Home Travel 10 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Trip to the US

10 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Trip to the US

by Cameron James Connor

Whether you love exploring breathtaking landscapes, relaxing by the sea, trying out exotic food, or experiencing the rich history of a country, the USA has almost everything you need. In 2022, this country had almost 50.87 million foreign visitors, making it one of the most visited places worldwide.

However, there are some crucial things to keep in mind when visiting the US. Check them out in detail below.

Also read: 7 Essential Products for Traveling with Kids

10 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting the US

1. Make a Proper Itinerary

The United States of America consists of 50 states and over 19,000 cities, towns, and villages. Thus, covering them all in one trip is impossible. So, it is essential that you make a proper itinerary of the places you want to visit and plan out your trip’s duration accordingly.

Based on the activities you are planning, here are some of the famous places:

  • Spending a day at the beach – Miami and Maui
  • Surfing – California’s Huntington Beach
  • Adventure – National parks like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite or some wild locations in Alaska
  • Disney World – Disney theme park in Orlando
  • Modern marvels and beer – San Francisco or Boston
  • Explore USA’s history – Fort Collins, Washington DC, New Orleans or Kansas
  • Enjoy the US metropolis – Los Angeles, New York, or Las Vegas 

2. Apply for a US Tourist Visa

If you are an Indian citizen, you need to apply for a US B2 Visa or Tourist Visa. It will allow you to visit any part of the United States and stay for a total of 180 days or 6 months. You can apply for it online at the US Embassy’s official website, fill in the application, upload all the required documents, pay the fees, and schedule an appointment to submit the form.

After this, you need to attend a visa interview at your nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

The documents required to get a tourist visa for USA are as follows:

  • Passport with a validity of at least 6 months (including the entire duration of your trip)
  • Recent passport-sized coloured photographs
  • DS 160 confirmation page printout
  • Copy of the fee receipt of the US Visa
  • Bank statements as income proof
  • ITR of the last 3 years
  • Air tickets to and from the USA
  • Letters supporting your US visit.
  • Hotel and other rental details. 

3. Plan Transportation Beforehand

Depending on the places you want to visit, it is advisable that you plan out your transportation beforehand. In the USA, the distances between cities are huge. For instance, travelling via car from Seattle on the West Coast to Miami in the East will take 48 hours of non-stop driving!

Thus, if your itinerary involves hopping between different cities, it’s best to save time by availing domestic flights.

Moreover, the points of interest in American cities are spread out. Thus, it is recommended that you rent a car, especially when exploring major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, Houston, etc. 

Also read: Why the USA is a Dream Destination for Students

4. Include Tipping Money in Your Budget

One of the top things to keep in mind when visiting the US is that you are expected to pay a tip whenever you avail of a service. Individuals never ask you to do so; however, you are always expected to.

Following are some tip suggestions for your consideration:

  • Hotel porters – $1 to $2/bag
  • Bartenders – $1 to $2/drink
  • Valets – $1 to $5 each time they bring your car
  • Shared shuttle drivers – $2 to $3/head
  • Cab drivers – 10 to 15% of the total fair
  • Restaurants – 20 to 25% of the total bill

5. Stock Up on Cash

The USA is still far behind many South American and European countries when it comes to accepting digital payments. Thus, carrying cash is a must.

Most major cities accept contactless and credit card payments. However, informal businesses, shops in rural areas, and several other places accept payments only in cash. Also, remember to carry 1-dollar bills. It will help you pay tips throughout your journey.

Another important point is to alert your bank that you shall be making international transactions with your debit or credit card. Otherwise, they may block transactions, considering them to be suspicious. 

6. Consider Getting City Passes

Now, major US metropolitan cities can have numerous attractions that you may want to visit. Thus, getting a city pass can be a smart move. They help you visit numerous landmarks, museums, and other iconic buildings within a particular city.

Thus, you do not need to pay for entrance tickets each time you visit a place, which can save you around 40%. For example, a New York City pass costs approximately $136. However, if you visit all the city’s attractions separately, it will cost you around $220. 

7. Expect to Pay More Than the Price Tags

In India, you determine the prices of items by checking the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), which includes GST. However, in the USA, the MRP of articles does not include the sales tax. Moreover, each state has its own sales tax rate, ranging from 7 to 11.5%.

Thus, before buying anything, check out the applicable sales tax in that state in order to get an idea of how much you may need to pay.

Furthermore, resorts are notorious for charging ‘resort fees’, which usually range from $10+ to $100+. Also, they have the tendency of not mentioning this charge while booking. So, always ensure to check the ‘not included’ or fine print section of the advertised section to avoid any surprises later on.  

8. Get a Travel Insurance Policy

Globally, the USA is one of the most expensive countries. Thus, availing a travel insurance policy is a must to prevent any unpleasant financial burdens from hampering your trip. It helps provide financial coverage for numerous circumstances like missed or delayed flights, loss of luggage, loss of passport, theft, medical emergencies, and more.

9. Buy a SIM Card After Landing

US international roaming charges are huge. Thus, it is highly likely that you may need to overspend in order to get an international data pack. A cost-effective solution in this regard will be to get a SIM card right after landing.

Getting an e-SIM is also an excellent solution. However, if you wish to avoid this cost, you can always use the free public Wi-Fi. 

10. Prefer Using Lyft and Uber Over Local Cabs

US cab drivers are notorious for overcharging foreign tourists. Some of them can also be rude and obnoxious. Thus, it is advisable that you use apps like Lyft or Uber to book cabs. Their drivers are more friendly and also charge fair rates.

Another essential thing to keep in mind when visiting the US is that the country spans six time zones. Thus, while booking flights and airport transfers, check which time zone your destination falls.

Additionally, if you plan on exploring around with a rental car, remember that people in the US drive down the right side of the street. Also, check out the applicable traffic rules so you do not pay a hefty fine.

Happy journey! 

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