Preparing your trip to the U.S. involves planning. You are likely going to need to apply for a tourist visa, research immigration rules, and find out which items you cannot take across the border.
We have created this comprehensive guide to help you prepare for your trip to the US!
Before booking your flight, the most important step is securing a U.S. tourist visa. Please know that as of May 2023, the cost of applying for the visa has slightly increased.
To apply, fill out the DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form. Prepare for your visa interview by gathering the necessary documentation, including your passport, travel itinerary, and proof of financial means to cover the cost of the trip.
You must apply for your visa well in advance. Processing times vary depending on where you live. The process typically takes a few weeks.
The majority of travelers have to prepare for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
Travel insurance is not mandatory for visiting the U.S., however, it’s highly recommended given the high cost of healthcare in the country.
Get insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and other unforeseen circumstances.
Look around online and choose a policy that suits your needs and budget.
Plan An Itinerary But Leave Room for Spontaneity
The U.S. is an incredibly large country, with plenty of landmarks, attractions, vibrant and diverse cities. We recommend doing your research and creating a balanced itinerary, combining popular tourist spots with local hidden gems.
For example, you can read about this national park and see why it’s one of the must-see places in the US. Information like this will make sure you never miss out on the amazing experiences this country has to offer.
However, avoid making an extremely tight plan. Don’t rush from one place to another; and leave room for impromptu activities too.
It’s crucial to understand and comply with U.S. immigration rules. Once you arrive at an airport in the U.S. (or any other port of entry) an immigration officer will ask you for the purpose of your visit and the length of your stay.
If you are traveling on the U.S. tourist or business visa, you can stay up to 6 months in the country. However, the final decision rests with the immigration officer at the port of entry.
Many international visitors from countries that are in the Visa Waiver Program must actually take steps to get an electronic authorization called ESTA. This takes a few minutes to complete online. When traveling with the ESTA your maximum stay in the US is 90 days.
In any case, all international travelers need to go through customs. Remember to keep all your travel documents handy and answer the officer’s questions honestly.
Also, familiarize yourself with the details of your itinerary as you may be asked about them.
Certain items are prohibited or restricted from being brought into the U.S., including certain foods, drugs, and agricultural products. For instance, meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil, and products made from animal or plant materials are generally prohibited to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases.
You can check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website for a comprehensive list of prohibited and restricted items. When in doubt, declare the item at the border; the penalties for not declaring prohibited items can be severe.
The U.S. offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and vacation rentals.
While it’s usually recommended to book hotels well in advance, it’s also a good idea to know essential tips on how not to overpay for hotels.
Additionally, when you are looking for an accommodation, be sure to read customer reviews. Their honest experience will offer insights about the best and worst features.
Finally, location is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hotel. Try to find a location that allows you to easily reach the attractions you want to see, restaurants you want to try. Sometimes, even consider looking for accommodations near stores, public transport and pharmacies.
Budgeting for your trip to the U.S. depends on various factors like your destination, duration of stay, and personal spending habits. Cities like New York and LA are very expensive destinations, while visiting a National Park is likely to cost you a lot less.
On average, budget travelers visiting the United States can expect to spend around $50-$70 per day, mid-range travelers around $100-$150, and luxury travelers $200 and up. These figures include accommodation, meals, transportation, and sightseeing.
Remember to also budget for tips, as gratuity is customary in the U.S. The standard tip in restaurants is 15-20% of the total bill before tax.
Plan early, stay informed about the rules and regulations, and have fun!