What to plan before travelling to USA

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The USA has always been one of the top holiday destinations for UK travellers. Read on for some useful tips, including how to apply for a visa waiver, called an ESTA.
Spring is just a few months away. And when people talk about spring, many of us instantly think of spring holidays. Or rather, that’s what we would normally do. 2021 has made things a bit different. The coronavirus pandemic has brought global travel to a virtual standstill, and it can be difficult to imagine a time when freely travelling abroad might be possible again.
But now is also the time to be positive. The vaccine rollouts have started and are already proving to be effective. The only thing to do now is wait. And while we wait, we can think about where we will travel to once the borders open!
One of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK has always been America. From the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Grand Canyon, the country has an incredible amount to offer. Get your preparations in order, from planning your routes to booking hotels and purchasing your ESTAs.

What do I need for a trip to the USA? 
Once the United States welcomes tourists again, plenty of people around the world will be rushing headlong to the airports. Some of them will be sent straight back, or find themselves struggling to get around once they land in the USA. Here are three crucial tips to allow you to enjoy a stress-free trip to the self-proclaimed Land of the Free!

1. Renting a car
At most holiday destinations, renting a car is a luxury that people can choose to enjoy. In America, however, things are a bit different. The United States is notorious for its poor public transportation system for tourists. Unless you really know the intricacies of a city, you’ll struggle to make your way around. Even bicycles offer limited help in that regard. The USA is very much a car country. The roads are not welcoming to cyclists, and neither are the drivers themselves. Cycle paths can be very lacking as well.
One upside to driving in the USA is that a full UK driver’s license allows you to rent and drive cars in the USA. You don’t need a special international license. The only requirement is that you have held your UK license for at least a year. Just make sure to read up on America’s traffic laws, as they can be quite strange. For instance, in some cases crossing a red light is permitted if you’re making a turn. Avoid having other drivers get frustrated at your lack of knowledge.


The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - California, the United States


The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a popular destination for travellers to the US

– Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

2. Plan your routes 
This may seem obvious, but reality has proven that many people are unprepared to deal with the sheer size of the United States. The USA is massive, and distances that seem small on a map can in reality quickly cover hundreds of miles. This is also one of the reasons renting a car in the USA is almost a necessity, especially if you plan to do some cross-state travel. Finding the right route can easily save you hours. Avoid spending more time in your car or plane than necessary.

3. Get an ESTA 
Another bit of good news, British and Irish nationals are exempt from needing a visa to travel to the USA (no doubt one of the reasons it’s so popular). Instead, they can travel to the United States without a visa through the Visa Waiver Program. All they need to do is apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) instead. Unlike the visa, this does not require a visit to the embassy to have your passport stamped, and it’s also a lot cheaper. An ESTA can be applied for online through the online form, which asks a number of straightforward questions about yourself, your travel plans and some safety questions to ensure that you don’t pose a threat.

Of course, there is plenty more to consider when travelling to the United States of America, but if you’ve got these three points covered, you’re already well on your way for a nice, comfortable holiday experience!
 


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