I’ve only been to the US twice in my 25 years, but both times were absolutely incredible and I’m still dreaming of going back there soon. It’s such a massive country with loads of cities and towns to visit. National Parks to wander around in. Road trips to be taken.
Here are some tips I learned from my previous trip to the US
Remember to fill out your ESTA application form online
You cannot get into the US without some sort of ‘permission’. This is either a visa depending on where you’re from or the purpose of your stay, or an ESTA. Currently 38 countries can use the ESTA to enter the US as a tourist. It is done online and it is super quick and easy. Make sure you do this in advance – you don’t want to be denied boarding or denied entry into the country.
Buy travel insurance before you go
If there’s one country I don’t want to be stuck in without travel insurance, it’s the US. The thought scares me to death. We know what the healthcare system is like for the citizens, so it is incredibly important that you remember to buy travel insurance before you enter the country. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but better safe than sorry.
Take long distance busses
I’m always stunned with how expensive it is to fly from one city in the US to another. I know that sometimes it is the most practical thing to save a lot of time, if you’re going from one end of the country to the other for example, but sometimes you can save a lot of money by taking busses.
I was bussing it between New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and back to New York again on my last trip to the US and it probably saved me a fortune. It was only between $5-12 one way. And this was summer time.
Beware of the ATM fees
What drove me nuts about the US was the high ATM fees. Sure, they have them pretty much everywhere, but I just thought that spending $5 just to take out some money was a bit excessive.
But it’s incredibly hard to avoid these $3-5 ATM fees, so make sure you travel with some cash – but hide it in different places. Never carry all your cash on you at the same time!
And pay by card in the shops – but remember to ask if they charge a fee, and if yes, how much.
Traveling the US does not have to cost you a fortune
Yes, the US can be expensive but it doesn’t have to bleed you dry.
I was able to find some very nice hostels for around $19-30 per night – and this was in the summer months. Remember that it’s sometimes cheaper when you just show up and ask for a bed.
Food doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. If you’re in a hostel or an Airbnb that gives you access to a kitchen, then use it. Find a supermarket and buy some cheap groceries. That’s what I did when I was in D.C.
If you do want to treat yourself by eating out then look up places before you go. The Internet is your friend! You can get great suggestions on cheap and cheerful places to eat with a simple Google search.
Oh, and have I told you that it’s incredibly easy to find $1 pizza slices and hot dogs in New York City? But hey, if you do decide to go for that then you might want to walk Central Park a few times to burn some more calories.
Remember to tip your servers when you’re dining out in the US (unless it’s already included in the price).
Do you have some tips for an epic trip to the US? Let me know by leaving a comment.