- Life and
- Tourism & travel
Discover the USA
Ten essential points to
check out before you leave
Before setting off on a trip to the USA – especially for a first-time
discovery of the country – it is essential to prepare your departure
well, to know where you're going, and to be aware of the
difficulties which can arise – even for the best prepared and
the most informed travelers.
You may have a travel agency
that will take care of everything... at least everything related to the
trip, stay or journey. But there are aspects of any trip that are
rarely handled by a travel agency. An agency is unlikely to help you
get personally prepared for your trip to the USA, or to check
the terms of your mobile phone contract. See section 3 below: ► knowledge.
Here are the ten essential points that must be checked before you set
off on a trip to the United States of America
Documents. You will need ....
- A valid passport.
Check this out well in advance... at least six months before you plan
- A visa
or - for most tourists - an ESTA
certificate (visa waiver). For who needs what, see ►
Visa / ESTA information
- Travel insurance
covering your for accidents, civil
liability, sickness and repatriation. This is not essential, but the
risks of traveling without insurance are enormous.
- If you plan to drive in the USA, a driving
license and possibly an ► IDP (international driving
permit). Normally people holding a driving license from a European
country or Canada do not need an IDP, which is a document containing
the essential details of your national license in English; but some
states in the USA recommend having one. Some car rental outlets also
require foreign visitors to have one.
You should have ....
- Airline tickets: Tourists
entering the USA by plane or boat must be in
possession of a return ticket, or a ticket on to another destination
those transiting via the USA.
It is recommended to book at
least a first night in a hotel, in order to have a place to stay in the
USA when you
arrive. Unless you are staying with private hosts, for example with
you can even book all your accommodation in advance, to avoid
upsets. For those taking a road trip and planning to stay
at random hotels or motels, booking ahead may be difficult, but can
always be done on a day to day basis..
Everything can be booked online, for example on the online
accommodation portals ►
Booking.com or ► Hotels.com
- Car rental.
Visitors are strongly recommended to book
any car rental in the USA in advance. Advance booking allows you to
compare offers and choose the type of car you want, and pay in euros,
pounds, dollars or another currency. If you do not book in
advance, you may have
less choice, less offers, and may even be forced to rent a higher
category car, incurring an extra expense. ► Driving in the USA
If you plan to use long distance rail services in the USA, check out travel by rail first.
Do you know what your phone can / can't do in other countries? Before
traveling to the USA it is essential to check the limitations of
your mobile phone contract. Does your contract allow you to receive and
send calls or text messages when you are
in the USA? If so, is this limited, or without limit? And is your
internet broadband use
capped? Many contracts have extra roaming charges for any use of
the telephone outside the user's home country or outside the EU. So
you're in the USA before thinking about it! By then the unpleasant
may have already started.
- Travel guides
It goes without saying that you
will enjoy a trip more if you know beforehand what there is to do and
see. There are numerous guides on paper or
online. Among the most reputed guides are Fodor's, Lonely Planet or
Rough Guides – for example the Rough Guide to the 100
best places in the USA
- American life and
mentalities.You've seen American life in the movies and on
TV; but how much do you really know about American
mentalities? The USA is
different. Americans are not a form of British people who live on the
other side of the Atlantic, and speak English with a particular
accent. The average American (if he exists) does not have the same
cultural background, nor the same values, nor the same
priorities as a Brit, or a European, or an Australian. His views of the
world and of life have been shaped in the American tradition, based
values and the culture of the USA. Knowing what American fast food
outlets are like is a step towards understanding the USA - but even in
restaurants, visitors from other countries can find themselves
If you are not an English speaker, but read English well, you may
Background to modern America - 22 texts with glossaries and
exercises, profiling some of the key people,
events and places have helped to shape the collective memory of today's
USA . Available in Paperback or as a Kindle ebook..
If you are a native English speaker, or speak the
language fluently, there are countless books that can help you
understand what the USA is all about, and how it got there. From John
Steinbeck's Grapes of
Wrath (fiction) or Wallace Stegner's Beyond the 100th Meridian (non-fiction)
to Bill Bryson's Lost
Continent or Bartlett and Steel's Pulitzer prize-winning America: What went wrong?
there are so many books that can help both Americans and people from
other countries understand what America is really all about.
In addition to the ten points above, don't forget to look into the
other basic questions that need to be asked before going on a long
journey anywhere in the world, such as .... How hot or cold is it
likely to be? What
are the weight limits applied by the airline(s
) you use
for cabin baggage and hold luggage? And if you have pills to take on a
regular basis, make sure that you put in enough of each in your bags to
see you through to the end of your stay. Etc. etc.
Have a good trip !
Health care for visitors and
tourists to the USA
People visiting the USA as a tourist, even those with US citizenship,
are very strongly
advised to take out a travel health insurance policy to cover their
stay/s in the USA. Medical costs in the USA can be very high, and even
a simple visit to a doctor can cost typically between $100 and $200,
and a day in hospital may well cost over $3,000.
an independent guide to the USA, free of external advertising. Pages
may contain links to useful external websites, including US government
websites and other official sources, as well as
affiliate links to relevant travel service providers. A small
commission may be earned from purchases made through these
places, other countries...
Institutions, life and
Travel and tourism
thematic guide to France. Over 200 pages of information for visitors
- a thematic introduction to Britain covering institutions, life and
- Le guide de l'Angleterre, en français
Text © About-the-usa.com
About : About-the-usa.com is a Travel-Webs site
To contact this website please use the form
Top of page by Angelica Teran / Unsplash