9 Must Know Tips For Travelling to the US
Australians love to travel, with Europe, Asia, Canada and USA high on the list of countries visited. Carolyn and I have been fortunate enough to travel to these places, however, the USA has always been our favourite place. So, in today’s blog, we will show you “9 Must Know Tips for Travelling to the US”. Since 911 the USA has brought in strict rules and regulations for tourists entering their country. This can be very confusing for first time travellers, but getting the correct documentation is imperative. You don’t want to fly over 12 hours from Australia only to be denied entry because you haven’t got the correct documentation. Even with the right documentation, the border control officer could still deny you entry if they believe you have other motives other than holiday travel.
While we Aussies have a great relationship with the United States of America, we still have to comply with their visa requirements to be granted entry. However, compared to many other nationalities our requirements are considerably less stringent. But, nevertheless, the visa requirements still need to be completed before travelling. If you are using a travel agent, they should inform you of all the documentation you will need, and where to get it from before you leave Australia. On a side note Travel Is Sweet are now travel agents and can assist you with all your travel needs. So, feel free to contact us. If you are completing your own travel itinerary, make sure you have obtained the correct documentation that is provided below, and have it with you when you leave Australia. Being well prepared before you leave should lessen the chance of being denied entry into the USA.
9 Must Know Tips for Travelling to the US Documentation
- Passport: This is your number one priority that you must have before travelling to the USA or any other country. Without a valid passport you will be unable to leave Australia or even book your plane flights. It must have at least 6 months validity left on it before travelling. Otherwise, you will be denied entry. Australian passports are valid for 10 years. To obtain an Australian passport you will need to visit here or your local Post Office to obtain an application form. You will need to provide several forms of identification which you can find here. You will also need specific passport photos, and this is also in the link above. The passport fee is $298 and is valid for 10 years, (for adults).
- Visa: Depending on your reason for visiting the USA you will need to obtain the appropriate visa. To holiday in the USA for less than 90 days as an Australian citizen you will only need an ESTA. This can be done online. It cost $14USD and is usually approved within 24 hours. If, however, you intend to visit for business, to work, stay longer than 90 days or migrate you will need a different visa. This maybe a B1/B2 visa which will mean an interview at the United States consulate closest to you. You will need to organise this well in advance as booking an interview wait times can be 3-5 months. To apply for a B1/B2 visa you can apply here.
- Return Airline Ticket: Being that most people will be holidaying for a couple of weeks in the USA you will probably already have a return ticket. However, if you are flying out of a different country, such as Canada, it is a good idea to have this booked and proof of return ticket before you enter the USA.
- Travel Insurance: Is this required you may ask? While this will not stop you entering the USA it is a must that you have the right travel insurance. Having the right travel insurance, you should be covered for cancelled travel plans, cancelled or missed flights, car insurance, lost or stolen baggage, personal items (camera, laptop, money to name a few). However, the main coverage you should have, is medical and hospital in case of accidents or illness. Due, to the fact that USA has very expensive medical treatment. Speaking from experience, having been involved in a major car accident, we would have been hit with very large medical bills had we not had the correct travel insurance. Also, as it is a timely topic, things like the corona virus are not automatically covered, here is a link for the current information on this .
- Doctors Certificates: While this is not a requirement for entry into the USA, I would strongly suggest that you have letters from your GP in regard to your daily medicines or medical history. This can be helpful if you are stopped at border control with a large amount of medication on you. It is also valuable if you have to seek medical advice.
- Accommodation Details: Upon arrival into the USA you will need to provide the address of where you will be staying. Usually the hotel or your first night’s accommodations will suffice. So, make sure you have it easily available when required. When entering the USA, you will also need to fill in an entry form, and the address will need to be entered onto that form and handed to customs on entry to the USA.
- Length & Reason for Stay: You will also be asked at border control how many days you will be staying. Also, the reason for your visit. So, make sure you know the number of days you will be staying in the USA.
