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What do I need to know about travelling to the USA

(36 Posts)
SherbetSorbet Mon 03-Sep-18 21:01:00

Going to America in a few weeks and I have done the ESTA application.

Is there anything else I need to do/know before travelling?

OP’s posts: |
TwoBlueFish Mon 03-Sep-18 21:08:20

Where are you travelling to? Are you hiring a car?

General thIngs
* don’t jaywalk, only cross the road at intersections or proper crossings.
* Tip, it’s vey expected. You tip the bartender, waiter, taxi driver, hotel staff, etc. Basically everyone in a service role.
* Health insurance, make sure you have it. Health care is exceedingly expensive
* Cars can turn right on a red light so look out for them
* take ID when buying alcohol or entering a pub/club and prepare to be carded if you’re under about 35.

SherbetSorbet Mon 03-Sep-18 23:33:44

Great advise, thank you.

I'm going to Ohio, getting picked up at the airport and will be hiring a car locally. I have travel insurance sorted too. Are there any other visa type things needed other than ESTA if you are a British citizen?

OP’s posts: |
MrsSteptoe Mon 03-Sep-18 23:49:45

No, just the ESTA. At Oakland, they use electronic machines for immigration, and my passport was rejected because it had less than six months to run, but I just needed to get it sorted at the desk - so be aware that that may happen if your passport is due to expire. (It used to be the case that you couldn't enter without a minimum of six months left on your pp, but that's changed now.)

Check the price for mobile data on your phone - O2 charged us £4.99/day, and that made it a fraction cheaper than hiring a sat-nav from the car hire company. The sat nav on Google Maps worked perfectly, absolutely perfectly, and of course we then had access to mobile data for everything else we needed, e.g. tickets, email etc.

Cauliflowersqueeze Mon 03-Sep-18 23:50:43

Don’t expect a warm welcome at the airport. Or any kind of welcome at the airport.

SherbetSorbet Tue 04-Sep-18 21:38:00

I hadn't thought about mobile data, thanks, I'll check that out.

I'll expect a frosty non-welcome Cauli smile

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 05-Sep-18 01:01:55

Be prepared to wait at immigration upon arrival - you might get lucky though. I don’t know Ohio but we have waited 2 hours in Denver. Many people say it’s slow at many Usa airports. The Esta is all you need.

Don’t try and import food. Make sure you have plenty of $1 bills for tips. Use something like a Clarion Experian card from Halifax to minimise costs of using a card and getting money. The exchange rate is dire at the moment. Do you already have some $s? Not sure when it will be a good time to buy.

SherbetSorbet Wed 05-Sep-18 10:35:22

Thanks Bubbles

I am in the process of opening a Starling bank accout, they have zero transaction charges for using the card abroad. The exchange rate is pretty shit as you say and I'll need to check out where is best to buy some currency

OP’s posts: |
SeaToSki Wed 05-Sep-18 10:42:35

You will need to use a credit card to buy almost anything and definitely to stay at a hotel.
There are.a lot of words that have different meanings, so if people look confused, do some describing etc (and btw fanny means your bum in the US)
If you have to interact with a police officer in an official capacity at any point, be aware to keep your hands in full view as it makes them nervous
You will have a great time, its a wonderful place

SherbetSorbet Wed 05-Sep-18 23:21:55

More great advice, thanks SeaToSki.

OP’s posts: |
whoareyou123 Thu 06-Sep-18 07:00:35

You will need to use a credit card to buy almost anything and definitely to stay at a hotel.

This isn't correct. The only thing we used a credit card for was the hotel, and I don't believe we actually needed to use it for that.

BigSandyBalls2015 Thu 06-Sep-18 07:07:53

I didn't even take my credit card to NY!

ArfArfBarf Thu 06-Sep-18 07:12:51

You might need a credit card to hire a car. It’s worth having a few cards/carrying cash. We found a few times we had trouble when paying for things like petrol because certain cards weren’t accepted. DH’s maestro debit card wasn’t really accepted anywhere.

ArfArfBarf Thu 06-Sep-18 07:14:30

Lots of road rules vary by state so look up the Ohio ones. If you’re taking kids, car seat rules also vary by state and can be stricter than in UK - some states require rear facing until 2.

