Important Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To America

It’s been two weeks since we arrived back home from New York. We had an amazing time and I’m already looking at holidays so that we can go back again as soon as we can. At the minute it is looking like it will be a couple of years before we can go again but hopefully not. Our week away was absolutely fabulous and I can honestly say I have fallen in love with the place and would love to see the city in Autumn and at Christmas time.

We booked our holiday back in January just a few days after the new year had started. It seemed like such a long time to wait until the holiday arrived but it came around really quickly. I’m glad we booked it in advance as there were a few things that we needed to organise. Although there is nothing wrong with booking last minute I know personally I would have forgotten something very important.

You Need an ESTA

One important thing to sort if you’re travelling to the US for the first time is your ESTA. Everyone in your party needs one (including children) in their name and if you don’t have one you won’t be able to enter the country. It is important that you apply for your ESTA as soon as you can but you can apply whenever you like so longs as there is at least 72 hours before you need to travel.

An ESTA Visa replaces the old visa system (although some people will still need a visa rather than an ESTA to travel). You need to apply for your ESTA before traveling and even though approved this doesn’t guarantee automatic entry to the US. There are certain requirements you must meet for your ESTA to be granted and if you have recently travelled to some middle eastern countries you may not be permitted access. You can read more about entries requirements here.

On your application you need to state where you will be staying, if you are planning a road trip just state the first place where you will be staying.

An ESTA lasts for two years. After this time you need to reapply. It is worth checking before travelling if you think your ESTA is due to be renewed as it would be a real shame to arrive and your ESTA not be valid.

Be prepared to queue

Once you arrive at the airport, if you are a first time visitor you will need to wait in a different line to other visitors. In JFK we were waiting an hour before we were seen by a customs officer. He told us that this was a short wait and that others have waited as long as 6 hours before. My friend who travelled with us had previously visited the US so was travelling on a returning ESTA she was sent to a different queue and was through customs within 20 minutes. I cant wait for my next trip as I know that the wait wont be as long.

You Need Travel Insurance

America is one place you don’t want to visit without the correct cover of insurance. If you are taken ill whilst on holiday you want the best care and medical attention. If you are planning to do any type of extreme sports whilst away ensure that you are covered for this, as if you have an accident whilst taking part an insurance company may not / probably will not pay out. Also, if you have existing medical conditions make sure these are listed on your claim as if not and they cause you any problems your insurance company wont pay. You may find it cheaper to look at a price comparison site that specialises in travel insurance for customers with medical conditions. We had to disclose Matthew having had kidney stones at Christmas and before a comparison site the cheapest insurance we could find was £200, going through a comparison we found the same cover for £55.

Do your research

Before going away see what is happening in the area whilst you are there. You may stumble upon local festivals or celebrations or you may end up being caught up in them without even realising. We arrived in New York on the last day of World Pride and didn’t realise this until the day before. We weren’t effected by the parade but our friends and family were. They ended up travelling for an extra hour (possibly longer) more than we did as many of the roads around their hotels were closed for the parade. This meant lots more traffic and jams and very miserable said family and friends who were all hot and tired from the long flight over.

Are you visiting the US anytime soon? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.

*This is a collaborative post*

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