that you need to ensure that your devices are fully charged before you travel. If your devices are being checked (particularly on the U.S. side of your journey) and they do not have enough charge left to turn them on then you may have them confiscated. This obviously isn’t ideal, so make sure that you’ve kept everything as charged as possible for the journey.
Tips when you arrive
Phew! You’ve made the journey across the pond, and now you’re in America – almost. You’ve got to go through Border control who will double check your visa/ESTA, purpose of stay, customs information, and any other information they need to ask you when you get into the country. Although this might take a while, especially if you’re from a large flight or have arrived just after another large flight, the process is still relatively simple. This is the time for you to take advantage of a cool little thing called APC Kiosks – these are computer booths where you can fill out all of your border information, including customs declarations, and just take a printout of your receipt to the border agent. Getting out of talking to more people when you’ve just been stuck on a plane with hundreds of loud fellow passengers? Sounds like heaven! They’re not at every airport, but you should check to see if they’re available at the airport you’re flying in to.
This one is the most important tip of all – you’re there on holiday, experiencing this brand new country! Have a whale of a time – so long as you were well-prepared before your trip, then you should be able to enjoy your time without any hiccups in your travel plans. It really just comes down to making sure you’ve covered those little extra bases that you need to when travelling.
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