When planning a holiday, sometimes, all you can think of is jet-setting to the unknown as you explore all these amazing awesome sights and attractions.
However, before you go on that trip, there are a few things that you need to consider. Visas, banking, and insurance are just a few of the “boring” but essential things that most travelers have to consider before going on a big trip.
Coming from someone who has been traveling full time for almost four years, while it’s easier to just go with the flow and travel on a whim, preparing for travel is a must, especially when you visit first world countries like the US or Europe.
To help you prepare for a trip to the US, here are a few important guidelines and tips to make your trip as hassle-free as possible.
Being one of the strictest Visa Control places in the world, this is one of the most important things to consider when planning for a trip abroad. Coming from the UK, I am fortunate enough to be one of the countries which is part of the Visa Waiver Program which makes me eligible to apply for an ESTA visa. My partner Anna comes from the Philippines which means she has a different visa application process which is far more difficult than those part of the visa waiver program.
Other VWP (Visa Waiver Program) Countries:
If you are a citizen of a country which isn’t listed above, please go to US website to find out what type of visa you need to apply for beforehand.
Important: It is important to note that you have to do your own due-diligence as government agencies tend to change their information all the time so I recommend that you double check the information listed here directly from the US government site.
ESTA: Everything You Need to Know
Essentially speaking, ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and international travelers who are nationals or citizens of the countries listed above can simply apply for a travel authorization making it easier to travel to the US. The ESTA visa is has a validity of 2 years and during this period, you can enter and leave the country several times for a maximum of 90 days at a time.
When to Apply: The agency above recommends that you apply for your visa at least 72 hours before your planned departure. However, if you already have your exact dates, you can apply for this in advance so that you can appeal or apply for a proper visa if in case your ESTA application gets denied.
ESTA Cost: Since 2010, the US government started charging travelers for the ESTA visa. In order to apply, travelers have to pay a nominal fee of $14. If you use their services for your ESTA Registration, you will be charged a total of £32.40 which includes the fee, credit card charges, as well as the processing fee. Currently, they are one of the only visa agencies which offer telephone support to applicants making it easy to contact them if there are any questions regarding your application.
ESTA Approval: Usually, they will have sent you the ESTA within 24 hours during weekdays.
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Banking and Finances
After you’ve processed your visa and have that under wraps, another thing to consider is your finances. Most banks need a heads up if you’re traveling outside of your home country so make sure you contact them in advance. I personally use an electronic bank called Revolut and it has saved me a few $$ in exchange rates.
As you are leaving the UK, it is essential to get a good travel insurance even though you have the NHS back home. This travel insurance will help you sort though trip curtailments, travel cancellations, and even travel accidents that may happen during your trip.
Being a big adventure traveler, it is essential for me to get an insurance policy that covers multiple activities like hiking, biking, scuba diving and other things I generally like to do during my holidays. This is why I tend to recommend Word Nomads as it just has a great coverage for activities (including extreme sports) which other insurance companies charge a premium for.
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Planning Where to Go
Now that you have the boring essentials out of the way, it now gets to the fun part which is planning what to do and where to go. Having been to the US multiple times before, it is a huge country with so much to do and offer. You can opt to explore the many US National Parks, US Cities, Unusual US Attractions, or even the best US festivals.
While I’m not really the plan your entire holiday type of person (luckily, my partner helps me out at this point!), with the plethora of things to see and do, there is no doubt that your trip to the US will be as incredible as you have been dreaming it to be. If you need more advice, check out this article on how to plan a US trip.
Hopefully, you’ve received a few important pointers on how to plan and prepare for your trip to the US.