EdisonLightBulb Thu 06-Sep-18 07:19:35

Already mentioned above, but the size of the tips is the biggest culture shock because some of the service industry get little or no basic pay and their tips are their salary. Hence why the service is great.

Usually around 18-20% in restaurants, google it for where you should tip and how much.

A few spare coins doesn't cut it in the US!

whoareyou123 Thu 06-Sep-18 07:37:30

You might need a credit card to hire a car.

Possibly, though you can hire them without (I did).

We found a few times we had trouble when paying for things like petrol because certain cards weren’t accepted.

Didn't have any real problems using mastercard/visa debit cards. The only problem I had was I couldn't "pay at pump" using a UK card at a gas station - I had to pre-pay and guess how much I needed.

WhatHaveIFound Thu 06-Sep-18 07:40:24

You might need a credit card to hire a car.

You definitely will. We saw people being turned away from the rental desks in California last year for not having a credit card.

PolkerrisBeach Thu 06-Sep-18 07:41:52

Agree to prepare for a long wait at immigration and for them to be incredibly rude and unwelcoming. You won't be allowed to use mobile phones or internet in the immigration hall and will be asked questions. We got a hard time because I didn't know the entire address of the hotel we were staying, including zipcode. Then they grilled the kids about who they were and what relation we were to them.

If you sit towards the front of the aircraft you'll be nearer the front of the queue though.

DolorestheNewt Thu 06-Sep-18 11:17:12

The more I read this thread, the more I realise how experience differs from state to state (and probably from airport to airport as well). We had a really friendly welcome at Oakland airport in California, but I have definitely heard stories of real hostility from other people. I think the mobile phone/internet thing in the arrivals hall is universal.

I don't know what the response would have been if we didn't have an address ready to give as our ultimate destination: I think PolkerrisBeach is wise to raise it, and make sure that you have the full address to hand so that it simply doesn't become an issue.

A credit card was compulsory for car rental through Alamo in California, but I definitely paid cash for some hotels (though needed to present my passport).

whoareyou123 Thu 06-Sep-18 11:47:13

I hired a car through Alamo in Florida with a debit card only last month. It can be done, you just need to be aware of any T&C's that are relevant when you use a debit card.

ShotsFired Thu 06-Sep-18 11:55:12

Check the price for mobile data on your phone - O2 charged us £4.99/day, and that made it a fraction cheaper than hiring a sat-nav from the car hire company. The sat nav on Google Maps worked perfectly, absolutely perfectly

I use the google 'offline maps' feature for route guidance. You download the area you want to cover when you have wifi and then just use it when you don't. if you get lost it will re-route you although you don't get live travel updates - but I didn't need it where I was.

@SherbetSorbet I am in the process of opening a Starling bank account, they have zero transaction charges for using the card abroad. The exchange rate is pretty shit as you say and I'll need to check out where is best to buy some currency

If you have a Starling card, why are you even changing money? That's the point of good foreign-usage cards, you can just get cash - at better rates - from any ATM than changing at a bureau (I have the Halifax Clarity card)

whoareyou123 Thu 06-Sep-18 13:28:01

If you have a Starling card, why are you even changing money?

I personally like to have some local currency with me in case there is a problem with my card when I arrive.

WhatHaveIFound Thu 06-Sep-18 13:29:21

If you have a unlocked phone you could always buy a US sim for calls/data/maps. We bought a AT&T one when we were last in New York and it was cheaper than paying for roaming on our EE contract.

Woofmy Thu 06-Sep-18 13:34:03

Well the only airport I've ever received a rude welcome at was Miami.

Dh (who's American) actually always comments on how rude Heathrow is compared to Boston, Newark, JFK and other East Coast airports.

You WILL need a credit card to hire a car. We just had a debit card and after 5 years of borrowing dh's Dad's we gave in and got a credit card. I've never heard of any car rental recently allowed debit cards. Some hotels will also not not debit cards.

Woofmy Thu 06-Sep-18 13:34:52

Jesus, sorry if none of that made sense!!

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