- Be Prepared: If it is your first visit to the USA you will be required to have your eyes and fingerprints scanned. This will probably happen every time you visit. However, sometimes it maybe just your fingerprints being scanned.
- Behaviour & Attitude: This maybe an obvious point to most travellers. However, if you are first time travellers or you have problems with authority make sure you act in a friendly, courteous and respectful manner to all border control officers. Always answer all questions truthfully and respectfully otherwise you may find yourself on the next plane back to Australia. The border control officer you speak with, determines whether or not they will allow you to enter the USA. So, keep this in mind when corresponding with them.
Please understand this is not an exhaustive list, but it will help you with the major requirements to enter the USA.
Extra Helpful Information
- Always carry with you copies of documentation from the above list just in case it is needed. Also leave copies of your passport and itinerary with family back at home.
- Know exactly what your travel insurance covers. If there is a particular item you need covered and it is not mentioned in your insurance policy, make sure you clarify with the insurance company, if, it is covered before you travel. If that item is not covered under your policy, either, update your policy to cover the item or leave item at home.
- A helpful hint when paying for your plane tickets or anything to do with your holiday, use a credit card that gives you free travel insurance, if you have one. Otherwise, if you haven’t got a credit card that has free travel insurance, it may be a good idea to get one, and of course also check the insurance that comes with the credit card, to ensure it meets your travel insurance needs.
- Join the airlines’ frequent flyer points before booking your tickets, this could help towards getting cheaper flights or an upgrade, depending on the number of points you have.
- Always carry a detailed itinerary with you, of the names, addresses and phone numbers of hotels, tour companies, shuttle companies and any other vital travel information you will be using.
- For international travel, make sure you arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure. I can’t stress this enough, to give yourself plenty of time to get through check-in, security, immigration and the duty-free shops. You don’t want to be rushing, as you could get held up at any one of these points and miss your flight. This is especially true when leaving from the USA, as wait times in security, can be long.
- Always know your airlines checked baggage allowance and weights so as not to be charged for extra baggage.
- Also know your carry-on baggage allowance size and weights as airlines are becoming very strict with this.
- You are not allowed to carry water or drinks through security. So, make sure your water bottle is empty, before going through security, and fill it up once inside. Of course, you can buy another bottle once you have gone through security and immigration.
- You are only allowed to carry-on 1 clear zip locked 1 litre plastic bag of liquids. With the maximum size of each bottle being 100ml. You will have to take it out of your bag to be scanned through security.
- You will also have to take out laptops and tablets to be scanned separately through security.
- Airports in the USA, you will need to take off your shoes, belts, coats, watches and empty your pockets when going through security. So, it will save you time if you have slip on shoes.
- Never take pictures or use your mobile phone while going through security or immigration, unless you want to see the inside of a cell. In the USA they have strict laws, and this is sign posted everywhere.
- Always be friendly, courteous and respectful to all border and security staff.
- Never, Never, Never joke about bombs or explosives when going through security and immigration.
- Always make sure you have US dollars before you leave Australia. Make sure you get some one dollar bills and quarters, as you may need them once you land in the USA for tipping.
- If you are hiring a car in the USA, make sure the driver has their license and a credit card with their name on it, as they will need this when they pick up the car.
- Make sure to turn off data roaming to avoid any extra charges on your next phone bill. Free Wifi can be found at many places in the USA. Mac Donald’s, KFC, Starbucks and shopping centres, and even rest stops, to name just a few.
Carolyn and I have visited the USA over 20 times, so we have learnt a lot of valuable information. Thus, “9 Must Know Tips for Travelling to the US” has come from firsthand experiences. We would love for you to sign up to receive our newsletters, which contain lots of helpful tips and tricks.
“9 Must Know Tips for Travelling to the US” is something we are passionate about, because we love travelling to the US. So, to help those new travellers avoid the pitfalls that can occur, we have put together this list. We hope you have found it useful.
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